This will be a living document to collect the advantages and disadvantages of internally geared hub and derailleur drivetrains.

Advantages of gear hub drivetrains:

Less maintenance because of a sealed system. Lets divide the whole drivetrain for better understnding into two major parts. The first one is the internal gearing hub itself. The second part is the drivetrain which consists out of a chain, the front chainwheel and the cog which is mounted on the right side of the internal gear hub. The internal gear contains the gears and is well sealed against water and dust. The sealing function is done by a more or less good seeling construction and the hub shell. The second major part, the drivetrain, can optional be capsuled by a chainguard (e.g. Hebie “Chainglider”). This will protect the chain, cog and chainwheel from dirt. This chainguard option is not available for derailleur drivetrains because of the changing chainline while shifting between the different cogs and chainwheels.

Less maintenance efforts and costs than derailleurs (Straight chain line, optional wider and stronger chain and cogs available compared to small 7,8,9 or 10 speed chains). The wider and stonger chains are optimized for force transmission and not for flexing ability which is necessary for derailleur systems. Another big point which has an effect on maintenance and efficiency is the chain path. A chain of a gear hub drivetrain has two flex in to direction forward around the cog and back to the chainwheel. The chain of a derailleur drivetrain has to flex more often because of the two derailleur pully wheels. These little wheels will force the chain to turn in a small radius. This has the effect of additive friction in the chain. The friction in the chain is indirect propotional to the size of the cog. This means a smaller cog will effect a higher chain friction. To reduce maintenance to a minimum there are complete capsuled drivetrains (e.g. Hebie “Chainglider”) available. Result: A wide capsuled straight chain of a internal gear hub drive-train lives 4 to 6 times longer (according time and km) than a thin messy flex chain of a derailleur drive-train

Easy to adjust than derailleurs.

No dirty trousers by using the Hebie “Chainglider” for example. Important for commuting!

Higher reliability. This is a requirement for all bicycle applications!

Less fragile to crashes or when bicycle falls to one side. There is no distant derailleur (except Srams “Clickbox”). On children bicycles and freerider this is a problem!

Easy to use with one shifter. The number of a gears for a internal gear hub complies.

There are no ratio overlaps and ineffective “cross” combinations of chainwheels and cogs on the derailers side. For beginners and inside high traffic areas this is a benefit!

Less and simpler parts: Single chainwheel, single cog, shorter chain, no rear derailleur, no front derailleur, no chain tensioner (When using horizontal dropouts), no slack adjuster, no front shifter, no front bowden cable. What´s not there cannot break! Higher reliability for all applications.

Shifting without pedaling. Important for city rides and trials!

Clean and pure apperance. The derailleur is the PC and the gear hub the MAC drivetrain according to design!

Combinations with coaster brakes are possible. This will reduce the overall bicycle maintenance to a absolute minimum. With the coaster brake no (frozen) bowden cables are necessary (possible!). All year commuting requirement!

No chainsuck! When riding off road or bad roads!

The chain cannot jump from chainwheel and cog because of missing rear derailleur. When riding off road or bad roads!

Shifting under force is possible for Sram i-Motion, Shimano Nexus Inter 8 / Alfine and Rohloff Speedhub. When you ride in a sportive way or uphill this should be the hubs to look for!

Constant gear ratio steps in one shifting row (Rohloff Speedhub, Sram i-Motion 9). This is a benefit for long distance riders (20km +). You´ll find easy the right gear to achieve your preferred cadence.

Low shifting force because of pedaling power system (Shimano Nexus Inter 8 / Alfine and Sram i-Motion). This is interesting for children bicycles and when riding in the rain (with reduced grip on the handlebar).

Stronger and longlasting rear wheels. There is only one cog on a internal gear hub. This has the effect that the spoke flange of the hub can be placed more on the outside. That means the spokes from the left side and the right side (cog side) of the hub can be tensioned more homogenius because of a similar spoke angle. This gives a wheel builder the possibility to increase the spoke tension. A higher spoke tension will result a longer lasting stiff wheel.

gear_hub_drivetrain.jpg

Picture of a gear hub drivetrain

Disadvantages of gear hub drivetrains:

A lower overall gear ratio. A derailleur drivetrain comes with 550% overall gear ratio. This means with one turn in the highest gear you´ll cycle a distance which is 5.5 times longer compared to the first gear. A Shimano Inter 8 hub comes with a overall gear ratio of 306%. So for a very mountainous region you should go for a high gear ratio. That means you have gears for climbing and for fast downhill in your backpack. An expensive internal gear alternative is the Rohloff Speedhub with a overall gear ratio of 526%.

