Alfine 11 Gearbox NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG
Does The Future Have Fewer Gears pt III - Editorial

Dr. Strange Hub: Or How I Learned To Love The Gearbox

Words Andrew Major
Photos As Noted
Date Mar 18, 2020
Reading time

High Pivot Opportunity

This is a story about oil-bathed, trigger-shifted, any-shop-can-service, shift-without-pedaling, <350 USD, 409% gearboxes, that are available right now. They're heavy, but they’re robust. They have some drag, but you get a perfect chainline in all gears. They don't like to shift under heavy loads but give it two weeks and that will make you a better rider. Beautiful. And yes, you did read that right, it's less than 350 USD. For comparison sake, just the cassette from a SRAM Eagle XO1 drivetrain is around 380 USD.

The only thing missing is a frame to put them in but thanks to the re-awakening of beautiful, brash, and bold high-pivot bikes like Forbidden's Druid and Deviate's Highlander there has never been a better time for Gearboxes to rise. Not in a beautifully engineered, proprietary mounted, limited-service-center-options, twist-shifter, fashion that is so massively cost-prohibitive that only the true believers can commit to it. No gentle reader, I'm talking about personal choice. Frames that can simply and easily run a gearbox or a derailleur, whichever you choose.

Alfine 11 Gearbox Zerode G2 NSMB AndrewM.jpg

Big thanks to Zerode G2 owners Pip, Dean, and Kevin for the hub-as-a-gearbox chats. Plug & Play, excellent weight distribution, and reduced unsprung weight. Photo: Zerode.

This is mostly not a new idea. Buffalo Composite Designs (BCD), GT Bikes IT1, Lahar, Zerode G1 & G2, and I'm sure there are others, have been here before. Bolt a 307% Shimano Alfine 8 or 409% Shimano Alfine 11 hub into a high-pivot frame and ride on into the mud-set. It's easy enough to do. Bolt the internally geared-hub into a frame and then hard mount the hub shell to the frame, to keep it from spinning, by bolting down the spoke flanges.

The next level is providing a drive-side dropout with a derailleur hanger and selling the bikes with a dummy axle assembly that can be swapped for the internally-geared hub with a few minutes of work. There are no risks for a customer buying into a modular gearbox-compatible frame. Want to run a derailleur instead of the Alfine hub? You could sell the complete unit that is easily laced into a commuter bike wheel for a savvy rush hour racer.

There's even the potential to run the gearbox set up for the bike park and the nastiest winter riding months and keep that super posh 12-spd drivetrain fresh for epic ride season and dominating the local beer-league race series with your wicked new high-pivot machine.

Perrys Lahar NSMB AndrewM.jpg

Perry's Lahar is an exotic bike from New Zealand that NSMB showcased a decade ago. It uses a Rohloff hub but the concept is the same. Photo: Perry or Dave.

GT Concept Bike gearbox

AJ wrote about GT's 1996 prototype which uses the same concept very cleanly. In my fantasy world, the same high-pivot bike can run a gearbox or a rear derailleur. Consumer choice. Photo: AJ

Alfine Roulette

Let’s take just a moment to recognize that Alfine is far from a perfect product. As it sits, bolting in the 409% Alfine 11 hub surrenders either my high or low range compared to the leading 12spd derailleur drivetrains. And some of those gear ratios feel like I'm pedaling through the rubber. And some of those gear ratios have an amazing amount of wind-up. When I grab a couple of gears, there's a chance that I'll land in one of the sub-par ones. But, every time I crinkle my nose here I remind myself that this gearbox system costs less than a high-end cassette and I'm so ready to ride one on trails.

There is ample room here for Shimano to cut weight and improve efficiency and still keep Alfine-MTB well within the price range of a journeyman drivetrain. For mountain biking, the jumps between gears could certainly be larger and there's no reason to believe that, given proven sales and demand, a 500% Alfine 11 hub, or in the spirit of Fewer Gears, an Alfine 8 hub, would be an issue for Shimano to manufacture.

