11 Speed Alfine hub from SHIMANO

Shimano announces a 11 gear hub. The range will be 409% (Alfine 8 gear 307%). The hub runs in a oil bath like the Rohloff Speddhub. This should result a higher efficiency and longer lifetime. The price will be 300,- Euro release data is September 2010.

Check out our official Alfine 11 page for more info.

  1. wow, combined with the Gates Carbon Drive this could really be a fantastic product. Some thoughts about this in my last Blog post.

    • Wow, looks really good !

      Let’s hope that Shimano will have a decent twist shifter by the time this hubs hits the street (the current one is really lousy, Shimano should take a good look at the Rohloff shifter).


      • Morpheous

        Why a rotary shifer? ..the trigger works great on my Alfine 8?

      • Al

        I have been running a alfine 8 for 3000km with a trigger shifter (upside down on the left side of handle bar…) and while i would not want to run a twist shifter because e.g. of the additional space it takes up, i like the fact that with a twist shifter one can shift IN ONE GO from 8. to 1.gear (often required during days riding…) which one can not do with a trigger shifter where one needs to SHIFT TROUGH ALL THE GEARS ONE BY ONE and that takes longer/too long….
        e.g. could be solved with a spring and a small button that releases preloaded tension in 8.gear and flings it all back to 1.gear.

  2. SenNoide

    Eehh… I don’t know about this. Shimano seems to be all over the place, in terms of qualtiy, at times. Great to see them pushing the market and giving Rohloff a run for their money, but still not sure how convinced I am on internal hubs and disk brakes….
    Disk brakes (along with adjustment in chain tension) means sliding dropouts, eccentric botton bracket, chain tensioner on vertical drop outs, or a real “touch” (meaning a PIA) with track ends.
    I knowthat internal hubs in the US are already a new fangled thing that most people aren’t sold on, but drum brakes may just be the way to go with a city/commute/ and possibly even touring bike.

    • Morpheous

      The Torker Graduate is the bike for you then…..5 sp SA internal and drums. And cheap.

    • Al

      For MTB (with internal hub like mine) there is only one way to go (because of wet, speed etc.) and that is disk brakes….
      and with full suspension (because most setups have chain growth) that means chain tensioner….
      but since a chain tensioner is way smaller and less fragile than a derailler it All ends up being way better than it was before….
      and as people realise how solid internal hubs are (….18000km done with old 2.hand 3 speed internal hubs (shimano and SA) on FS MTB with motor) more people even with MTB’s will appreciate and will use internal hubs (of course with disk brakes) because of all its advantages…

      • Al

        Just translated the German Shimano press release above and read that they have actually solved the “not being able to shift more than one gear at the time with trigger shifter issue” with their new trigger shifter that i was complaining about in my post above.
        Now we have ‘instant release’ which is a faster and more direct shift….i guess because in the old shifters there was play in the thumb shifter shifting up….
        we also have ‘multi release’ which is shifting more gears at once which is what in my opinion was what was missing the most and i hope it means being able to shift all the way from 8. to 1. gear…
        and we have ‘2 way release’…..

  3. Al

    ‘2 way release’ meaning something like being able to either shift down by pushing with the thumb or pulling with the index finger.

  4. gear

    When will it be released? Will there be a black model?

  5. hubbub

    So Sept is gone. Is the hub in production?

  6. Mike

    I have fitted an SG-S700 hub to my wife’s commuter bike just 2 days ago. This hub is very quiet and the shifting was precise and very quick. She previously had a Nexus 8 speed hub and she is much happier with the Alfine hub because I reduced the overall gearing on the bike by fitting a bigger rear sprocket and a smaller chainring. Shimano recommend a 1.9 ratio between the front and rear. I’ve selected 1.77 to suit my wife’s particular needs as she climbs some hills and needed a proper granny gear. I’m not sure if this will damage the drive gears due to extra torque but she is not heavy so I don’t expect problems.

    The top speed is still probably too high for her commuter bike in 11th gear.
    The reason for changing from the 8 speed to the 11 speed was to be able to maintain the same top speed while adding some gears below the Nexus 1st gear. Once I understand the issues I may further reduce the overall ratio.

  7. aaronsbicyclerepair

    No us supplier has the Alfine hub in stock yet, but Harris has imported them, apparently……
    One of our customers brought one in for a wheel build so we opened it up for a peek. It uses the same dust cap/seal removal tool as the 8 speed Alfine (left hand thread). The seals for the hub seem very delicate. Time will tell if replacements will be available. It is unlike Shimano to offer small parts and information is hard to come by. They certianly don’t want BIKE SHOPS to know about it. A call to Shimano USA did not give us any info. Our customer found this un-linked page: http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/0/alfine/product.-code-SG-S700.-type-.html

    The oil has a green hue like Shimano’s grease. Rohloff cleaner and oil would be fine for servicing this hub. Shimano’s oil has a slightly higher viscosity.
    Here are pics:

  8. My Alfine is dead silent, fitted on a sliding dropout bike (No tensioner) it’s almost eerie to hear nothing over the bumps but the tyres. The shifter isn’t bad, but I’m used to XTR on the mountain bike and its rough by comparison to that. It feels like something is catching the lever occasionally while I’m downshifting, so not the sort of quality I’d expect from any Shimano shifters. The ability to shift 2 gears in either direction is excellent though I’d love to be able to mount the shifter outside the brake lever like XT and XTR shifters can do, so I can leave my hand positioned for 1 finger braking and still change gear.

    2nd gear feels really spongy, 1st is also quite spongy, but not as bad. All the other gears are nothing short of amazing – instant pick up of drive, way quicker than a Alfine 8, no feeling of poor efficiency in any of them and quieter than a derailleur while pedalling too. I chose the sprocket ratios so that 1st is a bail out gear and most of the steep climbs I ride can be done in 2nd (Part of the reason the sponginess is annoying as this gear will get used a lot). The 24% gap from 2nd to 1st makes using first as part of the normal range of gears a bit messy, so it’s best left as a bailout gear.

    The bad news is the hub started to skip intermittently in 9th gear on the way home from the first cycle I took the hub out on today. I can’t replicate the problem on demand, but have seen it only in 9th gear. The hub makes a cracking noise, the pedals jump forward slightly and then the hub continues to provide drive in 9th as if nothing had happened – the indexing is set correctly as per Shimano’s instructions and there’s nothing broken, bent or damaged as far as I can see. I’d live with the spongy 2nd, but any skipping in a hub costing this much is pretty poor.

    An unusual feature of the hub is that the gears from 9th to 11th make a clicking noise when you backpedal. Freewheeling in all gears is silent and backpedalling in 1st to 8th is silent too.

    Dimensions of the hub for wheelbuilding (I measured these myself as they’re not published anywhere I know of) are:
    Chainline 42 mm with sprocket offset inwards or 47.5 mm with sprocket offset outwards (Depending on the sprocket you get you may need to remove the plastic chain guide to offset the sprocket outwards), Dropout spacing 135 mm, Centre to Left (Disk side) Flange: 29.4 mm, Centre to Right (Drive side) Flange: 43.6 mm, Both Flanges have spoke hole centres at a diameter of: 93 mm, Spoke Hole Diameter: 3 mm.

  9. Dale Christensen

    I’ve got a Brodie Once with the Alfine 11 hub and have ridden this hard. While the range is great, I’ve got some concerns about the quality. It seems to be impossible to adjust this thing so it doesn’t slip and click out of gear when you reef on the pedals. No matter how right on the center of the yellow lines you adjust or where you adjust a bit to the right or left of the correct setting, something slips. Some adjustments make it slip in 6, others in 8-9 or 3-4. I’m hoping this is a break in not a break down problem and that I’m not suffering from the earliest pioneers catch the sharpest arrows thing.

    Possibly not ready for Prime Time…


  10. Dale Christensen

    I need to update my post of January 25, 2011. The slipping problem was not the hub. The folks who assembled my bike set the cable to exactly 184mm as directed by Shimano but measured to the wrong point on the outer casing holder. Reset the cable, allinged the yellow marks and it runs flawlessly.

    Viva Alfine.

    • Hi Dale,

      My cable is mounted correctly in the cable stop at the hub (Full length outer to this point) and the cable tension is set so the yellow marks are perfectly aligned in 6th gear as in the instructions.

      The cable is routed correctly as far as I can tell on the plate that turns to change the gears too, so I can’t see what dimension the 184mm is used for, nor can I see how I could have the hub incorrectly adjusted. I’m very anxious to get this sorted as a few spins in the skipping in 9th remains and running the hub in a gear that skips will ruin it over time.

      • John

        Dale, It’s worth checking one more thing. Sometimes the dust seal behind the casstte joint gets installed upsidedown. This will result in a cassette joint that gets compressed, doesn’t move freely, and gets stuck between gears. This part is convex, or dome shaped, and the Shimano instructions don’t show the correct position very well. You’ll need to remove the wheel, pull the cassette joint, remove the dust seal, and see which direction is was facing. The outer edge should be turned in (convex) toward the cog, away from the cassette joint! Unfortunately, I speak from experience, fortunately it’s an easy remedy. Good luck!

