Shimano Alfine hub strips!

The Shimano Alfine hubstrip is online.

The hub was part of a Downhill bike. I estimate that the hub was around 400km in use. All internal parts are greased with a white grease. Even the filigree ratchets which is very unusual. On a few pictures you´ll see metal dust on the white grease as a result of a massive metal abrasion. This is a normal process in the beginning of a hub life. The internal parts are new machined and do not fit perfect into each other. In the first kilometers of usage this “shake down” process produces a lot of metal dust. For a long hub life it´s important to clean an regrease the hub.

To optimize the efficiency of the hub it´s necessary to use grease and oil for the different internal parts. Shimano uses 100% grease inside the hub. This has the advantage of long maintenance intervals. The grease will last a whole hub life!

But the efficiency is bad. For sportive purpose like the Alfine is designed it makes sense to optimize the lubrication and have a one or two year maintenance interval. I my eyes it makes sense to use grease and special oil for the different parts inside the hub. It would not be possible to go for 100% like the Speedhub because of the hub shell / dust cap seal. This seal is not designed to prevent that the oil will leake out of the hub. There is a fantastic article from Chester Kyle and Frank Berto published in the Technical Journal of the IHPVA issue 52. (Also interesting to read is the feedback from Bernd Rohloff in the following issues. A great scientific showdown!)

“The grease in the Sachs 3 and the
Sturmey Archer 3-speeds was replaced
with light oil, and unlike the other hub
gear transmissions, the efficiencies of
the Sachs 3 and Sturmey 3, compare
well with the best of the derailleur
transmissions (figs. 7, 9, and 12).
Also, these transmissions were worn
in, whereas many of the others were
new. Manufacturers would do well to
replace heavy grease in their hub gears
with light oil. Although oil wouldn’t
last as long as grease, the energy
savings would be significant. Unfortunately
commuters have a tendency
to ignore maintenance until something
breaks, so light oil probably wouldn’t
be a popular choice. ”

I´ll give you feedback about my experience. One of my hubs is running since 7 month with special lubrication!

Check also movie 1 (original greased hub) and 6 (special oil lubricated hub) for the differences according ease of rotation.

Details are stored on the Alfine static page.


  1. Cøyøte

    Cool Site.

    Anyway a bit of old guy trivia that may interest you. In the ’60s, Harley-Davidson was trying to keep the side valve motors competitive with the British OHV twins for flat track racing in the US. To minimize power losses the H-D mechanics would take new transmissions and add a fine abrasive to the oil and use and electric motor to drive the transmissions under a light load for a day or two. Then the “oil” would be drained, flushed, the bearings replaced, and new oil added. The idea was that abrasive would run-in the gears in to minimize power loss.

    Just in case you feel like experimenting.

  2. Very interesting idea! I didn´t think about the idea to add fine abraisive to the oil.

    What takes place in a new internal geared hub is more or less the same. In the beginning there will be a increased abrasion of metal particles. The particles will be solved in the oil and increase this process. So it makes sense to repack a new hub after the first km´s to reduce / stop this process.

    Gruß,

    Marco

  3. Citro

    Hi,

    My hub nexus inter-7 needs some maintenance.

    Could you tell me more about your special lubrification

    The Shimano grease for hub is not avaible in France.

    I search the better grease for hub.

    best regards.

  4. Hello,

    my friends think/know I am crazy. I am a SS mtbiker from the east cost, moved to Colorado, and after two MTB seasons I want gears. I have been using the Nexus red stripe 8 sp hub in the road bike, love it, and next week plan to install it into my SS 29er with elliptical bottom bracket. I don’t want to pernanently give up my MTB disc brake, and my road bike. Is there any way/where a US citizen can purchase a 32 hole Alfine hub, in 2008? the black is nice! I am also interested in purchasing the hub maintainence/lube tools, since I may be using two of them soon, and they are not that common in the US yet.

    Thanks, just say no to derailleurs, drink more beer and ride more miles with your spared maintenance/cleaning time.

  5. Bob

    Do you know any replacement for genuine shimano oil? Maybe oil for car engines? I guess that the shimano stuff will be impossible to get here (in Poland) and I just got the Nexus – looks impressive, but rolls hard, probably will break in after some km. I would like to try with oil bath, to improve efficiency of the hub, but I’m afraid that using improper oil may have disastrous results.

  6. Tihamér

    Marco, what kind of “special lubrication” are you talking about ? Replacing the grease inside a hub with oil seems to make sense in terms of efficiency, but the Nexus’s sealings are not fabricated to keep oil inside. As you start riding your bike, the temperature inside the hub will rise and that’ll change the viscosity of the grease/oil, making it thinner and therefore much more likely starting to leak. So I just wonder ….
    If, on the other hand, I could ride my Nexus with a “special lubrication” for 7 months more efficient without any maintenance, I’m very interested !

  7. Bob,

    I have no detailed informations about the Shimano oil. What I can feel is, that it has a higher viscosity than standard bicycle oil (for chain lubrication!). Even be aware that this procedure does not include a degreasing of the hub. It´s just a add on lubrication.

