MartinC wrote:I preferred the old Spectro 7 for commuting/utility (not enough range for touring or MTB though). Seven gears was enough and you could spend the most time in the efficient gears if you chose spocket and ring carefully. The one extra gear on the Alfine 8 isn't much of a benefit but going from most to least efficient between 4 and 5 is a pain. OK, you get efficient gears in 1 and 2 but if you ride somewhere hilly you'd want a better range anyway. I'd like to understand what the deal with the G8 is.
New SA 5' looks interesting. In my book 8 gears is too much, 3 a bit limited and 7 is only a bit better than 5 - so good and common (in the UK) 5 speeds are worth having. Rotary shifters are good too - I hope it's a SRAM style i-motion one rather than the fiddly Shimano cassette joint.
I've tried a bike with the Alfine 8 hub and was distinctly underwhelmed despite being a fan of hub gears. The gap between gears 4 and 5 was more noticeable than I thought it would be, the hub was slow to change between certain gears and it didn't feel that efficient at times either, though at least Shimano have now changed the push-button shifter so that it shifts the same way as their derailleur set-ups (the old shifter was distinctly annoying for that reason alone). The Alfine 11's supposedly faster to shift and feels more efficient but of course is more expensive (initial purchase price as well as an expensive and mandatory oil change early on) and less tolerant of abuse.
The SRAM G8 could be good but its relatively narrow overall gear range does make me question its actual worth; all that additional complexity, weight and potential for efficiency loss over a 5 speed hub for something that doesn't exactly give that much back in return aside from narrower gear steps, though I suspect that the G8's target market relates to heavy, continental-style utility bikes that could be towing trailers. If the hub was lighter, the bike would be lighter and there would arguably be less need for narrow(er) gear steps as a consequence.
And then there's the new SA 5 speed hub, which is arguably the most interesting of the lot for many purposes, having a wider gear range than the original SA 5 speed hub but narrower than the 256% of its successor (which is possibly too wide a range for only 5 gears) but still wide enough to offer benefits over a tradtional 3 speed hub. There's also an extremely rare Shimano Nexus 5 speed hub (overall range 206%, gears roughly equivalent to 2,4,5,6,7 of a Nexus 7) which may be officially launched next year (my guess) if Shimano decides to make it more widely available, but it doesn't offer a significantly greater range compared to a 3 speed hub.