      • John

        Oops, My last post about the dust seal was meant for Cormac.

      • I took the sprocket off the hub last night and it was assembled as in Shimano’s instructions: http://bike.shimano.com/media/techdocs/content/cycle/SI/Alfine/SI_37R0A/SI-37R0A-002-ENG_v1_m56577569830728103.pdf so nothing seems to be wrong there. The only place I’m doing anything different from the instructions is that I have the sprocket flipped over to give a 47.5 mm chainline to match the chainset I’m running (I find it hard to believe Shimano through pure coincidence managed to put just the right amount of offset in the sprocket to give a perfect chainline for road chainsets with the sprocket one way and for Trekking/MTB chainsets with it the other way). I removed the plastic chainguide from the sprocket as this does foul with the hub when the sprocket is flipped. There is nothing catching or fouling in either the spinning of the hub/sprocket or the gear shifting mechanism as far as I can tell.

  11. Cable problems are almost always the cause of an IGH slipping out of gear or “skipping”. Glad to see the 11 speed hub is working good.

  12. Dale Christensen


    Talked to shimano and they said incorrect cable length adjustment is the cause of most skipping. Getting this right fixed my slip problems. If the cable isn’t the right length you can’t fix slip problems by setting the yellow guide lines with the setting barrel on the shifters.

    You’ll need the shimano shifter tech doc and something that will accurately measure 184mm like a digital caliper. I bought this one.


    Here’s the tech doc set. Open the shifter doc.


    Click to access SI-6TV0A-001-ENG_v1_m56577569830713439.pdf


    Click to access SI-37R0A-002-ENG_v1_m56577569830728103.pdf


    Click to access EV-SG-S700-3092_v1_m56577569830729562.pdf

    Follow the “Disconnecting the shift cable when removing the rear wheel..” directions. Note the parts they call the cassette joint and the outer casing holder. Be gentle and careful with the rubber bellows and once you get the fix bolt out (twist to get the flat side to slide out of its slot), thread the cable/fix bolt/bellows under your chair so you can hold the end and pull it tight and it’s not wrapped around anything. Loosen the fix bolt so it slides on the cable.

    Here’s the important part. Look at step 8 on the shifter tech doc. The 184mm measurement is from the exact center of the fix bolt to the INSIDE edge of the end of the other casing holder. The folks who put my bike together set it to an exact 184mm to the outside edge. The difference is about 1.5mm to long. Throw in some cable stretch and you can’t adjust this to not skip no matter where you set the yellow guide lines.

    Use the calipers to measure the right lenght. When you think it’s right on, hand tighten the fix bolt nut. A firm had tight is enought to keep it locked down on the cable so you can remeasure to make sure it’s right on. Redue if you need too. When it’s perfect tighten firmly but not violently (my defination of the 3.5 – 5.5 newton meters called for in the tech doc) and put it all back together as per the doc.

    Set the yellow lines using the barrel adjuster on the shifter. Fine tune if needed after riding.

    Let me know if this fixes your problem. If it does you owe me a pint next time I’m in Limerick.


  13. Dale Christensen

    Dale Christensen
    January 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm


    Talked to shimano and they said incorrect cable length adjustment is the cause of most skipping. Getting this right fixed my slip problems. If the cable isn’t the right length you can’t fix slip problems by setting the yellow guide lines with the setting barrel on the shifters.

    You’ll need the shimano shifter tech doc and something that will accurately measure 184mm like a digital caliper. I bought this one.


    Here’s the tech doc set. Open the shifter doc.


    Click to access SI-6TV0A-001-ENG_v1_m56577569830713439.pdf


    Click to access SI-37R0A-002-ENG_v1_m56577569830728103.pdf


    Click to access EV-SG-S700-3092_v1_m56577569830729562.pdf

    Follow the “Disconnecting the shift cable when removing the rear wheel..” directions. Note the parts they call the cassette joint and the outer casing holder. Be gentle and careful with the rubber bellows and once you get the fix bolt out (twist to get the flat side to slide out of its slot), thread the cable/fix bolt/bellows under your chair so you can hold the end and pull it tight and it’s not wrapped around anything. Loosen the fix bolt so it slides on the cable.

    Here’s the important part. Look at step 8 on the shifter tech doc. The 184mm measurement is from the exact center of the fix bolt to the INSIDE edge of the end of the other casing holder. The folks who put my bike together set it to an exact 184mm to the outside edge. The difference is about 1.5mm to long. Throw in some cable stretch and you can’t adjust this to not skip no matter where you set the yellow guide lines.

    Use the calipers to measure the right lenght. When you think it’s right on, hand tighten the fix bolt nut. A firm had tight is enought to keep it locked down on the cable so you can remeasure to make sure it’s right on. Redue if you need too. When it’s perfect tighten firmly but not violently (my defination of the 3.5 – 5.5 newton meters called for in the tech doc) and put it all back together as per the doc.

    Set the yellow lines using the barrel adjuster on the shifter. Fine tune if needed after riding.

    Let me know if this fixes your problem. If it does you owe me a pint next time I’m in Limerick.


    • I set the cable up as you described on Friday, matched the indexing marks and I think the problem is gone. The spin on Sunday was all steep uphill or downhill though, so didn’t spend much time in 9th (I spent ages doing laps of the green area in front of my house in all the gears on Saturday after making the adjustment and got no skipping at all though – the neighbours must think I’m more insane than usual now), but everything seems to be fixed.

      The weird thing is there’s no mechanical reason I can see for the hub working now when it didn’t work before. The cable stop is clamped almost in exactly the same place as before, and there is no difference observable at the hub between the effect of the cable clamp location and the indexing adjustment at the shifter, but if it works it works :)… And if you’re ever in Limerick you’re more than welcome to a drink or three on me…

      • Dale Christensen

        Yeah it’s weird that the cable adjustment is so precise. But the directions say 184mm, not 183mm or 185mm, so.. And if you’re like me your neighbors already think you’re a bit daft, so who really cares.

        Glad this fixed your problem. I also found that a shot of spray lube on the hub/cable/rotating part of the cassette joint makes everything work quicker, smother and more reliably. The return spring on the Alfine 11 is much lighter Nexus 8 and I think removing any friction is a good thing. My wife commutes on a Bianchi Milano and I have to reef hard w my fingers or an inserted hex wrench to pull the Nexus back to remove or replace the cable. The Alfine spring is easy to push back in comparison. When I talked to Shimano they said it doesn’t hurt to set the 184mm slightly tighter to help the return and the shift. I set my exact and didn’t try this.

        Having a standing offer for a free pint in Limerick feels like money in the bank. Thanks for the offer. Never been there but you never know.


  14. Dale Christensen


    Not sure my comments are getting posted. I see a comment under them saying that my comments are waiting moderation. Not sure what that means. I’m not very moderate. Write my email at dalech@gmail.com if you want to get my suggestions.


    • eliotk

      Hi Dale,

      A couple of your comments were mistakenly flagged for moderation but I just approved them now. Sorry about that!


  15. Incorrect length, damaged, kinked, or mis-routed cable and housing is the number one problem we see with internally geared hubs.

    I have found that Shimano’s service instructions are very precise and if you follow them to a “T” then there will not be problems. Problem, of course, is that folks can’t follow instructions! 🙂 Human nature I guess.

    Another potential problem is not tightening the axle nuts tight enough. Check them regularly because the torque on the axle can cause them to loosen unlike a regular hub.
    Be sure to grease the threads! If you don’t know the proper torque by feel (experienced mechanics develop this) then use a torque wrench and use Shimano’s torque spec. Aluminum drop-outs are prone to damage from the axle lock-nuts if ridden with loose axle nuts. This can also cause the locknuts to loosen which will, in turn, cause the cones to loose adjustment and wear faster. That and a lack of lube for the Northwest USA are the 2 problems we see with Shimano’s hubs. (all hubs actually). Newer IGH hubs really are very durable and cannot mechanically slip out of gear or skipp like old SA AW.

  16. Ross

    I’m an Alfine 8 owner, recently I raced on it and really noticed the inefficiency and weight. I was wondering how the Alfine 11 was in efficiency, with the helical gears and oil lube?

    • Giles Jones

      Weight is more or less the same as Alfine 8.

      Efficiency of the 11 is better than the 8 but not that much better than an 8 that has had the grease removed and replaced with oil.

      Shifting on the 8 was much improved when I oil bathed it. If you still have grease in your Alfine 8 then you’ll feel a difference.

  17. Edwin

    I’ve just got an Alfine 11 and have a couple of queries relating to it that I hoped someone who already has one could help with.

    Firstly, with the cassette joint fixing ring in the locked position, the cassette joint is not held firmly to the hub, as it is in the Alfine 8, and is quite wobbly. Is this correct?

