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Shimano Alfine

Shimano just won two Eurobike Gold awards at this year’s show; one for the new XTR group and one for the Alfine group. Alfine, pictured here, is a new component group designed for bicycles with internal hub gears. I am a pretty big fan of this group as it fills a niche between typical city bike components and racing inspired road groups. With nicely shaped cranks and disc brakes, the design is sporty and will appeal to those who want the clean look of a singlespeed with the practicality of multiple gears.

Of course, I have been spending very little time the last few days looking at new products from Eurobike. Most of my time has been spent following the US Pro races here in Greenville (Can you tell I am still excited about the races?). In addition to the few pictures that I posted, check out other people’s shots on the USA Cycling Championship Flickr group. Also, Olivier at the Brand Builder Blog has posted some really great pictures from the races that are definitely worth a look.

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12 Responses

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  1. Jeff W says

    This does look like a cool group. I love that they added disk brake to it. My question is why have a chain tensioner? It is internally geared so whats the point. I suspect most people who will put out serious cash for their comuter can retension their own chain when needed. Is this just so companys don’t have to make their bikes with horizontal ‘dropouts’?

  2. James says

    Jeff, the press release from Shimano does state that it is an “optional chain tensioner.” I suspect that the part is just included for the few customers who will choose to put this group on a frame with vertical dropouts. I seriously doubt that you will see any new bike designed to use this group that does not have horizontal rear dropouts.

  3. Anonymous says

    Some of the 2007 Cannondale Bad Boys use this Alfine rear hub.

  4. Anonymous says

    You say clean, I say yuck. I prefer old English working class bikes with the old Sturmey Archer hubs – those bikes are timeless classic with oddles of style.

  5. James says

    You will get no argument from me about the stylishness of English bikes. Old Raleigh 3 speeds, for example, are both beautiful and functional. I also happen to really like this new Alfine group. I think that the development of this group, along with Coasting, is a great move by Shimano and has potential to get more people riding bikes. Old English bikes may be very nice, but we need more options in the marketplace that appeal to people who are just beginning to consider the idea of riding a bike for transportation.

  6. Anonymous says

    Anyone actually used the group? Are the gears a reasonable spread of ratios able to go up and down hills?

  7. Anonymous says

    Sliding dropouts – tricky to get a disk brake to work on them. Maybe that’s why you might see quite a lot of manufacturers using the tensioner to get around the problem….

  8. Alastair says

    Getting the correct chain tension is a hassle whichever dropouts are used. The chain tensioner eliminates all that and could also serve those who want to add a second chainwheel up front.

  9. James D. says

    Regarding the gear ratios, I have used the non-disc hub on a bike with a shaft drive. In that application, the gear spread was about the equivalent of my old twelve speed road bike, as well as a newer 21 speed road bike. I actually found that I would have liked at least one higher gear, as I couldn’t effectively pedal past about 23-24 mph. That was a limitation of the unchangeable shaft drive, but you could modify this with a chain drive, either by increasing the size of the front chainring, or, as another poster suggested, add a second chainring. The only problem I had with the Shimano was a production problem with the shift pulley, but the hub, in combination with the shaft drive, was clean, low maintenance, and quiet, the first two of which were particularly welcome in my year round commuting application.

  10. EVan says

    Anybody selling the 32 hole Alfine hub? To US citizens? I have been using the mother of this hub, the red stripe 8 speed shimano NEXUS on my dirt road/townie/touring bike for hundreds of miles, and I have few operational complaints, except for lack of a better shifter setup. The shifting range is awesome. I just ordered an alfine trigger shifter and vert dropout axle non-turn-washers form Harris Cyclery and I intend to install my NEXUS townie wheel in my elliptical bottom bracket G.Fisher SS 29er. Too bad I don’t have the Alfine hub, I’ll miss my rear disc brake, but low maintenance shifting in Colorado may be worth the sacrifice. Only trails will tell.

  11. Anonymous says

    Regarding the chain tension and dropouts comments above: Any oem would design this bike around vertical dropouts as needed for rotor/caliper alignment, and an eccentric BB for chain tension. The chain tensioner is for retrofiting the system to a frame that was not designed for it.

  12. felsby says

    I just got my custom built Alfine bike today. Gear ratios are spot on. Got that ugly chain tensioner (vertical dropouts), disc brakes and spd pedals. Will make a mean winter commuting bike.



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