Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

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

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Meshuga » 13 Jun 2012, 12:49pm

My personal experience -

Had a Charge Duster 8 for 2 years, faultless off road performance on the Alfine 8 speed hub in gritty and wet winter and summer conditions in the Peak District. I've been used for several years prior to this with nexus 8 speeds on my commuter - one died thru water ingress and swapped for an 8R36 which has same internals and seals as Alfine - that one going fine too. I recently oil-bathed my Alfine 8 after the 2 year anniversary, perfect inside with no signs of water ingress. Shifting was always best with backing off pedal pressure. Indexing on the 8 was always quite forgiving - line up the yellow marks on the cassette joint and no problems. Just coming up ready to replace worn chain, chainring and sprocket after about 2000miles in the grit. Ratios were as provided by Charge - 32/20t (I personally think Shimano's 1.9 recommendation is just that, not a prohibition from going lower)

I still have the Duster 8, it still works faultlessly, but I am quite tall and built myself a 29er for more regular off road use. I went for the Alfine 11 as I needed more gears at the top end than the 8 speed could give me. Initially I thought I'd made a big mistake. In use I could be no where near as confident as putting the pressure on climbing hills, got a lot of skipping and grinding in gear 2. Always stopped riding immediately and adjusted indexing so didn't put too much damage on the hub. The 29er is much more suited to my size but despite having a great range this hub was really annoying me coming from the 8 speed. After spending 2 years of faultless indexing and being the envy of most derailleur geared colleagues in the grit, I was seriously regretting buying and fitting this more expensive hub.

However, after a few weeks things really settled down. The main issue I found was that the perfect indexing spot on the 11 speed was very tight, with little margin either side, literally 1-2 turns of the barrel adjuster and that was it. I guess squeezing 11 speeds onto the same sized spindle means tolerances are lower. I have also found that my 11 speed hub runs faultlessly with the yellow marks slightly out of alignment, about 6 quarter turns on the barrel adjuster of increased cable tension. I have spoken to others with the 11 speed hub and they too have found this - use the yellow marks as a guide but then dial it in to suit the hub. Now, I can do fairly challenging 60-80k rides time and time again on very steep Peak terrain and in the foul weather of recent months without any problems or noises from the hub at all. Confidence has returned. Also, I find this hub does shift well under load, but having had the last 8 years on 8 speeds it just "feels wrong" to load whilst shifting, and I'm sure hubs will last longer if you back off, no matter what the manufacturer says! On the 29er I have a 32/22t ratio.

I don't think the Alfine 11 is ready for those new to IGH, the 8 speed seems a bit more forgiving in terms of indexing accuracy. But I've first hand experience of both working well off road with low drive train ratios, though I am only 5 months in on the 11 speed!!

jb
Posts: 976
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 16 Jun 2012, 11:03pm

I've just stripped & rebuilt two alfine 11 hubs. The first was slipping gears every now and again so I sent it back to Planet X, it came back and still slipped but this time with an oil leak. So I decided to do it myself. At first I was a little wary of it, but dismantling was fairy straightforward and with taking lots of photographs reassembly was easy and hard to get wrong.
What I found was:
The gear change mechanism showed no sign of damage however the gear change arms which have less than 180 degrees to change 11 gear combinations
are so closely packed that the movement required to lift or drop one pawl is minute thus making it critical to have exact alignment - which is not by the way, when the dots are exactly aligned.

The other problem was the oil that came out had loads of iron filings in it. This came from a spacer ring that for some reason was being ground
away by the second carrier cage which was puzzling because there is no reason for these items to be loaded against each other. I turned the spacer over to use the other side and filed the sharp edges off the carrier making a groove for the oil to hopefully get under and lubricate them.

The oil leak was from a badly fitted & bent seal that the Planet X 'mechanic' had hammered in with his shoe by the looks of things.

