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  1. #1
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    REVIEW: My first 1500 miles. (Its a long read)

    SETUP: Full Suspension VPP frame with 140mm travel up front and 125mm at the rear. Running mainly Hope stuff and the bike now weighs 32ibs. (Please note my two sets of full time mounted lights and battery packs account for another ten pounds). Alfine hub running a 38T crank with an 18T sprocket. I am using the Nexus 8sp Revo Shifter. I run Maxxis Advantage 2.40 upfront and 2.25 at rear and I use 203mm Hope M4 rotors back and front.

    HISTORY: Spent the last 12 months running single speed of 38T x 16t on the same frame.

    MY REVIEW:
    Fitted the Alfine myself and it is laced to a Halo Excite D 32h rim on DT Swiss D/B 14g spokes. The good thing about fitting it yourself is know how it’s gonna come off if you get a puncture in the dark.

    I did the first 250 miles with hub set at one speed approx gear 4. This was fine it gave me a chance to get use to the weight of the bike. Incidentally, swapping out a 3 ring set and decent rear set-up has given me a weight penalty of about 0.8kg.

    I have now done a total of 1500miles and all I can say is wow. My legs are now very strong from single speed riding and the bike is flying. For me to be able to ride beyond 16mph (because I would spin out) is great, I am able to really ramp it up on the flats and hit a sustainable 43mph on my fav downhill section (sat nav speed reading).

    I ride mainly 65% off road and 35% on road. I ride mainly trails, single track and do some very light Freeride stuff (read that as nothing over 3-4ft drops). The bike is set-up as a fix and forget set-up so everything is a small compromise (but one that I like).

    My off road stuff is sometimes nasty; sand, water, mud, shingles, small rocks and wet grass stuff, plus I have been deliberately running the bike through an axle high stream of dirty water (approx 400m) per day. I have not washed the bike or anything in this time and have just let the muck bake on.

    I have now stripped the bike down, cleaned it, lubed it back up and carry on riding for another 250miles. What can I say? I had the Alfine professional stripped down (I am lucky and live above a decent bike shop) and I watched. The insides were spot less. Between the outer bits and pieces were spotless. No water ingression, no leaks, no nothing.

    The ride itself is amazing. For me the gearing is spot on. 1st gear is more than enough for me to stay seated and deal with the toughest things in my area (in the past it was an out of seat effort or off the bike completely). As predicted, 3,4,5,6 are the gears I use the most but gears 7 and 8 are great to have for the downhills. On the flat gear 6 is more than enough of a challenge for me.

    The gear changing is great using the Revo Shifter (which looks as cheap as it cost). Up-shifting is just a flick but you do have to ease of the pressure to get that change (this takes a while for your brain to kick in). The down-shifting is more solid and needs a controlled twist (almost like turning up the volume) but requires no reduction in pedal force. The changes produce a solid click for each gear and the ride (bar tyre noise) is all but silent. There are some small noises from the hub but this is more to do with back pedalling.

    All in all I am a happy chappy. Defo a better choice than buying the Rolhoff (which was my first choice) – it is lighter, cheaper and I really can not see why it is not endorsed for MTB, after all it is not made of plastic and the 1500 miles that I have covered in the last 4 weeks has been intense for any bike.

    It does take a while to get use to the heavier back end, but once adjusted it actually feels better when going down steep hills (where I can now reach speeds in excess of 50mph) the control is better but jumping is harder (I weigh 190ibs to start with) but I can whole heartily recommend this product to anyone out there who is having doubts.

    I must also say a big thanks to all on the forum who have answered my never ending questions about the hub before I took the plunge and brought one myself and I would also say double check your gearing – I say this as most people seem to run a 32T by 20t set-up or thereabouts and to me with my 38T by 18t set-up, I feel that just seems like everyone else has a narrow useable range where most of that gearing seems very (hill climbing and lazy laid back like). Also like the spread of my gear ratios, each feels like a logical progression in either direction except for gear 5 to 6 where it feels a little too widely spaced, but I can live with that.

