Shimano 2014 Alfine 8 speed Internal Bicycle Hub - SG-S501
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- Highest Shimano internal hub efficiency
- Double roller clutch engagement for smoother, quiester shifting
- Center Lock rotor mount
- Silent Clutch
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The inter-8 hub has increased its gear ratio to 307%, compared to 244% of the Inter-7 hub. The Inter-8 hub also incorporates a closer gear ratio allowing a more efficient and comfortable pedaling cadence. A trully "all conditions" internal hub has arrived.
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I had decided to get a new bike with an internal hub, but my local shop dosen't stock any, and I really didn't want to put out $1,000 for a bike. So, I decided to rebuild the Raleigh with a Nexus 8. My bike tech said that I couldn't do that because it had dropouts and was only suitable for a derailleur. So, I bought all the parts and rebuilt it as a derailleur. Worked pretty nice.
I checked with another shop, and they said I could get a chain tensioner for a single gear rear axle, and it would work fine with the Alfine.
So, I bought the Alfine and the tensioner, and had the bike built up. The Alfine has 36 spokes and my old wheel had 32, so, I had to get a new hub. Also had to get a new shifter. I got the Shimano ST-8S20A. It has a trigger to shift to higher gears and a button to drop to lower gears.
I decided to keep my 3 speed crankset because having a range of three additional gears sounded like a very cool idea.
So, I got it back and went for my first ride.
I'm very impressed by the smoothness of the Alfine. And, the ease with which you can shift up or down. It has never missed a gear or unexpectedly changed gears. There seems to be a very nice progression of ratios, and the next gear up or down seems to be just the right one you need. If you have to, you can cycle up or down several gears very rapidly. You can change gears while you are stopped, and this is far more useful than you would think
I very quickly gave up on the idea of the triple gear for the front. My bike tech said that I couldn't use the largest gear because it was offset too much, which left me with the middle gear, 38t and the lowest gear, 28t. When I'm in the middle gear and in first gear...top speed is around 1 mph. When I'm in 8th...I can get up to 25, but my legs are a blur. I've ordered a 44 tooth front crank, and I'm sure that will fix my problems.
I've heard several complaints about the weight of the Alfine, but my bike weighs around 35 pounds so that wasn't a real consideration. I bike mostly for exercise, and there's quite a few hills here, so I get lots of that.
I'm not really a bike freak...but I've always like bicycling. I've liked the thought of the internal gearing ever since I got my first Sturmey Archer when I was in college. I'll never spend $5,000 on a bike, but with the changes and additions...I'm close to $1,000 on this one. Still, it was worth it.
On a negative side - it's a tad heavy as compared to say a derailleur-equipped rear end using something like 8-9 speed SRAM Rival, or Shimano 105. The hub is laced to a wheel with a lot of spokes as a default. This makes sense as I would imagine they designers anticipated riders in all weight ranges. Again, the great thing is that it is seamless with the belt drive. The thumb shifter is OK, but I do notice that my thumb hurts as it's required for me to get into higher gears. And you have to depress it pretty far to get it to engage. With my carbon road bike - the shifts are way easier because the motion is side-to-side vs. pushing in.
If someone is thinking of the Alfine as a alternative to a rear-derailleur, or for saving weight - I would say go for the derailleur. As the external combo would be lighter than the Alfine, or it's 11 speed brother.
The one thing that bugs me is that it skips a gear every so often. Hit a small bump hard enough and it drops into a different gear. Other than that this is a a great, versatile hub for belt drive bikes. And especially so for folks not wishing to futz around with mechanicals and getting grease on fingers.
One last item adjustment is so simple just shift down to one up to 5 and back to fourth . Then look for your alignment marks on the hub and adjust the shifter cable to line them up . It couldn't be more simple you can find directions online that are more complete and easier to follow then these . You can shift these sitting still you do not have to be in motion . I have this hub on a fat sand bike ....what a blast . You can adjust the gears with no tools in the field in no time . I can't say enough good things about it almost maintenance free gearing .