Product Review: Alfine internally geared hub

Last winter we featured a Surly Puglsey on this site, and since then we’ve built a few more up for our customers, like the one pictured here:

As you might already know the Pugsley is the ultimate winter bike, built to accomodate incredibly large tires. How can you improve it even further? Add an internally geared hub so you have gear choices without winter maintanance issues. The Shimano Alfine 8 speed internally geared hub is essentially a high end version of the Nexus hub found on some cruiser and comfort bikes. Improvements over the lower end model include a lighter weight, smoother shifting, and quieter operation.

Internally geared hubs like the Alfine offer an advantage in winter or other rough condition riding because the gearing is sealed off to the elements, leaving your shifting unaffected by freezing contaminants, excessive mud buildup, sand particles, and so on. There’s also no deraillieur hanging down from your bike frame waiting to get whacked by a rock or bent in a fall. As a cool little side benefit you can also shift an internally geared hub while standing still at a stop light or trailside. Kinda neat.

We were very happy to build up this Pugsley at a customer’s request with the Alfine hub and can say first hand that it shifts very smoothly and offers a good gear range that should be suitable for anything that local conditions can offer. It is of course a bit heavier than a conventional hub, but we compaired the weight difference to the deraillieurs and shifter units that it replaces and even when compared with high end, light weight parts the net weight difference is minimal.

The Alfine can be mated to either a grip shift style shifter or a trigger shifter (but you have to use specific models that are made for the Alfine). If you want more info on compatability with your bike feel free to give us a shout or come down to the shop – we’d be happy to look into building a new wheel up for you too.

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