Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub

17 Feb

Riding in inclement weather can really be a pain! Not only do you have to put up with snow, rain and mud during your ride, but when you get home you have to spend time cleaning the drivetrain on your bike to keep it from rusting. If you would like to spend more time riding and less time cleaning you should replace the rear cassette, hub and derailleur on your bike with a Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub. This past December I bought a new Surly Necromancer Pugsley and had the guys at the local bike shop (Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois) put a Shimano Alfine 8 on it before I took it home. After a few weeks of using the Alfine 8 in the snow and mud I decided to have them put one on my Gary Fisher Big Sur mountain bike as well.

Black Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub

Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub

The Shimano Alfine 8 is a dependable, smooth shifting internal geared hub that doesn’t let snow, mud, rain or slush interfere with its operation. Shifting with the Alfine 8 is so smooth and quiet it is almost magical—and you never have to worry about a misaligned derailleur or bent hanger. I’ve had no problem shifting even when the temperature was bellow zero. Weighing in at over 1600 grams the Alfine 8 is not exactly lightweight, but since you lose the weight from the derailleur and cassette it is not too bad.

If you would like to swap out your old drivetrain for the Alfine 8 there are a few things you need to consider. First, you will need to completely rebuild your rear wheel to install the Alfine 8. Rebuilding the wheel means new spokes and nipples (use brass or anodized nipples since you are probably going to be riding in wet weather). The Alfine 8 is available with either a 32 or 36 hole count, so if your old rim does not match up you will have to buy a new rim as well. Second, if your bike has vertical dropouts you will also have to buy a Shimano Chain Tensioner. The Alfine 8 has a disc rotor mount (for disc brakes), but the disc is not included. This hub is bolt-on only—you cannot use a skewer.

Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub with chain tensioner

Shimano Alfine Internal Geared Hub With Chain Tensioner

Many people use the Alfine 8 while running a single ring in the front. I use two front rings on both of the bikes that have the Alfine 8 installed. On my Surly Necromancer I was able to keep the stock Mr. Whirly offset double 22/36 crankset, but had to buy a new crankset my Gary Fisher Big Sur.

The Shimano Alfine 8 is available in either black or silver and retails for a bit over $300. This price does not include the shifter, cog, cog snap-ring, axle nuts, non-tun washers or cassette joint—most of these parts are included in the Shimano Alfine Small Parts Kit (but not the shifter and cog).

While you are upgrading your bike you really ought to replace your old derailleur cables with a set of Gore Ride-On Sealed Low Friction Derailleur Cables. These sealed cables are completely protected from snow, mud, and dirt by continuous liners.


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21 responses to “Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub

  1. DummyDiva

    February 17, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    I have an Alfine 11 on my Pugsley. Year-and-a-half problem free.

  2. All Seasons Cyclist

    February 17, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    DummyDiva, I am putting an Alfine 11 on one of my road bikes next week (the road bike I reserve for riding in the rain). The Alfines are not cheap, but they sure can take abuse!

    • DummyDiva

      February 18, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      I think the Alfine 8 is reasonable, the Rohloff unreasonable, and the 11 pushing the limits. The good think about the 11, I got the shifter and hub for one price, and the small parts package wasn’t bad either. I’d love a Rohloff but I don’t know if I could ever justify the cost.

      Look forward to a pic of your road bike with the Alfine.

  3. dzikus-PL

    February 25, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    What is this red thing on the disc-side of the hub axle? Is it some kind of axle extension? What is the dropouts spacing of your frame, is it a standard 135mm?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 25, 2012 at 8:35 PM

      The red thing was just part of the packing (it kept the hub in place during shipment). I snapped a photo as soon as the mechanic took the hub out of the box (before he had time to remove it). As for the spacing — I really don’t know — I was so busy taking photos during the build I didn’t pay attention to the actual mechanical specs (sorry).

      • s.wolfe

        February 27, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        i know this is an old thread, but i just wanted to point this out.

        the “red thing” in the photo is the adapter for building 17.5mm offset rear wheels for Surly Pugsley’s. If you look at the rear of your Necromancer, you’ll see the frame sweeps to the right side at the rear of the bike. The wheel is dished offset so that it sits in the dropouts aligned with the center of the frame. It does have a practical application when dishing an offset wheel.


  4. Matt Gholson

    March 4, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Can this thing handle massive tourque? and hows the gear range?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      March 4, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      I’ve not had any problems with the Alfine through rain, thick mud, snow, and even when ice wouldn’t allow my front derailleur to switch rings. As for gear range, my Necromancer came with two rings in the front — with the Alfine 8 I have a greater gear range than before, and you ought to feel it shift — so smooth! Also, I liked the Alfine 8 so much I had an Alfine 11 installed on one of my road bikes!

  5. Robert

    February 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    I do like your selection of rear hubs! I pulled up the schematic to see what the drive gears look like. Seems like there won’t be a problem with the clutch freezing and failing in low temps but I can’t tell for sure from the picture. Any issues with drive engagement in temps below 15 degrees F?

    I went with a Chris King rear hub ring drive system to deal with temps below 15 degrees F. I’ve had absolutely no problems. With my previous shimano standard rear hub, the pawls froze and I had no forward drive.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 12, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      I’ve not had any problems with the Alfine hub down to -5F (it’s not been colder than that since I got it). However, I keep my bikes in my garage and the average temp in there is around 20 to 25 degrees — I have a feeling that once I start riding the gears “warm up” a bit inside the hub.

  6. erik

    March 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    why do you need a chain tensioner if you have track ends?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      March 6, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Check with a good bike mechanic, but I don’t think you need the tensioner if you have track ends AND are running with only one ring in the front. However, with two rings you need the tensioner to take up the slack.

  7. erik

    March 19, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    ahhh yes having 2 rings up front does change things. I ride a lot of single speed so i was a little confused but it makes sense now. thanks for getting back to me.

  8. erik

    March 19, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    by the way I live in lake county as well and it looks like we ride a lot of the same areas. big internet small world.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      March 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM

      I live on the Wisconsin border and spend most of my time on the road in Kenosha County, WI since their roads are fairly empty. For off-road trails I love the Des Plaines River Trail since I can take it from the state line all the way down into Cook County.

  9. Xander

    April 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Can this fit on a Brompton?

  10. rantsrulesandrecipes

    July 19, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    I really appreciate your reading and all the likes!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 19, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      I am very interested in article about healthy living — and you are one of the few bloggers who can actually speak with authority on this matter! I really appreciate you taking the time to write articles for the rest of us!

  11. Dougie Z

    November 4, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Been commuting with an Alfine equipped Schwinn for about 5 years. Estimate a min of 15,000 miles on it. Probably more. Had to do cable stretch adjustments for a few months, but they’re fast and easy. The shift lever itself got cranky in cold weather after a few years. I think the grease got gummed up. Being to fearful to take it apart I sprayed it with parts cleaner and lubed it with some type of miracle lube. That worked but the parts cleaner fogged the shifter window. The hub itself has been faultless. The shifting is smooth and quiet, but fifth gear (direct drive gear) has a telltale click, which is hardly worth mentioning. I like being able to down shift while stopped and I love being able to do stealth shifts while overtaking or racing other cyclists.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 4, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      Amen on the “stealth shifts”! And being able to shift several gears while standing still is awesome — even after many thousands of miles cycling I still sometimes forget to shift before coming to a stop sign!


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