Alfine 11 Project

Alfine 11
Alfine 11


I had plans to upgrade the drivetrain on my Civia Bryant from an Afine 8 with Gates Carbon Drive to an Alfine 11 with Gates CenterTrack later this year, but with help from my friends at Civia, the project is moving forward sooner than expected. In fact, the 11-speed rear wheel and Versa levers arrived yesterday. I’m waiting on a small parts kit/cassette joint (they’re included with Nexus hubs, but not Alfine hubs), and I’m still working on obtaining the belt drive components, but I’m super-excited to get started on the project. Stay tuned for updates as I go through the process.

Versa 11
Versa 11


The Oil Port
The Oil Port


36 Responses to “Alfine 11 Project”

  • Chris Baskind says:

    That did it. I’m now officially jealous.

  • adam says:

    Very cool, I’m more interested to hear from someone who’s ridden the 8 and can make a comparison to the 11.

    With an 8 on my current setup, my main curiosity is if I were to upgrade my bike, what benefits would I see (besides the obvious) and would it justify the cost of an upgrade.

  • Don says:

    Membership has its privileges!

  • Josh Mitchell says:

    So, you’ve upgraded the brakes to BB7s, now you’re upgrading to the Alfine 11? Nice…

  • Nick says:

    What chainring and sproket are you using? Do you have much choice with the Gates? Do you care about going over Shimano’s minimum? I’ve been thinking that I’d like to have 2 gears higher and 2 lower than my Shimano 7 but with their high minimum ratio thats probably not possible. If all I’d be gaining is 4 higher gears, its probably not worth the money to me.

  • John Ferguson says:

    It’s good to be Alan- official Civia test mule. We’ll look forward to the transformation.

    Maybe with the higher range of gears on the 11, you can install one of these up front:

    http://www.ebikessf.com/v2s ;)

  • Walter Enomoto says:

    We’ll be waiting to hear all the juicy details on how things went together and your ride impressions.

    I am looking at a similar build for a light tourer/commuter bike so this will help a lot.

    Thank a bunch Alan and Civia for making this happen.

  • Alan says:

    @Nick

    I’m still working out the details on the Gates portion of the upgrade. I’m happy with the low gear on my current set-up, so I may stick with my existing 50/24 combo. I don’t really need the top end gears either. The main advantages for me will be the tighter and more consistent steps between gears through the middle of the range (say, 4 through 8) and the oil bath maintenance and efficiency.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    Here a table showing the ratios for the Alfine 8 versus the Alfine 11.

    Gear Alfine 8 Alfine 11
    1 0.527 0.527
    2 0.644 0.681
    3 0.748 0.770
    4 0.851 0.878
    5 1 0.995
    6 1.223 1.134
    7 1.419 1.292
    8 1.615 1.462
    9 1.667
    10 1.888
    11 2.153


  • Nicholas says:

    This is the way I think they should be offering the bike. Alfine 11 and bb7s.

  • John Ferguson says:

    Sure, add a dyno hub, some lights and a decent rack + fenders and it’s pretty close to my ideal commuter. Here’s the problem – I talked to the QBP rep in our area and his opinion is that he can sell $4000 Ridley race bikes all day but a 30+ lb fully equipped commuter that costs $2k plus won’t sell. There’s an incredibly small market for high end commuters, which is what this is. It’s just not a good business for a QBP brand to be in..

  • John says:

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out. You’re building the exact bike I’ve been talking about having for the last year.

  • RJD says:

    Looking forward to reading about this project. After derailleur commuting through the last New England winter I’m looking for an IGH solution and I need more than 3 speeds. But Harris advises using an oil bath IGH which means the 11 speed. The grease in the 8 can solidify on the really cold days turning it into a 1 speed!

  • Doug ratliff says:

    Alan, weight weenies want to know what this contraption weighs? Moreover, cost and application to say a Surly “Rat Ride”? I may want to turn my recently acquired Rat into a IGH ride. I need proof of it’s merits before I buy. Let me know ok? Thanks, Doug

  • kfg says:

    @John – And because he can sell them all day, he can take a higher markup on that Ridley. But wait! Don’t order yet, that Ridley buyer isn’t going to just walk out of the shop with his bike; no! He’s also going to buy a saddle, pedals, maybe the latest shoes to go with them, the helmet he saw in Le Tour last year and that impulse jersey on the wall – then he’ll be back pretty soon to do it all again along with the latest upgrades. All these “extra” items have the highest markups of all.

