Who’s riding one? How’s it going so far?
Posted 5.13.11 in Technical | Bookmark or Share
I wish. I had the chance to ride one about a month ago, though, with a belt drive. Very nice indeed. Quite possibly the smoothest ride I’d ever experienced.
My new Alfine 11 bike is just about finished. I put on most of the finishing touches last night. It should be rolling in a day or two.
Here are some early pix:
I’ve got one on my Karate Monkey based commuter. I just hit 900 miles yesterday. I’m very happy with it so far. I was a bit worried about tire fixing but it was no big deal when the time came.
I have had my Norco Ceres with the 11 speed Alfine for 2 days now (thanks to Joe’s Bike). I commute to work 16 miles a day with most of it on a multi-use (no motorized vehicles) path next to the Erie canal. I take 2 “cut offs” with a pretty steep but short incline on dirt paths. My previous ride was a 24 speed Giant Transport (converted mountain bike). The Alfine is extremely smooth and with the Gates Belt drive, silent. Shifting is a pleasure and I find that I shift much more and am able to maintain speed much easier. I find that I have to shift differently between 6-7 and 7-8. There is some hesitation there and I did have 2 “skips” while in 7. I am still learning and feel that once I learn it it will be no problem. The low end is not as low as the 24 speed I was used (no surprise) and I am a little worried about this summer when I spend 10 days biking through Cape Cod with a trailer, there are some monster hills there.I better get my legs in shape. The high end is plenty of speed for down hills and I rarely used 11.
I will keep you guys informed but so far I am really impressed and taken back by how smooth it is. I am looking forward to my first rainy day and not worrying about my chain falling off.
I was very excited about the Spot Acme, which has similar specs to the tricked-Ceres from Joe Bike cited above, except that it has the new CenterTrack Gates belt. When using Sheldon Brown’s gear inch calculator at the Harris Cyclery site, I was disappointed to find that the lowest gear was about 27″, exactly the same as the Alfine eight. It has a huge top end, but for me that would be like having a Porsche: I’d never use the top gears. As far as I can tell from the Alfine data sheet, Spot used the recommended ratio between the rear and front pulleys (1.9). I’m guessing that if I could secure smaller aftermarket pulleys and a new belt, which would be an expensive and royal PITA, I’d wind up with a more expensive but less capable Rohloff emulation with a voided warranty due to exceeding torque limits.
Believe me when I say that I hope I am wrong and get flamed by somebody who understands this better. I would really love an oil-bath Alfine with a stump-pulling low end. Right now, the only solution that I can think of is to get a custom-built 20″ Swift
@stevep – nice 650b project and it looks like few expenses were spared. where did that front rack come from?
off topic, but i am a good target user for an alfine 11, having gone from a sturmey 3 to a alfine 8 the last few years. but there a single speeder somewhere inside of me. so i am aiming to get back to 3 gear hub long term, and see that as the best tradeoff between practical and the irrational/minimalism. i see a super wide 3 speed fixed as interesting. i think it would be an interesting ride for more people to consider/try out also. note – i am completely naive as to how igh’s work internally or are built.
Like Tom I’m interested in the cog/chainring combination that you are using. 39:18? 42:20?
The Alfine 11′s extra gears (vrs the 8) seem to be at the top end so it makes sense to use a lower primary ratio.
I’m planing to build an Alfine 11 bike this summer that’ll regularly carry a 60 pound load.
Got excited about Alfine 11 until I looked up the gear ratios and found that the Afline/Nexus 8 have exactly the same lowest (#1) gear ratio as the Afline 11.
No gain (no pun intended) there for me.
Is there a reason you wouldn’t just go to a smaller chainring at the crank to lower the overall range?
I have just contracted with my LBS to build me a commuter: Alfine 11 + Bryant frame + Gates CenterTrack. I am starting to panic about the gearing, after reading this thread. I live in San Francisco and will need all the help I can get with the hills. I see the Bryant Alfine 8 ships with a 50×24 pulley system — I am thinking of going towards the Spot Acme approach of 46×24, but I wonder if that will still leave me walking up most of these hills. If anyone has insight, I am eager to read your thoughts!
To keep the warranty and lower the gear inches, use a smaller diameter wheel. Of course, that won’t work in all instances, but there are several options that might work for the spot acme: 26″, 650b, and both 24″ formats. I’m just eyeballing the frame geometry – it looks like 24″ might work – maybe too small though. That would drop your lowest gear to 24″.
It depends on what you are hauling up the hills. The bottom gear ratio on a 50×24 Alfine 8 comes out to be 1.1:1. In terms of derailleur set-ups, that’s like having a chainring with 10% more teeth than the cog e.g. 33×30. That’s low enough that I wouldn’t worry even in San Francisco. On the other hand, it’s nowhere near as low as the 22×34 (0.65:1) of the XT line. If you’re planning on using the bike for trips to places like Costco or Lowe’s, you might be in trouble. If you’re just hauling groceries and stuff, you’re probably fine.
I hope that helps.