    Happy riding everyone..
    Last edited by EFMax; 06-19-2009 at 07:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Rohloff
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    That's a great report. I'm just about to pull the trigger on an Alfine and that's just what I needed to read. Judging from your bike and your report, it seems that you put quite a bit of stress on your hub and it's held up well.

    I'm planning on putting the Alfine on a HT that will have relatively gentle use, but it sounds like it's holding up well on your FS bike. Are their others running Alfine on a FS bike? I'd love to hear reports from other people. Are there any reports of trashed hubs due to regular mountain bike abuse?

    I currently have a Rohloff on a FS bike. It's great and I like it a lot, but I'm not married to it. I could easily go with a smaller gear range in a lighter hub. It would be nice if the gears were a little more evenly spaced. Do Alfine users find the uneven gear spacing a little annoying?

    It's great to see IGHs progressing. It really seems like the future of biking. There are just a few bugs to work out and it looks like Shimano is one step closer. I look forward to their future IGHs. I can easily see MtB rated hubs, evenly geared hubs, and maybe even a slightly larger range in the near future. This will hopefully push Rohloff and SRAM to improve their hubs as well.

  3. #3
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    Awesome write up. I'd have to say though if you can come to my area and ride that tough gearing, you the man. NOT about being lazy its about big hills with elevation and some steep grades here in Colorado. I'd say even on the coast of NC where the climbs are much shorter I'd want mine set up as a 32-20 or so as the climbs can be much steeper and looser.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountaingoatepics
    Awesome write up. I'd have to say though if you can come to my area and ride that tough gearing, you the man. NOT about being lazy its about big hills with elevation and some steep grades here in Colorado. I'd say even on the coast of NC where the climbs are much shorter I'd want mine set up as a 32-20 or so as the climbs can be much steeper and looser.
    That sounds like some proper fun, I guess where I am, the hills that I do climb are short and sweet and certainly the ones that I go down, I have no intention of trying to climb them. Thankfully there is always a way to get to the top easily.

  5. #5
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    Update:

    Minor adjustments.

    1: I have found that it pays to get the nut jobbie that holds the cable and then slots into the cassette - the right way round (it will only fit one way but I mean getting the slot alingment right when you tighten it up) - otherwise it can be a pain when trying to slot it into place in the dark..

    2: I also find it easier to slot the above into place before attaching the two none turn washers..

    3: And.. if you put a small amount of grease between the assembly (cassette and fixing kit stuff) that the gear changing is even smoother, but ultimately if the cable is kink free, it does help.

    All-in-all, still very happy..

  6. #6
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    Do you know how much lighter the Alfine is compared to the Speedhub? I already own the Rohlof, but think I want to try the Alfine...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wish I Were Riding
    Do you know how much lighter the Alfine is compared to the Speedhub? I already own the Rohlof, but think I want to try the Alfine...
    I am not 100% sure but I think the Rohloff is around 1850kg against the Alfine 1590Kg

  8. #8
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    Rohloff really needs to step it up. I guess they didn't think anyone else would come around.

  9. #9
    On MTBR hiatus :(
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerk_Chicken
    Rohloff really needs to step it up. I guess they didn't think anyone else would come around.
    I can only imagine that once they finally "step it up" (re: rumored 400g weight loss), the real "step up" is going to be the price.
    speedub.nate
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  10. #10
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    I think the same too. They've been rumoring this new hub for years, but won't answer any questions around it. Not that it's inherently bad, but the Speedhub needs an update or redesign, something I think Rohloff is not willing to do, either for costs, or other reasons. They do reasonably well in Germany, for commuters.

  11. #11
    Rohloff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerk_Chicken
    I think the same too. They've been rumoring this new hub for years, but won't answer any questions around it. Not that it's inherently bad, but the Speedhub needs an update or redesign, something I think Rohloff is not willing to do, either for costs, or other reasons. They do reasonably well in Germany, for commuters.
    I would imagine that the Alfine is putting a hurt on the Rohloff commuter market. And with all the successful trail testing that's been going on with the Alfine, I'm guessing we are real close to seeing a mountain bike approved internal hub from Shimano. I'm building up an Alfine HT now. From what I've been reading and know about my riding, I'm suspecting an Alfine will replace the Speedhub on my FS bike. The Speedhub will then find its way to a tandem.

