The "second" hub i worked on is now operating for some years i.e. some 8000km and i am basically happy with it. Every once in a while she gets mad at me and slips a pawl. Lets say it does it about once in two weeks.
For me sounds absolutely unacceptable, especially for an equipment that claims to be totally maintenance free and "just-working".[/quote]
Please note: "slipping a pawl" means that it slips over one notch of its sun gear upon shifting. Once in two weeks is not often (i shift up and down all day...) and it does not need any maintenance when that happens. With derailleur shifting you get your chain jumping over teeth much more often. Pawl slipping happens inside the hub, not at the chain, so one would fear something "broke". Nothing breaks. But yes: What the SG-S700 does is not exactly "just working".
Actually, my personal rating of the SG-S700 is: POOR BY DESIGN. (sorry 'bout that...)
But i got two of these units for free, i took the time to look at the inside mechanisms, applied changes, and by now i am happy with it, compared to what i could expect from two units which were somewhat damaged inside before by their original owner and/or by insufficently educated mechanics.
Then, looking back all those >700 posts by more or less unhappy/disappointed owners, it looks like others faced pretty much trouble. We must see that this is not an experimental hub but its promise was to provide trouble-free operation - at least as compared to derailleurs. It did NOT keep this promise.
When i will, one of these days, get to feel joy in opening my hubs again, i will continue to apply changes. One of the weak points of the SG-S700 is that it is extremely sensitive on shifting cable setup. Just ONE click at the barrel adjuster can put you into trouble, and the yellow marks don't tell the truth. I found that the pawls do not extend as far as they could to safely catch their notches. Could be that the up/down shape in the shifting sleeve thing was applied to flat material and they did not consider the change in shape resulting from bending the sleeves to their final rounded form. I will invent some tool to grind in (or to hammer in) the sleeve's grooves further so that the pawls will then come up higher i.e. sit in their notches safer. As a consequence, more tolerance will then also be there against not "ideally" set shifting cable.
We must, however, consider one more thing in the A-11 story: While the first version (SG-S700) is far from perfect, Shimano's redesign (SG-S7000) seems to be much more reliable. So please be sure to not take my "rating" valid for the newer A-11 versions.
All in all my judgement is as follows:
- The A-11 is none of the cheap hubs. Looking at its price, i think the value for money is fairly low.
- On the other hand, i very much enjoy the roller clutches, the pretty well equalized eta across all gears, the comfortable shifting lever.
- Looking at the A-8, the A-11 is a big step forward.
- To get the "best" hub (R-14) one must pay a fortune and must accept unequal eta and noisy operation.
I operate all of these hubs (and even more, e.g. the Sachs S-7) . The A-8 was very robust but gear stepping was too uneven. It now runs on the "Guests" bicycle. The R-14 works 100% trouble-free on our Pino tandem, but i dislike its noise. The A-11 replaced the A-8 on my daily "donkey" and does a good job. Silent operation, evenly stepped gears (except 1->2) and, apart from the known deficiencies, she is one of the things which make my riding enjoyable. Every day. Period.