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  1. #1
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    Sturmey-Archer 5 spd vs Alfine 8

    Ok, I've been thinking for a while about building up a IGH bike. My ideal hub would tick off the following boxes:

    1) Trigger shifter (must have)
    2) Not be stupidly expensive (>500$)
    3) Be reasonably light (2kg). Flexible on this one, but 2.5kg max
    4) Be reliable.
    5) Withstand enough torque for off road use
    6) Disc brakes (this is a must)
    7) Big bonus for >250% gear range -- I figure I can skip front der.
    8) Minimal servicing. Annual oil change/grease change is fine, but that's it.
    9) Noise. I like my bike quiet.

    Stuff I care about less:
    1) Quick release skewers. Since I switched to ghetto tubeless tire removal is pretty much over with
    2) Extreme gear range. 400%+ gear range is not worth what you have to give up for it, especially money.
    3) Efficiency loss.

    Researching this, the only hubs that meets all the requirements seems to be the SA 5 speed and the Shimano Alfine. At 100$ for SA, the price is right and the weight is great at around 1200g -- considering I get to drop both derailleurs and have a 100% straight chainline I think it's worth a shot. The main disadvantage of the SA seems to be lack of reliable reports of off road use, and the maximum input torque is not listed (but I don't see how MTB is really that much higher than utility bike/recomb. etc)

    The Alfine 8 seems to be more robust than the 11 based on reports as well as significantly cheaper. I consider that to be a good trade off for the gear range.

    thoughts?

  2. #2
    saddlemeat
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    I recently got the Alfine8 hub, small parts kit, cog, cassette joint, and trigger shifter for ~$275. I was previously running a 34/20 ss, and I am using a 20t cog on the Alfine8 too, so I now have four lower and 3 higher gears, which seems about right. Added 3.25 lbs. over ss weight.
    Making the smack track baby.

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  3. #3
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    all right -- yeah, the alfine 8 seems to be it. I asked 2wagondragon on his youtube channel (he's the guy who made multiple videos on the SA mechanics) and he said flat out that he does not advise it for MTB use. That plus the fact the alfine 8 is whisper quite seals the deal for me...I guess it's the only option if you want trigger shifters IGH for mtb with reasonable gear range.

    That's a great deal on the parts -- are there more available at that price?

  4. #4
    saddlemeat
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    ^I shopped around on Google, Ebay, and as I wasn't in a hurry, I cherry picked the stuff as it came along. BTI didn't have any of it in stock at the time. I'm looking for a decent twist shifter, the rapid fire shifter is awkward and puts my brake lever too close for one finger braking.
    Making the smack track baby.

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  5. #5
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    New question here.

    so is the consensus among MTB bikers that the Shimano Alfine 8 speed is the next strongest IGH (internally geared hub) before the Rohloff for mountain biking off-road / All-Mountain terrain?

  6. #6
    will rant for food
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejacky View Post
    so is the consensus among MTB bikers that the Shimano Alfine 8 speed is the next strongest IGH (internally geared hub) before the Rohloff for mountain biking off-road / All-Mountain terrain?
    Yes, basically. It is the base line standard against which I compare other IGHs.

    My used Alfine hub several years old is still going.
    Latitude: 44.93 N

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinm View Post
    Ok, I've been thinking for a while about building up a IGH bike. My ideal hub would tick off the following boxes:

    the only hubs that meets all the requirements seems to be the SA 5 speed and the Shimano Alfine.

    ...The main disadvantage of the SA seems to be lack of reliable reports of off road use...
    Hi Drew, strange how our thinking keeps intersecting

    I've just acquired a 5 speed S-A hub with the 90mm drum brake to build up for my fatbike.

    Reasons - I don't need a huge range of ratios, it's more so I can have a decently high gear for road transits, one in the middle for offroad, and a very low bottom gear for snow and bog riding. I considered the 3 speed (it's slightly lighter) - it would have been fine for the last 2 uses, but the top wouldn't have been high enough for a longer haul on a road (20-30miles).

    I spent my youth goobling about in the guts of old S-A hubs with tens of thousands of miles on them, so I have healthy respect for their quality. The 3 speed and 5 speed are in common use on industrial bikes, so they are strong enough for whatever we may use them for IMO.

    Weaknesses? they're not designed for uses where they may get immersed* and they're not designed for big jumps - the straightness of the axle is critical.

