Shimano Alfine 11-speed

Commuter, Utility 33 27

I was busy traveling when this was first announced, so I debated whether to even mention it at this point, but the new 11-speed Shimano Alfine hub is something I am pretty excited to see. Up until now, Rohloff had the market cornered for internally geared hubs with a wide range of gearing. According to the Lazy Randonneur, this new 11-speed Alfine has a gear range of 409%, compared to 307% for the current 8-speed version. The Rohloff still has a greater range, 526%, but when you consider the cost difference, the 11-speed Alfine should give it some serious competition.

BikeRadar has a first look at the new hub, which is supposed to be available later this year. They point out that it is new hub is 90 grams lighter than the 8-speed version too. Weight is not a huge issue for commuters and utilitarian cyclists, but it should definitely help the product appeal to mountain bikers who are considering the switch to an internally geared system (which I think will be a trend in the near future). Personally, I would love to try this system both on my commuter bike and on one of my mountain bikes. Anyone at Shimano listening?


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33 Comments

  1. xurde February 15, 2010 at 9:12 am -  Reply

    do anyone have more info about it?
    price?
    weight?
    how can we compare the gear range with a traditional geared bike?

    Can it work with 2 chainrings in the front using a chain tensioner back?

  2. Anonymous February 15, 2010 at 10:14 am -  Reply

    dude, beg much? If I were Shimano, I'd totally ignore you now.

  3. asb February 15, 2010 at 11:51 am -  Reply

    According to road.cc, the gear ratio change between adjacent gears on this hub varies between 17% and 18%. On most road bikes the change between two adjacent gears is somewhere between 10% and 13%. Rohloff has a constant 13% change throughout the whole range.

    A 17% increase in gear ratio is way too much! It means a cadence drop from 80 to 68 when shifting up.

    Unfortunately the bikes fitted with Nexus 11 are sold from supermarkets and people who buy them have no clue about gear ratios. They only look at the number of gears and the range between largest and smallest gear.

    I built a bike around a Nexus 8 Premium hub and the inconsistent gear ratios and giant leaps between 2-3 and 5-6 were an extremely disappointing experience right from the first ride.

  4. aelazenby February 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    I would love to see an internal transmission inside the bottom bracket. It would be wonderful for a mountain bike. Low unsprung weight, low center of gravity and no derailleurs to smash on thing. My guess is that we will be seeing that in the years to come.

    • Andrew Kreps August 7, 2011 at 11:37 am -  Reply

      > aelazenby says
      > I would love to see an internal transmission inside the bottom bracket.

      Honda built that back in 2004, on its RN-01 racing bicycle.

  5. PabloZ February 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm -  Reply

    As for the gear ratios between adjacent gears, Rohloff and Shimano are doing different math. Here's 14 gears with a 13.6% increase between each gear (the average jump on the Rohloff, according to http://www.rohloff.de/en/products/speedhub/gear_range_comparison/index.html), starting with a gear of 1.44m at the low end:
    1.44
    1.64
    1.86
    2.11
    2.4
    2.72
    3.09
    3.52
    3.99
    4.54
    5.15
    5.85
    6.65
    7.56

    Compare that to 11 gears, with an 18% jump:
    1.44
    1.7
    2.01
    2.37
    2.79
    3.29
    3.89
    4.59
    5.41
    6.39
    7.54

    Notice that they both end at approx 7.55m, which would indicate that the new Nexus 11 has a similar range to the Rohloff (~526%). If, instead, you force the range to be 409% (starting with the same low gear), you would have jumps averaging 15%, as follows:
    1.44
    1.66
    1.9
    2.19
    2.52
    2.9
    3.33
    3.83
    4.4
    5.07
    5.83

    Nevertheless, the difference in cadence between 13%, 15% and 18% is fairly small:

    Ratio—Cad(1)—Cad(2)
    13%—–80——-71
    15%—–80——-69.5
    18%—–80——-68

    I'm not sure if I can feel the difference in a drop of 9 RPM vs 12 RPM.

  6. Anonymous February 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm -  Reply

    I just hate Shimano's shifters, as I run drop bars on all my bikes.

    • Dan November 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm -  Reply

      Versa makes a STI type shifter for Shimano hubs. I’ve commuting and racing cross with this set up for years. Slick as snot!