Heavier than high end derailleurs. Necessary for sportive cycling!

More expensive than derailleurs. This is also a question of quality. But in general the ratio Price/Gear is a advantage for derailleurs. For bikes which are parked poutside and could be stolen.

More complicated than derailleurs. The internal mechanism may be difficult to understand. But normally it´s not necessary to open a gear hub.

8% efficiency loss against derailleurs (except Rohloff Speedhub). Internal gear hubs have a efficiency of 92% compared to 98% for derailleurs. These numbers are valid for new and perfect trimmed drivetrains! There are three friction loss sources inside a internal gear hub drivetrain:

a) Inside a internal gear hub are planetary gears. The planetary wheels cogs into the sun wheels and the ring gear wheel at the same time. This system results a friction loss of 4%

b) Also the friction bearings of the planetary wheels are a source of friction loss.

c) Finally the friction loss of the chain which is also relevant for the derailleurs.

This is the most important disadvantage for sportive riders. But compared to the power loss because of air resistance of the system rider + bicycle this is not worth mentioning!

Inhomogeneous weight allocation between front and the rear wheel. This can be a point for sportive applications (e.g. MTB, Freeride, Downhill)

Less minute adjustment to gear ratios than derailleurs. The gear steps are defined the overall gear ratio can be adjusted by other cogs and cahinwheels. This is again a point for sportive cyclists.

Difficult wheel removal. With the new i-Motion Sram hubs the differences fade. But it´s still an issue to tight the chain. This is not necessary for derailleurs.

The input momentum into the internal gear hub is limited. This means low overall gear ratios cannot be realized (except Rohloff Speedhub). Important point for uphill cycling.

derailleur_drivetrain.jpg

Picture of a derailleur drivetrain


  1. Hi there.
    You will also be interested in the NuVinci continuously variable planetary internal hub.
    There’s a review of it on Bikehugger @ http://bikehugger.com/2007/07/mondo_nuvinci_review.htm

    AL in Christchurch , New Zealand.

    http://urbanbicycles.googlepages.com/home

  2. FER

    I’m going to buy a Gazelle Swing 3 speeds in the hub Nexus bike and I am frightened with the possibility of having to unmunt the rear wheel for repairing a tyre puncture.
    Do you know where can I find any kind of instructions/video for doing it?
    THANKSSSS

    • Chiu

      Try fixing the flat without removing the wheel. The beads of wider tires should be especially easy to remove and then you don’t have to remove the tire. It would still be a good thing to know how to do if you are into doing your own maintenance, etc. Dutchbikeseattle’s weblog has some tutorials for wheel removal: http://www.dutchbikeseattle.com/_blog/Dutch_Bike_Co_Weblog/post/Removing_Your_Dutch_Bike_Wheel/

    • James

      Hi Fer, I’ve communted regularly on my Shimano 3 speed, I find the easiest way to mend a puncture is to leave the wheel in place and simply pop the tube out from under the tyre.

      Some times I’m lucky and can see the object that has made the puncture or can hear where the air is coming out. In which case I only take that part of the tube out from under the tyre.

      If I need to find the puncture I would take the whole tyre out and probably undo the brake so that I can rotate the tyre and tube around to listen to various areas. Whilst still leaving the axle all bolted up.

      If teh tube is unrepairable I can take the the wheel off leaving the gear change connected as I have old school drop outs which are angled forward when I reset the wheel on re-assembly teh gear change then ends up in the same place. If you do need to re-adjust the gears teh Shimano 3 speed is ultra simple you just line up the circular graphis in the bell housing, when in 2nd gear.

      They are great hubs.

  3. B. Factor

    I’d like to put a Rohloff speedhub on my Merlin titanium racing frame circa 1989. The frame has vertical dropouts and is sized for a 6 speed Shimano 105 cassette circa 1989. Is this at all possible or do I have to get a new frame?

  4. Fer,

    please check the Shimano webpage. There are general maintenance instructions available.

