Author Topic: Why internal hubs?  (Read 22647 times)

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Offline lonerider

Why internal hubs?
« on: February 12, 2011, 07:11:15 am »
After being convinced of the advantages of low maintenance of an internal hub I tried one and came away unimpressed. Sold it this past year. Started thinking about the maintenance issue and realized that one pays a very large sum to avoid the clean/lube cycle of external gears and the chain/cassette replacement cycle of said same gears by going to the internal hub. As for gear selection I have never been stumped on how to get a low enough gear ratio coupled with a high enough ratio with an external gear system. How does one justify the added expense, weight, and complexity (non standard parts) of the internal hub system?

Keep in mind for 600 to 1200 dollars US one can literally purchase 60k to 100k worth of chains and cassettes.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 10:52:57 am »
You failed to mention which one you had. I am surprised that more companys aren't offering an internal rear hub with a deraillieur system combination. Cannondale offered one, I believe, on their Adventure Series hybrid a few years ago. I know Dahon also offers it on some of their folding bike. I have a Shimano 7 speed on my Breezer Uptown and I like that you can shift, at a standstill. I do not like changing rear flats, it can be a pain. However, if I would ever change the drivetrain, on my Comotion, it would be a Rohloff set up. It has the range, durability, travels well, less complex (no triple chainring) and one less thing to worry about.   

Offline DaveB

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 10:56:40 am »
After being convinced of the advantages of low maintenance of an internal hub I tried one and came away unimpressed. Sold it this past year. Started thinking about the maintenance issue and realized that one pays a very large sum to avoid the clean/lube cycle of external gears and the chain/cassette replacement cycle of said same gears by going to the internal hub. As for gear selection I have never been stumped on how to get a low enough gear ratio coupled with a high enough ratio with an external gear system. How does one justify the added expense, weight, and complexity (non standard parts) of the internal hub system?

Keep in mind for 600 to 1200 dollars US one can literally purchase 60k to 100k worth of chains and cassettes.
Their attraction escapes me too but I can see why some riders like them.  The simplicity of a "linear" gear selection means they don't have to keep the interaction of chainring and cog selection straight and the reduced maintenence schedule is a plus.   Also, the ability to shift while stationary is also considered an advantage. 

Chains, cogs and chainrings do last a long time since the chainline is always straight but they don't last forever so there is a periodic expense for them just like a derailleur system, just not as often.

The internal gear hub plus derailleur system seems like the worst of all worlds.  The weight and mechanical inefficiency of an IGH combined with the complexity of a derailleur system.  All of that to avoid a triple crank.  BTW, Bike Friday used to offer the Sachs 3x7 IGH/cassette drivetrain also.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 11:00:29 am by DaveB »

Offline cotterg3

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 01:21:22 pm »
I just got a rohloff for a new build. Its advantages are mainly durability and lack of maintenance, just as you said. If you are a mountain biker who often muddies up the rear derrailleur system or travel way off the beaten path (Africa, Patagonia, Mongolia, etc. would be extreme examples), these advantages become more important than if you simply travel on roads throughout the US.

A rohloff's gear ratio is equivalent to a 27 speed mountain bike so no problem there. Is it worth the money? Probably not, but I wanted one and could afford $1300 so I bought one (well, actually I bought it with student loans hahahaha). Personally, I think superlightweight carbon frames are a waste of money unless you are a cat 2 racer, but half the people I see on the bike path apparently disagree. When it comes to 'worth it' for the money that is a pretty subjective issue.

Offline threedogs

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 05:16:28 pm »
I fail to see the purpose of this thread. You've already made one with your assessment of the NuVinci. You state after you were convinced of the advantages of IGH you came away unimpressed. What do you want to know that you don't already know ? The mistake you made imo is not buying a Rohloff. Not meaning to knock NuVinci or Alfine, but you couldn't get me to use one. Rohloff is another matter. I love mine. It's been flawless. Mine's set up 17.1 - 90.1 g.i. which is perfect for my needs. I can totally justify the expense, and the weight.  No need to justify the complexity, because the reliability is legionary.

I'd have no problem touring the world with my Rohloff, and if there were ever a problem, Rohloff is also legionary at making sure you're back on the road in an absolute minimum of time. You'll find very few who are dissatisfied with their Rohloff. I can count less than a handful on all the forums I frequent, and it's almost always because they bought one off eBay where the previous owner managed to damage the hub somehow, and they weren't the original owner, so they dumped their problem on an unsuspecting victim instead of paying to have the hub fixed. Also, one isn't paying a very large sum to avoid/lube external gears and chain/cassette replacement as you suggest.

 I paid for the total experience, and that's what I got. I found Zen.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 05:28:09 pm by threedogs »

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 06:33:09 pm »
How does one justify the added expense, weight, and complexity (non standard parts) of the internal hub system?

Sturmey-Archer made internal gear hubs from 1902 to 2000.  Long before derailleur gears were invented.  I bet there are lots of hubs 30-40-50-60 years old still in service today.  Many more than derailleur gears of a similar age.  Internal gear hubs just work forever and ever without much if any maintenance or care.