  7. Dan February 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm -  Reply

    How about one of these with one of the Hammerschmidt cranks, that would be interesting!

  8. Yokota Fritz February 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

    Rumored price about $400, or a fourth of the cost of Rohloff SPeedhub.

  9. James T. February 16, 2010 at 6:40 am -  Reply

    Xurde, the projected price I have seen is 300 Euros, around $410 USD (as Fritz mentioned…much cheaper than a Rohloff)

    Estimated weight is 1600 grams (3.5lb) for the system (hub and trigger shifter).

    The 8 speed Alfine group includes a double crankset and a chain tensioner, so this one should work that way as well.

    As the Rohloff chart that PabloZ referenced points out, there are several duplicate gear combination on a typical derailleur geared bike. You really need to look at the high and low gears on each to make that comparison.

    The jumps between gears that Asb points out are a different story. It was my understanding that Alfine 8 had some large, and inconsistent, jumps between adjacent gears, and that was something Shimano was addressing here. I will have to look into that more. Thanks ASb and PabloZ for the conversation on that subject…keep it up.

  10. Erik Orgell February 16, 2010 at 11:37 am -  Reply

    $400 is far more doable than even thinking about a Rohloff these days. Still not cheap but yeah, far more swingable!

  11. Anonymous February 17, 2010 at 6:58 pm -  Reply

    Jtek's shifter is plastic. Not pretty. Why they can't make it look like a classic steel barcon or downtube shifter, I do not know, esp. for what they are charging.

  12. Robert Fry February 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm -  Reply

    I have a JTek shifter for my Nexus 7. I can confirm that the shifter is all aluminum (not plastic!) and is of very high quality. Yes, it was expensive, but I would highly recommend one for the Alfine 11 if they decide to make one.

    The gear ratios for the Alfine 11 are listed to be as follows:
    1 0.527
    2 0.681
    3 0.77
    4 0.878
    5 0.995
    6 1.134
    7 1.292
    8 1.462
    9 1.667
    10 1.888
    11 2.153
    This gives a "bailout" 1st gear with a 30% jump to 2nd, then 13-14% jumps for all the rest. It sounds well thought out to me.

  13. Tomás February 20, 2010 at 11:23 am -  Reply

    Could be the NuVinci technology sold to Shimano? The NuVinci is really revolutionary gear. I believe when NuVinci hub gets lighter will be in every bikes in near future.

  14. radler63 February 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm -  Reply

    What about the reliability of the internally shifted gears? It will be expensive to repair? In the old days there was a Sachs (now Sram) Cargo hub called P5 with extra robustness.
    If we look at cars some gears have been designed for very small operation hours, if you climb hills frequently with cargo the first gear will wear quickly..

    • Charles D August 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm -  Reply

      I can’t speak to the Shimano, but the Rohloff had a 100,000km design target (vs the newer, lighter Rohloff at 50,000km), so a durable internally geared hub is certainly not unheard of.

  15. kww March 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm -  Reply

    imo, useful for mountain bikers, and hill climbers, not really useful for commuters on a flat commute. I went from a Shimano 8 speed to a Sturmey 3, both with effectively the same gear spread and I don’t miss the extra gears…

  16. JoeDynia May 12, 2010 at 11:38 am -  Reply

    Great! Costs a lot less than Rohloff (Aye, I’m cheap) and unlike Rohloff you don’t worry about the flange cracking. The Alfine 11 is oil-bathed and uses helical gears. I bet it runs quieter than Rohloff and the drag is far less when coasting (especially in low gears).

  17. bob June 18, 2010 at 7:32 am -  Reply

    Something tells me Rohloff price will come down when the Alfine 11 is officially released, especially if they see a drop in sales. Next spring might be a better time to compare the two price wise.

  18. Peter October 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm -  Reply

    I have been riding around on an XT 8 speed rear cluster with a wide range. I live in pretty hilly terrain and have found that I am only on my small and large front rings on (extreme) occasion. If Shimano has set up the Alfine 11 with smaller gaps in the middle and wider ones at the extremities, that is fine by me. Remember some folks live with one gear ratio. The future is gearing at the crank (with simple actuation as the gearbox is close to the shifters and not rotating) with a belt as a final drive only, but Alfine 11 seems very nice for the moment.

