from the east
Alfine 8 engagement.
First off, I know that this is one of the "dead horse" issues in this forum, but I've read every single post about Alfine and I'd just like to hear a little more discussion.
I'm super close to pulling the trigger on an Alfine 8 speed, and the notion of sloppy, slow engagement is the last thing holding me back.
One of my favorite things (seriously) about mountain biking is popping up onto rock ledges and blasting up short steep rock rollers, etc. For quite a few years I've been riding a WI ss freewheel with 36 points of engagement. And it's a single speed, so obviously thats quick and direct too.
So my question is, how bad is it?
The power of Voodoo!!!
My input on this, for what it's worth...
The stuff that you ride sounds a lot like the type of riding that I enjoy too and, like you, I was accustomed to the fast engagement of a SS hub (Hope trials/SS in my case).
My Alfine is the 8 speed 501 (the roller clutch version) and, coming from a normal freehub you'll find the engagement reasonably fast but always a little "soft" feeling compared to what you're used to. The worst gear in terms of engagement lag is (in my experience) 5th, which is the 1:1 gear (although not a genuine direct drive).
If I'm in a situation where I feel I need precise crank placement and most response (up steps, boosting off a drop etc.) I've almost subconciously learnt to avoid 5th gear for these situations and usually use either 4th or 6th, which sit either side of the ratio I'd be using on a singlespeed. And, of course, like any geared system the crank rotation before engagement varies according to the gear you happen to be in.
In fact, that's one of the things that I enjoy most about a singlespeed - the way that, because you're always in the same gear , you get so that you can visualise exactly how far a pedal stroke will take you. Sort of the way that a runner has to do in a hurdle race.
Anyway - back to the Alfine......I've not been disappointed with mine over the last couple of years. I always wondered about an IGH and figured that the only way to find out was to buy a hub and build a wheel . I don't feel the need to go to the 11 speed as, being mainly a SS rider, the 8 speed has plenty of range for me.
If you can get a good deal on one I'd try it - besides, I'm sure you could always sell it easily if you didn't like it as plenty of people always seem anxious to try one out.
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