My internal gears are second to none.

29 12 2010

This morning I got to press “buy now” on the first component of my dream off-road touring wheelset – the new Alfine 11 speed Internally Geared rear hub. I’ve never really had anything to do with internally geared hubs except for an old Sturmey-Archer 3 speed that we bolted onto a bmx frame and used as the banger that we would jump into a local dam when I was a kid. Perhaps I might be terribly disappointed when I finally make a wheel out of it and take it for a maiden voyage however life is about adventure and traveling the road least travelled and so I felt it was time to take a gamble and see where it takes me.

Why am I thinking about gears? While sitting on Baraba spur, Brad and I longingly gazed out at the Barrington tops which stood ominously on the horizon and beckoned us to come hither and explore. The only problem with that is that they get a little uppity. Not uppity in a Colorado “14er” sense, more uppity in an “Australian mountains aren’t that big but these are some of the bigger ones” kinda way. Certainly enough to make me think that single speeding and 600-700 m sustained climbs probably weren’t going to be the best of bedfellows.

One of the reasons I love the single speed is the chain line. I’ve lost count of the amount of stick strikes and abuse it has shrugged off which would have destroyed a derailleur setup. I guess that is one of the perils or riding the road less travelled. The only problem I have with the single speed at this point is the chain tension. It still continues to defy physics and the chain is again loose despite the new chain tensioning shim which leads me to believe the source of the problem must be the chain itself. Its time for something a little more heavy duty.

Tour divide is very much on my radar for 2012 and looking at the carnage that often results from mud on the road into Lima, makes me think a big strong single speed chain might be an advantage in those conditions. The photo below is the only one I could find of the TD mudbath, I have seen photos with much much more mud but I couldn’t find them again. Note how the chain passes through a ball of mud! I’ve read reports of riders breaking their chain 4 or 5 times in a couple of kilometers due to the combined effects of narrow 9 spd chains and relentless mud.

Courtesy of Kent Petersons blog from last years TD effort


The Alfine isn’t perfect however. Shimano have specified a minimum input ratio of 1.9:1 which means you end up with quite  a lot of top end gears but not a great deal of climbing gears. People generally ignored this on the older 8 speed hub and geared it right down with seemingly no ill effects, however there isn’t a whole lot of data out there about how this might affect the new 11 speed. I’ll play it safe for a while and run 32:18 which is close enough to 1.8:1. If I break it but like the whole I.G concept, there is always the Rohloff.




2 responses

29 12 2010
b rad

^That green thing looks rock solid 😉

Remember, you still have to carry the wine

29 12 2010

Gears are for losers.

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