One thing that I noticed is that changing the oil by the prescribed method does nothing to remove particles suspended in the oil as
they just stick to the sides. The only way to do it properly is to pull the unit out the hub flush it and wipe the inside of the hub
out properly with a clean rag.

This hub had done approx. 500 miles

The second hub (not mine) was also stripped because it was slipping badly. This time I found no sign of damage.

One thing to be aware of is you take the planet gears to bits make sure the timing marks stamped on them are all lined up the same way or the sun gear wont mesh.
There are three special tools required if you want to go all the way. The first takes the plastic cap off (a vice could be used for this) the second allows the clutch and end bearing to be got at without the springs exploding everywhere. but its not necessary just for a clean and re lube. The third is for pressing in the end seals. I made all mine out of bits and pieces.

I can only conclude the gear change cable has to be set absolutely bob on for it to work, unfortunately this can only
be done by trial and error not by the dot marks. And, beware of anything snagging the cable that could cause it to alter position slightly.
Only time will tell if it will be suitable for touring but I'm a little more confident that although it slips easily its not actually harming it, and it is nice and quite unlike some hub gears.
Cheers
J Bro

Brucey
Posts: 40479
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 17 Jun 2012, 8:53am

all v interesting. I guess the 'proper' adjustment varies slightly from one hub to another? I had heard that it is more often one way rather than another, but if it were that simple....

Which part was worn in the 'iron filings' hub?

Image

from

http://www.rideyourbike.com/shimanoIGH.shtml

BTW this may sound like a stupid question, but how is the axial load from the helical gears managed in this hub?

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

jb
Posts: 976
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 17 Jun 2012, 12:07pm

Item 10 was rubbing against the wearing ring that is inserted inside item 7. I not sure if this item is available as a separate part or if you have to buy the whole cluster.
P1070176 (800x600) (640x480).jpg
Wear Ring

P1070177 (800x600).jpg
Second carrier showing top face that wears against the ring

P1070163 (800x600).jpg
Metal filings inside the hub

P1070172 (640x480).jpg
All stripped down

P1070150 (800x600) (640x480).jpg
showing gear selector notches

BTW this may sound like a stupid question, but how is the axial load from the helical gears managed in this hub?

Good question, its not obvious. The helical gears aren't used in all combinations. but when they are it will then depend on weather they are driven from the ring gear or the cage as to which way the thrust goes. In the low gears it will be towards the spacer that was wearing, but then that transfers it ultimately to the circlip that holds it all together via the final sun gear so I can't imagine it will be a big force.

By the way I refuse to use Shimano's expensive oil and use automatic transmition fluid. The only non metal bits are the bearing cages on the needle rollers and I cant see them being non compatible with mineral oil, but we'll just have to see. At £5 pounds a shot for a litre instead of £75 I can afford to do a lot of flushing.
Cheers

J Bro

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

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jfarnhill » 22 Jun 2012, 1:27pm

My experience with the Alfine 11 has, to be honest, been somewhat mixed so thought it was worth sharing here. It's just passed 500 miles and it's back with Madison on a warranty return as a result of both leaking oil and having clatter on all gears other than 1, 4 and 8 (similar to badly adjusted indexing) that only went away in a torrential downpour (not a particularly good sign).

At 450 miles, my local bike shop followed Madison's recommendations and did a service (including a flush) then added 40ml of oil compared to the normal 25ml. Apparently Shimano are changing their mind about how much oil needs to be in the hub and when it gets its first service. This still didn't cure the problems.

When I returned it to go back under warranty, my bike shop felt the best thing to do was to get it stripped down and rebuilt, which echoes what's said above so I am hoping that fixes the problems. In terms of shifting, I never found it would happily stay in gear without stopping pedalling altogether; even lightening the load on the pedals, as I would do to shift a derailleur gear, meant the usual bang as it slipped, sometimes quite a while after the shift.

