Nexus Drop-Bar - One Month In

Nexus

I was asked for a follow-up on my post about how I coverted my Single Speed to an 8sp. I rode it for about a month before swapping back to single to get ready for cross season. Here’s a couple bullets on the good and the bad.

The good: - Having gears is super helpful for towing my kid around in the trailer. I’ve got a 42-19 on there and when I drop into the “Granny gear” I can get up all the local hills without issue.
- The gear range was about as big as I needed. The big gear was comfortable at ~22mph which is plenty for what I’m after for the bike. - Drop bar shifter location is easy to use. - Shifting while stopped is pretty cool actually - especially when towing my son. Getting back up to speed after stopping at a light is a lot easier if I can start in an easy gear. - Swapping between geared and non-geared mode is pretty simple. - No derailleur simplicity! - It adds a completely new dimension to a bike for only a couple hundred bucks.

The bad: UPDATE - I’m wrong - the Hubbub can be tightened using an Allen. I need to reef on it next time to see if I can keep from un-tightening it during normal shifting use> - The Hub-Bub. Shifting causes it to loosen. Apparently there’s an allen bolt in there so I’ll see if I can tighten it more solidly. - Changing a rear flat is slow and can be a challenge with normal seat-pack tools. Getting the no-spin washers out was a challenge. - 36 holes is too much for my use. It would be nice if they had a 32 hole option as it would open up rim choice options. - It’s heavy. Hanging the bike in my garage is tough for a skinny-armed dude like myself.

Other observations: - Some gears just don’t “click”. I have to play with the shifter a little to get 5th to work just right sometimes. - The Nexus just doesn’t feel as solid as a traditional derailleured setup. For my purpose it’s fine, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing a out-of-the-saddle sprint workout, or maybe even a race. I just think the hub will last me a lot longer if I don’t “try to break it”. - I don’t think friction would work well. After posting on the Hiawatha Cyclery setup, I just don’t think it’s that easy to know where you need to be. - If this rumored bar-end shifter for Nexus/Alfine happens I’ll be all over it. That just seems to make all the real issues go away. - This bike pulls chicks. Well, maybe not chicks, but at least I get a lot of looks and comments from bike geeks like myself. I’ve never had so many people ask me “how do you like that hub?”.



15 Comments

I have a Nexus 8 on a Crosscheck as my around town bike, and it’s great. I guess the hub isn’t there yet, but eventually a light, more solid feeling Alfine with barend/trigger options and a few different drillings (28h would be nice too) is what should be on EVERY casual bike.

I have the same setup on my IRO Rob Roy.  On my Hubbub, you can insert an allen wrench way down inside there and tighten (it just has to be long enough).  I didn’t notice this until I’d taken the Hubbub apart, and I haven’t had any problems (though I’ve only been riding it a few weeks). 

As far as wheel changes, I’m carrying a very small 1 or 2mm allen wrench to help remove the shifter cable.  With it in first gear, I just pull the shifter assembly (at the hub) back with the allen wrench (there are several small holes) in the direction usually pulled by the shifter and this takes the tension off the cable. Then the cable pops out easily.  The washers seem to come out easily enough on my trackends.

I’ll sprinkle on top of the previous commenters by mentioning I used the drop bar + hub bub combo with no problems on my… Cross-Check.

You can indeed get the Hub Bub dialed in with a suitably long Allen key.  You don’t need a particularly exotic one, but a multi-tool and maybe even the Park triple sure won’t get there.  IIRC it’s 6mm, reverse-threaded, and happens to be a million times more secure than most bar plugs once you set it.  The only rub as I see it is that it’s an expensive workaround for a product that should have a drop bar option in the first place.  Another convenience Shimano could offer a less kludgey cable run.

For what it’s worth, I am derailleured with my road bike’s old 6500 setup ATM, but it was just this weekend that a girl was drawing guys with the Nexus setup on her Casseroll at the grocery store bike rack. From the background I got, I’m not sure her boyfriend (he works at QBP) got quite what he wanted out of that build for her.

Looks like I need to re-visit my HubBub setup.  When I had it apart I checked for to see if I could see an allen bolt, but it looked instead like it was some sort of pop-rivet in there. 

I reserve the right to update the review if I overlooked this “feature” :).