    B. Factor,

    dismount the rear wheel of your Merlin and measure the distance between the two dropouts. Now compare this length with the Speedhub dimensions (+/- 3mm should be now problem for a titanium frame.

    Gruß,

    Marco

  5. Jerry

    Great article!!

    Can I change out my Shimano/Nexus 3 speed twist grip shift for a trigger/thumb shifter?

    • Magnus

      Actually I have done this with a Nexus 7 hub and it works fine, not as well as the designed for shifter though and of course the ratchet systems intended for external gear systems don’t work so it is friction adjust only.

  6. Greetings! I am so glad to have found your Blog! And on WordPress no less, this is a great platform for sure!

    OK, So I have a few questions and perhaps more than should be adressed here on your comment portion of your Hubstripping Blog, so if you could shoot me an email I would be most appreciative for your help in choosing a internal geared hub for my new dream bicycle project………of I should say selling my car bicycle project!

    I am going to have a frame made for me by Independent Fabrications as they look to be making some really nice frames, and want to go with a Speedhub, yet have some questions about disk braking and dropout configurations, eccentric BB etc.. So please shoot me a line if you have time.

    AND thanks for your very informative Blog! You Rock for taking the time and love for cycling!

  7. bob carter

    Switching from derailleur to shimano nexus -8 has reduced my average speed on a 14 mile commute by 6%. This indicates an efficiency reduction of over 15%, considerably more than you state above. We are getting definitive efficiency measurements done for greenpower electric car racing & I will try to post results here. Results from that forum suggest that the Nuvinci CVT is significantly less efficient still. Note that the shimano alfine now has roller bearings on its planet gears and their advertising proudly boasts “our most efficient hub yet”. With those bearings & OEM grease replaced by automatic transmission fluid, this hub might get up to rohloff standards for efficiency, which would be a profound improvement!

    • John Holloway

      Hi Bob,
      A delayed reaction, but: Is automatic transmission fluid likely to conform to the specs and/or be better than, for instance, the ‘blue oil’ specified by Shimano for the Alfine 8-speed hub? Will it provide less friction?

  8. Matt

    Jerry – Read this blog for a successful conversion to a bar end style shifter. It is an eight speed hub not a three though. Cheers…

    http://www.oldspokeshome.com/blog/?p=119

  9. If you test ride a new bike with a gear hub, bear in mind that these take a few hundred miles to “run in”. My Brompton (3-speed Sturmey Archer SRF3 hub) has noticeably loosened up over the first 100 miles, especially in low gear. To start with it was like pedalling through treacle.

    Ideally you should strip, clean and relubricate the hub when it has been run in, to get the metal particles out of the lubricant.

    • Dear Roger,
      I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU, IF YOU KNOW WHERE CAN I FIND
      THE FULL SPAREPARTS LIST OF MY BWR (BROMPTON WIDE RANGE) CUSTOMIZED STURMEY ARCHER GEAR HUB.
      AS YOU MENTION S-RF3…I DID ORDER SOME INTERNALS
      PARTS AND THEY WERE NOT THE CORRECT ONES.
      FOR INSTANCE : THE DRIVER AND THE PLANET-CAGE ARE
      DIFFERENT FROM THOSES OF THE S-RF3 !!!
      COULD YOU PLEASE HELP !
      Kind Regards.
      Christian.

  10. bob carter

    Roger is quite right about “running in”. After a couple of thousand miles on the nexus-8, I’m pulling a higher gear than before in a lot of places on my route to work. Our greenpower car is in its third year of racing and is doing significantly better this year, with no changes other than the gearbox bedding in. Wheel bearings will have got worse if anything and I know of no mechanism which would make the motor become more efficient as it wears!

  11. Those interested in Rohloff, and other, Hubs.

    There is now a Yahoo group to support gear hub bikes and those who are interested in them. Also supports other non derailleur bikes and owners. I started it and personally have bikes with Rohloff, Sram iMotion9 and two with older Sachs 3 speed hubs.

    All, except spammers, are welcome to stop by, check it out, and join if interested.

    • Roy Bird

      I am interested in joining your internal hub group.
      I have recently converted a 1987 12-speed NORCO Monterey to a Shimano inter 8 set-up. See;

      http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2009/cc647-roybird0509.html

      Regards,
      Roy

      • Hello Roy,

        thanks for your interest. Congratulation! Your bicycle conversion project looks great. I can offer you a contribution account on the hubstripping blog. It would be interesting for many cyclist to know more about your experiences during the project and now riding the bicycle.