Alfine 11 Gearbox NSMB AndrewM.JPG

No twist-shifter here. Di2 electronic shifting is an option, but I'll stick with a, Made In Japan, Shimano Alfine cable shifter with their excellent Multi Release feature. Photo: Andrew Major

Alfine 11 Gearbox NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

You don't even have to imagine what an Alfine hub would look like bolted into modern high-pivot frame. There are plenty of examples of how builders have done it in the past. Photo: AM

I love being able to shift without pedaling. I don't mind the system protecting itself by telling me to f*** off when I try to bust evil shifts under full pedaling load. In a few weeks it has made me better at shifting any bike and I'm holding momentum better into climbs as long as I keep my brain turned on.

andrews-commuter.jpg

The Alfine-equipped commuter beast that doubles as a very small school bus. - Photo: Morgan Taylor

bike-bus.jpg

Braking is not its strong point with the 20" front wheel. - Photo: AM

Drag from the hub system is absolutely overstated and I wish everyone could spend a day on Alfine themselves to generate their own opinion. My Alfine-equipped, human-cargo-carrying, commuter bike, is a beast to crank up hills. That's with slick tires and even the least efficient ratios on paper are totally fine on the road. Add in knobby tires and factor in that perfectly straight chainline v. that brutally side-loaded chain I'm forcing around a 50t cog, and if I could go Alfine without the massive unsprung weight added to the rear wheel, I'd do it tomorrow.

Diving Deeper

The Alfine trigger shifters, whether 8spd or 11spd, feature my favourite piece of patented Shimano gear-changing tech; Multi Release. I hope whenever this patent expires everyone gets on it. Is clicking multiple times to drop gears a big deal? Well, no. Is single-click, instantaneous, Multi Release incredible? Yes! So how does the actual gearbox work?

Tiny unicorns. Seriously. End of article.

Actually, I'm going to drop Bruce Dance in here, writing for SheldonBrown.com, as his is the simplest explanation I've come across:

"In a nutshell, the hub is best thought of as a two-speed (reduction or direct) gear which drives a six-speed (direct or 5 increase options) gear.

The six-speed gear is itself a 3x2 gear, i.e. an intermediate three speed (direct or 2 increase options) gear which in turn drives a further two-speed (direct or increase) gear.

The gear ratios are selected via four selectable clutches (one sliding clutch, three lockable sun pinions) and four automatically selected, spring-preloaded roller clutches. The eleven available gear ratios all use at least one gear train, and three gear ratios use all three gear trains in series.

The gearsets could give twelve ratios (2x6) of which only eleven are used, because one ratio is a near duplicate of another. The unused gear is the direct drive gear. Instead, a gear that gives almost the same ratio is used, despite its using three gear trains and presumably being less efficient."

Alfine 11 Sheldon Brown Cutaway NSMB AndrewM.jpg

Yes, this costs less than a single high-end mountain bike cassette. Want a deeper dive? Click the photo link for Bruce Dance's awesome breakdown. Photo: sheldonbrown.com

If you're interested in going full-nerd, check out the link to Sheldon Brown's invaluable resource and legacy, above. There are ratio tables for Alfine 8 and 11 hubs, and various deeper thoughts on the systems from people who have a lot more experience with them than I do.

The Alfine hub, or gearbox, depending on where it's oriented, is filled with oil and features a prescribed service interval. Chains will last significantly longer as the drivetrain combines the best features of single speeding (a straight chainline), and multi-speed bikes (being able to spin seated up climbs).

Modern Possibilities

Great looking high-pivot bikes like the Forbidden Druid and Deviate Highlander had me dreaming that Zerode had stuck with a high pivot, and affordable Alfine setup, for their trail bikes. The Pinion gearbox is a very cool example of the breed at the higher end but as non-derailleur setups go, I'm way more into add-ons like Hammerschmidt than proprietary mountain-moped-esque housings. A bike like Zerode's G2 could have easily been configured to run a derailleur or an Alfine hub and taking a similar concept to the Enduro market would open up a real possibility of mass gearbox adoption because of the easy choice to step back to a derailleur as preference or situation demands.