    Secondly, the shift up into 9th from 8th is delayed and it won’t shift into 10th or 11th. The hub can be shifted into the higher gears by manually pushing the pulley to take up the cable slack but there is some resistance. The driver cap is fitted correctly and the yellow marks are correctly aligned in 6th. Does the hub just need time to run in?


    • Dale Christensen


      I’d be willing to bet that your problem is a shifter cable isn’t set correctly. See my earlier post from January 27th. Set the cable correctly then realign the yellow marks. That should fix your’re problem.

      This thing has to be exact. I bought my bike w/ the Alfine 11 from a great shop that does internal hubs all the time and they set it wrong. 1.5mm off and you’re not shifting.


      • Edwin

        Thanks replying to my post Dale. However I’ve adjusted the cable to exactly 184mm but it’s not fixed the problem. The pulley gets stuck between 8 and 9th when it’s been turned by hand to a lower gear position, even when the cable is not attached.


    • Hi Edwin,

      This is definitely not a breaking in behaviour. Pushing the hub through the gears by hand is perfectly smooth on my hub and the only place there’s even a bit of stiffness is when the cassette joint drops from about 3rd to 2nd (But it can’t be felt through the shifter and is due to a feature in the cassette joint, not in the hub and there has never been any hesitation in the shift). If the hub is under a slight load you might feel a few clicks as you push it from gear to gear, but there should be no stiffness.

      Have you checked that the chain or chainguide isn’t fouling any part of the cassette joint? Also check whether the cassette joint will turn easily through the full gear range when it’s removed from the hub and that the plastic ring that fits outside the snap ring that holds the sprocket in place is the correct way around.

      I thought my hub issues were fixed on following Dale’s instructions above, but yesterday it jumped to what felt like 5th or 6th from 9th or 10th gear, so still not 100% even though it’s been flawless for the previous few spins.

      The cassette joint is free to turn slightly with respect to the hub on my Alfine too, and the movement of the cable stop with respect to the splined driver on the hub could well be the reason for the indexing issues as this give a degree or two of movement even when the index makrs are perfectly aligned, might see what happens if I cable tie the cable braket to one or other ends of it’s range and set indexing there – it’s still a mess compared to Shimano’s usual fit and forget design, especially when the whole point of a hub like this is that it should need less minding than derailleurs.

      • Dale Christensen

        Having about 500 miles on my Alfine 11 I’d have to say it’s not perfect but it good enough. Everything is micro-adjusted perfectly and I still get an occasional skip or mis-shift. It’s not rock solid and I find myself riding cautiously and not hitting it hard. The shirting on my wife’s Nexus 8 is more reliable and less picky.

        It seems that the cable position is so critical on the 11 that you may not be able to set it so it’s adjusted in over the entire shift range. If I have a slip I can adjust it out for those gears but then a different set may start causing grief.

        Again, it’s ok, but to echo Cormac, it’s not Shimano set and forget. Perhaps the price to be paid for being an early adopter?

  18. Pete Ramshaw

    Casssette joint loose on Alfine 11.

    Just built an Alfine 11 hub. My cassette joint is loose and flops around very easily like Edwins (Feb 11)

    This is nothing to do with cable tension or alignment as it flops aound when wheel is not on bike. My Alfine 8 cassette joint was tight. Examining the two hubs shows a small difference.

    The cassette joint on the Alfine 8 sits proud of the shoulder on the hub thus enabling the lock tab to clamp it tight. The cassette joint on the 11 sits below the shoulder on the hub thus allowing it to flop. To me the width of the cassette joint is slightly too narrow and allows movement.

    I will not use the bike until I, or anyone on here, can confirm from Shimano that this is intended. It looks like potential for wear and tear.

    Have the early buyers become test riders?

    • Edwin

      Update: I’ve taken my hub into a local bike shop that has built up a couple of bikes with 11 speed hubs and they’ve confirmed that there’s a problem with my hub. They’re going to send it back to the distributor to be looked at.

      • Dale Christensen

        Edwin – Did you get any enlightenment from taking this into the shop for sending to the distributor?

  19. Dale Christensen

    I’ve taken my bike into the shop in Vancouver BC where I bought it and worked with their tech heads to confirm the cable and adjustments are spot on. I’m still getting a slip or skip in random gears and it seems to be related to the level of torque I put on the cranks. I end up riding it cautiously, shifting when I get a skip and adjusting to try to dial in the gears. Not good. Not horrible either. But somethings wrong and it’s either with the cassette arm flexing under higher drive pressure, the weak return spring or some internal hub flaw.

    Are others experiencing this? Has anyone talked to Shimano or their distributors?

    I commute a hundred miles or so on this bike and am a reasonable bike tech head. I know there’s a problem and it’s got me stumped.


    • Edwin

      I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

    • Is the cable kinked inside the housing?
      The cable should move without any effort.
      Shimano makes a special tool to set the proper cable length extending past the housing to the pinch bolt. It has to be perfect.
      make sure you are using quality index housing and METAL ferrules (housing caps). We recommend standard 5mm housing and 1.1mm stainless die drawn cables (Jagwire). Do not use grease on your cables. A light wet lube (Tri-flow)or powder dry lube like Bike-Aid or Dri-slide is better. Finally, full housing from the shifter to the Cassette Joint is recommended. Trying to use cable stops allows dirt to enter and if they are not in the right position may cause the housing to move (lengthen or shorten) as the bars are turned. This might account for the inconsistent skipping.

      It is also possible but not likely that you damaged the clutch or the sun gear engagement dogs (pawls) if you rode the hub with the indexing out of adjustment. The way the Shimano hubs engage the different sun gears makes it CRITICAL that you have the cable adjusted properly from day one. Pics of the 8-speed axle assemble is here: (11 is the same mechanism) http://www.rideyourbike.com/shimanoIGH.shtml

      Unfortunatly, service tools are not yet available for the 11 however, we can still “strip” the hub for inspection. The official tools just make it easier.

      Good luck!

      • Dale Christensen

        All good advice but we checked the cables, housings, cable length, adjustments at the shop when I took it in. It’s the hub or the cassette. Looks like I’m not the only one experiencing a slip or skip in random gears. For me this usually happens under torque.

        There’s a problem with Alfine 11 hubs. Not sure they were ready for release last fall.

        It’s too bad. Swapping this out for a Nexus 8 or Rolf isn’t all that simple.

        Not happy. Tried everything to make this work.

        Don’t buy the Shimano Alfine 11 until they iron this out.

  20. Dear Dale,

    It is not like Shimano to release a product that does not work.
    You may not like their product (Bio-Pace, Airlines, Dual Control MTB Levers, etc) but they all worked just fine if they were installed properly and as per their instructions. Shimano has very clear instructions (when you can find them!).

    The index function of Shimano’s (and most IGH hubs, save Rohloff) is in the shifter. It is TOTALLY reliant on proper cable tension. Improper housing routing can affect cable tension. I doubt that there is anything wrong with the Cassette Joint. All cassette joints have a slightly loose fit to the drive plate (shift star-washer that rotates). This is not a problem because the cable should still be in tension even when fully fed out (1st gear). This causes the cassette joint to rotate slightly.

    The way the Alfine hubs engage the different sun gears is with several pawls on the axle that move in and out as the drive plate rotates. It has to be perfect or the hub may skip.

    I am confident that we can properly adjust your hub. It is highly unlikely that anything is wrong with the hub! Bring your bike down to Seattle!

    • Shozo

      Shimano’s 1st generation 3, 7 & 8 speed hub designs were all problematic. The much-lauded Alfine S501 model is Shimano’s _sixth_ generation 8-speed hub.

  21. Ernie

    Could anyone shed some light on how the Alfine 700 is constructed and how it works?

    – How many planet series? Structure and pathway of torque?
    – Stepped, simple planet series?
    – What kinds of shift mechanisms (pawls, dog clutches?)

    I’d love to see a model of the structural design, showing the number of planet series and where the shift mechanisms are located. Shimanos patents do not disclose a structural model, like the Rohloff and SRAM patents.

  22. Mel

    I’ve been riding my Alfine 11 since January. I’m using mine on my 29er Haro Mary MTB. I’ve done about 500km so far. I don’t get random skipping like others have described, when I’m just riding along in one gear it is fine. The problem with my hub seems to be related to the shifting, trying to shift up two gears at a time, sometimes it doesn’t seem to quite hang on to the second gear and slips back one. This is very annoying if I’m hitting a hill and at high torque. “Ping!” “Crunch!” “Bang!” are the kind of noises I expect from a derailleur, not the IGH!!

    I find there is sometimes a delay in shifting, like there is too much torque for it to shift – and I don’t feel like I am really cranking, I’m usually sitting down and pedalling.

    I initially put these problems down to my inability to properly shift gears after 4 years riding singlespeed. But the problem is ongoing and I believe something is wrong with the hub.

    I have adjusted the cable length to 184mm as per the instructions, then adjusted the two yellow marks to align perfectly (using the barrel adjuster). When I recheck the cable length, it is 181mm. I have continuous housing, which is kink-free, and the cable is clean, kink-free and running smoothly.