        Gruß,

        Marco

  12. Rich Wood

    To me one major advantage of the Rohloff is the oil bath operation. This provides the ability to do oil changes and flush out the metal particles that are smoothed off during the break-in period.

    Much easier than disassembling as far as the manufacturer permits, cleaning out the old grease, and trying to relubricate the mechanism. Also the oil bath should provide more effective lubrication as it is not going to migrate out of the pressure contact areas like grease can.

  13. I used a Shimano Nexus 4-speed (SG-4R31) on 27-inch rims for 20+ years. It was on a 25 inch Ross frame, and although it was strictly a commuter bike, after countless potholes, hidden curbs and sundry “things that go bump in the night” I wore out the frame and not the hub! The bike is still serviceable (I fear the front forks are fatiguing and could fail catastrophically at a road hazard) but hub still work great. I perceived no efficiency losses from the hub. Recently, I purchased a new Raleigh 700mm hybrid with a Shimano 21 speed Altus derailleur but did not feel it was as efficient as my old 4R31. Now was I happy with the upper range and found myself 90% in the highest gear, 10% in the mid gears, and have never used the lowest gears in 4-months of riding.
    So, I purchased a 7-speed Nexus (SG-7C18) with the intent of replacing the Altus. However, I temporarily mounted the 7C18 to the old frame to test it for efficiency and range. It is excellent! I am now in the process of moving it to the new bike. If anyone know the answers to the following questions, would you mind contacting me?

    1) At this time I wish to disable or remove the integral brake on the SG-7C18 hub. Can anyone advise a proceedure?

    2) Just out of curiosity, can a multispeed hub be integrated to and used with a derailleur?

    Thanks much!

    Krez
    Silicon Valley, CA

    For web crawler evasion my ee-ma1L is:

    krezwell[period][Shift-2][period]aim[period]com

    [delete the brackets and what's between them with their respective keyboard symbols]

  14. I noticed I made a mistakes in the previous message encoding my ee-ma1L that I have corrected at the end of this message

    Also, does anyone know the number of gear passes (as effects efficiency) in Nexus 4, 7 and 8-Speed hubs?

    Again, thanks –

    Krez
    Silicon Valley, CA

    For web crawler evasion my ee-ma1L is:

    krezwell[Shift-2]aim[period]com

    [delete the brackets and what's between them with their respective keyboard symbols]

  15. MArk

    What do you mean in your internal hub advantages section :”Less fragile to crashes or when bicycle falls to one side. There is no distant derailleur (except Srams “Clickbox”). On children bicycles and freerider this is a problem!” how is it a problem on childrens bikes? i ask because i will be adapting a childrens bike to SA coaster 3 speed 20″ (by removng derailleurs) thanks mark

  16. lechatmechant

    one thing i don’t hear much discussion about is the ease of removal of the various hubs. I once had to remove a nexus 7spd just to change a tube and it was a huge pain. Also, the sram p5 has delicate parts that fall out when you remove the clickbox, which you have to do to remove the wheel. how are the the alfine/nexus redband, or imotion 9 in this regard?

  17. speedie

    Question for ya. I am a 55 year old lady just starting all over after many years of having a leg problem. well anyway i bought this bike it is a coaster type beach bike and really quite nice for someone my age. however I am experiencing problems called peddle power getting up even the simplest incline is impossible for me. I was wondering if I might be able to convert this into its sister bike which is a 3 speed nexus derailleur system (internal) that also allows the usage of the regular coaster type. What all would I need to do in order for this to work for me. I just paid 250.00 for the bike a few weeks ago and I hate to have to buy another new one. Can anyone help me out PLEASE.

    Thanks

    • Dave

      You could have an SRAM I-Motion 9 fitted. There is a coater (back pedal) brake and a disc brake option. All its needs is for the rear wheel to be rebuilt with the new hub.

      • If the SRAM iMotion-9 is too expensive, you can also get a Shimano Inter-8 hub, which has a slightly narrower gear range, but is also about half the price of the SRAM iMotion-9.

