Are you looking for the best internal gear hub bikes guide? There is no need to worry any further. Here is the right place for the best information about these products.
The internal gear hubs are new in the market and replace the derailleur gears. They offer between three and fourteen different gear ratios, all hidden under the weather-sealed hub shell.
In this document, we shall look at an in-depth analysis of these bikes and all other factors affecting them. We will also look at the pros and cons of using this product.
We shall also give the meaning of internal hubs to make the guide as detailed as possible. Read through the document for more information.
Top 3 Recommendation
- Sturmey Archer Internal Drum Bike S80
- Sturmey-Archer Kick-Shift Hub S2C
- Shimano Nexus Rear Hub SG-C6000-8C
What are internal hubs?
It has several names like the internal-gear hub, hub gear, gear hub, or just internally-geared hub.
It means a gear ratio changing system available in bicycles and compliments with epicyclic or planetary gears.
It is not the bicycle in itself but a system for changing the gear ratio in a bike. The short form of the name is IGH, and it is an alternative to the Derailleur bikes.
The evolution of Internal Gear Hub and Derailleur
The IGH invention surprisingly came before the Derailleur bikes, and the first patent was out in the year 1895 in the USA. Ten years later, a French cyclist invented a rear derailleur. Both models gear-sifting systems had two speeds.
Though the derailleur was ten years young than the IGH, it employed more technology. The simple derailleur model had more gears with a wide range. On the other hand, IGH had and maintained three for decades. During this time, derailleurs became dominant in the market.
However, the domination didn’t last long, as things began to change rapidly. In the years preceding their invention, IGH technology was progressing rapidly and significantly. The two types of bikes now have the same gear range and performance.
Best internal gear hub bikes guide 2023
1. Sturmey Archer Internal Drum Bike S80
It is one of the best and all-rounded bikes with the following features:
The bike has an 8-speed internal gear hub with a wide gear ratio of up to 325 percent. It has the gear ratio as follows:
The bike is silver in color, and the gear steps are 30%, 14%, 14%, 14%, 14%, 14%, and 30%. It has a 365-hub shell made of aluminum and a rotary gear selector that does not protrude outside the frame.
The bike weighs 2,170g making it one of the lightest, with a drum brake. It is available in either a black finish or a high-polish alloy.
The bike has 36-spoke holes, and the teeth sprocket is compatible with 20, 23, and 25.
It has a wide gear ratio, which makes riding down and uphill comfortable and easy. The eight gears allow for bike riding virtually everywhere and anywhere, effortlessly, and in all kinds of terrain.
The even distribution of gear steps allows for a clean and smooth shifting without delay in transmission. Gear shifting can also occur smoothly when the bike is not in motion.
Enjoy 100% safe braking with the hub gear’s drum brakes, even during wet seasons. They do not damage the ring like other models.
The maintenance cost of this bike is low and affordable to anyone. Removing the hub to change a flat tire is easy, and changing the gear oil is once a year business. Check the price here.
2. Sturmey-Archer Kick-Shift Hub S2C
Choosing this model comes with the following benefits:
2-speed IGH with a direct drive ratio of 138%. There is a kick shift that does not require cables or shifters between the gears.
The bike weighs about 1,395g on average, is compatible with coaster brakes, and accepts standard 3sp style cogs. It comes with an anodized and polished aluminum hub shell.
The bike features a 3-prong cog cassette body and a loose ball bearing type.
Benefits of this bike
It has two gears with different functions. The first is for direct drive, and the other is for overdrive. It is perfect for installing the gear hub on it.
The bike has a kick-shift feature, which you can shift by pedaling backward. What is more? You can also brake with the coaster by doing the same backpedaling, and this feature enables the bike to function without cables and levers.
It is easy and simple to maintain this type of bike. There is no need to replace the gears and levers. The oil needs to be changed at least once a year. Check the price here.
3. Shimano Nexus Rear Hub SG-C6000-8C
It is an 8-speed bike IGH with a gear ratio of 307%, as in the table below:
|5||5||100%, or the direct drive.|
The bike weighs 2,040 grams on average and has an axle length of 184mm. It also comes with a gear change support system and a single-cog driver.