    The commuter is just going to ride away and; well, that’s pretty much it as far as sales go. If he comes back at all it’s going to be as a liability. Who needs warranty claims from people who aren’t making you any profit?

    It is to be deeply regretted, but it is the people who most need to simply buy a bike to ride who are most put in the position of having to hack it up themselves.

  • Justin says:

    Alan,

    What are the other possible gear combinations besides 50/24 for the Bryant running a Gates system? I’d certainly like lower gears for my area. From what I can tell on the Gates site, the Alfine rear cog is only available in a 24 tooth, but the Civia site lists a much more extensive selection so it’s a bit confusing:

    http://www.civiacycles.com/bikes/bryant/#gear-ratio

    Also, has Civia mentioned if they are going to be offering an Alfine 11/ Gates Center Track option?

    Thanks for the great site!

  • Brian C says:

    Alan:
    Thanks for posting the details – looking forward to the build!

  • jnyyz says:

    @ RJD: I went through all last winter with an Alfine 8 with no issues. On really cold days, I’ve found that the limiting factor was my cables freezing up before I had issues with the hub not shifting.

  • John Ferguson says:

    @kfg, I don’t know that there’s a class of cyclists more in need of accessories than the commuter. Maybe touring, but that would be it. I’d say that the shops near me that cater to commuter cyclists probably make the majority of their sales in accessories like racks, fenders, bags, shoes, helmets, etc.

    As anyone who’s a regular reader of this site already knows, the number of different things that can be bolted onto a bicycle in order to carry stuff is staggering. From a sales & marketing perspective, it’s a whole lot easier (and more profitable..) to sell a $600 bike and customize it with $800 worth of accessories than it is to sell a more fully equipped $1400 bike. I think that’s the kind of hill that Civia is attempting to climb, and it’s not an easy task. Having the premium brand in the commuter space is way harder for the sales reps than it is having the premium brand in road or mountain sport.

    I also think a factor here is that people who use their bike primarily for transport are far more likely than sport riders to do their own maintenance and be comfortable fixing and changing things on their bike. I can’t tell you how many sport road riders I’ve stopped to help fix a flat or perform some other basic aspect of bike repair. Of course, using CO2 cartridges to inflate your tires is part of that problem too – it’s just not easy! I think your general point is sound – those who buy lower margin product and fix their bikes themselves are not exactly the customers that shops will cater to. Sport riders are the bread and butter of bike shop profitability and every successful shop know it. We’re tolerated, but usually not catered to which is a bit off-putting but what can you do?

  • Nick says:

    I don’t mean this as an argument, its just what I’m thinking and right here is the only place I know where people who are familiar with this issue discuss it. So I’m just sayin.. With the 50/24 chainring/sprocket, you’ll end up with a 28.5 gear-inch low (with 650b tires according to Sheldon Brown’s calulator) and a 116.6 high. I have a 29 low and a 73 high on my Shimano 7. If I were to switch to your proposed set up I’d gain nothing on the bottom, all the extra would be on the top. I do want 1 or 2 higher top gears but I sure don’t need 4 going all the way to 117. I don’t need to go faster, I need to carry loads up hills easier. I really like the idea of the 11 but if I can’t stretch the range both ways its no help to me.

  • kfg says:

    “I don’t know that there’s a class of cyclists more in need of accessories than the commuter.”

    That’s only because round these parts the bikes are sport bikes deliberately sold incomplete so you can sell “accessories” (imagine calling the headlights on a car an “accessory”) at retail markup rather than OEM markup, specifically to “deal” with the issues I raised. It’s “good for the industry,” but bad for customers. Bad for cycling too, because only cyclists will deal with it.

