Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

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ukdodger
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 2 Aug 2012, 11:00am

Brucey wrote: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


I'd add a third Brucey. In my days of service engineering on IT equipment there were quite a few instances of several bits of the same kit all going wrong or not even working to begin with. I pulled my hair out once having replaced a piece of kit with another brand new and unused piece all from the same manufacturer several times and all had the same problem. Eventually I replaced it with a known 'worker' and bingo. The problem was a batch fault. Possibly some worker on the production line wasnt using his iron hot enough and created the same dry joint on multiple pieces of the same item. That could happen with any mass produced item.

I hope I'm not in the category of not having installed it correctly as I take great pains to get things right and therein lies the possible source of another reason for things not ending up right to begin with. The 'manual' produced by Shimano is wholly inadequate. Sram do much much better on that score. Also the Japanese use english speaking Japanese to translate their manuals rather than Japanese speaking Englishmen which only adds to any confusion.

Brucey
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 2 Aug 2012, 11:28am

fair point; I guess if there is a bad batch and a replacement comes from the same batch the same thing will happen.

Technical manuals are very difficult to write even in native tongue. Some of the best ones I have seen have been (in the past, less so more recently) the workshop manuals written for Honda motor cars. I absolutely agree the Shimano ones could be improved.

Incidentally, I did have an idea; some users have reported that if say 9th gear slips, it is more likely to slip if accessed from 8th than 10th. To me this is a clear sign of a possible cable problem. I wondered if (say using some tipp-ex and a biro) a mark on the cassette joint could be made for every gear when accessed 10-9-8 etc and then compared with what happens in reverse.

-just a thought...

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

jb
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 2 Aug 2012, 11:52am

It’s no good sighting cable problems; the mechanism simply should not be that fussy. These things are used on mountain bikes for heavens sake were all sorts of crap can get in. I think that those not having problems are more likely to be in flatter areas and /or have higher chain ring ratios. I've noticed the problem gets worse when dropping onto the smaller chain ring. But again, this should not happen, when a gears locked in it should stay locked in until the torque breaks something. This slipping shows that the pawls have partially engaged or disengaged due to the overly fine movement required to alter their position IMO.

There is a route for a 1:1 ratio but Shimano have chosen not to use it, probably because it’s too close to the next ratio.
Cheers
J Bro

Brucey
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby Brucey » 2 Aug 2012, 12:17pm

jb wrote: . This slipping shows that the pawls have partially engaged or disengaged due to the overly fine movement required to alter their position IMO.


-or possibly that there is damage arising from earlier slipping, cause unknown?

It may be difficult or impossible to determine what causes the first slippage, but I note with interest that the conditions are almost an exact match for the conditions that also promote 'ghost' shifting with derailleur set-ups, and that this phenomenon is nearly always wholly or partially cable-run related.

I agree that the system would be vastly improved if it was more tolerant of cable setting; however I don't know if this is a realistic objective or not with the basic design that they have started with.

Having said this, I still don't understand why they didn't put the indexing inside the hub....

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

bobc
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby bobc » 2 Aug 2012, 3:12pm

I guess I'm in the "don't have problems" camp. I've had the odd clunk from 1) "incomplete shifting" due to shifting under load - this seems to shift then gives an un-nerving clunk a second or two later and 2) having messed with the back wheel some adjustment is called for. I know that I'm heading towards an issue with my "home made" non-turn washers, which I will try to fix this weekend. They are 3mm stainless & it's not enough, the axle is starting to turn until the cable entry bracket hits the chainstay which also causes an unscheduled "adjustment". Regardless of that, I've had 6 or 7 alfine/nexus hubs on various bikes and greenpower racing cars. In the cars they have all been perfect, bomb proof. - I suspect this is because the cable run is all enclosed. I suspect that all bike cable runs by the chainstay are subject to some water ingress and stainless/teflon lined or no - it does the cable no good. So if someone asks if seatstay cable routing is OK, I reckon it's the best option! The bikes have all been OK, but the 8 speed nexus needed to be adjusted most of the yellow line width on the tight side. If I look at the indexing mark position with the versa (sti style) shifter on the 11, it goes to exactly the same position in the up and down direction.
Another point, those who have spent £500 on something that doesn't work to their satisfaction, shout long and loud about it - quite naturally. Those who are satisfied generally just quietly go about using it! Comparing with t he rohloff, it's a quarter to a sixth the price and has much smoother changes, but there have clearly been persistent shift indexing issues. You pays yer money etc. etc.

MacBludgeon
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby MacBludgeon » 2 Aug 2012, 3:43pm

The A8 could conceivably be described as a 1/4 to 1/6 of a Rohloff but not the A11 that's far closer to 50% once you have all the gubbins.

I think you're right on cable routing and water/muck ingress, my rohloff has shifted faultlessly as has my I-9. From a shifting perspective re ease of use, ease of setup and lack of maintenance required the I-9 actually knocks spots off everything else including the rohloff. It's been in operation on 4 different bikes and I can set it up in about 5 minutes, most of which is cabletie work.
nuns, no sense of humour

rofan
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby rofan » 3 Aug 2012, 6:25pm

jb wrote: This slipping shows that the pawls have partially engaged or disengaged due to the overly fine movement required to alter their position IMO.