    Because I purchased the hub in July ’10 (took a while to get it built up), I am feeling the pressure to return the hub under warranty before my time runs out. (And return to singlespeeding for the southern hemisphere winter).

    I am frustrated with the feeling of riding cautiously and not going all out so I don’t damage the hub, or myself, when the gears slip.

    Any comments/advice? Thanks.

    • You CANNOT shift an IGH under load. You have to STOP pedaling or even pedal backwards a bit when you shift!
      The delay is caused by the pedal force not allowing the pawls or clutch to engage.

      Would you try to shift a car without pushing in the clutch?
      A manual car, that is. IGH are the same!

      None of the hubs we have seen with problems have been the the result of warranty issues. 100% have been user error, cable problems, lack of lube, loose axle nuts (30 ft-lbs, btw), etc, etc.

      • gear

        While I don’t shift my Alfine 11 under load, I do pedal while shifting a lot of the time. My SA 8 speed would go nuts if I tried to shift with the pedals turning. The Alfine doesn’t seem to mind. I have been using mine for two months now and not one shifting error on its’ part. I love this hub.

    • Dave

      Your problems Mel sound very much like a shifting issue, and not a hub problem. I have found that once into a gear the Alfine 11 pretty much stays there. I have however faced a similar problem with my hub in the few weeks after building it into my hub, when I didn’t have the shifitng alinged properly. The hub would make all sorts of weird noises during some shifts, which I now realise are what happens when the gears are not shifitng into place correctly.

      Given that your cable adjustment bolt is moving about from 184mm to 181mm, I suspect that the problem lies in that direction. You may want to have a few more tries at getting the distance spot on. I used a vernier caliper to measure my distance while pulling the cable taut. Your attention to the cable sounds brilliant, so I can only imagine that it is the cable bolt.

      My initial problems were related to having the cable bolt at 181mm, hence my move to the use of a vernier caliper. Once I got the measurement right, and tensioned the cable so that the yellow lines were lined up, I no longer had any strange noises coming from the hub.

      I note the other comments on shifting under heavy load. I will say that I cannot shift under load – the Alfine 11 hub flat out refuses to move the gears until I ease up on the torque. I can however shift while pedalling at a moderate torque across all gears, and the Alfine 11 seems to handle these situations with very smooth gear changes.

      • Mel

        I did not explain myself very clearly… I soft pedal to change gears, but have found that after I have done that and I think the gears have changed, when I start to crank away things can get ugly. That’s when the skipping is at it’s worst and sounds like damage is being done.

        Dave, thanks for your comments about the cable length. My vernier calipers don’t reach out to 184mm, so I am using a steel rule.

        Can anyone confirm that even when the two yellow marks are aligned, the cable length is still at 184mm? I don’t understand how I can achieve this. I adjust it to 184mm, reattach the cable and find the yellow marks do not align… I make the adjustment with the shifter barrel adjuster and remeasure the cable length to find it is shortened. HOW do I achieve the correct cable length?

        (Excuse me for my ignorance, but I’d really love some help on this!!)

  23. John

    After addressing this issue in great depth, I now firmly believe Shimano has a problem here, despite Aaron’s repeated assertions it must be due to cable mis-adjustment. Like others have noted, I get my worst skipping in 9th gear. YES, my adjustment bolt is at 184 mm. YES, I use full length housing (Jagwire). YES, I have adjusted the timing marks in both directions using the barrel adjusted at the shifter, in one click increments, taking a great amount of time to evaluate each position. I can now purposefully adjust it so it skips in most gears, 4th and 5th, or in 9th, but never so that it does not skip at all.

    I have the distinct advantage of living near Irvine, CA, where Shimano’s US headquarters are, so I took it in for them to see. They were very helpful, and I left it with them for a couple days for them to hopefully diagnose the problem. When they were done, they said – like Mr. Goss – it must be cable adjustment. They made their own adjustments to my bike. First ride out the next day and the hub was skipping as usual with no further adjustment on my part.

    Last night by the end of my ride, I had it adjusted as well as ever, only skipping very occasionally in 9th gear. This morning on my ride to work, 9th gear was skipping like crazy, every couple of revolutions of my crank. This is of course, also without making further adjustments since last night. I thought I had noticed this before. This morning confirmed there is definitely something different between the end of an afternoon trail ride and commuting first thing the next day. I think the most obvious difference is temperature. I think the implication is oil viscosity. I would very much like to see the spec sheet for this oil, but I doubt that will ever happen. I’ll bet viscosity is too high, and viscosity index (rate of viscosity change over temperature) is too low. I brought this up with the Shimano tech, and was told emphatically not to use any other oil (at $90/pint!). After addressing a good many other potential causes including a sloppy cassette joint, chain line, axle nut torque, etc., this is about the only thing left I haven’t tried. Well, this and maybe having a custom shift return spring wound that has more force. At the risk of voiding my warranty, I’m considering trying other lubricants. Sure would be nice to know what my reference starting point is though, without having to send an oil sample out for analysis. I’m thinking one grade in viscosity lower, with as high an index as possible, though I don’t know if the seals will tolerate a synthetic. Anyone gone down this path yet?

    Shimano tried to fix it and was unsuccessful. We have a problem here.

    • Dale Christensen

      I was not able to resolve the skipping problem myself and the bike shop where I purchansed the bike wasn’t either. I escalated to Brodie the mfg. who contact Shimano Canada, who contacted Shimano USA who sent a replacement Alfine hub to a LBS to swap out the guts. I’ve only been riding it a couple of days post swap- but it’s different. The old skip pattern is not happening but its not perfect. I’ll ride it for a couple of weeks before drawing any conclusions.

      • John

        So you were able to swap in a new gear cluster, the internal only? You did not have to lace in a new hub?

        Yes, please let us know how it works. Perhaps it all comes down to a component machining tolerance issue, or something of the sort. Over on MTBR, there is a photo posted of an Alfine 11 pawl tip that looks mashed, not chipped, like it was too soft and hadn’t been properly heat treated http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=696480 .

      • Dale Christensen

        Yes. they shipped a whole hub and the LBR swapped out the internals and issued a RA back to Shimano for the guts. No relace. Quick swap out.

    • If there is a kink in the cable hidden inside the housing or the housing end is starting to have the wires splay thru, then that could cause the problem. Also we recommend metal housing end caps (ferrules). Make sure they are the index type ferrules and not generic brake kind. If you can crush the ferrule with your fingers then it is not the right type! We recommend 5mm housing, brass Wheels MFG ferrules and a 1.1mm cable. DO NOT USE GREASE! Tri-flow (dirty) or Dri-Slide (clean).

      The starting cable extension past the ferrule is 184mm

      Make sure you are using a gear ratio higher than the minimum. Shimano hubs are NOT rated for off road use.

      We have posted all the hubs minimum ratios we know about here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AhXoueRDsTGWdFdpU1VUWnFDeTNWV3cwT3JhaXkxNkE&hl=en#gid=0

      • Dale Christensen

        While cable length and cable function are important and good things to make sure you’ve got right, that’s probably not what’s going on in most of the cases being discussed here.

        Also, if you check the Shimano tech diagram care that shows how cable length is measured, it sure looks to me a lot like the measurement is to the inside edge of the stop ring on the ferrule not the past the ferrule which is at least a mm difference.

      • John

        I have no kinks. All bends are of as gentle a radius as possible.

        Fresh housings, properly cut and dressed, no splayed wires.

        I’m using Shimano’s housing and ferrule ends, that came with the Alfine 11 shifter. If Shimano sells it specifically to work with this system, it better be the right stuff, right?

        Did not lube housing or cable.

        As I mentioned previously, cable nut was set at 184 mm.

        I understand Shimano does not rate this for off road use. Tough. I run a business too. I realize Shimano wants to leave themselves a warranty escape clause, and I don’t blame them. I talked about this in depth with Stephen, their tech in Irvine. They know full well we’re going to do it anyway. And they think it’s cool. They love it when people like me thrash and break their hubs when they don’t have to warrant them. Especially if they get feedback of what happened, so they can potentially implement changes to their design to address weaknesses.

        Perhaps it doesn’t mean much to this discussion, but I have two other bikes with Alfine 8’s on them, that have never skipped a beat. Maybe the addition of three extra gears forced a change to the pawl design, or maybe not. Whatever it is, the 11 speed hub is far more fiddly than the 8 speed (by almost every account I’ve read, not just going on my experience), and their design team should take another look at this. I’m a reasonably competent person. Hell, being an engineer myself I even write assembly and test procedures. And yes, I sure did follow this one. Over and over. Tried my own stuff too. Had Shimano go over it. The fact it has taken this many hours to mess with it and not be able to get it to work without skipping (from day one mind you, BEFORE ever hitting the dirt!) is in my mind, a failure. We should be able to get this right the first time, easily within 30 minutes of set up time, and that’s being generous.