    The drum brake? Utter reliability and the hub+brake weight is similar to the Alfine without brake at 1,760gms

    *It's not too hard to seal them up better, and so long as it's not salt water, even if some water does get in, it's not the end of the world if you're prepared to do a clean out when you get home.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  8. #8
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    I have a Sturmey Archer 5 on my commuter and I have never gotten it to work right. The neutral spot is too wide, so I pretty much always lose second gear. Sometime I get it dialed in where I can grab second on the downshift, but not the upshift, but just as often it will pop right into neutral while I'm climbing a hill. I may have gotten a dud, but I'm not the only one who has had the same experience.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    I have a Sturmey Archer 5 on my commuter and I have never gotten it to work right. The neutral spot is too wide, so I pretty much always lose second gear. Sometime I get it dialed in where I can grab second on the downshift, but not the upshift, but just as often it will pop right into neutral while I'm climbing a hill. I may have gotten a dud, but I'm not the only one who has had the same experience.
    Cables or adjustment (ie not the hub) - or eventually, riding it while out of adjustment - in which case you've buggered the hub..
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Cables or adjustment (ie not the hub) - or eventually, riding it while out of adjustment - in which case you've buggered the hub..
    I had the wheel built up with the hub right out of the box, professionally installed, and took it to several shops with a lot of internal gear experience including a guy who rebuilds the old ones. Replaced the cables, shifter... nobody has ever managed to make it work. I just call it a four speed at this point. I was considering buying another and swapping the innards, but found so many similar reports on forums that I figure on just living with it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    I had the wheel built up with the hub right out of the box, professionally installed, and took it to several shops with a lot of internal gear experience including a guy who rebuilds the old ones. Replaced the cables, shifter... nobody has ever managed to make it work. I just call it a four speed at this point. I was considering buying another and swapping the innards, but found so many similar reports on forums that I figure on just living with it.
    It's not for me to argue S-A's cause, but I've seen cases like this before. It always came down to the "professionals" twiddling the adjustment and not setting it to the mark like it should be, thus causing mayhem in the gear selection, and damage if it was ridden like this.

    Things to check:
    selector rod fully screwed in
    is it the correct rod for your hub
    is the hub adjusted to the marks

    It should work properly unless it has been damaged by a lot of riding out of adjustment. If not, then you should be claiming under warranty.

    Become your own expert - here's a good place to start - I wouldn't regard any bikeshop as expert unless they can actually disassemble and rebuild the hub - and I'm not talking about just removing the assembly to dip it in lubricant.

    I'll soon be finding out if there is a systematic problem - I'll be building my 5 speed wheel up this weekend.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    It's not for me to argue S-A's cause, but I've seen cases like this before. It always came down to the "professionals" twiddling the adjustment and not setting it to the mark like it should be, thus causing mayhem in the gear selection, and damage if it was ridden like this.

    Things to check:
    selector rod fully screwed in
    is it the correct rod for your hub
    is the hub adjusted to the marks

    It should work properly unless it has been damaged by a lot of riding out of adjustment. If not, then you should be claiming under warranty.

    Become your own expert - here's a good place to start - I wouldn't regard any bikeshop as expert unless they can actually disassemble and rebuild the hub - and I'm not talking about just removing the assembly to dip it in lubricant.

    I'll soon be finding out if there is a systematic problem - I'll be building my 5 speed wheel up this weekend.
    I'll be sure to ask how that turns out. I do have the right indicator rod in the right place, etc. It could be I just got a bum hub and maybe there were a bunch of bum hubs out there since I've seen others with the same issues. That would be good, because I would like to be able to just buy a new hub and swap the innards.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    I'll be sure to ask how that turns out. I do have the right indicator rod in the right place, etc. It could be I just got a bum hub and maybe there were a bunch of bum hubs out there since I've seen others with the same issues. That would be good, because I would like to be able to just buy a new hub and swap the innards.
    I haven't had the modern 5 speed apart, so this may not apply.

    On the old 3 speeds you had to be careful when adjusting the hub cones to keep the protrusion of the right axle from the locknuts to a certain length. Otherwise it would throw out the gear selection. Which meant you could carefully adjust to the mark but because the length was wrong the gears wouldn't index properly.

    I've looked at an exploded diagram for the 5 speed and it has cones too, but I can't find anything about the protrusion length.

    If anyone has adjusted your cones, this may be the problem (or not ).

    5 speed exploded diagram

    Edit:

    I missed it first look. Different way of saying it and measured using the axle nut not from the dropout.

    "Make sure that no more than 2.5mm of
    axle protrudes from the axle hex nut."


    Last edited by Velobike; 07-31-2013 at 04:08 PM.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  14. #14
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    hello everyone,

    just to say that I recently put an alfine 8 on my kona unit (2013). very easy to set up, runs silently and like silk. fantastic.

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