Another beautiful reason for the hub-in-frame model is that anyone could theoretically design an internally geared hub to suit the application. Instead of the development costs having to be eaten by a narrow segment of mountain bikers, those hubs could be used in a huge range of commuter bikes, both e-assist and solely-human-powered. Economy of scale baby. Today there's Alfine 8 & 11, Rohloff, Sturmey-Archer, and SRAM only discontinued their G9 hub in 2015 so undoubtedly they could jump back in the game if the concept took off.

ds-nsmb-2019-forbidden-druid-8288.jpg

Seat post insertion comes up as a challenge, but it's still not hard to imagine a Forbidden Druid that could be run, or not run, with an Alfine 11 bolted in at the owners discretion. Photo: Dave Smith

highlander-bothy-drive-blue-thumbnail.jpg

The gearbox-bulge won't be easy to make aesthetically pleasing. Do we want affordable gearboxes or not? Photo: Deviate Cycles

As I conceded above, there are challenges with pasting the current Alfine hub onto one of these pretty frames; drag, gear range, dropper post interference, and aesthetics are all potential red flags. Each one on its own would be a deal breaker for many product managers and probably a similar percentage of riders, and when put together the sell gets very challenging indeed.

A system like this won't be for everyone, but with the easy ability to upgrade in the future and the economy of scale of a hub that can be used for commuting and city riding, this could be a huge opportunity for a forward thinking brand. I'm fully ready to drop bombs on derailleurs and rebuild mountain biking with self-contained, long-lasting, frame-mounted gearboxes that cost less than a high-end cassette.

Who's with me?

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

fartymarty
+4 Tremeer023 twk Andrew Major Velocipedestrian
fartymarty  - March 18, 2020, 12:57 a.m.

Sign me up.  The only reason I'm sticking with 10 speed is it's cheap to replace every season and it works quite well.  I hate the maintenance of cassette based gears vs a singlespeed setup.

I could see your Alfine idea being a hit with smaller bespoke frame manufacturers.  Skinny steel tubes allow a lot of extra space to fit an Alfine.

Reply

Tremeer023
+1 Andrew Major
Tremeer023  - March 18, 2020, 2:09 a.m.

Me too.  If I ever go back to gears I would prefer them to be in the rear hub.  I looked into a Rohloff set up but >£1k just for the hub is a costly experiment.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Velocipedestrian Guillaume Désy Greg Bly
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 8:08 a.m.

Lots of reasons having them on the rear wheel isn’t ideal. Weight distribution (hardtail) + unsprung weight (suspension bikes) + side loading + lack of hub spacing and axle options supported. In the frame is definitely where it’s at.

Reply

Sebov
+1 Andrew Major
Sebov  - March 18, 2020, 2:17 a.m.

Havin a 8-speed Alfine and Carbon Gates Belt set up on my city bike and absolutely love it: without service since years. But the 8 speed is a tough game for going uphill and shifting under load does not work. So it's very different to a GX Eagle. Maybe the 11-speed version is better suited.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 dave kidd
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 8:14 a.m.

11-speed has notably more range and more even jumps but as I said, for off-road I’d love a bigger % range and would be happy with less gears.

There are absolutely shifting sacrifices in terms of under-load performance but I find with being able to shift without pedaling I can make up for it usually. I also cover myself here with the price of the hub (still can’t believe how cheap they are for what they are compared to MTB stuff) and the ability to easily swap in a derailleur.

It’s a total pipe-dream but this is at least as much about entertainment and conversation as any real sense companies are going to ditch the add-a-cog-every-two-to-four-years routine.

Reply

Dkid
0
dave kidd  - March 21, 2020, 9:19 p.m.

I WOULD suggest getting the hub checked out soon if you haven't in a couple years. They tend to run like a top until they completely grenade without warning if not serviced.

Reply

Golem
+1 Andrew Major
Guillaume Désy  - March 18, 2020, 5:41 a.m.

I'll do it!

Reply

DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - March 18, 2020, 7:14 a.m.

