Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

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rfryer
Posts: 779
Joined: 7 Feb 2013, 3:58pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by rfryer »

I'd like to thank everyone who's contributed to this thread. It was very useful in helping me decide whether to go for an Alfine 11, and having chosen (with some trepidation) to do so, in deciding how to treat it.

To cut a long story short, I got a Genesis Day One Alfine 11 in March, which is fitted with Versa shifters. I got it as a winter bike and tourer, to complement my fixed gear commuter bike, and my carbon road bike.

So far, I've really enjoyed it, and had no issues with the hub in the first 200 miles. Having said that, I've done everything to make sure it would go smoothly...
- On receiving the bike, I topped up the oil, from 14ml to 25ml
- I also loosened the bar-tight chain
- I've made a point of always pausing (very briefly) during gear changes, and applying power smoothly afterwards

Because of the self-imposed pause while shifting, I'm more reluctant to shift, and tend to vary my cadence rather than shifting at every opportunity. In that sense, it feels somewhere in-between a road bike and a single speed. Unlike a recommendation I saw somewhere, I'm not avoiding standing on the pedals; my feeling/hope is that so long as I'm gentle regarding engaging the gears, they should be able to handle my pedalling torque. After all, power delivery in the average freewheel is just through a few pawls; why should this hub be any less capable?

The Day One setup is slightly odd at the cassette joint. For some reason, they have abandoned the rubber bellows, outer casing holder and rubber cover, and replaced it with a simple top-hat shaped plastic fitting to retain the end of the cable. Given that the fitting is angled upwards, I'm concerned about getting dirt into the cable, and will be keeping an eye (and an oily rag) on this area.

Another weirdness is the "inner cable fixing bolt unit". Unlike the schematic I've seen, the bolt has been drilled at a diagonal, but the wrong diagonal. This makes it a real fight to get the unit mounted in the cassette. From what I can made out you are meant to slide in the unit, then rotate clockwise by around 30 degrees. Instead, I have to slide in with the cable crushed against the hub, then rotate anti-clockwise by 60 degrees. If I flip it over so that the bolt is facing the wheel, it slides in beautifully! I'm not looking forward to a rear-wheel puncture on a cold, wet day!

The bike is fitted with Versa shifters, which are performing well, although the swing required for downshifts is a bit excessive, and they can sometimes upshift multiple gears if you don't use them positively (I just moved from 1st to 11th in four clicks). I can confirm that, like the Shimano shifters, the Versa does pull 7mm of cable on the 6->7 shift.

One minor point - the bike came set up with the yellow marks perfectly aligned, and all shifts were good. After a couple of hundred miles, the cable had slackened by around 1mm, so I tightened it up to get the marks realigned.

I've also decided, at least to start with, to shorten the oil change interval to 200 miles, but to omit the flush. It just makes more sense to me! I've done the first such service, and the oil came out black, with a small number of very fine metal particles. I'm happy that nothing disasterous is happening in there just yet - long may it continue!
bobc
Posts: 495
Joined: 5 Apr 2012, 11:59am

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by bobc »

Hi rfryer,
re difficulty attatching the cable to the cassette - you say it slides in easily when "the wrong way round" - I do suspect that you should use the way round that slides in beautifully & perhaps it is a mastake in drawings or interpretation that leads to your suspicion that it's the wrong way round!
Now the clocks have gone back I'm cycling to work again - the bike just needed a breath of air in the tyres - after 5 months in a shed - excellent!
I guess it IS time I did another oil change (must be over the 1000 miles since its first and only one). I'll tape the magnet to the filler plug again for a day or two & see what comes out. I'm also tempted to just use automotive gear oil rather than shimano liquid gold.....
jfarnhill
Posts: 37
Joined: 22 Jun 2012, 1:14pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by jfarnhill »