Benefits of using this bike
If you are looking for a bike that will serve you for ages, it is this one. It is a heavy-duty IGH that can last more than a decade with proper and timely maintenance.
The bike has 8-speed gears to ride down and up the hills. The effort is also minimum. With gears evenly spaced, the bike makes riding on flats an enjoyable experience. You can also put miles on the internal gear hub to make the ride smoother and quieter.
The coaster brakes make the braking efficient and quick without the levers and cables. The bike looks neat and stylish. Check the price here.
4. Shimano Nexus Rear Hub SG-C3000-7R
It is one of the best internal hub bikes available in the market with the following features:
A 7-speed gear range with a ratio of 244%, as in the following table:
It comes with a 182mm axle length and over locknut dimension of 130mm.
The bike, on average, weighs about 1,592 grams with a single-cog driver.
The rim brake is compatible and comes with 36 holes spokes.
Benefits of this bike
The bike’s seven gears make it more sufficient for daily rides to any destination, to and from your workstation. It is ideal for use on long rides and flat terrains with little or fewer inclines.
It has a sturdy hub that can withstand rough rides on rocky terrain without repair. Its maintenance costs are also low, with a once-a-year change of oil. You can check the price here.
5. Rohloff’s 500/14 Speed Hub 14-Speed
It is also one of the best and most recommended bikes in the market. Most people have spent a dime purchasing it. It can serve for a long without changing the oil or repairing the reams.
The bike is very tough and has a wide gear range of up to 526%, that other bike models cannot achieve. The low gearing makes the hub that can carry heavy loads even on very rough roads.
Rohloff company makes their bikes and accessories for IGH compatible with all other models, hence easy to replace when things go wrong.
The bike is durable, compatible, and efficient and with a high internal gear hub range, making it one of the most expensive brands in the market. It costs about $1,800 on average. However, the cost and the benefits outweigh each other. Check the latest price for this product.
How does the internal hub gear work?
They operate under the principle of epicyclic or planetary cycling. It requires three main components to function, and they are:
- The planetary gears.
- The sun gears, and
- The ring gears.
The sun gear is attached and fixed to the gear axel hub, and the planetary gear revolves around it.
The ring gear surrounds the planetary gears and has inner teeth.
One of the three parts acts as the input mechanism. The last gear is the fixed or the reactionary part. The input and output mechanisms in the three components will determine the level of speed on the machine. It either increases or decreases on which of the three acts as the input/output.
The difference in size between the sun and ring gears determines the speed ratio of the bike.
The models with more than three speeds come with two or three planetary stages. In addition, it has to have more than two sun gears.
What are the benefits of internal hub gear?
These bikes offer a lot of benefits to the user. Probably, these are the things you should know beforehand as you plan to buy the bike. The benefits of IGH include the following:
The gear hubs are in the lowest part of the frame. It is in the center area of the bike. The internal gear hub determines the center of gravity by placing it in the middle.
The bikes with internal gear hubs have a better balance because the center of gravity is also in the middle. It makes these models better than the derailleur.
Most gearing systems have an enclosing unit that dips and bathes in oil at all times. The housing prevents them and their parts from exposure to environmental hazards such as mud, snow, rocks, water, and other harmful elements.
In contrast, the gear hub system does not wear and tear fast like the derailleur system and increases its useful life.
Regular and proper lubrication can help the IGH last for a lifetime with minimal maintenance.
Shifting the gear without pedaling
These bikes allow for changing the gears without pedaling or when the bike is stationary. Derailleurs do not have this feature, making the IGH bikes the best models. Shifting them while it is not in motion allows you to place them in high gear from a non-motion or stop position.
The only maintenance that the IGH bike needs are a change of oil. Do it regularly and at least once a year to preserve the gear, hub, and parts.
The recommended procedure is to change it after six months from the date of the first use. Subsequently, you can change it at least after every one or two years, depending on the intensity of use.
If you use your bike daily, the oil will go bad sooner than the one not in regular use. Ensure you assess the quality of oil after every six months to determine its worthiness.