Good lord this is timely for me. Another year of irritating derailleur maintenance begins

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - March 18, 2020, 8:14 a.m.

Yup..... although admittedly I am in love with my SRAM X01 AXS groupset at the moment.    Its freaking amazing.... but I have a soft spot for internally geared hubs.

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - March 18, 2020, 8:16 a.m.

Man, I LOVED those BCD bikes while I was in my DH racin' days. That bike was a common sight around the Western Canadian races for a couple/few years. Raw carbon, internal gears, and the idler drive... Absolute future bikes, at that point in time.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 8:25 a.m.

Yeah, it’s a shame they’ve been all but purged from the internet over time.

Reply

Shoreloamer
+1 Andrew Major
Greg Bly  - March 18, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

Shimano hinted at the idea of a derailuer in a can like the Honda that had one. They made a patent for how it would be mounted to a frame. I believe Sram also bought a patent for a geared transmission. 

I love the idea but it would radically change how frames are designed and engineered. 

In my opinion derailuer s are like rim brakes vs disk brakes. Rim brakes work ask rodies. But disks are superior. A geared transmission is superior to a venerable light weight derailers. I'm shocked at how affordable these geared hubs are! 

Bring it on, well the conversations at least.

Reply

mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - March 18, 2020, 9:14 a.m.

Was going to mention that this idea isn't that different than the RN-01 derailleur in a box - which would have a lot less drag than all of those gears spinning around in a hub.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 4Runner1
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 10:23 a.m.

The problem with RN01, Petespeed, BCD/Alex Morgan derailleur-in-a-box concepts and likewise Pinion or Effigear is they require a specific frame which introduces substantial risk to the manufacturer and purchaser in terms changing standards and future support v. obsolescence. 

Also given the relatively low potetial risk adoption rate it’s just another crazy expense mountain bike part on the making as design, tooling, and support costs are born by a tiny number of riders.

Again, not that Alfine is a perfect product but any tiny, small, medium, or large builder can make a frame mount around the 135mm axle standard with the option to run a rear derailleur/cassette for future proofing and preference and Shimano (or SRAM, or Sturmey, or etc) could amortize the development cost of a more premium hub gear system over way more riders (commuters etc) which means delivering a better product for way less money.

I see what Shimano has done with Alfine 11 <$350 USD and wonder what they could make for twice that SRP. Cost of ownership would still be peanuts long term compared to their 12-spd derailleur options.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 10:13 a.m.

Re. SRAM their drivetrain unit evolved out of their purchase of Sachs Germany so they have plenty of experience with hub gears. Back in early Y2K they did a sweet 1x drivetrain for city bikes that used a regular derailleur/cassette mounted to a 3-spd gear hub. In some ways a similar concept to Hammerschmidt which simply moved the internal gears to a better place in terms of weight balance.

Re. Purchasing a derailleur-in-a-box you may be thinking of Hayes buying Petespeed years ago?

Reply

ChazzMichaelMichaels
+1 Andrew Major
ChazzMichaelMichaels  - March 19, 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Wasn't the original RN01 box some kind of CVT? It was then changed to a derailleur in a box later on? I think the later was the one actually raced.

Reply

EVRAC
+1 Andrew Major
EVRAC  - March 19, 2020, 4:02 p.m.

Yes, the very earliest RN01s had a much smaller cast box, which contained a "ratcheting"-type CVT. There were some patent drawings released. Really cool. Rectified the lumpy output torque with some non-round spur gears. Really advanced stuff. I guess the efficiency was too low to pursue.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 10:49 p.m.

Did you ever see real-life photos of either system or did they keep them under wraps. It's a big chunk of real estate under that housing so it would be cool to see how their 'derailleur in a box' worked or if they just were using the space created for gen.1.

Reply

JVP
+2 Mammal Andrew Major
JVP  - March 18, 2020, 9:01 a.m.

Keep it up guys. Not interested (yet) (well maybe for my urban bike), but I absolutely enjoy reading about this stuff. You guys bring a nice twist on things compared to the other mtb sites I read for entertainment.