Hey rfryer, welcome to the Genesis Day One Alfine 11 owner club ;-). Re your comments:
- If you've only done 200 miles and it's lost 11ml of oil, keep an eye on it to make sure that you've got a good hub; if not, return it. My most recent hub had around the 20ml mark on its first service at 600 miles;
- The technique I use to shift is pause and then give it a couple of rotations with no power, which seems to work but see brucey's comments on pedalling with no load whilst you're shifting;
- Once the gear is in then you should have no issues applying full torque. Mine's been absolutely OK once the gear is in and it's the same with others;
- Fair point on using cadence rather than shifting; I'm coming to the same conclusion myself!
- As you've probably seen further up this somewhat extensive thread, I queried why the bike gets supplied with no rubber bellows and rubber bumper as Madison fitted these on one of the bike's many trips back to them. There doesn't seem to be an answer to this. The key thing is that the ferrule on the cable outer is water sealed and water doesn't pool in the cable outer. Judging by the rust on my cable outer, mine is still getting some water in it despite the bellows being on and I'm having to slide the bellows back into position every few hundred miles to stop it fouling the cassette joint and messing up gear changes in the upper range;
- [Sigh] re the inner cable fixing bolt. I popped mine out from the cassette joint recently to clean and lube the cassette joint properly and it is fiddly to pop back in. The nut should be facing to the outside (http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/techd ... 713439.pdf gives you pictures that are far better than any I could post and also helps with cable orientation!);
- Re wheel changing it is worth carrying a neoprene chainstay protector as the armature is very easy to catch on the inside of the chainstay when you're taking the wheel out. I also have some disposable plastic gloves to avoid covering myself in oil at the side of the road!
- If your Versa shifter is jumping up several gears then first check to make sure you're not catching the downshift lever whilst pressing the little upshift button. If you aren't then get a fresh shifter under warranty. They're known for doing this and I'm going to get a fresh shifter for mine just before it goes out of warranty as it's back to jumping up several gears again;
- It's worth experimenting with the yellow mark alignment. I've found mine changes best with the marks slightly out of line;
- IMHO, it's worth doing the flush, particularly for the first service, as you get so many particles in there and the oil you're using is not a flushing oil so isn't quite so likely to bring all the rubbish that may be in there out with it. I'd be interested to hear how you get on with changes every 200 miles. I've also stuck with the Shimano oil on the basis that it helps me keep my two year warranty should the hub fail over that time. As soon as it's out of warranty then I'll be switching to something else!

It's a great bike when it's working, the ride being particularly sublime so hope you have many happy miles with it!
Brucey
Posts: 43113
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by Brucey »

re the rubber bellows; there are two versions of the cassette joint kit; one with a rubber bellows ('Swedish version') and one without. Maybe they supply and fit whichever version they have in stock at any given time. I think the rubber bellows is a good idea but IIRC there have been instances of the rubber bellows being dragged into the cassette joint and causing problems.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
rfryer
Posts: 779
Joined: 7 Feb 2013, 3:58pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by rfryer »

Thanks for all the comments! Working through them...

- The hub didn't lose any oil in the first 200 miles - but it was supplied missing 9ml. I decided to check when the bike first arrived; it's a bit late once you've got to the first service and discover you've been running dry.
- I'm not too worried about not flushing - I'm changing oil at least twice as often as recommended, so on average I'll have much less swarf floating around.
- I think I understand how the cable stop's meant to fit - with the nut facing outwards. Mine only goes in cleanly with the nut facing the hub, which means that the cable line is completely wrong.
- I ordered the "official" cable stop and cable outer last night. When they arrive, I'll compare them to what I've got, and maybe post some pics of the differences. I'm a little concerned that water could pool at inside the bellows - there might be a case for making a little drain hole to prevent that from happening. I'll see what I think when it arrives.
- Thanks for the idea about the chainstay protector - I'll look into that. I already carry the neoprene gloves!
- I'm not sure there is a problem with the Versa shifter. It only misbehaves if you squeeze the top button slowly, rather than a positive press. Are you saying that yours doesn't multi-shift when you try that?

One final question - I noticed when the bike was on the work stand, that there's a fair bit of friction in the freewheel mechanism - there's a definite mechanical whirring, and a fair bit of drag (by which I mean the wheel slows down much more quickly that I'd expect with a conventional freewheel). Is this normal? It's not a big deal as it stands, but I'd want to know if it was a possible sign of problems.
Last edited by rfryer on 8 Apr 2013, 10:42pm, edited 1 time in total.
Brucey
Posts: 43113
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by Brucey »

IIRC the Alfine, like many Shimano IGHs, has roller clutches. These do cause a small amount of drag when freewheeling.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
jfarnhill
Posts: 37
Joined: 22 Jun 2012, 1:14pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by jfarnhill »

@rfryer:
- :-S re it missing 9ml of oil when it first arrived! Might explain where 5ml of mine went on the first service :-P;
- When you fit the bellows it has a sort of grip at the cassette end, which is meant to seal out dirt and water. I'm not that convinced! As brucey mentions further up, worth making sure there is a waterproof ferrule on the end of the cable outer just to make sure nothing can get in to the outer but it sounds from your initial post that it has this already;
- My Versa shifter is really erratic. It occasionally changes OK but then has times on the upper gears where it'll leap from 8th to 11th in one go. Multi-shift is only meant to move 2 gears at a time and just on the trigger shifters as far as I know;
- Following up on brucey's comment it's worth checking the line of the disc through the brake caliper on the back to make sure you're not getting drag on the pads. Had to realign mine as it was catching slightly and slowing the rear wheel up. As brucey says, you always get some drag from the hub and I seem to remember from some Youtube videos that other people have experienced this (although I don't have a link to hand; sorry!).