        I almost never hit my upper gears off road, let alone 9th gear. My hub does not skip in low gears unless I purposefully mis-adjust it to do so. You’re not suggesting that somehow, my utilization of my lower gears off road contributes to a skipping failure condition when I commute in upper gears, are you? How about when it was new, BEFORE I took it off road? How about when it’s a little bit colder out in the morning, and it skips like crazy?

        Don’t get me wrong, I love the hub, or at least the idea. I’d never go back to a derailleur. If Shimano can’t make this work, I’ll end up with a Rohloff.

        By the way, I may ride it off road, but I don’t beat the hell out of it. I’m too old to hammer hard, and I take care of my stuff.

  24. Dear Dale,

    I beg to differ!
    Cable length, adjustment and ease of movement are almost ALWAYS the problem with internal gears.
    The 184mm is from the fixed sharp end of the ferrule (hence a metal ferrule, plastic ones deform) to the center of the anchor bolt.
    The cable must be under moderate tension (again metal ferrules) and have no kinks. Cable routing is also critical.

    I can say with 26 years of experience behind me that 99% of IGH problems are cable related. I should point out that this is the beauty of the Rohloff design. Indexing being in the hub!

    With today’s GET-EVERYTHING-ONLINE-BEFORE-THE-PROFESSIONAL-BIKE-SHOP interntet buying no wonder amateurs are having problems! Modern bikes still use cables and it takes skill to do it right. The weaker return spring and the fact that Shimano housing comes with grease complicate the problem. Sure cables seem simple enough, but I cannot count the number of times we re-do cables for people. With 9-10-11 speed drivetrains, it is usually the only thing wrong. It is pretty easy for dirt to get into a cable and cause it not to slide properly.

    I suspect that the problems were originally caused by poor cabling which led to damage. I have seen this time and again with Alfine 8.. In the case of the smashed pawl, that is just over torquing caused by to low of a gear ratio and too steep of a hill. I have blown up my share of IGH going up the 20% hill near my house. It is a shame Shimano does not offer small parts and that more shops are not versed at fixing IGH. Guts replacement is wasteful and ends up costing everyone more money.

    Tech note: Shimano injects grease inside the end with the silver lettering. If you cut that end off when sizing your cables then you cut out the grease too. You also cut off their logo!) Then use a dry lube or an oil like Tri-flow and your cable will move much more freely.

    I am willing to bet a 6-pack of beer (which we will share, of course!) that I am right in this matter.

    • Dale Christensen

      I noticed the temp. issue as well. I rode this bike for my commute all winter long in Tacoma, through the snow a couple of times, through the driving rain a lot of times, and it sat on the front of a bus in a rack for 40 miles twice a day. I thought I was crazy but cold days it would skip. Warm days it wouldn’t as much. For a while I thought it was rainy days that were tied to the problem. But rainy winter days are also cold winter days in the NW.

      My wife has been riding a Bianchi Milano w/ a nexus 8 for 4 years – 3K -4K miles so far? – and it’s also been flawless. It’s also never been serviced (I know.. I know Aaron, I’ll get it in and get what’s left services) AND ITS BEEN FLAWLESS.

      There is a hub problem. The shop I got it from was not able to resolve the issue. Shimano has warrantied me a new hub which is now installed and seems pretty solid but it’s only been a couple of days. We’ll see.

      If the nail in is hub slipping, the right tool in your tool belt isn’t always the cable length hammer. Or something like that. It’s not the cable. There’s a problem with at least some of the hubs.

    • John

      Are you saying we should use something other than the housing Shimano provides in their SL-S700 shifter kit? I admit, I haven’t tried anything else. But the cable and housing are new, and as slick as snot, as much as any other cable I’ve done. I’d be very surprised if this were the real issue. Shimano’s housing didn’t seem to affect my Alfine 8 speed hubs any. But they must have a more forgiving design.

      Aaron, I acknowledge your experience. But this is a new design, don’t let your experience automatically lead you to assumptions it’s always operator error. If you don’t at least entertain the possibility Shimano has a weakness in design, you do yourself a disservice. Being a manufacturer of air compressors, I know well both sides of the coin. Certainly proper installation and usage need to be looked at first. We do that daily with our customers, because most of them don’t understand how to use high power dc appliances on their vehicles. But at some point when all reasonable effort is exhausted, you are left with no where to go but look at design. And a good design should be easy to use. The 8 speed is, and it’s rugged. If I can set up the 8 speed, I should be able to handle the 11. If Shimano’s techs can’t solve my problem directly, after having their hands on it for a day, clearly something other than operator error is going on!

  25. PS. We use the Shimano Tool TL-S700 to set the cable. I measured it and it is indeed 184mm. It is also embossed on the tool!

  26. Perhaps, but I have fixed “poor design” before with skilled mechanical ability. I cannot tell you how many times I have fixed a job done by an engineer! We need eachother, but too often it seems I hear that if an engineer cannot fix it something must be wrong.

    7 and 8 speed cassette hubs are very easy to adjust. Anyone can pretty much do it. When Shimano went to 9 speed (now 10 and Campy 11) we saw a sharp increase in gear adjustments. 9 speed derailleur adjustments are still one of our number one jobs. Very finicky!

    I bet the same is true with the Alfine 11.

    The Alfine 11 speed hubs we have worked on have not had any problems. It is not a new design. It is just an extension of their 7 and 8 speed hubs which are very similar.

    Yes, Shimano cables are not always the best. Plastic ferrules especially!

    The problem if indeed it is not the cabling, is that folks are overloading the hub and damaging the pawls. A good mechanic should be able to fix a slightly damaged pawl. We used to do that all the time on Sturmey-Archer 3 speed AW hubs. Still do, actually!

    I am confident I could repair one of these problem hubs.

    • John

      Not saying it’s a problem because I’m an engineer that can’t make it work. That’s way beside the point. Shimano couldn’t either. That pretty strong backup.

      Maybe they just had a production problem with the first lot that went out. Maybe their assembly staff was in the midst if their learning curve. As new product based on a proven existing design, is still a new product.

      If Shimano not including the right housing ends, maybe they should start there.

      • The bridge engineer needs the skill of the concrete pourers to make a strong bridge. I would not drive on a bridge built by engineers!

        Unfortunatly, Shimano does not staff folks as versed on IGH hubs as you will find at my shop. In Europe, especially Germany, they do, but not in the USA. Bicycle mechanics actually have to go to school and pass a certification board test in Germany! Basically the Shimano “techs” just want us to replace the guts. I cannot even get small replacement parts like cones because, “relacing the guts” is easier. The will, however, give the guts away for the price of the worn part if requested! My rep wanted to sell me new guts for the price of the worn drive side cone!!!!

        There are things about the bicycle industry that are very quirky.

        The cable housing ends we installed on the Alfine 11 we just worked on were aluminum and were what came with the shifter.

        I still contend that we could fix your hub problem.
        I really do not think Shimano sent out a problem hub. They have amazing quality control. Recalls and true problems are few and far between with Shimano.

        Still they do learn and adapt. For example, newer Alfine and Nexus 8 hubs are coming with more grease recently. Perhaps they have seen the rusty pics on my website after one winter in Seattle. Still maybe something really is wrong with these hubs but my experience says, “no” since I have fixed the same problem on many other hubs.

        The problem shifting during cold weather is most likely due to frozen cables. Dri-Slide is not affected by cold weather. Cables can trap water that is why full housing and sealed ferrules are recommended (fewer entry points). Shimano tries to keep the springs light (light-action shifting) which makes cabling that much more important!

  27. John

    Aaron, I’m in So.Cal. The “chilly” morning I spoke of was 62 deg. I think we’re a long way from cable icing.

    All right, I’ve used the Shimano hardware from their kit. I’ve taken it to them. I’ve spent many hours working on this instead of riding. If you have a specific recommendation as to a brand of cable, housing and ends to try, or better yet, your own cable kit, I’m game. I bet $10 against a stale doughnut it will prove to be more time wasted, but I will give it a try. And a honest one at that, because I want this issue behind me so I can go ride. I won’t spend time and money on more components and give it half an effort just so I can say I told you so, trust me.

    Unfortunately, I’m a long way from Seattle, so unless you have the good graces to fly out here and work on my bike, then I think your confidence that you can fix it is conjecture. Perhaps you can, but we’ll never have an opportunity to prove that. And I need, and want, to be able to do it myself anyway.

    Shimano may indeed have a great quality track record. That does not change the fact this is a new product – in spite of the fact it’s based on an existing design, and Shimano is still operated by human beings. I’ve been around in manufacturing long enough to know no matter how good your engineers are, no matter how good your production staff is, and no matter how good your quality systems are, things go wrong despite our best efforts. Just ask Toyota. This is the very reason warranties exist. Shimano doesn’t build to mil spec, they make consumer goods. Don’t ever assume for a minute Shimano can’t make an error. I assure you they can.

