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  1. #1
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    Alfine vs Rear Mech

    Over the last few winters I've had trouble with rear mechs freezing up. A combination of temperatures just below freezing and the occasional splash of melted water often means the poor thing is frozen in place completely.

    Building up a Fatbike, I reckoned I'd deal with the problem by going Alfine. However, I'm a bit unimpressed by the gearing and I can't really fix that without completely ignoring Shimanos recommended gearing ratios. Even the Rohloff would be a problem, and I don't think I'm ready to shell out that sort of money.

    Looking at photos off this site (and others) most folk seem to have stuck with traditional front and rear mechs.

    So - what rear mech problems and solutions have you experienced? Are there makes and models you would rate more highly than others?

  2. #2
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    I've been running an Alfine 8 32T x 21T setup in my Pugs for years with no complaint - winter/summer. I've snow/sand biked with it, toured with it and been pleased with the performance and lack of drama.

    Lately for really steep techy MTB trails I put a bigger cog on the back 23T I think [bike isn't in front of me]. I haven't used it enough with that gearing to comment yet.

    I'm building up a new 29er hardtail and it's getting an Alfine 11 IGH. I also own 2 Rohloffs. I wouldn't want an IGH for every bike I own, but for the snow/sand/bikepacking fatty it seems like a great choice to me.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  3. #3
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    It is funny you post this up, I was going to ask how you were getting on with the alfine/philcentric set up.

    Thanks to a feckin big stick, I smashed my hanger & rear mech at the weekend. The drivetrain is pretty shot after 1200 or so wet & sandy miles, so I am changing everything out.

    I was planning to change over to alfine, but I can't get my head round the idea of small gear range & your post kind of confirms my concerns.

    I ride most trails with a 32 up front & 12/36, but for really soft bog & sand, I like to have the option of using 22t granny.

    I am sticking to steel deore rings & X7 rear mech, both have worked well for me. Just need to service the jockey bearings regular during the winter months.

    Biggest problem for me is the 907 hanger - it is really weak. Good job I had a few spare, otherwise it would have been a long wait to get rolling again.
    Drink coffee....ride bikes....eat cake
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  4. #4
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    You'll want to ride through thick heather at some point.

    It's the best cure for derailleurs known to man.



    (My previous post on this has disappeared.)


    Put a hub gear on it.

    (BTW I haven't seen any minimum ratio recommended for the 8 spd Alfine, but if you follow the guide for the 11 spd, you end up with the same bottom gear as the 8, so unless you have high speed road transits, the 8 is the better buy IMO.)
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  5. #5
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    I have a pugs that is being converted to Alfine - I like them a lot. I did however just recently order a Mukluk Ti, which is Alfine incompatible. I might one day put a rolhoff on the mukluk, but I am not sure how they perform at -30 and since I ride at -30 at least once per year, I was reluctant to start with a rohloff.
    Just below freezing is definitely the worst temperature for stuff icing up, I find that fenders help immensely with the stuff accumulating on my derailleur or brakes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldbike View Post
    ...I might one day put a rolhoff on the mukluk, but I am not sure how they perform at -30 and since I ride at -30 at least once per year, I was reluctant to start with a rohloff.....
    That's the reason for the Surly offset fork. Your front wheel can be swapped with the rear.

    However I've never had the problem of ultra low temps.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  7. #7
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorman View Post
    I was planning to change over to alfine, but I can't get my head round the idea of small gear range & your post kind of confirms my concerns.

    I ride most trails with a 32 up front & 12/36, but for really soft bog & sand, I like to have the option of using 22t granny....
    I run an Alfine 8 on three different MTBs, Pugs, Moonie and 29er. On my Moonlander I'm
    running a 30x24, it has the same low gear as 22x34 (18") and the same high gear as a 32x16
    (58").

    How high a gear do you need? I am able to ride the streets to the trail without spinning out too
    much.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldbike View Post
    I have a pugs that is being converted to Alfine - I like them a lot. I did however just recently order a Mukluk Ti, which is Alfine incompatible. I might one day put a rolhoff on the mukluk, but I am not sure how they perform at -30 and since I ride at -30 at least once per year, I was reluctant to start with a rohloff.
    Just below freezing is definitely the worst temperature for stuff icing up, I find that fenders help immensely with the stuff accumulating on my derailleur or brakes.
    Are you keeping the Pugs? What drove your Ti Muk purchase?

    I haven't found a satisfactory way to get a Rohloff into a 170mm fatbike. Between the chainline, spoke tension and torque control there seems to always be something incompatible or compromised. No point using a super expensive IGH if it's not going to be a good fit for a frame.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  9. #9
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    An Alfine 8 or 11 IGH is a great idea for a fat bike, esp for an offset bike like a 9zero7 or pugsley with the back up of swappable wheels using the Surly offset fork and another rear hub.

