Bicycles Asked on December 29, 2021
I’ve had my hybrid 24-speed for a bit over 3 years now, and just last weekend, when looking for a bike for my wife, discovered internal gears. Suffice to say it blew my mind when I saw 7-speed internal gear hubs, for example on this This Giant Suede Women’s bike.
So the question is, what are the trade-offs between the internal gear hub and an external gear hub and derailleur?
I’m assuming they’ll be more expensive? but what about the set of gear ratios they provide? the reliability? the serviceability? tuning/maintenance? other effects on the chain/sprockets?
Going back to the bike linked above, there’s a near-identical model (picture) with 21-speed external gears that’s considerably cheaper, and I’m wondering whether the extra money for the internal gears would buy any real benefits (e.g. longer lasting chains/sprockets or fewer services), or whether it’s just for fashion?
what are the trade-offs between the internal gear hub and an external gear hub and derailleur?
The trade-offs are many and clearly in favor of derailleur gearing.
Consider for example what could happen for my derailleur gears in a trip.
There is no conceivable failure of a derailleur gear system that would need me to walk home apart from perhaps freewheel failure, and this failure mode affects internally geared hubs equally well.
Some supposed advantages and one true advantage:
In my opinion, hub gears are valuable only if you absolutely hate chain changes. However, then you must hate chain lubrication as well and it's a problem affecting hub gears too.
Answered by juhist on December 29, 2021
I've got shimano internal hub for 5 years mainly to commute.
For all these reasons, I switch back to a classic XYZ-speed bike.
Answered by Alexandre Mazel on December 29, 2021
I drive the same Rohloff for over 8 years and do not see an end of its lifetime. I cannot speak for other brands, but in all posts above the free-of-charge service by Rohloff, as part of their special corporate culture was not mentioned. Up to now, whenever there was a problem, the thing was being send to Rohloff and I had to pay nothing. That being said, yes there are some problems worth mentioning and I assume these can apply to other internal gears as well:
Answered by StefG on December 29, 2021
The main advantages of hub gears over a 1xN derailleur system are reliability and being able to shift while stationary. Since there's no derailleur or chain tensioner it's easier to add a full chaincase which means chains last a lot longer and with mudguards added there are no dirty bits accessible on the bike. They're heavier and harder to maintain if you have to maintain them.
There's a whole style of bike that uses those advantages (and others) and from a US perspective is called a "european" or "dutch" bike. Broadly, it's a bike built for someone who is not a cyclist, rather they are someone who uses a bike for transport. It should just work, no special clothes or rituals required.
Compared to a 3xN derailleur system a hub gear is much simpler to operate and maintain. All the gears are in order and you only have one shifter. The compromise is a smaller gear range (Rohloff being the obvious exception), ranging from a little smaller for the Shimano Alfine 11 down to "yes, there are two gears" for the back-pedal-shift 2 speed hubs. But in return you get extremely long life for the chain and cogs (10,000km or more for the chain, 20,000km+ for cogs) and a general low-fuss maintenance requirement. That also makes it practical to put a hub gear in places where derailleur gears could go but you wouldn't want them - under my load carrying quad, for instance, where the derailleur hung down between the rear wheels just waiting for a rock to break it off, and turning the thing over for maintenance is a pain.
Removing the rear wheel on a hub geared bike ranges from nigh on impossible (some of the Shimano hubs, and some dutch bikes have chain cases that are just irritating to work on) to almost trivial (a Rohloff with QR). The problem is the shifter cable - you have to detach it to remove the wheel. Good ones just unhook, poor ones you have to undo the adjuster barrel and re-adjust the gears on reassembly. Shimano are getting better, but Rohloff and Sturmey Archer have it down pat.
Servicing hubs is not often done these days. The manufacturers generally allow bike shops to swap out the internals for new, saving the hassle of building a new wheel, but that's about it. I had three Shimano Nexus 8 hubs fail at 5,000km intervals, and every time I just got replacement internals rather than the hub being repaired (the last time, of course, Shimano had stopped making the hub so I had to throw away the wheel). With Rohloff the same thing might happen, except after 150,000km or more... most people don't ride that far in a lifetime. Also, with Rohloff you change the oil every 5,000-10,000km, at a cost of half an hour of your time and about $20 for an oil change kit (or $10 for just the oil).
I usually run a Schwalbe Marathon Plus on the rear of my hub geared bikes, which trades a little extra rolling resistance for huge puncture resistance. It's part of the "my bike just works" philosophy. I'd rather reliably take an extra 30s to get to work than at random intervals be 5-10 minutes late and dirty due to a puncture (because you know that you'll only get punctures when you're in a hurry and it's raining).
Answered by Мסž on December 29, 2021
Pretty much as above. They are generally dependable, maintenance free, and easy to use.
Also heavy, difficult-to-impossible to service, and sometimes a bear to get loose if you have a flat tire. I fixed a flat on a Nexus hub wheel a couple of years ago, and getting the thing back in place and getting the cable properly lined up and tensioned was...Frustrating. I understand the new ones are better.
In fact, this one was so difficult that the previous owner had left a flat tube in the bike and had inserted one of those "straight" tubes with the sealed ends... On top of the old tube. Really strange....
Answered by M. Werner on December 29, 2021
I don't have an internal hub, but I want one for the following reasons: They are sealed and protected from the elements. They are nice for commuting because you can shift them while stopped... If you've ever stopped at a red light on a normal bike and struggled to get going again because of your gear, you can appreciate this. With an Internal hub, you can just change to an easy gear and then get going.
Also, I've had a derailleur brake off before and I've had a different one shift into my spokes! These failures will not happen with internal hubs.
Disadvantages are that they add a bit of weight and tie you to that wheel. That is, you can't just switch out wheels like you can with a derailleur. Finally, while internal hubs are seen as very dependable, if something does go wrong internally, you have to bring it to an expert. Wikipedia has a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hub_gear
Answered by mcgyver5 on December 29, 2021
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