April 24th - It’s not often I cover matters of religious division here on 365daysofbiking, but there’s a time and place for everything. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer a gearhub to derailleur gears; low maintenance, reliable, bombproof. Gearhubs, hub gears or IGHs are a divisive thing - I use an Alfine by Shimano; it offers 11 gears at a 404% range, and works like a charm. The disadvantage is it concentrates a lot of weight at the rear of the bike, and life can get really challenging if they fail.
People get very energised about hub gears, and about the oil one should lubricate them with. Allow me to explain…
Last week I had trouble with my gears not engaging correctly. Often with Alfine units - which run in an oil bath - the slipping indicates that the oil in the hub needs a change, and this one hadn’t been done for about 3,000 miles. As it happened, I was wrong; the adjuster mechanism had slipped slightly when I’d last fitted the wheel and resetting it’s position solved the problem, but not before I’d drained the oil and changed it a couple of times for thin stuff.
The standard oil Shimano recommend is thick. The procedure is to remove a small plug on the hub, screw in a length of pipe which attaches to a syringe, and ‘suck out’ the old oil. I generally leave it overnight to drain. I then clean the syringe with alcohol, suck up 25ml of clean oil, and squirt that into the hub. Because this one hadn’t been done for ages, I used a thin oil, and then reinserted the plug, a rode the bike for a while. I then drained the thin oil the same way. I repeated the process until the oil coming backout was reasonably clean.
Rather than use Shimano oil, which is expensive and goes thick in winter, I decided to use oil by another hub-gear manufacturer; Rohlhoff. Rohlhoff hubs contain more plastic parts than Shimano, so their oil should be OK. It’s thinner, but seems like good stuff.
The Rohlhoff oil also comes with a ‘cleaning oil’, so tonight’s job was to drain the hub once more, and pump in 25ml of cleaning oil. I will ride the bike tomorrow, and then drain it again, before finally pumping in the new oil.
Sounds like a parlarver, but it’s easy, really. I love the hub gears, and sometimes, you have to demonstrate you care.
Say it with oil.
I bet this has made the purists tut their disapproval…