Next up, how about a ranty infotorial about fork crowns? That would feel good, real good. Lots of opportunity to get weird, try stuff, and push the industry.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 goose8 JVP
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 10:34 a.m.

Thanks; at the end of day it’s all about entertainment!

That would be a short infotorial. All pressfits will creak eventually (probably) put hard through the North Shore trail network but in terms of best practices companies can copy Suntour (heavy) or Ohlins (expensive). There’s a reason these two companies are starting to dominate the low-end and high-end of the mountain-moped market respectively.

Put another way, the Auron/Durolux and RXF 36 are solid buys if you hate creaking CSUs. For most non-super-Pro riders the Suntour PCS-RC2 forks are so under rated (un-rated). My Durolux is actually the baseline I test other forks against. Performance aside, there are folks out there riding Tippie’s, Buehler’s, and Doerfling’s used single crown forks and they’re silent.

I recently purchased a Helm for my hardtail (taking a little break from rigid fork + shore trails) and I’m fingers crossed that other riders creak-free experiences translate to mine as well.

Also should mention I haven’t heard of anyone making a Mezzer creak and it’s been a great platform (review coming ASAP).

Reply

ChazzMichaelMichaels
+1 Andrew Major
ChazzMichaelMichaels  - March 19, 2020, 3:50 p.m.

I've spoken to Dougal at Shockcraft about this, he's said for years that manufacturers simply aren't making their CSUs beefy enough. With the exception of Manitou :)

Reply

skyler
+2 Tim Lane Andrew Major
Skyler  - March 18, 2020, 10:54 a.m.

I spent many years mountain biking on a Rohloff, before affordable 1x11 came along. I won't ever be going back, unless a lot changes. The shifting performance is fine for non-technical riding, but on trails, the drag and vague shifts had a big effect on my riding experience.

Derailleurs and chains are just inherently way more efficient. The answer is to move the cassette into the frame, and make the cassette move (maintaining chainline), paired with a super basic chain tensioner. It's not hard to design -the only thing preventing this from already happening is patent law.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 11:29 a.m.

Few pieces of food-for-thought.

-Twister shifters and wide bars suck in combination. Even good, positive feeling, twisters like SRAM's latest generation. Not saying there aren't other issues with Rohloff, but the Alfine shifts are way more positive and "normal" feeling. That said, under load it simply doesn't shift so again, not claiming it's close to perfect but gear range aside I prefer Alfine over Rohloff. Also, WAY cheaper.

-There are all sorts of challenges to introducing a gearbox system (whether derailleur-in-a-box style or Pinion style) on a commercial level. The real appeal of the Alfine-in-frame model (simply as a discussion point) is the ease of mass adoption and the lower price to get involved. I don't actually think any of this will happen, it's a conversation starter.

-On an individual level, I wasted 10-minutes trying to find a picture of Alex Morgan's BCD Racing bike with the derailleur mounted in the frame. I have more than once dreamed of having Walt or Daam build my next bike with around a wide-range cassette and off the shelf derailleur inside the front triangle being driven by a shaft with a floating cog for perfect chainlines. It's completely do-able with the right manufacturing partner and it would be SUPER COOL.

Take it a step farther, use a track hub outback and move the freewheel to crank with the clutch off Rocky's e-bikes and the reduction in drivetrain wear and unsprung weight would easily make up for the complexity.

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Andrew Major
Perry Schebel  - March 18, 2020, 3:43 p.m.

Andrew - i dug up some bcd photos from my dusty archives & loaded them on the server. neat (and ambitious) build. i recall alex saying it didn't really work that great, but was a fun experiment. i haven't found a pic of his nexus bike yet, tho. speaking of which, have you seen paul brodie's 69'er rebuild yet? iconic:  https://www.cycleexif.com/brodie-bikes-69er

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 JVP
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 3:53 p.m.

The Brodie is awesome! Thanks for the pic's on the BCD!!! Caramba cranks to boot. 

Reply

earleb
+1 Andrew Major
earle.b  - March 19, 2020, 11:37 p.m.

Dave Camp did a couple gear box style bikes.

https://sites.google.com/site/dcamp2/history

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 11:49 p.m.