    If Rohloff doesn't get on the ball they're going to find themselves squeezed into a very tiny portion of the IGH market.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wish I Were Riding
    Do you know how much lighter the Alfine is compared to the Speedhub? I already own the Rohlof, but think I want to try the Alfine...
    Though Shimano claims 1590 grams, this must be for the bare hub. On a calibrated scale I measured 1847 grams for the whole rear hub assembly including: hub, dust cap, inner chain guard, 20T sprocket w/guard, snap ring, driver cap, cassette joint, cassette joint fixing ring, 1pr no turn washers and 1pr acorn axle nuts. If you go with the trigger shifter, you also have to add 223 grams for: shifter, cable, full length housing and cable fixing bolt.

    Comparing these numbers to those posted by Speedub.Nate and others, the weight between the Speedhub and Alfine looks about the same and the Speedhub can actually be lighter depending on what configuration you run.

  13. #13
    Music & Bikes
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsdc
    If Rohloff doesn't get on the ball they're going to find themselves squeezed into a very tiny portion of the IGH market.
    I don't agree.

    The Speedhub has a lot of advantages over the Alfine.


    Will an Alfine do 150 000km like many Speedhub has?
    We'll see with time.......


    The Speedhub is more expensive , but you have more for the money.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  14. #14
    Over the Hill
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    I just paid $120 for a Alfine 500 hub. That is a pretty big difference in price from the Speedhub.

  15. #15
    Rohloff
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    Quote Originally Posted by fokof
    I don't agree.

    The Speedhub has a lot of advantages over the Alfine.


    Will an Alfine do 150 000km like many Speedhub has?
    We'll see with time.......


    The Speedhub is more expensive , but you have more for the money.
    How many hubs reach 150,000kms? I'd say very few.

    Don't get me wrong. I like the Speedhub. In many ways it's better. It's got a bigger range, more evenly spaced gears and is probably more durable.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dstepper
    I just paid $120 for a Alfine 500 hub. That is a pretty big difference in price from the Speedhub.
    Yes but there IS a difference between both.
    A Sora rear derailleur is $50 , a Super Record 11 rear derailleur is $400 , both are rear derailleur.


    Don't get me wrong , Alfine is a very nice product , I will probably have one replacing my Nexus in a very near future.
    But the Speedhub is in a different ball game, with a different ball game price.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  17. #17
    Another Retro Grouch
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    And the Alfine's shifting and overall quaility is in a league of it's own. Something like 1~2% of Rolhoffs are defective out of the box...and the shifting isn't much to write about. A nice product but it could be so much better, the Alfine shows us that. I hope Rolhoff abandons the light weight re-design and instead works on a better 14 speed product. Quality and shifting performance need an upgrade, who cares about a 400 gm weight savings. Lose five lbs on your behind and the hub's weight is zero....

  18. #18
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    I calculated it at one time, and a Rohloff conversion, even ten years from now, and inflation and other values added to replacement parts, will never be more economical. I think it was roughly 13 years before the Rohloff would pay for itself.

    While I know there's more to it than that, that was a significant part of arguments for the Rohloff that was being thrown around and had no weight.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter
    And the Alfine's shifting and overall quaility is in a league of it's own. Something like 1~2% of Rolhoffs are defective out of the box...and the shifting isn't much to write about...
    I've been pushing Rohloffs for 9 years (!) and have used Sachs/Shimano/Strumy Nexus/Alfine (etc...) for longer. The Alfine shifts like most IGHs from the past, like the original 3-speeds a century ago. Pretty quick on the up-shift - as soon as the released paws catch up to the drivetrain, and hesitantly on the down shift - as soon as you let up enough on the pressure for the springs to retract the paws. Back then dérailleurs were a step down in shifting performance, but they allowed more gears, were lighter and cheaper.