    Tihamér,

    I agree on your statement. I also see these effects! I running a Duomatic hub since last spring. The hub was totally degreased. The ball bearings were greased again. Also the two labyrinth seals on the outside of the hubs. All other parts (The whole gearing parts) were lubricated with a high viscosity oil for motorcycles.
    In the next few weeks I´ll post some pictures of the hub and will present the details of this experiment!

    Gruß,

    Marco

  8. Tihamér

    Great, looking forward to the results of your experiment !

  9. Jody

    Hey Evan,

    My Vancouver LBS just got me a black alfine disc hub for my Sycip Diesel. If he can get one in Canada, I imagine your local shop can get you one in the States.

    Jody

  10. DS

    I have just stripped down my Inter-8 Premium because it seemed to be making a lot of extra noise. It was very clean inside, with very little sign of wear. I will make a post with pictures soon. I degreased using an novel method–high pressure hot water followed immediately by treatment with thin water-displacing oil. It cleaned the parts very well. My plan now is to aggressively degrease (remove the thin water-displacing oil) with automotive brake parts cleaner, and then reassemble according to the Shimano manual. I am considering, however, only applying Shimano Nexus grease to a few important surfaces as I reassemble. After reassembly, I will bathe the gears in Rohloff oil or perhaps a lightweight automotive transmission oil. Do you have any thoughts on which surfaces to grease and what oil to use? Thanks in advance!

  11. DS,

    this sounds like a very progressive degreasing method. More details are welcome. How do you handle the water….and how does the result look like.

    I recommend do use grease for:
    – all bearings (where balls are moving)
    – On the outer parts of the hub. To seal the whole system to the environment and water from outside.
    To optimize the efficiency oil should be used for all other internal parts. I would not use a lightweight oil (like Rohloff) because most of the hubs are not sealed against oil flow out of the hub. Therefore I recommend a oil with high viscosity that will have a better and longer contact on the internal parts.

    Gruß,

    Marco

  12. Epicyclo

    The old Sturmey-Archer hubs achieved impressive mileages with just a few drops of oil each week. The excess did come out the bearings (lubing them on the way) and it was expected that you would routinely wipe this off.

    The idea was just a little oil and often and not to have the hub swimming in it.

    This was common-place stuff in the days when people were regularly doing 10,000 miles per annum on their bikes.

    I suspect a similar system would benefit the Nexus & Alfine.

  13. badmother

    Is there no way to improve the sealingof the hub? Make some rubber washers? Bathroom silicone?

    Oiling the hub often would be easyer if some sort of hole could be made- and sealed again. Is it possible to buy anyting you could install in a drilled hole in the hubshell (like the ones for a grease gun)?

    I like the oil hole with cover found in some old road bike hubs.

  14. Great…Thank For Share This.

  15. Interesting story, thank you…

  16. Mike The Bike

    Hi, fantastic information. Castrol makes a hi-tec car oil named Castrol Magnatec that is 100% syntetic and uses a tech that keeps oil bonded to metal parts using magnetic propertics (little oil does much). It’s about 5-40W and 10-40W (ie It’s very fluid, gets inside everypart and works wery well)

  17. Martin

    You brilliant bastards! Fantastic ideas and information for my Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub! I use the hub mostly for fittness purposes, and am looking for a good tweak.

    So I have one question. Hopefully it can be answered because I am considering to replace the grease with the lighter oil as mentioned. Ofcourse I plan to use grease in the outer parts of it. But I want oil in the inner parts. This oil should be refilled in time. But I don’t want to have to unmount the hub every time. Dismantel it and put oil init.

    I was thinking. Could I drill a tiny hole in the middle of the hub? For example 1 mm, less if possible.
    From this hole I could refill the oil easylly by injecting the oil with a needle injector. After this I could cover the hole with good oldfassioned Duc Tape. Or I use a small bolt and a tiny rubber ring to close the hole.

    This way the hub does not has to be unmounted and dismanteled frequently. It will not lose the no maintainance karakter sort of.

    Thank you!

    • Chris

      If I was going to drill a port in an Alfine for oiling I would be looking at putting it in the LHS wall about half way in.
      This location means easy access and no problem with centrifical force pushing oil past a dodgy sealing job.
      The issue with oil is getting it to stay where it is needed and keeping it in the hub.
      I have WB maintenance oil in my Alfine at the moment but will probably replace it with a light, tacky grease.
      The Alfine is not positively sealed so there is quite a bit of leakage from behind the sprocket.
      I now have no idea how much oil is still in there. Hence the desire to go back to grease.
      Another problem I have had with oil concerns a Sturmey 5 speed I ran from ’90 to ’95.
      Oil pot lubrication…a little but often.
      The brake surfaces on the rim were constantly covered by a film of leaked oil in spite of regular cleaning.
      The oil picked up the road dust and the whole lot turned into a fine lapping paste.
      Consequently when the hub was worn out in 5 years, so to was the rim.

      Chris.

      • Martin

        What do you mean with LHS? Left half side half way in?

        I understand the use of light oil in these hubs might leak out.

        This covers others parts of the bike. Something one does not want.

        Thank you!

      • Chris

        I am suggesting the oil hole comes in horizontally from the Left Hand Side about half way between the spoke holes in the flange and the edge of the splined disc boss.

  18. alpakka

    Anyone who used car transmission oil, does it work well?
    Or what type of oil did you use to replace lubrication?

  1. 1 reponse de mecano

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