The Shimano Alfine 11 being a valuable product for the money, many riders are interested in it. However, it comes with a good number of problems if compared with more expensive hubs. We know the pricing difference matters- but problems can’t be ignored either!
So it comes to the question-“What are the Shimano Alfine 11 Problems?”
Shifting issues, oil leakage, cassette grittiness, lower load capacity, and cold resistance are some common problems. What to do to resolve or fix them depends on what problems occur.
You may be a Shimano Alfine rider facing issues with his beloved gear. Or simply someone thinking about the issues you may face if you purchase this. In both cases- we have explained them in detail, with solutions in our article. Let’s dig right in!
Major Problems of Shimano Alfine 11 and Their Solutions
We’ve come up with solutions for some of the most common problems of Shimano Alfine 11. Let’s take a look at them in detail.
There are some occasional issues of mis-shifts in Shimano Alfine 11. This is one of the most common Shimano Alfine 11 problems. It’s mostly noticed when gears are shifted while climbing uphill or downhill. While climbing uphill, it slips to a different gear sometimes.
Let’s say you shifted your gear to 8. But while climbing uphill, it might skip 8 and go directly to 7. And while riding downhill, it takes a few seconds to shift.
However, it’s quite common for gear hub idiosyncrasy while climbing uphill or going downhill. It puts a lot of pressure on the gear hub when it’s going uphill. There’s also a lack of speed here. That’s why the gears have trouble shifting.
And while riding downhill, due to a higher speed, it takes 3-4 seconds to settle in.
But mis-shifts are not only seen while climbing or sliding down. They are also seen after 2-3 years of light riding. The gears seem to become quite snappy. You can see gear skipping more often and it can make you frustrated.
This gear hub is not designed for uphill riding. So if you’re riding uphill constantly, you should avoid this gear hub. Because it’ll face mis-shifts every time.
Moreover, try replacing your sprockets if you face repeated shifting issues.
Noise from the gear hub is a very relative issue. Some riders become accustomed to the noise and for some, it is extremely annoying.
But Shimano Alfine 11 does not make noises under normal circumstances. Only continuous mis-shifts may lead to grinding noises.
When you are hearing these noises, you should change the oil in your hub. You can use an open-end syringe to take out the old oil. This syringe is present in Shimano Oiling Kit.
After that, use it again to fill up your hub with new oil.
If the problem still persists, try taking the inner hub out. Then soak the entire hub in any maintenance oil kit.
Cassette Joint Grittiness
Another Shimano Alfine 11 problem is the cassette grittiness. It is prone to catching dirt when ridden off-road. This problem also prevails in the Alfine 8 model.
You should clean it regularly. You can use a degreaser for cleaning. Degreaser is really effective when it comes to removing stain/dirt from mechanical objects.
Oil leaks are seen when the cones in bearings become loose. They are placed inside the bearings. They have a cup, cone, and balls that work together for reducing friction.
The cones become loose if you have heavy loads on your back while riding downhill. This will cause oil leaks which can be frustrating
If you want to avoid oil leaks, you shouldn’t ride with heavy loads on your back. Heavy loads will damage the bearings in the gear hub. When the bearings are damaged, they will loosen the cones. This will leak oils.
So, avoid heavy loads. This will reduce bearing damage which in turn would stop the oil leaks.
Low Resistance Against Cold
In winter, coaster and rim brakes struggle to work. Moisture can get through because of the cold. This causes linkage freezing. The gear does not move as smoothly and becomes slower at the same time.
You can use an oil bath. It will help to prevent frozen pawls from occurring. As a result, your travel will not be delayed throughout the winter.
Sun Pinion Skipping
Alfine 11 is based on a planetary gear system soaked in an oil bath. It has a central gear known as the sun gear. Around the sun gear, there are sets of planet gears compacted with a ring gear.
Often there goes debris inside the sun gear. It makes the pinions(planet gears) skip the teeth of the gearing system.
Whenever skipping happens under heavy loads on the bike, the hub gets seriously damaged. It leads to clogging of the gear hub and the bike becomes stationary. But keep in mind that this is not an issue when the rider is not carrying heavy loads.
You can remove debris from gears by using a bottle brush or a toothbrush. You should use it once the debris goes inside your gear system causing skips.
But to stay away from the hassle, try to avoid off-road riding. Because off-road riding increases the chances of debris going inside. If that’s not possible, at least avoid the heavier loads mentioned earlier.
Constant Gear Indexing Adjustment
Gear is required to be indexed when shifters don’t work. A major problem with the Alfine 11 is that it needs frequent gear indexing adjustments. This happens after 1-1.5 years of heavy riding.
Adjustments are made for the derailleur to be exactly positioned under each cog. If the derailleur is not aligned with the cog, then the shifters won’t work. And this problem is very common in the case of Alfine 11.
So many people ask the question- How to adjust Shimano Alfine 11 gears?
Although regular gear adjustments can seem like a hassle, it’s a simple task. All you need to do is rotate the barrel adjuster quarterly behind the derailleur.
If there’s a problem in shifting to a lower gear, rotate the barrel adjuster one quarter anti-clockwise. Reversely, if you are having trouble shifting to a higher gear, rotate the adjuster clockwise. This is done until the chain moves onto the next sprocket. So if turning one quarter is not enough, increase your turns by another quarter and so on.
