How to Choose an Internally Geared Hub

Alfine hubs next to each other with chain and belt drive

Internally geared hubs are technological wizardry that conceal all of their complex bits inside a contained, convenient, oil bathed package in order to give the user gearing without the use of derailleurs. An internally geared hub's durability and innate protection from the elements make it an incredibly maintenance free pairing with VEER’s Split Belt™. Pairing a Split Belt™ with an internally geared hub is an easy decision, however, choosing which hub is more difficult. We have gotten a lot of questions about which hub to get, so we have compiled a table of information for five hubs that work well with the Split Belt and that represent a range of applications, costs, durability and compatibility. 


These hubs are:

  • Rohloff’s 14-speed 500/14 SPEEDHUB
  • Shimano’s 11-speed Alfine SG-S7001-11. Mechanical shifting with disk brake mount.
  • Shimano’s 8-speed Nexus SG-C6000-8D. Mechanical shifting with disk brake mount.
  • Sturmey-Archers 3-speed CS-RK3. Mechanical shifting with disk brake mount.
  • Enviolo’s (AKA NuVinci’s) Sportive hub. Which is a disk compatible, mechanically actuated continuously variable transmission (CVT). 


This is by no means a complete table and there are several variations of each hub that will not be fully covered here. Those that are not covered, we did our best to give some acknowledgement of their existence. It should also be noted that costs may not be incredibly accurate because of the myriad of each hub’s variations, cost fluctuation, and lack of access to MSRP pricing. Pricing is largely to give some comparison.


Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 14 Speed

Shimano Alfine 11-Speed SG-S7001-11

Shimano Nexus 8-Speed SG-C6000-8D

Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed + Freehub CS-RK3 

Enviolo Sportive Hub, Continuously Variable

Best riding application

Touring/Trekking

Urban/Street

Urban

Urban

Urban/Trekking

Cost

Roughly $1,800 standard hub only

Roughly $380-450 standard hub only

Roughly $210 standard hub only

Roughly $120 standard hub only

$340-400. Highly speculative 

Gear Ratio

526%

409%

307%

177%

380%

Weight

1800g

1665g

1750g

1155g

2450g

Axle Types

10mm Skewer,  12mm Thru-axle (needs special adapters)

3/8" (9.5mm) Threaded

3/8" (9.5mm) Threaded

13/32” Threaded

10mm Skewer, 12mm Thu-axle adapter kits

Sprocket Type

13-spline. Proprietary sprocket

3-spline

3-spline

Freehub 9-spline

9-spline

Dropout Spacings

135, 142, 148, 170 (fat bike) 177 (FB) 190 (FB), 197 (FB)

135mm

135mm

135mm

135, 142, 148 adapter kits

Shifter Types

Twist Shift. 3rd party options available for drop and trigger shifters but they are expensive.

Trigger shifter. Drop bar levers can be used with Di2 hub model SG-S7051-11 

Twist or trigger shift

Twist shift, thumb shift, bar end thumb shift 

Twist shift (Continuously Variable)

Bake Compatibility

Rim or disc. Proprietary 4 bolt disk mounting pattern ($81)

Rim or disk (center lock),(Problem Solvers makes 6 bolt adapters) 

Rim or disk (center lock), (Problem Solvers makes 6 bolt adapters)

Rim or standard 6 bolt rotor

Rim or disk standard 6 bolt

Average Efficiency

94.5%

90.5%

90%

Unknown

No verified efficiency. Speculated to be 80-85%

Special Tools Sprocket Removal Tool.

Sprocket removal tool * $53

None

None

None

None

Belt drive types

Veer Split Belt and Gates Carbon Drive

Veer Split Belt and Gates Carbon Drive

Veer Split Belt and Gates Carbon Drive

Veer Split Belt

Veer Split Belt and Gates Carbon Drive

Chain/Belt line

57mm

42.7mm  See Sheldon Brown web

46.5mm See Sheldon Brown Web

Variable

49mm

Spoke count options

32, 36

32, 36

32, 36

28, 32, 36

32, 36

Electric shifting

Only with Bosch electric motor. $810

Yes, Extra Cost

Yes, Extra Cost

None

Yes, stepless automatic electric shifting, extra cost

E-bike compatibility

Yes

Yes, certain versions

Yes, certain versions

Possible torque restrictions not specified, 34 tooth max.

Yes, up to 500W total. Some other models limited to 250W

Rotation fixation options

Axle plate, caliper mount or axle dropout slot washer

Axle dropout slot washer

Axle dropout slot washer

Axle dropout slot washer

Axle dropout slot washer

 

So, what does this all mean? Still not sure which one is best for you? Well maybe we can give you a little more background on each hub.

 

Rohloff’s 14-speed 500/14 SPEEDHUB

It’s pretty unanimously agreed upon in the cycling world that the ruler of internally geared hubs is Rohloff’s 500/14 SPEEDHUB. This is because people have literally put tens of thousands of miles on them without anything more than an oil change and maybe a rim or two. They are incredibly tough AND they have an incredibly large gear range at 526%. All of this paired with their relatively low gearing makes for a hub that enjoys heavy loads along the roughest of routes. 