      • Egor

        But really, who needs 9 or 8 gears? If you have to ride serious hills and then very fast downhill, maybe you need this. But for “some” hills, you just need a little help, like 3 speed hub. And some muscles. Lets remember we are talking about bicycles. We run them with our muscles, if there is a problem with this, I understand, why not getting electric bike? Why suffer? Ride it with your muscles on flats and get some help from the motor on the hills.

  18. What do you think about Schlumpf innovations?
    Could help to tackle the issues of overall gear ratios’ low range and of low gears’ lack?

  19. Roger

    The data I’ve seen suggest that a 3-speed hub gear is as good as, if not marginally better than, a derailleur system (the hub gear benefits from perfect chainline and no tight radius jockey wheels).

    When you go to more than three speeds there is an efficiency drop-off. Certainly anything that puts the drive through multiple planetary geartrains in series introduces a lot of drag.

    Sturmey-Archer used to claim that ball-bearing planet gears reduced drag by 60%, but that was 60% of the drag of the planets alone! Their actual measurements showed on overall hub efficiency increase of between 0% and 1%, so the ball bearing planets were soon dropped. There is more merit to ball (or roller) bearing planets when grease is used for lubrication, or if there are multiple planetary geartrains.

    Hub gears have sort-of constant frictional losses, so they become more efficient as the rider’s torque increases.

  20. Bike_the_planet

    I have been using a Rohloff hub for 18 months now. Included in that times was 5 months riding through Europe.

    One has to be careful about the claim that hub gears have ‘higher reliability’. Yes, being open to the elements, derailleurs do need regular cleaning and regularly suffer from broken cables, maladjusted gears, dirty drivetrain etc etc.

    But I’ve yet to have a derailleur problem that I couldn’t solve by cleaning, adjusting, cable replacement and, every so often, chain/cassette replacement.

    At the end of our Europe tour my Rohloff started slipping in all of the lower 7 gears. I was away from home – no access to a workshop. In the end I had to send it off for repair meaning no bike for 2 weeks. That’s never happened on a derailleur.

    I have to say though that the Rohloff is a superb piece of engineering.

  21. steve

    Regards internal hub efficiency in the 1:1 ratio internal gear hubs are more efficient than derailer – they have no moving parts -not even a chain tensioner is required.
    The Alfine 8 speed 1:1 is the 5th gear –
    In 1st , 6th, 7th, 8th gears is only one planetry gear set engaged.
    In 2nd 3rd and 4th gears 2 planetry sets work in series and lowest efficiency probably occurs in these gears.
    A belt drive and internal hub arrangement that is a very nice combination if i could get a bike like that.

    • Corratec has made an hybrid with Nexus 8 speed and belt drive. I bought one for my girlfriend and have put on a 250W hub motor in the front. This so-called minimotor from Goldenmotor in China has built-in free-wheeling planetary gear, making a very good commuting e-bike, usually going as fast, or faster, than travelling 13 km by car in rush hour.

  22. bob carter

    Thoughts on wheel building with geared hubs

    I recently had a little trouble with my back wheel spoke breakage.This was on a road bike wheel (27″) laced cross 3.
    Where I had gone wrong was that I had not noticed that the spoke holes in the rim were angled alternately towards that side flange on the hub & had laced it out of step. The result was a too large angle on the nipple end of the spokes & consequent breakages.
    I’m a heavy rider (>100kgs) and the roads round here are pretty rough, but I still do not expect regular spoke breakages (like every 15 miles…..)
    I’ve now remade the wheel with new spokes. I took it to my local bike shop for them to fix and after a fortnight they had made no progress because the spokes were an unusual length & they said they couldn’t get ‘em. My patience at an end & with no prospect of progress I took the parts away from the shop, ordered the spokes from SJS on the web and THE NEXT DAY built the wheel myself in about 2hours.
    The point I wanted to make was that because the flange diameter on a geared hub can be quite large, you end up putting a sharp bend on the spoke by the nipple – just where there’s a stress raiser thanks to the end of the thread.
    To reduce this angle in future I would lace the wheel cross 2 rather than cross 3, maybe even cross 1 on a small diameter wheel.
    This must be a real issue with something like the enormous nuvinci hub.
    The “torque stiffness” of the wheel is a function of the angle of the spoke to the rim, and this would be the same with a hub gear laced cross 2 as a smaller hub flange laced cross 3.
    Anybody else got any experience in this area?
    By the way – wheel building I found a very pleasant & rewarding way to spend a summer evening. I’ll certainly never again give somebody else my hard earned cash to do that job!

