Monday, March 29, 2010

Shimano Alfine Review.

Here is my first impression (about 500 miles) review of the Shimano Alfine hub, which my Novarra has. It is the best internally geared hub that I’ve ridden. My comparisons to the Alfine are the 3 speed Sturmey Archer, which is on the Brompton, and the Shimano Nexus 7, on my old Fuji Kyoto.

First, it is possible to shift while pedaling. This is different from the Sturmey Archer, which requires you to stop pedaling, and the Nexus 7, which gave you a little bit of resistance if you tried to do this. Of course, it’s easier to downshift when pedaling. You feel a little more resistance if you upshift when pedaling.

Second, I did ride this IGH during the winter (even a couple of -32 degree commutes), and I encountered no problems in shifting. I had read that the grease in the hub tends to freeze up during cold commutes. Not so in my experience.

Third, it is quiet. The Sturmey Archer gives you significant clicks in the lower gears. A little less in the high one, but still audible. The Nexus was in between the Sturmey A and the Alfine in terms of noise.

Finally, the range is very adequate for a city commuter. The ratios are:
Gear Ratio 1 0.527 Gear Ratio 2 0.644 Gear Ratio 3 0.748 Gear Ratio 4 0.851 Gear Ratio 5 1.0 Gear Ratio 6 1.223 Gear Ratio 7 1.419 Gear Ratio 8 1.615.

I don’t have 3K miles by which to give you a fuller review of durability, but so far count me as impressed. Again, if you do a lot of stop and go riding in urban environments, you really should make the investment in an IGH equipped bike. It is more expensive than a derailleur equipped bike, but after getting used to downshifting in stops, you will not want to go back.

My alfine is the SGS-501 model (written on the hub).