If you could keep on sharing your experiences (both positive and negative) that'd be great.
jb
Posts: 1078
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by jb »

I find the Versa gear skip is worse with thick gloves on - anoying but not harmfull.
Cheers
J Bro
rfryer
Posts: 779
Joined: 7 Feb 2013, 3:58pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by rfryer »

It's like snakes and ladders; you spend forever cranking through those down changes, then after a moment of inattention you find yourself all the way back in 11th!
rfryer
Posts: 779
Joined: 7 Feb 2013, 3:58pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by rfryer »

For those who haven't been following carefully(!) I've recently bought a Genesis Day One Alfine 11, and was a little surprised to find that the parts around the end of the cable were nothing like those in the Shimano documentation. So, I decided to try buying and fitting the correct parts...

I bought the parts from Petra Cycles for just over £15 including shipping.

First up, the cable stop (aka CJS700 inner cable fixing bolt unit in cble fix, part number Y6TV98070). The following photo shows the Shimano and Genesis offerings together. As you can see from the needles pushed through the cable holes, the Genesis has the hole drilled through the wrong diagonal, making it a complete pain to fit and remove. The Shimano one is much better.

Image

Secondly, the cable housing (aka SLS700 outer casing holder unit case, part number Y6TV98060). As you can see from the photo below, Genesis simply supply a cable stop to fit into the cassette arm, rather than the full rubber bellows assembly. It was a bit of a faff to fit the Shimano part, partly due to difficulty threading the cable through the end of the bellows, and partly because the new housing requires a greater length of cable between the ferrule and the fixing bolt. However, there was sufficient cable (just) and once fitted it all looks good, though in top gear the end of the bellows is very close to getting dragged into the cable track round the cassette. I tried crimping the end of the bellows to the cable (there is a metal ring included, you can see it at the tip of the bellows) but can't get it sufficiently tight that the cable won't pull through.

Image
TonyR
Posts: 5390
Joined: 31 Aug 2008, 12:51pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by TonyR »

I suspect that both sets of parts are Shimano parts. The difference being that Genesis buy the OEM version of Shimano not the retail version. I doubt very much that they have those parts made up separately or that Shimano don't supply the relevant parts with an OEM hub. The different drilling is curious though.
jfarnhill
Posts: 37
Joined: 22 Jun 2012, 1:14pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by jfarnhill »

@rfryer Good spot on the difference in drilling for the Shimano bolt and concur with jb that shift jumping on the Versa levers appears more erratic as your gloves get thicker. Not exactly what you want on a winter bike ;-). Re the bellows getting dragged into the cassette joint, that only happens if you shift down to first gear a few times and then back up to top. As brucey says above, you pays your money and takes your choice. I'm tempted to get rid of the bellows for summer (says he as he watches the rain pour down) and get a waterproof ferrule on the end of the cable outer (as recommended many, many posts above). Not entirely sure that isn't the solution Genesis have gone for with the top hat.
rfryer
Posts: 779
Joined: 7 Feb 2013, 3:58pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by rfryer »

The "top hat" cable stop doesn't provide any waterproofing - it's in no way a tight fit. The Shimano part is soft rubber, and seals tightly against the ferrule. The main exposure to leakage seems to be the hole where the cable exits the bellows, and my hope is that it's a pretty small exposure; the hole's pretty tight, and there's a fair chance that any water that did get would get caught up in the bellows rather than getting into the cable. I'm certainly more comfortable using the standard Shimano parts rather than those supplied by Genesis.
Brucey
Posts: 43113
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by Brucey »

The Genesis parts are Shimano parts. The pinch bolt is (I think) the one that is normally supplied with a Nexus 8.

IIRC there are at least two different Alfine fitting kits for most Alfine hubs; the rubber bellows isn't standard default equipment on every model, and as someone else pointed out, OEM and aftermarket parts may be different anyway.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Meshuga
Posts: 56
Joined: 5 May 2011, 2:13pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Post by Meshuga »

@rfryer: looks like the genesis cable end bolt is from an alfine 8. the 8 shifts to a higher gear as the cable tightens, and the cable wraps clockwise around the cassette joint. The 11 shifts to a lower gear as the cable tightens and wraps anticlockwise around the cassette joint. Hence the bolts are drilled to produce a mirror image. Very curious that they should provide you with the wrong one.

In both systems the cable end bolt should be affixed to the cassette joint with the nut facing outwards. with this genesis one are they asking you to fix the nut facing inwards perhaps? I didn't think this was possible but it would be a suitable bodge.
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