Offline lonerider

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2011, 10:41:50 pm »
Threedogs, the purpose of the thread is to see if others have experienced internal hubs and came to the same conclusions as myself. I am not in any way attempting to claim they are anything other than great. As a former bike mechanic of 20+ years I have had to overhaul plenty SA hubs. They are not bombproof as one would believe, especially as the miles pile on. Internal hubs are alluring, but I am no longer tempted by them. Just believe externally geared bikes are more practical. I seem to be in the minority, if not the lone minority!

Offline DaveB

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 12:39:11 pm »
Sturmey-Archer made internal gear hubs from 1902 to 2000.  Long before derailleur gears were invented.  I bet there are lots of hubs 30-40-50-60 years old still in service today.  Many more than derailleur gears of a similar age.  Internal gear hubs just work forever and ever without much if any maintenance or care.
There may be 30+ year old SA and other internal gear hubs still in use but I bet either they have very low miles or have had a lot of maintenence and parts replacement over the years. 

It's like saying there are still some Model A Fords and '57 Chevys still running. Indeed there are but they were either garage queens or have had a ton of work done on them since new.   

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 01:09:21 pm »
The internal hubs are OK I suppose, but way way too expensive. There are all kinds of small mechanisms as complicated and even more so that are nowhere near as expensive as the 12 and 14 speed internal hubs. On the other hand, if I were a multi-millionaire, I might get one and use it. Why not in that case? But as for myself, when you are talking that kind of money for an internally geared hub compared to $10.00 - $25,00 for a freewheel, there is absolutely no way I could get the internally geared hub. Could I buy one? Yes. Would I? No way. Can't afford that kind of outlay for changing gears.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 06:38:28 am by Westinghouse »

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2011, 01:18:28 pm »
I just got a rohloff for a new build. Its advantages are mainly durability and lack of maintenance, just as you said. If you are a mountain biker who often muddies up the rear derrailleur system or travel way off the beaten path (Africa, Patagonia, Mongolia, etc. would be extreme examples), these advantages become more important than if you simply travel on roads throughout the US.

You will have to lay a better case for why this is more durable.

From my point of view, being expensive and non servicable, and having lots of precision little parts do not add up to durable.
Danno

Offline whittierider

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2011, 01:58:31 pm »
I expect the strength for the internally geared hubs would be in situations where you ride in a lot of mud, snow, and maybe rain.  Otherwise, consider that there's still a shifter, a cable, a chain, and sprockets, and there's still a ratchet-type of mechanism which is this family's most frequent repair requirement (outside of fixing flats), in freehub bodies of today and the freewheels of yesteryear, where the pawls get worn or chipped and start skipping.  It doesn't take me long to change a freehub body or a freewheel; but it would be really, really lousy to have such a problem in an internally geared hub!


Offline cotterg3

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2011, 11:33:34 am »

You will have to lay a better case for why this is more durable.


Can I get back to you in 10 years?  ;D

My impression is that a rohloff hub requires less cleaning, maintenance, and adjustment than a typical system. Obviously I have no hard data to back this up, but I believe this a general consensus among users. I define durability in this sense.


Offline paddleboy17

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2011, 01:07:28 pm »

You will have to lay a better case for why this is more durable.


Can I get back to you in 10 years?  ;D

My impression is that a rohloff hub requires less cleaning, maintenance, and adjustment than a typical system. Obviously I have no hard data to back this up, but I believe this a general consensus among users. I define durability in this sense.
I have to agree with you 100% on the less screwing around factor.  And yes, you can have 10 years to see if this translate into increased durability. ;)
Danno

Offline lonerider

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2011, 09:31:39 pm »
When riding in the muck or picking up road grime, seems the maintenance is about the same other than having more than a single cog in the rear to clean vs. multiple cogs. Just can't quite understand the attraction, especially since I put forth the time and effort to try it out myself and realized that the short comings were significant enough to encourage me to move on from it and back to the traditional exposed drive train.

So far what I have heard is there is increased durability, but without a definition of durability, less maintenance (as in cleaning I suppose), and fewer adjustments needed. Not very convincing, is it? This simply makes me feel much better about my decision to abandon the lusty NuVinci. Thanks all. Incidentally, I still dig that hub! So very cool and a mechanics marvel. The Rohloff ain't bad either, very German in design, but lacking the simplicity of the NuVinci.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Why internal hubs?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2011, 12:29:29 pm »
I am now convinced that maybe Rohloff has something going in the durability department.  I have been following a blog on CGOAB, about a couple doing a complete Asian tour,  and the wife has a Rohloff hub and the husband does not.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=RrzKj&page_id=131752&v=8F

They are riding under amazingly bad conditions, and she has had no problems, and he has had a fair amount of problems.  The kind of wear and tear he has had is reasonable, but Rohloff set up has been very hassle-free for her.

Here is where the durability seems comes from.  The hub is sealed, oil filled, and the only servicing that you can do is to change the oil.  The chain is appropriately taught, and never flexed.  Her chains have lasted way longer than his, an important consideration when the parts available for you to resupply are likely Chinese conterfeits or dubious quality.

Does anyone have any comments on the shifting range on a Rohloff hub?  Can a Rohloff setup match having a compact mountain crank in the front (22/32/43) with say an 11-32 in the rear?
Danno