    Loads of folk keep posting they do not need swappable wheels, and never needed to do so...fair enough, but it is a nice `get out of jail free card` option (a UK saying ),
    And as happened to myself last year and yesterday to my Friend Jason, he had to swap wheels around to ride the rest of the day when his Alfine failed and locked up due to ingress of salt water from a previous dooking (thats a Scottish dunking or er drowning...),


    Tyninghame by coastkid71, on Flickr


    Tyninghame by coastkid71, on Flickr

    Scottish Sunday results;

    North Sea 2 - Alfine Hub 0

    Alfines are ace, except they do not go low enough geared for real soft sand and definitly do not like salt water
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
    http://coastkid.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
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    Is it expected that once you dunk or ride in axle deep salt water that service should be in order? Or at least inspection? Sounds like a wheel swap could have been avoided by doing this? Gotta love the backup options of a pug!

  11. #11
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    I'm just in the process of putting together a Pugsley with an Alfine 11. I haven't had the wheels built yet, but it will be a Alfine 11 with 21t cog matched with a Middleburn 7 Uno Crank with 34t. Once I get the thing built up I'll post some pics and thoughts.

    I'm doing the Alfine mainly for the reasons you stated. I'm a bit tired of riding my current MTB with a traditional derailleur setup. It seems to freeze a lot, ice up, shift poorly and involves a lot of cleaning, lubing etc every ride. When it's -20 the last thing you want to have to do is adjust your derailleur setup to get home!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    I run an Alfine 8 on three different MTBs, Pugs, Moonie and 29er. On my Moonlander I'm
    running a 30x24, it has the same low gear as 22x34 (18") and the same high gear as a 32x16
    (58").

    How high a gear do you need? I am able to ride the streets to the trail without spinning out too
    much.
    That is good info right there.

    I can't really see me going alfine on my current 907, as it requires a tensioner or Philcentric BB.

    Might hang on for the new frames with the sliding drop outs & make it a trail bike with alfine & keep the old one for beach with the really low ratio's.

    I really like "normal" gears for most of the time, but when heading off the beaten track, the minimal setup of alfine has the advantage as there is nowt to get ripped off.
    Drink coffee....ride bikes....eat cake
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  13. #13
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    JordyB
    Is it expected that once you dunk or ride in axle deep salt water that service should be in order? Or at least inspection? Sounds like a wheel swap could have been avoided by doing this? Gotta love the backup options of a pug!
    In an ideal world yes!, How ever here in the Uk no one seems to know anything about Shimano Alfine hubs , and servicing them, riding on the coast can or will (in warmer summer waters!) involve crossing estuarys, riding or pushing through sumerging the bike, often totally nearly every weekend for us lot!,

    I just repaced the hub bearings on a rear Hope Pro 2 after 3 years, WITH NO SERVICE after some post build prep,

    I opened up and degreased then repacked all the bearings with marine grease (previously used to use Wurth graphite grease), a smear around the pawls as well as oil for the fee hub and so far no probs with rear hubs, if i wipe out a rear mech then i swap wheels , cut the chain and SS it home!
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
    http://coastkid.blogspot.com/

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordyB View Post
    Is it expected that once you dunk or ride in axle deep salt water that service should be in order? Or at least inspection? Sounds like a wheel swap could have been avoided by doing this? Gotta love the backup options of a pug!
    I wouldn't submerge any MTB hub underwater - especially not an IGH or in saltwater. If it were to come t that I carry my bike or find another route. I don't enjoy servicing hubs regularly.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  15. #15
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    I just posted, we do it reguarly Vik! and have found with sealed free hubs its not been an issue, with a bit of preperation
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
    http://coastkid.blogspot.com/

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by coastkid71 View Post
    I just posted, we do it reguarly Vik! and have found with sealed free hubs its not been an issue, with a bit of preperation
    If you want to submerge an Alfine or Rohloff in saltwater be my guest, but I won't be doing it... My experiences don't agree with yours and frankly I'm not keen to experiment. So far I haven't been unable to get where I wanted to go without submerging my hubs, BB, etc...

    If my hubs are submerged I'm getting wet either way so I just pick up my bike and carry it across the water obstacle. If it's too deep to ford that way I find another route.

    I'd be less concerned with a standard MTB hub, but I still wouldn't submerge it voluntarily.

    BTW - I must admit submerging/floating a bike does make for a great action video!...
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    ...If my hubs are submerged I'm getting wet either way so I just pick up my bike and carry it across the water obstacle. If it's too deep to ford that way I find another route.

    I'd be less concerned with a standard MTB hub, but I still wouldn't submerge it voluntarily.
    Me too.

    But I appreciate the efforts of those who do submerge them - useful info is the result.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpettit View Post
    I'm just in the process of putting together a Pugsley with an Alfine 11. I haven't had the wheels built yet, but it will be a Alfine 11 with 21t cog matched with a Middleburn 7 Uno Crank with 34t. Once I get the thing built up I'll post some pics and thoughts.