    • oar8

      I laced most of my new wheels and the latest one was a SG-8R20 laced to a Mavic X317 DH rim. The spokes were mail ordered. It was done with 3 cross and I did note the more acute angle at the nipple end.

      Unfortunately this used hub bought off eBay was defective.

      • bob carter

        This week I had a spoke snap on the back wheel again so I remade it with a 1 cross pattern. 30 miles today, good as gold! there are 2 significant advantages going 1 cross:
        1) spoke angle is now same as a normal hub, so no nasty bend on the spokes at the end of the thread….
        2) spokes for 1 cross are 262mm rather than 284mm for 3 cross. This size is readily available CHEAP (for 26″ wheels) from chainreaction – arrived the next day.
        I’m hopeful this will solve my spoke snapping issues….

      • bobc

        Still no spokes snapped after a year & one or maybe two thousand miles on the clock. A positive result there! I note the rohloff website also now recommends 2 or 1 cross lacing of wheels.

  23. Dave

    Great article. Get your articles proof read for mistakes before publishing !
    Thanks.

  24. Dave

    I believe a transmission costs nothing when its running at 1:1. Its only the down-gearing (or up..) that takes-up some energy.

    Does anyone know if the SRAM I-Motion 9 coaster brake version can be converted to disc brake? In other words, is the hub body the same under the coater brake cover.

  25. Anonymous

    Nice article. Lots of typos.

  26. I have an older bike, picked up at a flea market. It has been great, until the gear cable broke inside the rear gear hub. Is this an easy fix for a mechanically inclined person without access to a shop, or should I send it to a bike shop and have them deal with it, or three, should I chuck the hub and just replace it?

    Thanks, Carolyn

    • Anonymous

      Need more info Carolyn,

      What make/model hub? If it was working OK then it’s probably worth an attempt to fix it.

      Chris.

      • I will get the make and model. The bike actually belongs to a friend and I maintain it for him – in exchange for being able to borrow it anytime I am in his neighborhood.

        Thanks for replying,

        Carolyn

  27. Kathy Reed

    I recently built a bamboo bike and was told that an 8 speed internal rear hub (Sturmey-Archer) with a 34 teeth front gear would be adequate for doing a long distance ride from S.f. to L.A. (545 miles). I do not have enough low gears and I am finding my rear hub to be extremely heavy. I built this road bike wanting it to be light. I feel like I’m pulling a trailer behind me. I would prefer a derailler system. Unfortunately the rear spacing is 120mm. Does anyone know of a 6 or 7 speed cassette that would work with my bike? I’m told the old Sun Tour Ultra freewheel could work, but I’m guessing it’s as heavy as the hub. Flexing the stays apart may be possible by steaming the bamboo to flex it, but I have no idea who could do that for me and if this is just a pipe dream. I hate to give up on this bike.

    • brandon

      Kathy,

      Steaming the bamboo isn’t difficult, either get an el cheapo steam cleaner (just sprays steam from a nozzle) or borrow it. Steam all of the bamboo that needs to flex but don’t steam the joints or junctions. Try to keep all the parts that will flex close to the same temp during the flexing.

      Depending on your climate it should be dried out in a couple of days.

      -b

    • Chris

      I have a wheel built with an EXAGE SPORT hub [FH-A450].
      It was old stock, I guess from the transitional period.
      126mm over lock nut but takes a 7 speed cassette.
      Don’t know if the stays would spring that far?

      Chris

  28. i am very glead to contact u. Good luck. I would like to think ur com. Be successed

  29. Roger Davies

    They forgot to mention what happens when they go wrong. My Sram i-motion9 stopped working completely in the middle of a JOGLE leaving me stranded. I had to push the bike four miles to a station but had that failure have happened in the Highlands I would have had no choice but to call the emergency services. A derailleur would have been fixable even if it meant removing it completely and hanging the chain on the centre cog. Also to get it fixed meant unlacing the spokes and sending the unit to Germany which took overall six weeks and of course time spent relacing and truing the wheel when it was. If I do long rides again it wont be with a hubgear.