I wonder what all the special mechanismen are doing in the A11:
Gear Change Support
Shifting Power Modulator
Torque Limiter
Could all that stuff make the A11 shifting at random??

rofan
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby rofan » 3 Aug 2012, 6:26pm

Brucey wrote:Technical manuals are very difficult to write even in native tongue.

I like Rohloffs manual
and especially R´s policy, how to communicate with the customers

jb
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jb » 3 Aug 2012, 7:52pm

rofan wrote:
jb wrote: This slipping shows that the pawls have partially engaged or disengaged due to the overly fine movement required to alter their position IMO.



I wonder what all the special mechanismen are doing in the A11:
Gear Change Support
Shifting Power Modulator
Torque Limiter
Could all that stuff make the A11 shifting at random??

There aint no torque limiter in mine that I can see, unless the slipping pawls 'are' the torque limiter? Maybe I'm just too fat for it. :D
Cheers

J Bro

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7_lives_left
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby 7_lives_left » 4 Aug 2012, 10:18am

Brucey wrote:Incidentally, I did have an idea; some users have reported that if say 9th gear slips, it is more likely to slip if accessed from 8th than 10th. To me this is a clear sign of a possible cable problem. I wondered if (say using some tipp-ex and a biro) a mark on the cassette joint could be made for every gear when accessed 10-9-8 etc and then compared with what happens in reverse.

-just a thought...

cheers

How about vernier markings? OK it might be a bit tricky to implement but good if you could do it and read also read it.

Another thought, you could print them on to tape, then stick the tape on the cassette joint (assuming there are suitable surfaces to stick them to.

rofan
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby rofan » 4 Aug 2012, 2:18pm

What Code/Prod.No. has your A11: e.g. JS29xyz or JG29zyx
It is printed on the flat part of the axle.
That one I got "repaired" was changed to KA27xzy.
Could this be a newer one?

aegelstane
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby aegelstane » 6 Aug 2012, 9:58pm

Finally! Someone has given me a bike with a Shimano 3 and the plastic shield on the twist grip changer is broken. Can I replace with an SA trigger changer - have loads of them in my spares dept!

jfarnhill
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby jfarnhill » 6 Aug 2012, 10:35pm

OK, so the whole bike came back from Madison as promised at the end of last week and today has been the first chance to test it after working over the weekend. Madison found that it had the wrong pinch bolt fitted and there were a few other bits missing including the rubber bellows (which, btw and to answer a question above, is getting dragged towards the cassette joint if not into it in the higher gears!). Madison reckoned that cable length was the problem and assured me it was fixed and quiet after testing. They also commented that there's a rubber that goes around the ferule and armature end that stops the armature rubbing on the stay; notably the armature was raised clear anyway so hopefully that will cease to be a problem.

Re whether the gear problems have been fixed, all I can say is that when I tested it, there was still clatter but it wasn't anywhere near as marked as when it went in and it still slips. So, contacted LBS today to ask them to talk with Madison about the best course of action. Will post here when I find out more. Personally, I'd like to see a brand new hub as I think the damage on this one has meant it's gone past the point of no return, (cf Brucey).

As a closing comment, I'd agree with Brucey on one more point and maybe extend it a bit. I know that some Alfine11s can be made to work, some never seem to work and I know that some just work right out of the box but it seems to be Russian roulette as to whether you're one of the lucky ones where they work straight away (or perhaps the other way round!). I'm sharing my experiences here so that there's information out there for those who are having problems. Happy to acknowledge that there are no doubt many silent users of Alfine11s out there; I'd love to be one too!

ukdodger
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby ukdodger » 6 Aug 2012, 11:00pm

jfarnhill wrote:OK, so the whole bike came back from Madison as promised at the end of last week and today has been the first chance to test it after working over the weekend. Madison found that it had the wrong pinch bolt fitted and there were a few other bits missing including the rubber bellows (which, btw and to answer a question above, is getting dragged towards the cassette joint if not into it in the higher gears!). Madison reckoned that cable length was the problem and assured me it was fixed and quiet after testing. They also commented that there's a rubber that goes around the ferule and armature end that stops the armature rubbing on the stay; notably the armature was raised clear anyway so hopefully that will cease to be a problem.

Re whether the gear problems have been fixed, all I can say is that when I tested it, there was still clatter but it wasn't anywhere near as marked as when it went in and it still slips. So, contacted LBS today to ask them to talk with Madison about the best course of action. Will post here when I find out more. Personally, I'd like to see a brand new hub as I think the damage on this one has meant it's gone past the point of no return, (cf Brucey).

As a closing comment, I'd agree with Brucey on one more point and maybe extend it a bit. I know that some Alfine11s can be made to work, some never seem to work and I know that some just work right out of the box but it seems to be Russian roulette as to whether you're one of the lucky ones where they work straight away (or perhaps the other way round!). I'm sharing my experiences here so that there's information out there for those who are having problems. Happy to acknowledge that there are no doubt many silent users of Alfine11s out there; I'd love to be one too!


Seconded.

MacBludgeon
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Re: Shimano Alfine 11 - Longer term reliability

Postby MacBludgeon » 7 Aug 2012, 10:06am

Rohloff doesn't seem so expensive now and an Alfine 8 looks very attractive
nuns, no sense of humour