@JP Atkinson: Hey a couple weeks ago I picked up my Sycip Java Boy from Santa Rosa, built with 700C wheels and an Alfine 11 hub, and brought it home to SF. Lovin’ it so far. THe chainring is 39T. I’m not sure about the rear cog but it’s either 18T or 19T.
This morning I climbed up Scott Street southbound to Alamo Square. Not the steepest hill in San Francisco, but reasonably so for my report here. First gear was fine when sitting. Cranked up the hill comfortably. Second gear seemed fine for standing. No difficulty climbing that way either.
That said, you’re right that the generous top-end ratios on the Alfine are kinda worthless here in SF. So I plan to increase the rear cog to 21T or 22T. If you’ve ridden a Shimano fixed hub, you know that the top and bottom gears are a large jump away from the others. The top gear on an Alfine 11 will be useful only when barreling down long straight hills with no stops going 35 MPH. Not needed on a gentlemanly upright urban commuter.
One note on your Gates belt drive. I seriously explored this when thinking through options in building my commuter. One bike builder told me he tried it once for a customer, and they ended up converting the bike back to a chain drive. Too finicky they said. I hope it works OK for yours–good to pursue it anyway. Don’t panic about it. Just tweak it until you’re pleased with the tuning.
Just curious, but wouldn’t combining this hub with a 3 ring derailer on the crank fix the gear ratio problems (lower the lower gear as it were)?
Arevee – The frame, fork and rack are custom from Banjo Cycles. The rack is about the size of 1 grocery bag – a mini porteur.
Alan – Thanks. I took a few more pictures this evening. almost almost done.
Tom et al,
The fine print on the Alfine 11 recommends a MAX chainring/cog ratio of 1.9. This basically means use small chainrings and big cogs. My ratio is a bit high with 42/21 = 2 giving about 27-111 inches, and that is steep for this hub. In short, the recommended ring/cog ratios imply some nice low end gearing if you choose a low ring/cog ratio.
@stevep Woah that is one beautiful bike! Dare I ask what it would go for ballpark if you were building one for a customer?
Oh, i’m not a builder or anything. Assembling interesting bikes is just a hobby of mine, and I try not to ruin it by keeping track of a budget. I have a great LBS and Ebay helps too. Banjo Cycles custom pricing is pretty reasonable – check out his [Ahren Rogers] website.
Quite a few Alfine 11-owners are discussing their experience with the hub in the comments here:
Having to adjust my wheel size to suit the drivetrain requirements of an IGH is completely bass ackwards. I had the same misgivings about the Alfine 11 gearing as everyone else here, and if I can’t change the front beltring from a 50 to a 46 to make the whole thing 46×24, then there’s no real advantage to the 11 speed Alfine except the oil bath.
I asked the guys at Civia if they thought a 46×24 would work with the 115 tooth belt on a Bryant build and they didn’t think it would. So much for the ideal – at this point it’s either an 8 speed Bryant belt or get the 11 speed and use a chain for now. The belt seems compelling, but I wish they’d think more about the consequences of only one Alfine/Nexus sprocket size (24). It severely limits how you can configure the drivetrain..
oops! I just told my LBS to order a 46 to combine with the 24 for my Alfine 11 build. Sounds like that won’t work … which means I might as well have saved a few hundred bucks and ordered the Alfine 8. I want the new belt design and NO chain on my commuter. Argh.
@JP – Burton Avery at Civia said that it *probably* wouldn’t work. I don’t think they’ve actually tried it, which is a little strange. Because of the dropout design, there’s a limited fit window for the belt.
Maybe your LBS can try fitting a 46/24 on your Bryant with the 115 belt and we can add to the belt drive knowledge right here. I know – it’s not my money.. Sucks that the belt drive parts cost so much, but that’s the way with small markets. No volume to push down prices.
You can calculate exactly if your planned modification will work:
Go to Resources on the right, then select Belt and Sprocket Size Calculators. An excel spreadsheet will load and click on the tab, Interface Sheet. Plug in your existing front and rear sprockets along with the belt length. Then note the Center Distance in millimeters.
After that, plug in your proposed front sprocket, and see if there is a belt length that will give you the same Center Distance, within a few millimeters. The adjustable, sliding axles on belt drive bikes are probably good for 5 to 7 mm of adjustment.
My change from a 55-24 122-tooth belt to a 46-24 118 belt results in adjusting the rear wheel back 4.5mm, which is well within the adjustment range.
My only problem is that I can’t find a 4-104 bcd crank that gives me the same “chainline” and the belt is very unforgiving of bad alignment.
Curious to do some gear-inches calculations. What are the ratios?
This magic ratio of 1.9, are you sure that’s a maximum and not a minimum?
It’s just that Shimano makes an Alfine crank set that comes with a 45t chainring, and their sprockets come in the range 18 to 23t. So the ratios available using parts from the official Alfine group set are from 1.95:1 to 2.5:1, so this idea that 1.9 is a maximum doesn’t sound quite right.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think that lower gear ratios apply more torque to the hub, not the other way around. I do know that the only time I’ve ever blown hub a hub was in my granny gear, grinding up a very steep trail.