October 17, 2009
Welcome to the second segment of internal hubs. Last week I took a look at the innovative NuVinci hub, as well as the very popular Rohloff Speedhub. This week, I'll check out two more competitors on the market that are a little more economical for the everyday rider.
The Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub improves upon the Shimano's older Nexus 8 speed hub by adding on disc compatibility, as well as improving the clutch engagement for smoother, quieter, and more efficient shifting. The gear range isn't very wide, and of all gear ratios mentioned in my posts, this has the largest jump from gear to gear. If you have a 22 and 39 tooth rings up front, you will be in pretty good shape for long climbs, as well as a reasonable gear for the flats. The hub costs around $275, and will work with both Alfine and Nexus 8 speed shifters, which add another $60 or so to the price.
The SRAM iMotion is your next mainstream option, and offers a 9th gear with a larger range. The low end remains very similar to the Alfine hub, but extends out to give you a bigger gear for the road. The shifting is not as refined as the Alfine, but the gaps between the gears on the low end are much smaller, which is a huge benefit when climbing loaded. You can find an iMotion hub for around the same price as the Alfine, and the shifters usually run under $40.
If you're on the fence as to which of these two hubs to choose, here's the general breakdown. The Shimano Alfine will shift more smoothly, and the iMotion will give you a superior range at a similar price. Both are great options, you just have to decide which one suits your preferences.
Thanks for hanging in there for two weeks of internal hubs. On tap for next week will be a classic styled, complete touring bike for under $1200.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.