    The Rohloff is unique in that the index is in the hub, and the paws are forced to retract by the shifter motion, rather than via spring. What this gives you is instant feedback that the hub is in the gear you chose. When you down shift on a climb, the instant the shifter moves, you are in the selected gear, and can apply full power. With most IGH's you are not sure when the spring is going to retract the paws, even when you let up on the pressure (Alfine has tried to address this issue). Dérailleurs are worse. Most people lead the shift with dérailleurs, this obviously does not work with the Rohloff, and makes it feel like it won't shift.

    I can almost always down-shift a Rohloff on a climb, regardless of how steep or technical it is, I do occasionally get caught on the 8~7 shift. I can usually get the Alfine to down-shift, but you do sometimes get the "grunch" when all the paws refuse to retract. It's not uncommon for dérailleurs not to down shift on a steep climb.

    All that said, it's hard to beat the Alfine for value, the Rohloff is a big $ commitment. Also, I ride a lot more SS these days, so the full range of the Rohloff is not as important - but it's pretty nice when you are pulling a trailer around.

  20. #20
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    I just saw this post. I do like my Rohloff. I had to relearn how to shift, after that; it was golden. The close ratios, and being completely sealed are what I like. I feel the payback will be in the neighborhood of 4 years (compaired to a deraileur transmission). I do lots of mud with some clear water crossings. The Rohloff did add 5 pounds to my bike (Titus ML). I really can't tell this weight difference when riding. My hope is Rohloff will make a carbon, titanium version. Sure would be nice to off a Kg on the Rohloff hub!

  21. #21
    Music & Bikes
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldMTBfreak
    The Rohloff did add 5 pounds to my bike (Titus ML).


    The hub itself is around 1800gr , that is 4 pounds added to the bike if you keep all the parts you don't need anymore; derailleurs shifters , cogs , Plates , back hub, extra chain lenght........

    Have you mounted it with concrete rims ?
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  22. #22
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    I used Mavic 819 disc rims, 2mm stainless spokes, brass nips. This weight increase is after the bike was redone. Before was full XTR with Mavic SL wheelset; now XTR M952 crank, M952 BB, XTR discs. Since my Titus is a full squish, it required a chain tensioner and a chain guide. Both are Rohloff and work well. The Rohloff ain't light, it is however, bombproof and completely sealed. Maintenance is nil. Oil change once a year. I've had it a year now and have put 2000 miles on it. I'm hooked and I'm thinking about buying another one for my road tandem.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldMTBfreak
    I used Mavic 819 disc rims, 2mm stainless spokes, brass nips. This weight increase is after the bike was redone.
    Ah OK , that explains it.
    You can scare people to go IGH with the " 5 pounds added"

    The Rohloff added 650gr to my Mavic, XT-XTR , Cannondale HT.....
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  24. #24
    Rohloff
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    My Rohloff set up added about 1.5 pounds to my GF HiFi Pro 29er.

  25. #25
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    Well, I was surprised at the weight increase. I expected about 3 pounds. However, the rear wheel is very strong. Short spokes, no dish, sturdy rim; this a strong wheel. I need a strong wheelset. I can break most anything. Front wheel is 819 rim, XTR 15mm qr hub, skinny triple butted spokes. The weight went from 28 to 33 pounds. The CrossMax SL wheelset I was using before, was the only lightweight wheelset I ever had any luck with. Refer to a couple sentences ago. Thing is I cannot tell any difference in the increased weight riding. My ML is a 5 X 5, it pedals and rides just like it did with the deraileur transmission. I was using a 140mm rear rotor, helped defang the rear brake. Rohloff requires a 160mm rotor. All of these things add up. BTW bike is Ti and has 100% Ti bolts. All I can say that's bad about the Rohloff is the 7-8, 8-7 shift. Once you get your head around that shift, all is groovy.

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