    Now for the other side of the coin. I, myself, have had a belly full of our customers like Grainger, that will accept a customer return (no questions asked), scrap the unit without bothering to send it to us for evaluation, and then want to charge us for it. We’ve fought with them twice over this issue (and won). The problem is, they could be scrapping perfectly good units ($2000 air compressors) that have nothing wrong with them and are returned because of operator error. So believe me, I have no wish to include myself in that category of customer, and become an unnecessary burden to Shimano over this issue. As a consumer, I accept I need to perform my due diligence, and exhaust all possibility I may be at fault. After many months of doing exactly that, and getting Shimano’s direct input (for whatever it’s worth in your opinion), I’d say I’ve done just about as much due diligence as I have a mind to. It’s seriously time to at least entertain the possibility it’s not me. After all, I feel I’m fairly competent, even though I’m not a pro wrench like you. I do have 40 years of shade tree bike wrenching behind me, and I’ve run many successful cables myself, including 2 Alfine 8’s and and I-Motion 3.

    So let’s say Shimano doesn’t train it’s US tech adequately to support this product. Let’s say the only way people like me are supposed to get this hub to run without skipping daily and eventually failing is to take it to professionals such as yourself, pay you money, be without my bike for a week or two (typical service lead time in So Cal). I say if that’s what it takes, then obviously I bought the wrong product. Regardless of whether you feel I’m in the right or not, Shimano did not fulfill my expectations, which is what business transactions ultimately come down to. I admit I had high expectations. I expected a product relatively simple to set up and operate. My point of reference? My experience with their own 8 speed hub – twice and flawless.

    So even if you give me a specific recommendation for alternative cable, housing and ends, and I try it and it solves the issue, what does that say about Shimano’s supposedly stellar QC and design? Of course I’ll be tickled if it’s as simple as that, but why should it take so much effort for me to get to this point, and be lucky enough to find a Mr. Aaron Glass on line that can set me straight?

    Please forgive me for being direct. It’s not sarcasm or belligerence. I’m totally frustrated, and I want to move on because I have better things to do.

    Moving right along, does Shimano have a bleed screw or fitting to drain the oil from this hub, short of putting down $90 for their kit? I have syringes and tubing, it looks like the oil plug screw is 6mm x 1.0. I suppose I could use a metric brake bleed screw, and face it off bit on my lathe so it doesn’t go in any farther into the hub than the sealing screw does.

    Do you know what the oil specification is for this hub, viscosity, index, etc? Is that even published info? Do you know if the seals will tolerate any kind of synthetic – PAO, POE, Diester? Or am I stuck with mineral oil?

    I also thought about winding my own heavier return spring. But after thinking about it long and hard, I’d be surprised if it had a positive effect. If I’m getting perfect engagement in all gears except 9th, what benefit could a heavier spring possibly have? It’s not as if I have random skipping throughout the range, which would indicate poor indexing due to a cassette joint that is binding or something, unless it just happens to always bind right at the 9th position. How likely is that? If it’s always binding at the 9th position, it’s probably something in the hub. I think this line or reasoning applies equally well to all aspects of shift cabling. Having perfect, positive shifting in 1-8, 10 and 11 is a pretty strong indication the issue is something other than linkage.

    By the way, the housing end from Shimano’s shift kit is metal at the cassette joint end, and plastic at the shift end. I trimmed the shift end. I’ll put a metal one on there, and change housing and cable if necessary, per your recommendation.

    • Dear John,

      No offence taken. You seem really reasonable!
      I think the problem with this hub is the axle pawls that engage the sun gears. Once the pawl gets damaged it could slip, which would explain your problem. The pictures over on MTBR.com show damaged axle pawls from over torque. It might be a defect or tolerance problem. Either way Shimano will warranty it. Unless, you went below the 1.9 gear ratio.

      I do offer mail-order IGH service. I have access to Shimano IGH parts. I would be willing to take a shot at it. I would publish pictures and a description of what I find on my Shimano IGH page.

      I assume you got this hub online (probably Harris Cyclery).
      If you did not I comend you for supporting your local IGH LBS!
      America needs more shops like mine. It amazes me that more shops do not have the know how. The derailleur is still king.

      Part of the problem, I think, is that enthusiasts like yourself buy up all the stock online instead of thru bike shops, which leaves shops little incentive to hire mechanics that have know-how. In most shops the “Technicians” (I hate that word) are just component replacers. No one really knows how to fix things anymore. This is true even of the folks at Shimano! Devin Walton is the guy to talk to at Shimano but we cannot seem to get ahold of him. I hope he sees this, because I am activly trying to do a special order from Japan for IGH parts. We are starting to see the cones on Nexus and Alfine 8 speed hubs wear, but we cannot get replacement. Again, Shimano just wants to sell us the guts! Very odd, because we have the removal and installation cone tools.


      • John

        I hope I didn’t misrepresent myself. Those pictures on MTBR are not my hub, that’s someone else’s failure. I’ve never had mine apart, but I’m guessing pawls as well.

        I did indeed get it from Harris, they were the first to have it in stock. Yes, I followed the buzz on MTBR most of last year in anticipation of this being released here. I was chomping at the bit for it, so when I heard Harris was shipping I immediately ordered. Normally I never order the first of any item when a new model comes out, precisely because of the potential for the manufacturer not to have all the bugs worked out yet. But I absolutely hate derailleurs, and I had to have more gears!

        All right, I’ll fiddle with it a bit more, I see where you recommend 5mm housing, brass Wheels MFG ferrules and a 1.1mm cable. Do you use specific brands for the housing and cable? Coated cable? I’ll also be watching to see if Dale posts a favorable report about his guts replacement.

        Are there different pawls for different gears?

  28. I could have sold 5 of those hubs but Harris bought ALL of them from J&B Importers (Miami warehouse) before I could get them. Before even my local J&B warehouse could get a transfer! Classic modern internet greedy sales, in my opinion. My suppliers were out of stock so my customers orderd from Harris. Call it competition, or savvy capitalism, but now you see, your LBS did not have them and you have no one to go to. It used to be different.

    Anyway, enough ranting….
    We use 5mm Jagwire brand lined index housing, brass ferrules and 1.1mm Jagwire stainless die drawn cables.
    The larger housing and smaller cable make for excellent cable “flow”.

    • John

      Well, I thought I had someone up the street that I could turn to – Shimano! If I get to the end of my rope, I’ll pay them another visit for guts.

      Thanks Aaron, I’ll give the Jagwire a shot. But I went to their web site, I see 4mm and 4.5 mm shift housing, and 5mm brake housing, but I don’t see 5mm shift housing. Did I miss something? Or could you mean 4.5mm shift housing?

      • Jagwire make it, but maybe not in kits. Let the bike shop folks do their job! Go in and have them order it for you. We buy it in bulk from QBP. It may only come in bulk like we buy it (50 meter box).

  29. Steve Jones

    Thanks for posting all this info guys, I had a Shimano Alfine 11 on order and have now cancelled it. Can’t accept these kind of problems with something I’m buying for reliability.
    My Rohloff works perfectly for 3 years. I may just buy a nexus 8 red stripe. Seems proven and works.

  30. Steve Jones

    By the way, John your comments are right on the money. Truth is Japanese engineers can come up with some excellent products but there are many that fall short of the mark, sometimes terribly so.The myth of Japanese supremacy in the field of technology came about by the success of a few good products like the Sony Walkman and Nikon cameras back in the day. Cameras are in fact a good example. The Japanese companies acheived success by copying German Leicas and Contaxes not by coming up with original designs themselves. Just like the Shimano Alfine 11 is an attempt to copy the Rohloff Speedhub at a cheaper price, with the results you have been experiencing.
    I live in Japan. Shimano products are obviously cheaper here and to be I do own some Shimano
    components but…
    My touring bike uses Rohloff and a German Magura fork. My MTB is made in the USA and I switched the shifting to SRAM because I could never get the Shimano stock drive train running smoothly. My comuter is a Mac and my camera is German.
    Since I live here and could easily buy the Japanese stuff at a cheaper price, the fact I choose not to should tell you something. I favor quality and reliability over everything else.
    Not everyone can afford Rohloff ( unfortunately )and to be fair, Shimano low end Deore parts are well priced and reliable, but the Alfine is already proving an inferior product rushed to market. If I know Shimano, their employees will stay up all night for one year working on it without sleep or holiday until they get it right. Eventually they will. And that is when they should release it as a consumer product.Rohloff knows this well and that is why they will not release the lighter speedhub they are developing until it is tested and proven.None of this helps those,
    like yourself. who have invested in the product early and finding disappointment. Unfortunately we live in a world these days where products are rushed to market every few months and consumers have become fickle, throwing away good products just because the latest tech is in the store.
    Perhaps we have to be more careful.
    Latest is sometimes not the greatest it seems.
    Hope you get your hub sorted john.
    I feel for you. I wouldn’t be happy either!

  31. Dale Christensen

    My Alfine 11 is now working perfectly. No skips, no noises, no problems. It wasn’t the cable. It was the hub. Shimano was great, incredibly support and responsive. They sent a new hub under warrenty to a local bike shop who swapped out the guts, no relace required.