 

Rohloff Cut Away Rohloff Hub with Veer Rear Cog

 

Rohloff also makes versions or accessories that make their hub work with nearly any bike set up… except drop bars for some reason (aftermarket brands like CINQ provide this). With such durability, range, efficiency, compatibility, lore and a belt/chain line that works well with VEER’s Split Belt™ the SPEEDHUB is probably our top pick… but all of this comes at a hefty up-front cost of $1,800. I say up-front cost because like a turtle (but faster) this hub may stick around your entire life.

 

 

Shimano’s 11-speed Alfine SG-S7001-11

The Alfine, although not quite as revered as the Rohloff, has a few features that make it attractive. Notably so, it costs roughly a quarter as much as the Rohloff. But beyond that, the Alfine incorporates an instant engagement clutch for more instant power and it keeps the hub far quieter than the Rohloff.

Alfine 11 hub

Shimano has also developed electronic shifting (Di2) for these hubs and an electronic drop bar hydraulic brake lever choice. Veer does not currently have a Di2 compatible belt drive at the moment unfortunately. The Alfine line is for the urban commuter that wants a quiet, reliable, somewhat affordable ride that gets them to their destination without tinkering with derailleur adjustments. Because of this commuter oriented design, the Alfine (and Nexus) tend to have slightly higher gearing than Rohloff. This can be adjusted for with external drivetrain sprockets but it is noteworthy. There are also 8-speed versions. 

 

Sycip Alfine Rear viewSycip Alfine front view

 

Shimano’s 8-speed Nexus SG-C6000-8D

The Nexus is very similar to the Alfine in a lot of ways but we wanted to include it in this table because it provides the user with a healthy range of gears without having a huge impact on the money that you are already setting aside for your next bike. With that lowered price however you do lose 3 gears, 102% range and it makes a decent bit more clicking than the Alfine. It is a good option for urban riders who want to save on money and aren’t tackling any large hills. They also have 7-speed and 3-speed options.

Shimano Nexus 8 hub

Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed CS-RK3 

At first glance this version of the Sturmey-Archer may not lend itself to belt drives. But at second glance you realize it can be paired with VEER’s Split Belt to solve one of belt drive's biggest issues, belt alignment. There are a disturbing number or different chainstay flair profiles near the bottom bracket and an equally disturbing number of crank arm profiles. If your belt line falls too far inboard the belt ring may interfere with your chainstay and if the beltline falls too far outboard, the belt ring will interfere with the crank arm. The Sturmey-Archer CS-RK3 has a standard 9 spline freehub body that the rear belt sprocket can be positioned on to provide the optimum belt line for the bike you have. Belt line optimization is the biggest advantage of this hub, and 177% gearing range is enough to get up and down even some decent hills. Also, it certainly won't break the bank at somewhere around $120.

Sturmey Archer CS-RK3 3 speed hub

 

Enviolo Sportive Hub, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

Enviolo, previously known as NuVinci, has been the leading bicycle CVT hub producer for some time now. A CVT is a transmission that has a limit to its gear range but no limit to the number of speeds that it has. This can be compared to a nut threaded on a bolt. The bolt can only be threaded on so far before it hits the head of the bolt but the nut can be adjusted to an infinite number of distances from the head of the bolt within the length of the bolt. This allows the user of the Enviolo to select the exact gear ratio that is most comfortable. Not too fast of a cadence but not too slow and difficult.

enviolo hub

These hubs are certainly not light and they do have what some describe as a slight “squishy” pedal sensation during their break-in period of 500+ Km. That said, pairing this hub with a mid-drive electric bike largely takes care of those problems and you’re left with an incredibly simple, smooth, silent and comfortable ride. We recommend these hubs for cargo bikes as well.

 

enviolo on yuba sweet curry close up

Yuba Sweet Curry with enviolo hub

 

Single Speed

If you just can’t make up your mind, that’s ok too. VEER will soon be launching a single speed version of the Split Belt so that you can take off your greasy or rusty (or both) cassette of your freehub and install a belt drive. A derailleur mounted Tensioner will also be coming soon for those with you without adjustability in your dropouts or bottom bracket. The freehub will give you the belt alignment advantages of the Sturmey-Archer detailed above but with even less maintenance.  

 

Close up of rear single speed cog on freehub on Niner frame

 

I personally have logged some 800 miles on a very early version of this system on my road bike and I have produced more cracks in my rim than I have had drivetrain problems. Like a lot more. I’ve enjoyed the quiet simplicity of the system and even find myself routinely doing 1000ft climbs with long pitches of somewhere around 12 percent grade and only spinning out at above 20mph. It’s a silent experience and I don’t feel the engagement of the belt at all, unlike the engagement of a chain to a sprocket. 

 

     If you stiiiillll can’t decide, feel free to send us an email at hello@veercycle.com for any further information you may need on your journey to derailleur liberation.

 

  • Shout out to Alee Denham at cyclingabout.com for some awesome efficiency data. Maybe in the future we will get some Enviolo data out of his rig.
  • For more information on the endless Shimano hub chain lines, check out the one and only Sheldon Brown website.
  • And even more Sheldon Brown information greatness can be found here to shed some light on that internally geared wizardry I glossed over.

 

Published August 2020


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