Very cool; thanks for sharing.

alexdi
0
Alex D  - March 19, 2020, 7:09 a.m.

Derailing a bit from your gearbox thesis, but if SRAM's XX1 twist-shifters are best-of-breed, they need to die. Awful feel, crap internals. I spent literally hours on one of them because after one ride, it'd stop shifting into the small sprocket. I'd much prefer triggers even with a gearbox.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 7:46 a.m.

Haven’t ridden the latest Eagle ones, as I did mention twist shifters and wide bars suck as a combination, and there’s also the fact bikes don’t come stock with them and none of my bikes currently run SRAM, but in my brief experiences with gearbox options the SRAM twisters I’ve used offered a significantly more positive feel.

I road twisters for years (multi-click front actually had perfect Shimano 9-spd detents and cost ~ nothing when I was broke) and I couldn’t understand all the whinging about Rohloff; then I tried one...

Anyways, it’s moot. There’s no doubt the lack of a trigger setup is one of the barriers to getting folks to try Pinion and, as noted, a big part of what I love about my Alfine setup is the Multi-Release trigger shifter.

Reply

EVRAC
+1 Andrew Major
EVRAC  - March 19, 2020, 8:38 a.m.

There's always this option, and I recently saw a picture of a belt drive Zerode setup with this. 

https://cinq.de/en/shifting-technology/428/shift-r-tour-for-pinion?c=136

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 9:01 a.m.

That’s very cool. I’m surprised there’s enough systems out there to warrant an aftermarket for hop-ups. Euro-commuter market?

It’s not that the Pinion box doesn’t have plenty of potential even with the proprietary chassis requirement but the expense seems like it would scare most commuters away?

EVRAC
+4 Mammal Andrew Major Tremeer023 Hbar
EVRAC  - March 18, 2020, 11:54 a.m.

I believe the ideal design for a DH bike is a two-chain setup with a dedicated gearbox at the high-pivot. However, there are compromises with using an off-the shelf gearhub as a gearbox: It's wide (135 OLD, plus axle nuts), it's not ideal to package, and unlike every other gearbox it has a fixed axle and a rotating housing. So far nobody has designed a dedicated gearbox for high pivot bikes, so I did. Here's a video (in very poor quality) of the final presentation of my research project:

https://youtu.be/x93rSxc8kdg

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 12:31 p.m.

That is SO COOL. Close up photos of the working model? Possible to 3D print components durable enough or would you have to machine all the parts to build one that's rideable? Are you going to make one that can be ridden in a bike? 

So many questions!

Reply

EVRAC
+5 Andrew Major Mammal mrbrett Guillaume Désy Hbar
EVRAC  - March 18, 2020, 1:06 p.m.

Here's a detailed view of the guts:

https://youtu.be/Hoj6Jp0kgvQ

And I just uploaded the whole powerpoint as a video:

https://youtu.be/y7fb7WxQuII

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - March 18, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

Whoa... I look forward to tying into your presentation. Thanks for sharing. Very cool study/project.

Reply

mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - March 18, 2020, 7:05 p.m.

I think I spent more time staring at the 3d printed prototypes and animated models than a person should.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - March 18, 2020, 3:44 p.m.

VERY cool.

Reply

xy9ine
+4 Andrew Major EVRAC twk Guillaume Désy
Perry Schebel  - March 18, 2020, 4:46 p.m.

but yeah, always thought the frame mounted gearhub (with high pivot) was a great solution. off the shelf, readily available & (relatively) affordable hub with a good amount of positioning flexibility (at least compared to effigear / pinion). there's certainly a bit of extraneous weight associated with the hub shell, and shifting solutions are not all the most refined, but the basis of the layout - a compact gearhub core within somewhat standardized dimensions - seems like not a bad place to reboot gearbox bike evolution.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 4:54 p.m.

Amen.

Reply

earleb
+1 Andrew Major
earle.b  - March 18, 2020, 8:24 p.m.

I know where there is a shop where you can built your own.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - March 19, 2020, 1:06 a.m.