    I have noticed that the hub likes me to stop peddling or give a heavy pause and lighten on the torque when I shift. Many years of roadbike habits needed to be changed.

    I suspect that there may have been some early hubs that had problems.


    • Dale, you hit it on the mony!
      All internally geared hubs need to have the pedals pause for them to shift properly. Hubs can get damaged from shifting under load.
      The SRAM i-Motion 9 was advertized as being able to shift like normal (while pedalling) but even it complains less when you pause.
      Cheers! Aaron

      • Steve Jones

        Aaron as far as i know derailleur equipped bikes also need you to ease up on the pedals to shift smoothly.
        At least on every bike i’ve ridden they do. It’s just especially so with internal gear hubs but I have to say my Rohloff has been faultless so far whatever the load
        or conditions, it has lived up to the hype and was worth the money. I trust it. Just too expensive for a lot of folks!

      • There are 2 basic types of gear engagement used in internal gear hubs. Sliding parts (keys and clutches) and pawls on the axle. The hubs that use axle pawls are much more tolerant of loaded shifting (Alfine and Rohloff). Still we have seen damage to the pawls from poor shifting technique. Pawls can chip when they are shocked. Sliding keys and clutches will not move unless all pressure is removed from the drivetrain. Shimano Alfine hubs actually use axle pawls and a sliding clutch. Axle pawls are much more tolerant to shifting while pedaling. Derailleurs will not shift unless the chain is moving.

  32. PaulB

    Hello Everyone. Excuse me for belatedly joining this discussion, but I recently added an Alfine 11 to a Ti custom bike I put together. I am having the exact same problems mentioned above — gears skipping or not engaging, especially around gear 9 and gear 6. I’ve gone back and forth with the settings of the hub and can find nothing wrong with how I have it set up. It’s very frustrating.

    Where did you go to get the hub exchanged? I think I need to do the same thing.


    • Bring it to us and have us set it up. 100% of the time we have solved Alfine 11 problems by professional installation! I just spoke with our Shimano Rep and they have not had any warranty issues with this hub. They have replaced a few just to apease customers, but there really is nothing wrong with this hub. More speeds mean more precise adjustment, which seems to be beyond the average home mechanic’s ability. The same is true with 9, 10 and 11 speed disraili gears. Lubrication, proper cabling and PRECICE adjustment are key. I have not yet met an IGH yet, that I cannot fix! I have a saying, “The bike never wins.” but my friend, Val Kleitz says, “No, Aaron, the bike ALWAYS wins.” Trust your professional! I know, I know bike shop employees are often not professional…..now if only they made the same as auto mechanics…..

      • Dale Christensen


        I admire your unrelenting optimistic outlook, your unrelenting and unwavering support for Shimano even in the fact of contrary facts, and your total belief in your skills. But.. There is a problem with his hub and it’s not caused by adjustment, cable length or cable casing slickness. There is a design or mfg flaw here.

        Some Alfines skip even when adjusted perfectly. The Alfine 11 is also very sensitive to how it’s shifted. You must have zero torque on the chain when you shift. If you shift with any push, the shift is not complete and does the gears do not engage totally and you’ll get skips, maybe 30 seconds after you’ve shifted, may be a half mile, but when you put higher torque on on the cranks.. crunch. The Alfine and Nexus 8 do not have this problem. It’s unique to the 11. It is a design problem not an inevitable feature of complex mechanics.

        I did get my hub guts swapped out by Shimano ( they were great ) after trying everything else. No problems now. The hub works perfectly now. Same cables and casings, same cable length, same everything but the hub guts. Maybe it was done to appease me, but it worked. I ride this bike a lot. I commute on it everyday. I know how to maintain, adjust and fix bikes. I may be a lowly home mechanic but worked in bike shops for years. There are other people besides you who know their way around a wrench.

        There is a problem with some of these hubs. Give it a rest.

        – Show quo

  33. PaulB

    PS: And is the new hub they gave you working flawlessly now?

    • I suspect the “problem” with this hub is damaged axle pawls. If the indexing is set up correctly in the beginning but then the cable housing compresses (modern cables do not stretch) the hub will start to skip. This can cause damage to the axle pawls. Or the cable routing or distance to the cassette joint cable fixing bolt is off initially, causing the same problem. What ever the reason, the indexing gets off and is the initial reason for the problem. The axle pawls on Shimano hubs pivot up and down to engage the ratchet ring on the inside of the sun gears. If the cable adjustment is off, then the pawls can chip or become dull. I have fixed this problem on Alfine 8 speed hubs by using the parts from a dead hub. The only way to get the parts from Shimano is to buy an axle set. Shimano USA does not stock anything but the entire guts. This explains why Dale’s hub worked fine with the same cable and housing after the guts were swapped. I stand by my diagnosis that cable mis-adjustment caused the problem in the first place. and am confident I could repair this hub. It would be interesting strip the guts Shimano replaced. This problem is common to most IGH except Rohloff (beause the indexing is in the hub). The axle pawl design is supposed to be able to shift while pedaling but it still is not recommended. Shimano hubs also use a sliding clutch for some of the gears. Sliding clutches require no movement or gentle rotation of the hub to move. The clutch spring on Alfine hubs is very weak. Shimano calls that “Light Action”.

      No offence to your abilities Dale, let’s keep is civil!

      Cheers, Aaron

  34. Andrew Torrance

    Apologies if this is the wrong thread , but I am new to hub gears . I am considering the Alfine 11 speed on a hybrid (Shop bought) . The problem is I am fat and live in a hilly area ( 280lb and plenty of hills at 5 to 10%) . Some of the comments on here concern me that I might cause problems with over tourqing . With the 1.9 ratio reccomended I am looking at around a 30 inch gear , Ideally for a comfortable ride then Ideally I’d like a 20 inch gear . Any reccomendations ? Currently I am erring away from a hub gear which is a pity .

    • Bruce

      Perhaps consider a Nuvinci 360 .. very robust design .. successfully used in cargo bike applications as well as tandem use..

      • Andrew Torrance

        Thanks I’ll have a look at that . I guess what I am after is a reliable gear system that can carry the weight most people would only assosiate with touring , but day in and day out . I never even new continuously variable hubs existed .

    • Dale Christensen


      I’m 210 lbs and ride my Brodie Once with an Alfine 11 aggressively in a very hilly area. I use my it for commuting everyday and the 11 Alfine gets worked hard. If you read back in through the posts in this thread you’ll see I had some problems with my first hub which probaby came from Shimano in the first month or so of production. Since this initial hub was swapped out under warrenty it’s been flawless and bombproof. I would not hesitate to recommend this or a nexus/alfine 8 for what you plan to use it for.

      The one thing anyone who rides an alfine 11 needs to remember is to always shift with no torque on the hub, pause when you shift or take all the pressure off the pedals. If you shift with torque it just messes things up. Just a different technique.


  35. Michael R

    Thanks for the lively discourse! I think the misshifting issues I’m having w/ my new Alfine Eleven is due to wet road and trail gunk gradually building up in the cassette joint track that the cable lays in. After 30 miles of road grit mist a silt layer becomes packed directly under the cable and I’m having to make (slackening) adjustments at the shifter. Since the stuff is distributed unevenly (in high gears I’m riding faster, creating more aerosol for instance) a shifter adjustment doesn’t translate to better shifting in all gears.
    I’m imagining a boot to umbrella the whole cassette joint.
    Please chime in!

    • Anonymous

      Keeping the cable and cassette joint clean & lubricated is important. Also full housing all the way from the shifter to the cassette joint and metal ferrules. Most problems I have seen with what you describe are caused by poor cable conditions or routing.

  36. Thanks for all the advice on this website. Thanks to you people I measured the 184 mm on the cable properly but I have had the following problem.

    I have done 560 miles with the Alfine 11. I have slipped twice when shifting down to 6th gear, both times when pedalling fast under load and forgetting to momentarily ease the load on the pedal.

    I have carried a weeks shopping in 4 panniers and gone up steep slopes, without a problem. 2nd gear works but feels funny when not under load.
    I love the hub and am saddened some people have had problems
    I have never missed on my Alfine 8 bike My SRAM 7 speed hub stays in the previous gear if you don’t ease off, but never slips.

    • Dale Christensen

      I’ve been riding my Brodie Once with the Alfine 11 for almost a year now with a commute 4-5 days a week. My wife commutes on a Bianchi Milano with Nexus 8. I can confirm that they are different creatures and need to be handled differently. I can’t stress enough that you have to pause and stop pedaling when you shift the Alfine 11. For whatever internal reason the thing will not shift completely if there’s torque on the hub. That said, if you pause and take pressure off the hub parts, it’s performs flawlessly.

    • …both times when pedalling fast under load and forgetting to momentarily ease the load on the pedal…..

      I would not call that a problem. Kind of like saying my car grinds when I climb hills and try to shift into first but forget to push in the clutch!
      If you want to shift under load, get a NuVinci 360

    • I’m trying to return my Alfine at the moment. I returned it once already with the very common issue in early batches of it skipping out of 9th gear, but I also complained that 1st and 2nd were ridiculously spongy through the pedals (all other gears from 3rd up are perfect (Spongier than a freewheel thanks to the roller clutch, but not glaringly inefficient).