Its reliability is because all the parts responsible for shifting are on a sealed and protected unit.
There is no risk of having bent, muddy, or broken gear that may impact the changing of gears. The protection ensures smooth shifting at all times, hence improving reliability.
Buying an internal gear hub bike can be challenging because there are several models in the market. Each of the products offers a unique feature from the rest of the others. However, there are a few things to look out for when selecting the one to buy. We will discuss each one of them in this section.
The gear ratio
It is the most important thing to check as you plan to buy an internal gear hub bike. Ratios differ depending on the model. Some have a maximum of 200%, while others offer 500%.
The gear ratio is the difference between the highest and the lowest gear. The calculations are on the distance the wheel covers for every pedal you make in such gear.
Knowing the gear ratio will inform you if it is the right gear hub. The nature of the terrain should also tell you what kind of bike to buy.
A bike with a limited gear ratio would never be ideal for riding up the hill. You may end up walking beside it rather than riding!
On the other hand, you need a bike with less gear ratio if riding on flat surfaces such as paved walkways and indoor riding. Understanding this would help you choose your model wisely and with caution.
Generally, it is not right to buy a bike with a limited gear ratio because you never know when you will decide to go riding uphill.
All the internal gear hubs have the parts attached to the inside of the hub shell. The assembly involves fitting the spokes to the rim and the gear hub.
Another item is fixing the shifter cables to the type of gear hub the bike has.
The next item is the attachment of the levers and brake cables, depending on the gear hub. It should be compatible with either of the following: the coaster brake, drum brake, or rim brake.
The final part of the assembly is ensuring that the gear hub has sufficient oil and that the chains have lubricated adequately. Oil and lubrication keep the part moving effortlessly and with a lot of ease.
Depending on the model of your vehicle, you can either use oil or grease to lubricate the gear hub. Checking the user manual will help identify what the manufacturers indicate as a recommended lubricant. It also shows the schedule to change the oil.
Always check the manufacturer’s manual before performing any maintenance to ensure you have the ideal lubricant.
Placing the wrong type of lubricant on the hub shell and the chain wheel could spell doom for your bike. It is always advisable to double-check the manual to ensure you get the correct lubricant for your machine.
Maintenance of costs of IGH bikes is low, and it only involves the oiling of the hub and its components. You can either use oil or grease to do the task.
Most bikes use grease for maintenance and some work with oil. Those with three to eight gears use greasing for maintenance purposes. Those with more than 8 are oil-based.
The bikes that use grease require cleaning and regreasing at least once or twice every two years. It also depends on how you use the bike.
If you use it daily, the frequency of cleaning and greasing should be an annual event, failure to which the hub will suffer damages.
The oil needs to be changed regularly for those bikes that use it for maintenance. Maintenance needs to be done once annually by draining the old one and replacing it with a new one. It helps maintain the optimum performance of the gear hub.
You also replace the seals every once in a while, or when changing the oil. It helps prevent the lubricant from leaking. You may not need to change it regularly but depending on its condition.
Maintenance of a bike is an easy task. You only need to identify the appropriate lubricant for the work. However, if it is your first time, call in an experienced person to avoid getting into a mess. Another alternative is to take the bike to a garage for maintenance.
The sprocket and the chain wheels
Sprocket comes in various sizes, and choosing the right one, plus the matching chain wheel, can either lower or raise the overall range of the IGH.
Ensure you choose the most appropriate one, or the gear ratio might not match. Consider the terrain you would like to ride your bike before selecting the sprocket and the chain wheels.
A wrong selection can make you not enjoy the rides and reduce the effectiveness of the bike.
What is the disadvantage of hub gear?
One of the main disadvantages of hub gears is their limited gear range compared to derailleur systems. Hub gears typically have a smaller number of gears available, often ranging from 3 to 14, whereas derailleur systems can offer a much broader range of gears with up to 30 or more.
This limited gear range can be a disadvantage for riders who require a wider range of gear ratios to tackle varying terrains or steep inclines. In situations where a rider needs both high and low gears, hub gears may not provide a wide enough range to efficiently navigate such conditions.