    “I also think a factor here is that people who use their bike primarily for transport are far more likely than sport riders to do their own maintenance”

    This is a post Lance phenom. People who would have been football jocks with money and an unrealistic sense of self importance now ride bikes. Race bikes need tweaking all the time. Commuter bikes shouldn’t need tweaking, basically forever. Back in the day most quality shop mechanics were racers who learned bikes because they were racers. They had to. Commuters didn’t. Commuters needed flats fixed and didn’t do it themselves unless they were poor or nascent racers. As a nascent racer I had to fix a lot of commuter flats before I could buy a full Campy bike. Got a few bucks on a regular basis for twiddling the gear cable on three speeds too, because it was “skipping.”

    “Sport riders are the bread and butter of bike shop profitability”

    That is a phemon local in both time and space. In much of the world it isn’t true, and wasn’t true here either not that long ago. You could tell the sport oriented shop in town (assuming there was one) just by looking at it; it was the smallest and grubbiest (the Schwinn shop was the brightest and shiniest. You wouldn’t find a single Paramount in most of them). Here and now the commuter has actually been transformed by the “industry” into what is really a form of sport rider – and his bikes into a form of sport machine. Thus he thinks he needs sporting type accessories as well as the necessaries that should just come with the bike. He even thinks he needs “upgrades” for “performance,” without ever thinking that that word is only defined only within a context.

    Right up into the sixties even children’s bikes could still be had with full fenders, a rack (color matched) and lighting integrated right into the bike (not hanging off some bracket you had to add yourself as an “accessory”). Children performed commercial labor on these bikes with a high degree of reliability. If a salesman had offered special shoes to ride it in he would have received an incredulous stare in response.

    A sturdy steel utility frame and a 3 speed IGH of 1963 vintage is all you need to travel around and around world while hauling up to 100 lbs of stuff from then until now. This is an empirical. It can get you 10 miles down the road to work simply, easily, effectively, quickly, reliably and most all; inexpensively. Not a single “accessory” needed.

    That’s why you have to buy one off CL, there’s no profit in selling them.

  • John Ferguson says:

    Don’t get me wrong – belt drive is a pretty great idea, but it won’t be more than a fringe technology in the bike world until they resolve the very issue that Nick brings up.

    With a (much cheaper) chain drive setup, I can configure the final drive ratios pretty much any way I want. If weather resistance is the main benefit, why not just offer a full chain case for the darn thing and be done with it?..

  • John Ferguson says:

    @kfg – As soon as you referenced ‘Paramount’ I knew we were headed into one of those ‘back in the day’ conversations. There seem to be lots of people who post here who think that all you need for any kind of cycling is a trusty old Schwinn with the ubiquitous 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub. Why, you could race it – just look at what Pee Wee could do with his bike!

    Much of what you say is true, but it doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the bike business today. In much of Europe, bike shops do just fine selling utility/trekking bikes that come pretty fully equipped and sell for between 1000 and 2000 euros. They even have a robust and growing e-bike market where the entry cost is typically above 2000 euros. That’s just not the way it is here. No way, no how. We could argue all day about why that is, but there’s no arguing about the reality of the bike business as it stands today in the U.S.

    In the ’50s and ’60s (An era for which you seem to have a great deal of fondness) bikes were mostly thought of as toys for children in the U.S. In some ways things haven’t changed much except the children now are in their 40′s and 50′s. And they have much more money to spend, which is what powers the bike industry and has forever. Selling a sporting view of bikes is pretty easy to do, thanks in no small part to Mr. Armstrong and his pharmaceutical suppliers.

    The one thing you say that doesn’t ring at least somewhat true is that racing bikes need tweaking all the time and commuter bikes don’t need tweaking at all. All bikes need maintenance of some sort if they get ridden a lot, and not much if they don’t. I don’t think the kind of bike or use of that bike matters much at all. Maybe racers are more fastidious about the performance of their shifting or braking or whatnot, but if you ride a bike it will need some sort of maintenance over time in roughly equal amounts regardless of what kind of bike it is. Stuff wears out, things come out of alignment. Good thing for bike shops, because that keeps people coming back in if they don’t do the maintenance themselves.

    Oh, and racer types have always had an unrealistic sense of their own importance. It’s a necessary attribute of the breed. ;)

  • kfg says:

    “If weather resistance is the main benefit”

    I’m not at all sure that it is. I would say it’s “stretch,” or the lack thereof; although that is in part a weather resistance issue in itself. I would think a belt case would be dandy and just as apt; without having to worry about chain stretch slap.