      The replacement hub doesn’t skip any more (for the 2 or 3 times I used the brand new one I was sent) but is still so inefficient pedalling uphill once I hit 2nd that it feels like I’m going backwards. I’m also worried I’ll break the internals they’re flexing so much in these gears. Back to the XTR equipped 10 year old bike I’m now eternally thankful I didn’t sell after building up the new one. Not a hub that’s any good for climbing stuff I can’t already get up on a singlespeed unfortunately :-(. And it’s not like I can sell it on in good conscience either, so return is the only option, but the shop are dragging their heels on it – I wanted to return it last time but took the replacement just in case the sponginess was specific to my hub too…

      • Intersting review of the hub!
        When you purchased it you were aware it was not designed for lower gears, right? The Alfine 11 has 3 higher gears than the Alfine 8. The low gear is the same. Are you using a chainring and sprocket that is below the minimum input ratio? All IGH feel “spongy” in low gears. It is called gear lash! It gets worse and caused more stress on the internals if you stand on the pedals or use too low of an input ratio. I spongy feeling is odd, but I have never felt like I was going backwards! You could always use Chineese Low Gear!

      • I’m running slightly lower than the 1.9:1 recommended, but everyone I know with an alfine 8 did the same thing, many running a much lower ratio than me (I’ve about a 1.65:1 ratio – 32:19 gears) and the bike would still pedal up hills. The main problem is that I actually like steep climbs – a lot steeper than the 5 or 10% ones mentioned earlier in this thread, the good ones are more like 25% in places, which is why I wanted a hub with the range to set 2nd to roughly match 1st in the middle ring on a derailleur setup (The lowest gear I use up almost anything) and still have enough gears left to make decent progress on flat and descending road as well while still keeping 1st as a bailout if I bonk.

      • You really need a Rohloff!

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  38. Darryl

    I have one of these hubs – bought 14 months ago and the bike well looked after and not ridden to death. Unfortunately the hub has just started spewing oil. So not sure of the quality of these hubs after all. Perhaps I should’ve gone with the Rholloff.

    • aaronsbicyclerepair


      Did you do the recommended oil change after the first 500 miles then then every 3000 after that?
      Dirty oil will cause it to leak.
      Some hubs leak at the right side cone seal, but that is easily fixed with silicone.

      • Steve Weeks

        FWIW, I left my new bike (Tern S11i) on its side, drivetrain down, overnight in the trunk of my car. After reading your post yesterday, I went out and put some newspring under the bike’s rear wheel. This morning there was nar a spot on the paper.

        Where does one find out about the oil and any equipment necessary to change it? Shimano’s procedure seems to say nothing about it.


  39. Thanks everyone for a great discussion. I’ve been through all the adjustment/wire length/kink/skipping BS and Shimano finally replaced some internal parts of the hub.
    Problem is now gone.
    best /JS

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  41. Drew

    Anyone have an issues with cold weather use of the Alfine 11? I’m talking real cold, -10 to -20F. I find it interesting that the oil shimano supplies comes with general safety information that includes the phrase ” do not store in areas where this is a risk of freezing”. Yet they don’t publish anywhere I can find the pour point for their oil. So at what temperature is there risk of freezing? I have about 1,200 miles on my hub and it failed on me. I totally lost 6th and 7th gear. It started with some leaking from the drive side. I think I had a faulty seal. I had changed the oil for the first oil change as recommended, at that time I was only able to get about maybe 5-10ml of oil out so it was definitely low. I did not have any issues though at that point, so I just filled it up according to their recommendations and kept riding. Now at 1200 miles the failure. It is still under warranty so Shimano shipped my LBS new internals and I just got the bike back. So far about 10miles on it and shifts and works perfect again. I’ll watch for a leaky seal again but in the mean time I wonder if this hub really can take the cold. It seems the oil is too thick at low temps. It still feels very inefficient and noticeable at low temps (It was -15F below zero today). In fact if I get off the bike and push it, the pedals will continuously continue to turn around and round at these low temps. Anyone know of a substitute oil that won’t ruin Shimano’s seal? Yes I know it would void my warranty, just curious.

    • Steve Weeks

      I have about 1,300 miles on my Alfine 11 with no trouble other than an occasional missed shift (way less than 1%). The oil issue also puzzles, intrigues and irritates me. The darned stuff costs as much as liquid gold. A friend did magnetic resonance scans of a sample of Alfine oil and automatic transmission fluid… they look pretty similar. Of course, there are other parameters such as viscosity, but I wonder about the seals too. It’s hard to imagine how the seals could be damaged by ATF. FWIW, I posted a link to the Tern site where I posted the scans; it’s on the “Shimano Alfine 11” thread.

      • Anonymous

        I was considering trying gear oil or atf. Also the fluid for snowmachine geardrives. They operate in the same conditions as my snowbike basically. Either way I would be trying synthetic which may help with the cold properties.

  42. Dale Christensen

    Update: I’ve got two years on my Alfine 11 since Shimano swapped out my very early production hub. I commute on this bike 10-15 days a month in all weather in the NW. I’ve been changing the oil twice a year. Few if any problems.

    • Steve Weeks

      Dale, are you using the recommended oil, or have you found an acceptable alternative? Thanks!

    • Steve Weeks

      I finally bit the bullet and selected a replacement oil for my Alfine 11. It’s “Royal Purple” gear oil, 75W-140. It it is a synthetic oil which has roughly the same viscosity as the Shimano oil and cost me about $22 for a quart. It does not have sulphur or phosphorus compounds that are potentially corrosive to “yellow metals” (copper, brass and bronze) that might be present in the hub. I flushed the hub twice with 25 ml of the oil; lots of very fine metal particles came out. The hub has about 1,400 miles on it. After aspirating out as much oil as possible, I re-filled the hub with 25 ml and buttoned it up. The performance of the hub is the same as with the OEM oil. Shifting is smooth and silent.

      I wanted 75W-90 oil, but couldn’t find it. While “140” seems like a high viscosity, this is the “high temperature” end of the viscosity range and as the hub never gets very hot I think it’s closer to the “75” viscosity. Automatic transmission fluid is quite a bit less viscous than the gear lubes, and though it undoubtedly is an adequate lubricant I was concerned that it might be able to leak out of the hub, especially when the bike is on its side as it occasionally is since it’s a folder.

      Next oil change in about 500 miles. 🙂

  43. Nick Fitter

    I bought an alfine 11 in Jan 2013 so far I have done over 2000 miles on my alfine 11 fitted to a kalkhoff pro connect electric bike. I reason I brought an electric bike is because I tow a Surly trailer with all my gardening tools. Sometimes this can be upto 80, 90, 100kg in weight as I take everything with me including an 18″ inch Honda petrol Mower, Strimmer, hedge cutter, and all my hand tools its pretty dam heavy. I have managed with a standard bike for a long time but this electric one I have used for nearly 3 years now. It was originally fitted with the alfine 8 which I never had any problems with other then the axel turning in the dropouts (soft alloy vertical) , solved that problem by welding the “non turn” washers to steel plates and bolting them to the mud guard holes. I changed to the 11 speed because I was fed up with the stupid 24 spoke standard wheel breaking spokes so now have a 36 hole alfine 11 set up. It runs a 35 tooth chain ring and 20 tooth sprocket, lower geared then Shimano recommends but you cant change the chain ring on this bike and I need the lower gearing because it would hopeless at climbing hill pulling a trailer over wise. With this gear range I can climb at 4.5-5mph, and descend at 30mph. I was very worried about breaking the hub after reading all the horror stories on this site and others but my hub has trouble free. Yes it skips sometimes usually under high load and makes a sickening crunch usually in 6th, my input which is probably 500 watts at times plus 250watts from the motor but its fine, just have to be carful whilst changing gear.. I never stand up on the pedals in 1st or 2nd gear, but I do frequently climb some seriously steep hills pulling a lot of weight. Considering the bike weighs 25kg, I weigh 74, and what ever the trailer is at the time, it proves to me the hub is strong even if you feel the sponginess in 1st and 2nd gears. I have to cycle up some of the steepest hills in the area fully loaded and its survived. I have always run A11 on cheap automatic transmission fluid and I change the oil every 500 miles, however I did the first change after 100 and 100 again in the beginning to flush all the metal particles out because I thought would be better. The hub does very slowly leak oil from the drive side which conveniently lubes my chain! At an oil change I usually get about 15mls out and put back 25mls. I did try filling with 35mls once but it didn’t like that and the gear change was rubbish. So anyway, its better then I was expecting so far. Just make sure the cable is adjusted correctly and the rubber bellow things it not over stretching as this can jam the cable, change gear carefully, don’t jump about on the pedals I think its plenty strong enough for most people.

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  1. 1 11 Speed Alfine hub from SHIMANO « Moulton Buzz

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