Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
Brucey
Posts: 40913
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 1:42pm

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

niggle
Posts: 3423
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby niggle » 31 Jul 2012, 5:24pm

One thing it took me a little while to realise, not having one myself, was that the 11 spd shifting works the opposite way to the 8 spd, i.e. on the 11 spd you pull cable to shift down (as per 'top normal' rear derailleur) and on the 8 spd you pull cable to shift up (as per 'rapid rise'). Not sure that this has a bearing on the shifting issues though :?

In either case with a single cable when you are releasing cable to shift (up with 11 spd, down with 8 spd) it seems you are relying on some type of return spring mechanism, so I am curious as to whether the 11spd problems are when shifting up, down or both. The few times I have had issues with the 8 spd it was down shifting, normally 6th to 5th I think. This seems to have gone since I lubed the hub.

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

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 31 Jul 2012, 7:43pm

jb wrote:You have to be careful to pull the bellows back from the pulley when its fully out or that does indeed happen. Also grit getting into the pulley groove can cause diameter increase.

I must say, for Shamano who are normally obsessed with reliability, perfect operation and ease of use - even if that means they reduce the life span - this hub is a bit of a let down


So right. I bought it over a year before I've come to fit it and use it. Had it been less than the year I would definitely return it for a refund. I just cant tune it to stop it jumping completely. Only to a best case.

Brucey
Posts: 40913
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 8:13pm

just out of interest how many people have followed the installation instructions to the letter? I know there has been a lot of '184mm chatter' but this is IMHO possibly a red herring. The real issues may well be with cable routing, and cable housing preparation. There are many very specific requirements in this regard in the Alfine instructions.

When I suggested (in another thread) that -in general- grinding SIS cable housing ends flat before fitting the ferrule was a good idea, I was met with a chorus of people telling me 'it wasn't necessary' , 'cut ends are just fine' and that it was 'a waste of time' etc etc. Yet this is pretty much exactly what shimano specify for the Alfine cable fitment. I wonder how many people actually do it?

I note with interest that the Alfine return spring is rather light, and I would suppose that the slightest defect in the cable might well mess everything up handsomely. Having seen dozens of indexed derailleur systems that 'didn't quite work right' (despite fierce return springs) primarily because of slightly substandard cables I do wonder if some of the Alfine troubles are caused by the same kind of thing.

(puts tin hat on, runs for cover....)

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MacBludgeon
Posts: 462
Joined: 6 Feb 2009, 4:19pm
Location: Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby MacBludgeon » 31 Jul 2012, 8:17pm

I grind all of my cable ends flat
nuns, no sense of humour

jb
Posts: 992
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 31 Jul 2012, 9:34pm

How many people have an angle grinder to hand? not something you would buy just for bike maintainance. Besides it should not require such accuracy, the yellow marks are hardly vernier standard are they, especially when peering down at them covered in oil on a wet day trying to remember if the moving mark was three microns in front or behind the fixed one.
Cheers
J Bro

niggle
Posts: 3423
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby niggle » 31 Jul 2012, 10:29pm

Sheldon recommended cutting cable outers that were to be curved whilst held in that curve, as if you cut them when straight the wire strand ends would become uneven once they were bent round the curve- those on the outside of the curve coming up shorter than those on the inside.

I do have a mini grinder and have used it to finish outer cable ends, but I find quicker and easier to use a file for couple of minutes than to get the grinder out and set it up.

Brucey
Posts: 40913
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 31 Jul 2012, 10:37pm

jb wrote: Besides it should not require such accuracy, the yellow marks are hardly vernier standard are they, especially when peering down at them covered in oil on a wet day trying to remember if the moving mark was three microns in front or behind the fixed one.


well even some indexed derailleur systems only work right on 'one click' of the barrel adjuster, which are 0.1 or 0.2mm from the neighbouring clicks depending on the system.

If one or more gear in the Alfine-11 hub must be 'spot on' maybe it is similarly sensitive, even if they give you yellow splodges to line up.

If there is then the slightest cable problem, maybe problems are inevitable?

BTW someone on the hubstripping page suggested a cover for the cassette joint pulley. It sounded like a good idea to me, but I don't know if they made/found something or not.

Oh, and I agree about prepping the ends of curved cables 100%. And the angle grinder is one of my favourite tools; perhaps I have a naturally destructive instinct...

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

jb
Posts: 992
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 31 Jul 2012, 11:14pm

Hmm, you can at least see, feel and hear a dérailleur to adjust it, then give it a little test. The only warning you get on the Alfine is an annoying jarring of the knees when it slips going up a hill. Its got so I tentatively test the peddles after changing before committing to full pressure, even then the dam thing catches me out.
No, this is not the idyll of the fit and forget hubgearian paradise we were promised brothers. However I shall persevere a while longer cos it looks good and cost a lot.
Cheers

J Bro

niggle
Posts: 3423
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby niggle » 31 Jul 2012, 11:58pm

Brucey wrote:If one or more gear in the Alfine-11 hub must be 'spot on' maybe it is similarly sensitive, even if they give you yellow splodges to line up.


Splodges is right, they are not very accurately marked on the cassette on my Nexus 8, so I am careful to align the indentations they are supposed to be in.

Brucey wrote:Oh, and I agree about prepping the ends of curved cables 100%. And the angle grinder is one of my favourite tools; perhaps I have a naturally destructive instinct...

Whereas I have a tendency to opt for the hand tool option if it will do the job in reasonable time. I feel that using a power tool in such circumstances is similar to driving to the corner shop.