This seems like a hub that still needs a lot more testing and I'm somewhat amazed Shimano are already considering a 14 speed version. There is so much to consider on getting an Alfine 11 set up that I think it would be better to go down the hub-indexing route (a la Rohloff) so that the hub lives up to its promise of being low maintenance and smooth.

When it works it's great. Unfortunately my bike now knows its own way back to the bike shop entirely as a result of the Alfine 11 hub not performing reasonably.

Brucey
Posts: 40479
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 22 Jun 2012, 4:31pm

I was surprised too when they didn't put the indexing inside the hub.

BTW although I not personally seen it, I have heard multiple reports that the 'best' spot for the index adjustment is frequently not on the yellow dot, but just off to one side, determined by trial and error.

jb; nice pics! my understanding is that Shimano are not offering individual parts for this hub, just complete centres.

Hopefully someone will set up a spares/repair operation once enough of these hubs get past warranty, and this will allow sensible repairs to be carried out.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ukdodger
Posts: 2992
Joined: 18 Aug 2007, 5:32pm
Location: Sunny Surrey

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 22 Jun 2012, 5:17pm

jfarnhill wrote:My experience with the Alfine 11 has, to be honest, been somewhat mixed so thought it was worth sharing here. It's just passed 500 miles and it's back with Madison on a warranty return as a result of both leaking oil and having clatter on all gears other than 1, 4 and 8 (similar to badly adjusted indexing) that only went away in a torrential downpour (not a particularly good sign).

At 450 miles, my local bike shop followed Madison's recommendations and did a service (including a flush) then added 40ml of oil compared to the normal 25ml. Apparently Shimano are changing their mind about how much oil needs to be in the hub and when it gets its first service. This still didn't cure the problems.

When I returned it to go back under warranty, my bike shop felt the best thing to do was to get it stripped down and rebuilt, which echoes what's said above so I am hoping that fixes the problems. In terms of shifting, I never found it would happily stay in gear without stopping pedalling altogether; even lightening the load on the pedals, as I would do to shift a derailleur gear, meant the usual bang as it slipped, sometimes quite a while after the shift.

This seems like a hub that still needs a lot more testing and I'm somewhat amazed Shimano are already considering a 14 speed version. There is so much to consider on getting an Alfine 11 set up that I think it would be better to go down the hub-indexing route (a la Rohloff) so that the hub lives up to its promise of being low maintenance and smooth.

When it works it's great. Unfortunately my bike now knows its own way back to the bike shop entirely as a result of the Alfine 11 hub not performing reasonably.


Thanks for all this info. It's answered my questions as to why my 11 speed keeps jumping. I thought I'd bought a dud. Have to say I'm not that happy with hubgears at all after my Sram seized up completely in the middle of a tour and now these problems with the Shimano. One question: when you're making the minute adjustments to cure the jumping problem how do you know which way to send the yellow marks. Is it only trial and error? ie make the adjustment and then ride it? Seems a bit of a lengthy procedure.

Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 25 Jun 2012, 11:07pm

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niggle
Posts: 3423
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Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby niggle » 26 Jun 2012, 12:15am


That is a great pdf, my Nexus Premium SG-8R25 has pawls rather than roller clutches for 1 & 3 as does the SG-8R27: http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/techd ... 688599.pdf but SG-8R30,31 & 35 are just like the Alfine with the three roller clutches: http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/techd ... 689520.pdf

Brucey
Posts: 40479
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 26 Jun 2012, 8:07am

there is a comparison of the 8-speed roller clutch/pawl and roller bearing differences etc here;

http://www.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/tech_support/tech_tips.download.-Par50lparsys-0016-downloadFile.html/09)%20Differences%20Between%20Hubs.pdf

-shame the efficiency plot doesn't have a scale to it.

cheers
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bobc
Posts: 495
Joined: 5 Apr 2012, 11:59am

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby bobc » 26 Jun 2012, 10:18pm