Additionally, hub gears tend to be heavier and have more internal components, leading to additional weight on the bike. This extra weight can impact the overall efficiency and speed of the bicycle, particularly for riders who prioritize lightweight components for performance or competitive purposes.
Another disadvantage of hub gears is that they can be more complex to maintain and repair, requiring specialized tools and expertise. Unlike derailleur systems where individual gears can be easily replaced, hub gears often require full unit replacements or extensive servicing. This can result in higher maintenance costs and longer periods of downtime for servicing.
Overall, while hub gears offer advantages such as reduced maintenance needs and protection against external elements, their limited gear range, added weight, and increased maintenance complexity are some notable disadvantages to consider when choosing a gear system for a bicycle.
Are internally geared hubs better?
Internally geared hubs have several advantages over traditional derailleur systems.
First, they provide a cleaner and more protected drivetrain. With an internally geared hub, the gears are enclosed within the hub, which helps to keep dirt, grime, and moisture out. This can result in longer-lasting and more reliable shifting performance, as well as reduced maintenance needs.
Second, internally geared hubs allow for shifting at a standstill. Unlike a derailleur system, which requires the rider to be pedaling to shift gears, an internally geared hub allows for shifting while stationary. This can be particularly beneficial for urban and commuter cyclists who frequently encounter stoplights and traffic.
Third, internally geared hubs offer a wide gear range with evenly spaced gears. Many internally geared hubs have a wide range of gear ratios, similar to or sometimes even exceeding the range of a traditional derailleur system. Additionally, the gears in an internally geared hub are evenly spaced, making it easier to find the right gear for your riding conditions.
Finally, internally geared hubs are generally more reliable and require less maintenance. With fewer exposed moving parts and less vulnerability to external factors such as impact and debris, internally geared hubs tend to suffer fewer issues compared to derailleur systems. They also typically require less frequent adjustment and fine-tuning.
Overall, while internally geared hubs may have a slightly higher initial cost, they offer several advantages in terms of cleanliness, convenience, gear range, reliability, and maintenance. These factors make them a popular choice for a variety of cyclists, particularly those seeking a low-maintenance and hassle-free cycling experience.
Frequently Asked Questions – (FAQs)
Are IGH bikes better?
These models are more reliable than the derailleur. The technology employed in the IGH is more advanced and requires less maintenance. Their gear ratios are also some of the best.
It is fair to say that internal gear hub bikes are better than derailleur models, going by the factors above.
How long should it take before carrying out maintenance on the IGH bike?
Maintenance involves greasing the hub and its components. Some models use grease, while others work best with oil.
Maintenance depends on many factors, including the frequency of usage and the terrain. Grease-based hubs will require cleaning and regreasing at least once in two years. On the other hand, the oil models need draining and replacing with a new one every year.
How long do IGH bikes last?
It depends on how you take care of the bike and its hub. However, it can sometimes last for several years without any maintenance.
The most basic hubs can last up to 50,000 without requiring any service. On the other hand, oil-based hub bikes will require annual servicing to keep them running smoothly.
Why do IGH bikes fail?
They only fail if the user fails to do maintenance. Others include overloading the bike, inadequate lubrication, and installing the axle nut tightly or loosely. All these can make the bikes fail to function optimally.
What can cause the hub to crack?
Too much heat can exert too much pressure on the hub, causing it to break down. The friction within the bearing during high-speed rides goes to the gear hub, which can break down.
You can avoid overheating in the hub by ensuring it has enough grease or oil at any moment. It helps reduce friction arising due to constant scratching of the moveable parts inside the gear hub.
Replace the hub when you find it cracked before damaging other parts in the system.
Internal gear hub bikes are some of the most advanced products today. They came late than their derailleur counterparts, but their technology elevated them to the top.
There are several models in the market, and choosing the most appropriate one can be a daunting task. However, you need not worry anymore, as this guide provides all you need to know about IGH bikes. We sampled the five best IGH bikes in this document, and the bike with the highest gear ratio should be on your radar. Rohloff’s 500/14 Speed Hub 14-Speed is a bike to look up to for purchasing!