Also hand tools are so easy and cheap to maintain: I have a hand drill which I was given by my father that I generally use for drilling holes in softer materials like wood, thin sheet metal or plastic. It has a simple bevel gear, to which I have occasionally applied a drop of oil, and I reckon it is about 50 years old. It is convenient and safe to use for any job it is capable of doing, no trailing leads or power packs to run down, no risk of sparks or shocks, very controllable and totally reliable. Maybe the reduced usage has contributed to my Black & Decker and mini grinder lasting 20 years+ as well.

Steps back down from soap box...

Brucey
Posts: 40913
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 1 Aug 2012, 7:15am

jb wrote: The only warning you get on the Alfine is an annoying jarring of the knees when it slips going up a hill.


good point; however having put many tens of thousands of miles on various other hub gears, notably an old SA five speed, I feel I should point out that 'it could be worse'. On the few occasions that these gears have gone out of adjustment, this typically makes itself known by an abrupt and unplanned landing on the crossbar... :shock:

No, this is not the idyll of the fit and forget hubgearian paradise we were promised brothers.


If so for more than a few isolated instances, it is a shame really.

But then I suppose it is only since 1995 that Shimano made anything more complicated than a three-speed hub, and the reason they didn't conquer the world with those is that, in truth, they were not really that good. I have seen quite a few of them break in daft ways and spares are 'difficult'; all in contrast to (say) SA three speeds. The Nexus 8 gears seem not bad at all but if they had 'got it right first time' then perhaps there wouldn't already be so many different versions...

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 1 Aug 2012, 10:36am

Brucey wrote:
jb wrote: The only warning you get on the Alfine is an annoying jarring of the knees when it slips going up a hill.


good point; however having put many tens of thousands of miles on various other hub gears, notably an old SA five speed, I feel I should point out that 'it could be worse'. On the few occasions that these gears have gone out of adjustment, this typically makes itself known by an abrupt and unplanned landing on the crossbar... :shock:

No, this is not the idyll of the fit and forget hubgearian paradise we were promised brothers.


If so for more than a few isolated instances, it is a shame really.

But then I suppose it is only since 1995 that Shimano made anything more complicated than a three-speed hub, and the reason they didn't conquer the world with those is that, in truth, they were not really that good. I have seen quite a few of them break in daft ways and spares are 'difficult'; all in contrast to (say) SA three speeds. The Nexus 8 gears seem not bad at all but if they had 'got it right first time' then perhaps there wouldn't already be so many different versions...

cheers



The one thing hub gears need to be is reliable. It's paramount. If they fail on a tour your goose is cooked. There's nothing to do but find the nearest rail station and head for home. You then have the problem of getting it fixed which will mean unlacing and relacing the wheel and delay while it gets sent abroad for the experts.

When my Sram failed on a tour that's what happened to me. It took a total of four months to get it back in working order because Sram didnt fix it the first time and I had to send it back yet again. That involved two lots of unlacing and relacing and more delay.

Now my Shimano cant be got to function without jumping every now and then and each time it does I wonder how long it will be before I'm back in the same boat - kicking and cursing the bike and wondering how I'll get home.

The result is now I simply dont trust them and that's the point. A dérailleur would have been fixable. So why Shimano chanced it and crammed in extra gears without proper engineering I cant figure. We cant be the only people on the planet having these problems.

jb
Posts: 992
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 12:17pm
Location: Clitheroe

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 1 Aug 2012, 11:03am

If I was starting again I would use a Rohloff, I,ve had one on my mountain bike now for five years and its bombproof . The reason I did not go for it on my tourer was because they are noisy in some gears, the shifter isn't as neat and they are over a grand now to buy. But similarly to what you say, you could waste the difference in price on a tour if your bike becomes un-usable resulting in a ruined holiday.
Cheers

J Bro

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

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 1 Aug 2012, 11:20am

jb wrote:If I was starting again I would use a Rohloff, I,ve had one on my mountain bike now for five years and its bombproof . The reason I did not go for it on my tourer was because they are noisy in some gears, the shifter isn't as neat and they are over a grand now to buy. But similarly to what you say, you could waste the difference in price on a tour if your bike becomes un-usable resulting in a ruined holiday.


Quite!

Brucey
Posts: 40913
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 2 Aug 2012, 10:24am

Even Rohloffs go wrong sometimes....

Trust is an important commodity for a touring bike, for sure.

Although in danger of making sweeping generalisations, it seems that there are two groups of Alfine 11 users emerging; those who don't have problems, and those who do have problems. The latter group often seems to continue to have problems even after repair/replacement of the gear. This is strongly suggestive that something about the fitment and use conditions with these users helps to cause such problems. Unless identified, one cannot be absolutely sure that there is really a fault with the gear or not; all that can be ascertained is that they don't work correctly/become damaged under some conditions.

In common with many other hub gears, it seems once slipping starts, it is liable to continue, simply because the slipping itself can create more problems inside the hub. However, it is difficult to see what other choice you might have other than to carry on riding if problems crop up mid-ride; are there any 'safe' gears in an Alfine 11 I wonder?

Whilst I can see how a bad adjustment or other problem might cause slipping, (and my policy is to strip and examine any IG that has slipped unexpectedly or made other foul noises) I'd be absolutely gutted myself if a gear like this was damaged after just a few slips, if only because they say that you can shift under some load; if damage arises quickly from bad shifts/slipping maybe that is a weakness that shimano should address.

I must say like hub gears which have a 1:1 drive ratio in them. With a gear like that, there is a good expectation that you will be able to get home without further damage in the event of problems. In addition, on my old (FW-based) SA five speed, both sun pinions can be disconnected from the axle, rendering the hub essentially no more than an overcomplicated freewheel, with gears that don't have to rotate should they be damaged or jammed. Many other hub gears (and all NIG versions....AFAIK) do not have this facility; whilst I've never had to use it (in many tens of thousands of miles) it is nice to know it is there should be need arise.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~