    I'm doing the Alfine mainly for the reasons you stated. I'm a bit tired of riding my current MTB with a traditional derailleur setup. It seems to freeze a lot, ice up, shift poorly and involves a lot of cleaning, lubing etc every ride. When it's -20 the last thing you want to have to do is adjust your derailleur setup to get home!
    My build is very close to yours, also an Alfine 11 going on it's 2nd year without problems. Middleburn crank, running 32:20. With regards to submerging, one advantage of the 11 over the 8 is that it's sealed.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Alfine vs Rear Mech-stapleton.jpg  


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboygrrl View Post
    With regards to submerging, one advantage of the 11 over the 8 is that it's sealed.
    The seals on an Alfine or Rohloff won't keep water out if you submerge the hub.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  20. #20
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    I run a 22x22 on my alfine 8spd. been riding for about a year with no issues thus far. Will tear apart the alfine this spring for servicing.. it'll be 3 winters of riding so might be about time.

  21. #21
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    (a) I'm encouraged by the fact that some folk are running lower gears without issue. That 30T Extralite ring is looking tempting.

    (b) Motorman - it's not the range of gears that's the problem. It's got to be an exceptional circumstance to need the 10th/11th gears. It's just that the range seems to start too high.

  22. #22
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    As Coastkid said above, I was glad to have swappable wheels on Sunday to get me home

    Front wheel drive will never catch on

    RIP Alfine 8 spd by jason-l, on Flickr

    But quite enjoyed the lightweight (rear end) liberation of singlespeed (even though 32/22 is useless for sand!

    Singlespeed Fat Bike by jason-l, on Flickr

    My Alfine 8 lasted approx 1300 miles in 11 mths of almost exclusively sand/beach/coastal riding here in Scotland - with numerous fordings and a few full immersions. So, yes, it's had a brutal life. And right up to the moment of failure I loved riding it - just found it perfect for this kind of terrain and enjoyed it's relative simplicity. Nothing to get snagged on vegetation or be bashed against rocks, ability to change gear while trackstanding, and the cleaness of a singlespeed style layout.

    ...but ultimately I have decided, very reluctantly, to revert to derailleurs with a Hope Pro2 EVO hub for the simple reason I need a hub that is better sealed. I don't want to alter my riding to protect my gear, rather I want my gear to better withstand my riding

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jason-l View Post
    ...but ultimately I have decided, very reluctantly, to revert to derailleurs with a Hope Pro2 EVO hub for the simple reason I need a hub that is better sealed. I don't want to alter my riding to protect my gear, rather I want my gear to better withstand my riding
    I wonder if it would work the other way. Minimal sealing to keep grit out but allow fluids to pass. The original hub gears were oil lubricated. Get it wet, drain it, run some fresh oil through it to flush it. The only hassle was giving the hub a few drops each week. The hubs were good for 10s of thousands of miles of road use and many members of the RSF preferred them for offroad too.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by coastkid71 View Post
    ...riding on the coast can or will (in warmer summer waters!) involve crossing estuarys, riding or pushing through sumerging the bike, often totally nearly every weekend for us lot!...

    Saw this on Hubstripping and thought it may be of interest.


    aaronsbicyclerepair
    February 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm
    The best grease we have found for IGH hubs is specifically: Sta-Lube
    We use it on the ball bearings and the planetarty/sun/ring gear teeth.
    The rest of the hub we use Phil Wood Tenacious Oil (available at any bike shop). Phil Wood takes high quality oil and adds rust inhibitors. It has worked and been recommended for Sturmey-Archer hubs for years.
    It mixes will with any grease and keeps the grease from drying out and getting hard. We have over 25 years success using this combination!
    Many comments here and elsewhere online talk about excess “friction”. Higher viscosity causes more drag but no additional friction. Even with heavy grease the drag is minimal! A small price to pay for preventing rust!

    We do this lube-upgrade to every IGH hub we sell.
    The rusty hubs that come in that were purchased elsewhere! The Alfine hub, in our opinion, needs a complete lube change before it is ridden in the wet as the right cone is not sealed well against water. We put blue grease there, of course. The Alfine 11 looks about as well sealed as the 8 speed’s right cone. The oil bath is an improvement, but really all IGH hubs should have an oil bath! The real improvement is the sealing, not from keeping water out, but keeping the oil from making a mess!
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    I wonder if it would work the other way. Minimal sealing to keep grit out but allow fluids to pass. The original hub gears were oil lubricated. Get it wet, drain it, run some fresh oil through it to flush it. The only hassle was giving the hub a few drops each week. The hubs were good for 10s of thousands of miles of road use .
    "the only hassle was giving the hubs a few drops each week" and "get it wet, drain it, run some fresh oil through it to flush it" are conflicting statements!
    flushing the entire hub out every time it gets wet isn't an option.
    if your hub gets a full flush with fresh oil every time you ride in the wet, then yeah it could last decades with no seals at all!
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

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