  30. Once, I peddled 50m each weekend day and, from time to time, pushed my young ass doing a century on Saturday and the same the next day. Now at 73, and retired in FL, I’m drawn to ride again and have become intrigued by the “multi-speed” rear hub. As a kid, I recall only 3 speeds. Also, more comfy handlebars are available. Riding “in the drops” was always a problem for me. I also see somewhat fatter tires short of those on mountain bikes. I would enjoy reading your experiences with these changes. As you can see, I’ve been out of the loop for many years. But, I know enough to not like the Mountain Bikes. My riding will be on flat Florida roads.

    • Ian Smith

      Try a comfortable velomobile instead. You can fit a hub to any of the available models. Cheaper, robust and available Rotovelos are at the budget end, right up to your carbon-kevlar composites at the other end (I like the Mango for functionality if you don’t mind the 4 month wait to get it). Do your research, get a canopy for the sun and enjoy passing the racers with a smile on your face.

  31. Carl

    As a 2nd bike i have a trek 6045 with Nexus 7 shimano hub gears. The gears are slipping and my lbs tell me it’s on it’s way out. They didn’t seem interested in helping set the bike up with derrailers and instead suggested I buy another bike. Is it worth it / can it be done ?

    • Hi Carl,

      How long have you had the Trek? Even if it’s older, it’s very likely that the hub could be serviced. It might be that that particular LBS isn’t experienced with IGH hubs. You might want to call around to shops and ask if they could help with the hub before moving on to transitioning to a derailleur / new bike.

      One very possible reason for the slipping of the gears is if the cable to the hub has stretched or the cable is getting stuck in the housing so that the indexing is thrown off. This could be an easier fix with just reindexing/lubricating the cable in the cable housing. Does it slip when shifting to certain gears? Also, is it when shifting up or down? If you’d like to check if it’s the indexing, first shift the bike into 4th gear. Then, toward the top of the hub where the cable comes into the hub you should see two colored marks, either yellow or red. And these marks need to be aligned together when you’re in 4th gear. If they’re offset, you know it’s an indexing issue.

      Also, it very well should be possible to swap use a derailleur with your bike if you’d like. Even if there aren’t derailleur mounts built in around the dropouts of the frame, you can get a bracket that bolts into the dropouts and holds the derailleur. What your lbs might have been considering is that it will a decent investment to switch it over because you’ll need:

      * a new rear wheel, or at least a different hub built into your current rear wheel
      * derailleur and maybe derailleur bracket
      * new shifter
      * maybe new cabling

      Still might be worth it to do that on your current bike than getting a new one plus you a bit less wasteful if your current bike is working well for you otherwise.

      But I wouldn’t give up hope with the Nexus yet. If you can’t find an lbs to help you with it you should touch base with Aaron at rideyourbike.com.

  32. I like the helpful information you provide in
    your articles. I will bookmark your blog
    and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  33. Shimano Nexus 7 internal hub vs Nuvinci n360 I have the former on a new Dahon Vitesse D7H. I like Nexus as it is to an extent… Though I have not ridden regularly for years. On uphill stints I can not tell if it is my current level of fitness or the hub but it seems like it would be nice to have a couple of more low ratios to work with.

    Is it feasible to swap one for the other

  34. Anonymous

    One other disadvantage, at least for the Shimano Alfine hub, is that the index shifters work backward. I have no idea why (can anyone shed light on this?), but the big thumb lever pushes you to a higher gear and the small finger lever drops you to a lower gear. This is backward from all my other index shifters I’ve ever had, including two other bikes I own. As a result I am constantly second-guessing my shifting instincts and have to pay close attention to which bike I am on. It’s a little annoying. Some of me wishes that they’d just use a completely different kind of shifter altogether so it’s not so dang disorienting.

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  36. Egor

    To be honest in this comparison, front derailleur should not be mentioned. It’s all about the rear one. And, the range offered is also questionable. I keep noticing that people usually don’t use the whole range of derailleured bike. Maybe 50% of gears installed, or less. This is the reason why I’m interested in gear hubs recently. 500% range is good for tour de France maybe. No one rides like this. For example, I’m 80% happy with single speed. Other 20% would be beneficial if I had a gear hub. But does it make sense comparing to derailleurs? Cassette plus derailleur plus shifter cost as much as 3 speed gear hub kit. This is the real comparison. Should I get it? What’s the benefit?

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