Interesting to compare that efficiency plot withthe one from the HPVA writeup in 2001 (still the only authoritative efficiency data that I know of).
http://www.bhpc.org.uk/Data/Sites/1/Upl ... 2-2001.pdf
worth a read - shame they didn't do the 8 speed - it looks as though their equipment broke when they were mostly done: shame.
If you view the 8 speed as 4 x 2 gears from the 2 planetary gearsets then the 11 might be (nearly) 4 x 3. Getting 3 speeds from a bog simple epicylic is simple enough (e.g. sturmey archer..)
However the 11 speed ratios are all close to 14% apart - xcept for 1-2 which is 17%. So much for that theory.....
PS my 11 speed still working fine - noticeably better after oil change at 500miles or so.

Vladimir
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Contact:

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Vladimir » 27 Jun 2012, 10:51am

Awesome reading here guys! Cannot spend too much time dissecting, as the pictures make it obvious at work; but just to get it straight:

The Alfine 11 is probably not the best hub to have if you don't have experience with hubs; and an Alfine 8 is recommended?

Is the Alfine 8 inherently much more reliable than the Alfine 11? Are most of the indexing issues adressed by the Alfine 8?

What is the major difference between the 8 and the 11? 3 plantery gears, but what else?

Thanks

Vladimir

RJC
Posts: 152
Joined: 30 Jan 2007, 7:17pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby RJC » 28 Jun 2012, 10:13am

jfarnhill wrote:This seems like a hub that still needs a lot more testing and I'm somewhat amazed Shimano are already considering a 14 speed version.

Where did you hear that?

I recently bought one of these hubs as part of an Alfine 11 kit Planet-X were selling discounted. I hope this doesn't turn out to have been a rash purchase.
Reading this thread I wonder if a re-engineered hub is in the works as it sounds rather fussy at the moment. I'm very much in two minds about what to
use when the time comes for an oil change.

Brucey
Posts: 40479
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 28 Jun 2012, 10:39am

I don't use an Alfine 11 but I've encouraged a chum to ( all good so far BTW) and I've used lots of other hub gears.

I have found that with very many hub gears the index adjustment is not beyond question.

Specifically I have found it useful to adjust the cable a little away from the nominal 'correct' condition and try it like that, to see which gears (if any) don't engage or are liable to slip.

After a couple of experiments (one each way) you normally have a good idea if there is a margin for error or not, and can 'bias' the ideal gear setting accordingly.

Similarly on the workshop stand, you can often pull the control cable slowly, and note where the shift points actually are vs the index positions. This latter technique isn't foolproof however because the hub may do something slightly different under load.

Another source of problems can be exposed cable runs on flexible (mostly thin gauge steel) frames. These can allow the gear adjustment to 'walk' off slightly under load until slippage occurs.

It is slightly depressing to note that the cable entry on the conventional control 'cassette' for alfine hubs isn't very well sealed. If chainstay mounted, (worst typically on a bike with 700c wheels and a normal BB height), water can simply run downhill into the cable and cause trouble. In a world where cables can be and are routinely far better sealed and oriented than this, I view this as something of an oversight.

Ultimately having the indexing in the hub, not the control lever, is arguably a better way. I suppose it may not provide complete immunity from cable problems, but it should certainly reduce them.

I guess if Shimano hadn't been 'thinking' (and I use the term loosely) about Alfine Di2 then maybe they would have been more likely to put the indexing inside the hub, and/or have a more weatherproof control arrangement.

cheers
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bobc
Posts: 495
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby bobc » 28 Jun 2012, 4:44pm

Just reiforcing what Brucey said, my last bike with an alfine 8 had to be adjusted half the "yellow alignment mark width" on the tight side (and I've seen another one like that on one of the school cars).

The big + point for not having the indexing in the hub is that only one cable needs to be run to the back wheel. Rohloff (and nuvinci I think) needs two.

Echo the dissatisfaction with sealing (I guesss done to reduce stiction in the cable) and daft cable runs witha U bend in the outer...