  • Dave says:

    A chain case is great if you know you’ll never have a flat in the rear. Me, I’d rather have the silent running, minimal maintenance, long replacement interval, and (yes, I care) lighter weight of a belt system. With Gates’ technology now in its 2nd generation and the 1st gen bugs largely identified if not solved, configuration flexibility going up with more belt length and pulley options, and economies of scale helping ot bring prices down over time, not to mention the coincident arrival of the Alfine 11, the stars are definitely aligning for a belt drive in my near future.

  • Alan says:

    @Doug

    The Alfine 11 hubs weighs 3.5 lbs. and can be had for around $575. Regardless of which bike you put it on, just like a single speed it will require some way to tension the chain: eccentric BB, horizontal dropouts (or “fork ends”), or a spring-loaded, derailleur-type tensioner.

    Alan

  • Doug ratliff says:

    Thanks Alan, I realize these items are necessary, I have seen applications to 1×1 surly bikes before.
    In fact my new Rat Ride has horizontal drop outs and Surly makes those neat little ‘Tug Nuts” for chain tensions. I just received the Rat so I will putt around on it as is for now. It rolls much nicer and lighter than I thought. When I first looked at the 24 inch rims and Hoggy G tires/ large Marg rims I thought it was going to be hell to pedal, but it rolls nice. I am putting a stem riser and adjustable steering stem on it for my old bones to like! LOL! Thanks for your help in all things IGH!
    I will keep you apprised of the Rat’s future modifications! : ) Doug

  • B says:

    I’m confused – you mention needing a “small parts kit/cassette joint”, which shouldn’t be necessary since you already have them from the old hub. Ditto for the “belt drive components” – what was wrong with the old sprocket?

    I’m also curious as to when Gates will offer more than ONE pulley for the hub; I regularly outspin the stock combo.

  • Alan says:

    @B

    The cassette joints are not interchangeable. Because the new cassette joint uses what is called an “outer receiver unit” on the last run of bare cable (it’s essentially a ferrule with a rubber dust jacket), there’s not enough clearance for the old, wider CDX pulley, hence the need for the narrower centertrack (CT) pulley and belt.

    I just found out that the CT belt will run fine on my existing CDX front pulley, so there’s no need to replace it. This is good news because my crank is a 4-arm and Gates is only making CT front pulleys in 110bcd 5-arm for now (saves me from needing to purchase a new crank as well).

    All that said, there’s a slight possibility I can make the existing rear pulley work with the new cassette joint if I remove the outer receiver unit. I don’t have all of the parts in hand yet, so we’ll see.

    Alan

  • B says:

    Odd. I have the Shimano weather sealing kit, and it involved a different arm and cable boot. Works fine, though the boot is VERY close to the pulley/belt.

    This is different?

  • Alan says:

    @B

    Can you point me to a tech doc on the weather sealing kit? I don’t know what the differences are and it would be interesting to compare it to the cassette joint on the 11-speed.

    Regarding the clearance issue I described, that’s straight from a tech at Gates.

    Thanks,
    Alan

  • david says:

    Looking forward to the summer threeway comparison. I would love to hear from anyone who could clear up a problem.
    Could you combine the 11spd with a 20t rear and a 55t front sprocket ratio on a Civia Bryant? Would a 55t fit the Bryant?
    Thanks.

  • Alan says:

    David,

    AFAIK, Gates is only making the Alfine-compatible rear pulley in a 24T.

    Alan

  • Josh Mitchell says:

    @David,

    Realize, however, that it won’t likely be long until Phill W is making rear center track cogs in the full realm of sizes permitted by the system for just about any rear hub.

    I’ve heard that center-track is supposed to allow for smaller rear cogs than the original belts.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Versa VRS Levers says:

    [...] Alfine 11 Project (816 views) [...]

  • david says:

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for the response, I think the 20t cdx 9spline will fit the 11spd alfine, it wont fit the 8spd 3 spline alfine I’ve found out. My main sticking point is the front 55tooth gates sprocket, can it be done? has it been done? how is it done? The Bryant is crying out to go faster….

 
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