Limited Gear Range
The Alfine 11 is limited to an effective bottom gear chainring to sprocket ratio of 1:1 due to the design of the bottom gear chainring.
It means you have to be used to either a higher or a lower gear range. If you are a mixed gear rider, this hub can cause you some discomfort.
If you are facing trouble adapting to the ideal gear range, try gearing down slowly. With the gradual change, you are most likely to become accustomed to it.
However, If you still experience issues, I’m afraid you won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee.
Troublesome Puncture Repairs
Most internal gear hubs manufacturers make it tricky to remove the rear wheel. Shimano Alfine is no different. This hub is particularly known for being hard-to-work with repairs.
You have to set the chain pressure all over again when reinstalling the wheel. That’s because cables for the transmission shifter and brakes are attached to the chain. This is quite time-consuming.
To avoid the hassle of repairing punctures, you can choose non-pneumatic tires. These are puncture-proof. That’ll save you from taking the trouble of repairing.
If you want to repair it on your own, you might need some specialized tools. However, it takes a huge amount of perseverance and effort to master it.
Call for professional help if you don’t wanna take the hassle. They’ll fix it in no time. But a mechanic can cost you $5-$10.
Slow Acceleration Due to Heavy Weight
The claimed weight of the Alfine 11 is now 1665g. It’s less than the weight of the Alfine 8 according to Shimano.
Alfine 11 systems are heavier than derailleur setups. It’s because of the additional gears and complexity involved. All of this additional weight is transferred to your wheel, which results in a minor slowdown in acceleration.
This hub is heavy. Now if you are particularly interested in bikes light in weight, this gear hub won’t be a good choice. In that case, derailleurs are the way to go.
Now that derailleurs have come into our discussion. A popular question is- What is better- hub or derailleur?
Hubs have long-lasting chains, can be shifted while stopped, and are excellent for touring and commuting. However, it has less gear range, the rear flat tire is harder to fix, and needs chain tension adjusting.
Derailleurs, on the contrary, are easier to repair, have more gear range, and can shift under load. But- they can’t be shifted while stopped, chains don’t last long and require more maintenance.
So it’s up to your judgment which features make hub/derailleur your winner.
Tips for Shimano Alfine 11 Users
We tried to bring forth the major problems you might face using the Alfine 11 gear hub. With these problems, there come solutions. And we tried covering them in as simple terms as we could.
However, we also came up with a bunch of tips that would benefit you in the long run. Don’t hesitate in following these tips for a smoother ride along the way!
Tip 1 of 5: Always Maintain the Alignment of Gear Indicator
To avoid facing Shimano Alfine 11 problems, you should always align your indicators. There’s a yellow indicator in the shifter which tells you which gear you’re on.
Often people tend to keep their gears in a not so perfectly aligned manner. Doing this will reduce the lifespan of your sprockets. So, it’s better to keep your indicators aligned perfectly after each shift.
Tip 2 of 5: Periodic Oil Change
A popular question we get is- how often the oil needs to be changed in the hub?
Once your bike hits 1000 km, you should change the oil in the hub and bearings. You can also change it before hitting 1000 km. That won’t harm your hub. But once it hits 1000 km, not changing your oil can lead to mis-shifts.
Try to use Shimano Alfine genuine oil if you have a Shimano Alfine hub.
Tip 3 of 5: Use Shimano Maintenance Kit
Shimano has its own maintenance oil kits manufactured for the inner hub. It is recommended that you dip your internal hub in the oil kit when you hit the 5000 km range. This will protect the hub from rusting and will prevent creaky noises.
Tip 4 of 5: Avoid Heavy Load While Riding
The Shimano Alfine 11 is not designed for withstanding heavy loads. Heavier loads can potentially damage the internal hub, causing slow grinds on your gear lip. This also causes creaky noises coming from your gearbox. So try not to go riding for long hours with heavy backpacks.
Tip 5 of 5: Avoid Shifting While Riding Uphill
Your gear hub will face major damage if you shift gears while riding uphill. They are not designed to withstand shifts in lower pressures with weight on them. You can still shift while riding downhill. This won’t damage your gear hub but will cause latency in gear shifting.
Well, this is it. That’s all we have on Shimano Alfine 11.
Question: Which one is better: Shimano Alfine 11 vs Rohloff?
Answer: Rohloff has much better shifting, heavier load capacity, and better cold resistance. However, Shimano Alfine 11 is 1/3rd the price of Rohloff and good value for money.
Question: Are hub gears any good?
Answer: Hub gears can be shifted, they are in the stationary phase. They also require less maintenance. Lastly, they have a longer lifespan than many other gear systems.
Question: How good is Shimano Alfine 11?
Answer: The 11 gear system is more than enough for regular town and country travel. You can easily go on light tours with this. It is very quiet, smooth and comes with rapid shifters.
We hope we’ve been able to enlighten you on Shimano Alfine 11 Problems and solutions. Now that we have reached the end of the article- here’s a bonus tip for you! Go easy on these problems if you are comparing it with $1000 or higher-priced gears.
Thank you for staying with us! Let us know if you have any further queries in the comment box.