  19. John S. Allen November 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm -  Reply

    “The future is greaing in the crank…with a belt drive.” How can you be so sure of this? Issues with gearing in the crank: much higher stress on the gearing, except in the very lowest gears, and so, more weight. If it is to have more than a couple ratios, it probably has to be built into the bottom bracket, and so it can’t be retrofitted or switched out. Issues with belt drive: yes, it’s cleaner, though a full chain case can solve that problem with a chain. Belt drive has a host of problems, see Sheldon Brown’s take on this.

  20. Scott December 20, 2010 at 5:21 am -  Reply

    Am I missing something with the 11 speed Alfine? The lowest gear on the 8 speed is .53 and it is the same with the 11 speed. The 8 speed high gear is 1.62 and 2.153 for the Alfine. On my commuter bike I run a 45 front and 22 back. That gives me all I need on the high end. The Alfine 11 speed will give me 30% more high end that I won’t use. I wanted more low end for touring (climbing) so that means I need a bigger gear in the back. To keep my high ratio the same I need a 28 or 29 in the back. But Shimano only sells up to a 24.

    It seems to me the extra gears on the 11 speed go wasted since you can not recoup them on the low end by adding a smaller front or larger back. Who needs a trekking bike with a racing bike high gear?

    Or am I missing something?

    • Shozaburo December 21, 2010 at 7:01 am -  Reply

      Yes. A 34T chainwheel.

      • Jerry Berry December 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm -  Reply

        I’m in the same bucket as Scott, running 44T chainwheels
        and 22T sprockets with nexus 8 hubs. I don’t need more high speed
        gears, I want more choices on the low end. I have one bike with a
        23T sprocket (the biggest for Shimano internal hubs that I know of)
        and that works well for me too. But it does sound like (with the 11
        sp hub) a smaller chainwheel is the way to get an overall lower
        biased gear spread. Do you really think a 34T is a good choice or
        were you just throwing that out there to see who would salute
        it?

  21. fr333zin January 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

    Couple this with a Schlumpf Mountain Drive, now that would be interesting.

  22. Scott Morgan June 27, 2011 at 9:26 am -  Reply

    I purchased the alfine 11 and here I am in June and 2nd gear is stripped and 5th gear is going. I’m 60 years old and live in St. Paul,MN. So, don’t think abuse by rider, thiswas to be my commuter to the grocery store. I am disappointed and I WORRY about the cost to repair the hub over it’s useful life , as I don’ even have 300 miles on the bike yet.

    • James Thomas June 27, 2011 at 9:34 am -  Reply

      Sorry to hear that, but it sounds like it should be covered under warranty. Have you contacted Shimano or the shop where you bought it yet?

    • Marty September 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm -  Reply

      Interesting. My alfine 11 started jumping gears after 400kms. Then 10th gear went missing. Took it back to my dealer who checked it out. Dropped oil out and only got 20mls instead of 50mls. So 30 mls has gone missing. Plus the oil that was drained out was black and very gooeey. Shimano replace whole internals. After 200kms, it’s started skipping gears again. Beautiful when it works well. No good when gears go missing. Suspect I’ve got a dud.

  23. Jerry Berry June 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm -  Reply

    I installed an Alfine 11 on the rear of an electra townie 21D. I kept the front derailer with 3 chainrings (28T, 38T, 48T) and used a 22T rear sprocket on the Alfine 11 for a total of 33 speeds. However, I don’t mix gears between front and back. I basically shift with the Alfine 11 and use the small chainring for riding in hilly country (17-72 gear inches), the middle chainring for city riding (24-98 gear inches) and the large chainring for flat open country riding (30-124 gear inches). Any chainring is ok to ride on the flat because the Alfine 11 has a nice wide ratio set so changing the front derailer is a rare thing.

    Note that I also used the Shimano CT-S500 chain tensioner because the bike has vertical dropouts. That part works very well indeed and there is no actual upper limitation on sprocket size. Shimnao sez 18-20T but I’m using a 22T and I tried it with a 23T (max size). No interference problem that I could detect. You do need to use narrow or super narrow chain not single speed chain but the bike was already using 7 speed chain anyway.

    I built the bike in March and have 3 months riding on it as I write this. No problems at all so far. Beautiful handling comfortable bike with a really versatile set of gears. I hope I don’t experience any problems like Scott Morgan has had. So far so good.

    I also used the Shimano CT-S500 chain tensioner because the frame has vertical dropouts.

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