A nice little project for when we're all self isolating / "working at home".

Seriously though are you considering this for your next project?

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - March 19, 2020, 1:06 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

Hbar
+1 Andrew Major
Hbar  - March 18, 2020, 9:30 p.m.

Will an Alfine be durable enough? I've had internally-geared hubs (Nexus) on my do-everything-but-trails bike for years, and they're great, but I detonated one after about 12 years. Tried to keep it adjusted (shimano trigger shifter) and lubed (lots of time reading sheldon brown), but when it got older it occasionally skipped under load. This apparently broke teeth off some little gears (not sure which ones), which then floated around in the hub and caused further badness. 

I worry that such a system might be intolerant of failure or misalignment, unlike the cassette/derailer combo. 12 years was great, lots of miles, but nowhere near the desperate torques of trail riding. Are Alfine/rohloff tougher?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Hbar
Andrew Major  - March 18, 2020, 9:57 p.m.

I'm putting a decent number of miles on my cargo bike, and it's well and truly a used bike, and my daughter and I combined with bike & gear is easily a 300lb+ system weight, so I think I'm keeping the hub honest. I'll have to report back once I have a year on it. 

12-years sounds pretty awesome for a Nexus hub. My understanding is that Alfine 11 is more durable, but I'm not an expert by any stretch.

Reply

xy9ine
+2 Andrew Major Hbar
Perry Schebel  - March 18, 2020, 10:31 p.m.

the rohloff is bomber; will outlive most bikes with just periodic oil changes. mine saw a decade of solid dh use with nary a hiccup. still running strong @ 13 yrs old, but only gets dusted off on rare occasion these days. that it's *that* robust suggests there's room for cheaper (& lighter) variations.

Reply

Hbar
0
Hbar  - March 19, 2020, 12:55 p.m.

Good to know that Rohloffs perform to their cost. Maybe I'll split the difference and build up an Alfine to replace the Nexus.

Reply

fartymarty
+1 Guillaume Désy
fartymarty  - March 19, 2020, 2:03 a.m.

Andrew,

http://www.tedjamesdesign.com/portfolios/29-gnar/ 
Fits the bill quite nicely. It's a little Mad Max (which I quite like) and semi reversable.

Reply

Golem
0
Guillaume Désy  - March 19, 2020, 5:28 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 7:57 a.m.

Hmmmm... yeah, needs the high-pivot suspension to hide the gearbox. It looks Mad Max in the Aussie bloke riding around on a gas-powered mountain-moped trying to fight Tina Turner for petrol kind of way.

Reply

Wandering
+1 Andrew Major
Wandering  - March 19, 2020, 5:24 a.m.

Holy guacamole! I came here to learn about gearboxes and I end up finding out that the Trek Fuel EX8 I have been riding for 18 months has Multi Release! Great delivery process local bike shop!!!

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/technologies/component/details/multi-release.html

Thank you NSMB, you rock!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 7:47 a.m.

Hahahahahaha, yeah Multi-Release is the best but your local shop floor guy would have to be getting fairly deep nerd to run through it just with how many talking points that bikes have these days. Did they look at sitting v. standing fit? Did they set your suspension and take the bike for a quick test ride they let you take it home? Those are, I’d argue, much more important.

Reply

Wandering
0
Wandering  - March 19, 2020, 8:10 a.m.

Here is the bike you ordered! You're going to love it...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Wandering
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 8:22 a.m.

That’s lame. The difference between the most basic trail-worthy FS bike, like the Hawk Hill I tested, and a wunder-machine evaporates quickly with bad suspension setup or a hub seal dragging under load. Maybe they tested it when they built it and set it up for your weight?

It’s easy enough to bracket your best suspension settings for how the bike currently functions. The only rule is your fork needs to be firmer (less sag) and faster (rebound) than your rear suspension. It’s good to have a friend measure the sag.

From there find a piece of trail you know that you can hike in a couple minutes and start putting in some intervals. Make one change at a time and write them down so you can always go back to base settings. It works with basic suspension or more sophisticated stuff like my Double Barrel CS Shock.

