Alfine 8- Gary

I’ve been wanting to do some gear and equipment posts. But first, I’d like to share what we see out in our yard each morning, all 200 or so, acres of it.

This is at daybreak this AM. We had a dusting of snow last night. Too bad they can’t stay cute like this…


We have over 100 baby calves, so far. It’s been a really easy year for them, weather wise.

OK, on to the bike geeky stuff…


I just built up a Shimano Alfine 8 speed Internal Gear Hub (IGH) for my bike. I’ve been pondering doing this for some time. I came really close to buying one before our big trip but in the end decided to go with what I knew. After returning home the itch started again.

The wheel is way strong. I had the opportunity to get one of the last Stan’s Flow (now Flow EX) rims in 36 hole for a song. I ordered a 36 hole hub to go with it and picked up some DT Competiton (14/15) spokes and brass nipples. All spokes are 269mm, no need for different length spokes. It’s recommended to build up IGH hubs 2 cross. It built up really nicely. I know I could have built it lighter but this is an experiment and cost is a factor.Alfine 8 007

As much as I love riding singlespeed, or dinglespeed, it’s a bit limiting on the flatter sections of our rides. As we travel, having a few gears seems to be worth it to me, these days. The Alfine with 32/20 gearing is supposed to be the equivalent of a 12-38 cassette. I’m using the Alfine trigger shifter. It works great but the shifting is backwards from a normal drive train. Shifting is immediate; no lag. The down shift doesn’t happen until you let off of the shifter to release the ratchet though.

Alfine 8 004Wait, weight! Yikes! What happened to my nice, light bike? It’s over 3 1/2 lbs. heavier than it was in dinglespeed trim. Part of the added weight is the heavier rim, 4 more (and heavier) spokes, brass nipples and fresh Stans in the tire when I changed it over. Still… darn! Supposedly the Alfine IGH is no heavier than a mid range (cost) mountain triple, if you add in all the bits and pieces.

I’ve got around 15-18 hours on it so far. I like it. I do wonder how efficient it will be. IGH is supposed to be a bit less efficient than a conventional derailleur set up. At least under ideal conditions…

Alfine 8 009

This it where the IGH blows a conventional drive train away. I always try to avoid riding in these conditions but it does happen, especially on a multi-day trip. On longer trips, expect it. Notice that the chain has almost no mud on it. A derailleur set up would have already been clogged up, the tire probably wouldn’t turn and the rear derailleur would be at risk of being torn off. In these conditions, and hopefully in a bit less harsh conditions, the IGH will be more efficient.

This hub was designed for a commuter bike. As such Shimano didn’t spend time or money in an effort to save weight. The Alfine 8 has a reputation as being up to the task of mountain biking even though it wasn’t intended for that purpose. The newer and more expensive Alfine 11 speed hub, apparently, isn’t up to the task.

The photos show zip ties for cable routing. I now have stick-on cable guides on the downtube but I stayed with zip ties on the chainstays. I have the option to run the shift cable down the seatstay but I think I prefer this.

It shifts lickety split- always. Adjustment is dead simple. Removing the wheel is relatively painless. It’s pretty much silent and it was inexpensive too. I’ll try to give an up date in a few months. There are those of you who think I’ll be on a Rohloff soon. 🙂 Not very soon, anyway.


6 thoughts on “Alfine 8- Gary

  1. Nice looking setup. Andy Peirce’s dropouts are things of beauty. If it’s any consolation, your bike is lighter than anything I have. Weight notwithstanding, Alfine 8 seems a good choice. I ride internal geared three-speeds around town almost daily and appreciate them, but have been thinking more recently about off-road use. A Rohloff seems like it would be great, but geez, the price. Looking forward to how it all works out for you.

    Are you going to be around for branding season?

    1. Andy, the dropouts are actually made by Todd at Black Cat. Unfortunately, he’s decided to no longer sell them. The good thing is Paragon has some new rocker dropouts that may work even better. Andy Peirce’s new Ti 29+ and more, frame has ’em-

      I do expect to be here for branding and all the other fun stuff that happens then, 🙂


      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 10:04 PM, Rolling with the moment wrote:


  2. Gary, i have 29er FlowEx rims on a steel bikepacking hardtail. Being old school I had my doubts (no eyelets etc) but these rims are awesome. Easy to seal tubeless without a compressor, the flat bead profile seems to stay clear of nasty rocks and good support for 2.4″ tyres. Ps enjoying your blog from South Africa.

    1. Hi Dirk, I’ve been really pleased with Stan’s rims. I’ve run Flows for over 4 years with no issues at all. I have a new(er) wheelset with Arch EX rims and they’ve been great too. Thanks for watching the blog!!!

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