If you’re finding bottom too often and starting to approach <20% sag for the fork or <25% sag for the shock then you probably need to add a volume spacer. But that REALLY depends on the condition of your suspension, fit of the bike, and exact model of fork/shock

Reply

Wandering
0
Wandering  - March 19, 2020, 9:15 a.m.

They did zero and rolled it out the door to me. I have been on the Trek suspension tuning website quite a few times and it set up as a best compromise. My take is, I rode hardtails for 20 years, and really don't like a full suspension bike.

What I like is the marathon ride on flat, the bike is great for eating up miles. What I hate is the stink bug, ass up feeling in downhill turns. Also, when I jump out of the saddle on climbs for a power move, it blows thru the travel and ends in pedal strikes to kill my drive.

Reply

Golem
0
Guillaume Désy  - March 19, 2020, 6:33 a.m.

You guys think I can use the Alfine with just one chain? 

Like the idler pulley on the forbidden or deviate. It might be simpler to do than with two chains.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 6:41 a.m.

I was actually surprised those bikes don’t use two chains. BB eccentrics and sliding dropouts aren’t light but they’re readily available and you ditch a bunch of drag.

Reply

Golem
+1 Andrew Major
Guillaume Désy  - March 19, 2020, 8:14 a.m.

Let's not forget that beauty.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - March 19, 2020, 11:44 a.m.

one of my all time favorite designs. actually got to take this very bike for a lap @ whistler. so sick.

Reply

Golem
0
Guillaume Désy  - March 20, 2020, 5:31 a.m.

You rode it!? Tell us more!

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - March 20, 2020, 2:49 p.m.

not too much to say on the basis of 1 run, with no suspension tweaking, and a reach that was quite short for me, but the rear suspension was *really* good as it sat; greedily eating square edge chunk like high pivots do, but also pedaling surprisingly well (considerably better than the lahar). really a shame these never made it into production.

AndrewMajor
+1 Guillaume Désy
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 11:04 p.m.

The Starling Sturn is my current favourite. I can't figure why they didn't go with sliders to tension the chain at the dropouts but I still think they're awesome:

It has my favourite number of gears. The only problem being all my attempts at a full suspension single speed have been awesome until I had to make the bike go uphill (no amount of locking out the shock changes the fact that riding a single speed hardtail is already hard enough) and I have zero need for a DH-only bike. More's the pity.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - March 20, 2020, 12:48 p.m.

i love his trailbike iteration. this, i could live with: 

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - March 22, 2020, 1:51 a.m.

Joe is a bit of a gearbox fan.  We talked gearboxes and the like when I did my demo ride.  I think this is the reason for doing more standard sizes so he can focus on the more interesting projects like https://m.pinkbike.com/news/starlings-new-170mm-29er-with-a-gearbox-bespoked-show-2019.html

For me a high pivot Murmur with gearbox would be the "forever" bike.

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - March 19, 2020, 9:46 a.m.

Zerodes aren't particularly expensive when compared to other high-end bikes. It doesn't seem like it would be impossible to build an affordable aluminum pinion driven bike. I think for trail bikes and touring bikes, the pinion system is actually really good, and can potentially last long enough that it's very affordable compared to a high-end derailleur based drive-train once you take into account regular chain, cassette and chainring replacements.

The packaging of the hub systems into the frame is equally restrictive. Look at all the examples you guys have pulled up, they're uniformly pretty complicated/hideous except for the Zerode G1/2.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 19, 2020, 10:56 p.m.

The beauty of combining the high pivot with (whichever) gearbox is that using two chains, and eccentric BB and sliders it's quite possible to do it without needing to run spring-loaded tensioners that add even more drag to the system. This is probably possible with the Pinion but I haven't seen an example.

Reply

ChazzMichaelMichaels
+1 Andrew Major
ChazzMichaelMichaels  - March 19, 2020, 3:52 p.m.

I wonder if the idea of being able to run both (as mooted by the article) is the best way to go. It seems to have been a good option for the 29/650B Fat debate.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.