Well, the HubBub is every well evolved—the wedge bolt not only hides, it throws you off with a reverse thread when you have it cornered.  None of this is intuitive, and I don’t recall it being documented.  Who can fault a person for hating a setup where the shifter doesn’t stay still?

Can it be any more stupid that the “knub” used for Rohloff’s?

For internal gears, friction shifting should be avoided.  It’s VERY hard to get the internal gears aligned correctly by feel and that mis-alignment causes much faster wear.

I remember from when i was working in a shop, this guy’s hub was making all kinds of noise.  He was using the old suntour bar end shifters (power ratchet ones).  We disassembled the hub , it was a Sachs 7sp i think, and there was some really bad wear patterns.  He would have had to replace nearly all internals but a new hub was cheaper.  He wasn’t a particularly high mileage rider so, i’d guess with higher mileage or more power output that the wear would be even worse.

I’ve been riding a Nexus 8 for about a year now, and I must say, the shifter just sucks six ways from sunday.

Once it starts wearing out it slips gears while shifting and you have to squeeze and jam the rotator into the shifting mechanism.

It was so bad I looked into making my own shifter, but quickly ran into the variable spacing problem for the cable pull.

Once Shimano figures out how to make a shifter for road and track bars this thing will hotter than toast. Until then, avoid.

I’m thinking of hooking something similar up with my Titus FCR single speed, but since I’m based in NYC, I think that a 3 speed will do the trick.

Hey folks,
Our adapter uses the standard Shimano expansion-bolt and segment unit parts to a bar-end shift control, and it operates the same way the Shimano and Suntour (inventor) units have since the 70’s.  It’s a right-hand thread but the hex-broach is in the backside, so you need to treat it like a left-hand thread upon installation.  Nothing new… same mechanism that has been in use for over 30 years.  Yes, they all use a 6mm Allen key to tighten down the expander.  It is best to use a P-handle or T-handle key to get enough torque on it.  The threads are pre-lubed, so that shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re disastified, call 800-888-2027 and we’ll discuss return/replacement.

@HubBub - Thanks for the comment.  I’ll take a look at my setup and I’ve edited the post.  The standard bar-end shifter doesn’t have to deal with the twist shifting so I doubt this limitation ever showed up before.  I’ll tighten it with a T-wrench and see how that goes.

In reply to a handful of comments above:

I couldn’t agree more that our adapter is “an expensive workaround for a product that should have a drop bar option in the first place.”  Remember that I originally developed the unit for the Rohloff system, and later extended it by 10mm (plus the score mark) when Sheldon Brown started selling them for Nexus bikes.  (I still think of this as intended for Rohloff, although I recognize this has not been its primary use for several years.)  Also keep in mind that it is a very low production part.  As a tiny bike shop, we only make about 100 at a time, and invest in several hundred segment units in order to justify the export from Shimano.  I too wish it could be cheaper, but as material and manufacturing costs have skyrocketed, I’ve been able to keep the price constant for the past 8 years with the small increases in volume.  Also, I too would be thrilled to see Rohloff (and Shimano) develop a drop-bar control.

Again, Shimano’s expansion bolt has a right-hand thread, so of course the unit does as well, making manufacturing simpler and cheaper.  Since the approach (necessary by design) is from the backside however, it is treated as a left-hand thread.  When I developed the adapter I knew that any experienced bike-shop worker would recognize this.  I never anticipated consumers (or even shops, from what I now understand) who don’t recognize the mechanism would be installing them.  I will post a page about installation on our web-site, and begin including simple instructions with the next batch.

I recognized early on the potential for the torque applied by shifting to loosen/tighten the adapter, which was indeed not an issue for the original bar-cons.  I have found however (along with hundreds of others) that appropriately tightened down with a wrench, this is not an issue.  In fact, my original design allowed it to be tightened more, but this made it more expensive, and I found it unnecessary.  If it is STILL necessary, check to see that the resistance in your shifting mechanism can’t be reduced significantly.

Anyone still having difficulties, please contact us.  Thank you for allowing me to respond and address your issues with our product.

Alfine hubs are available in 32 and 36 spoke incarnations, plus a very shiny 24 spoke straight pull factory wheel. The factory wheel is still >2300gr though.

They’re all listed on the shimano Europe site (not sure about US). I’m a little concerned that the 24spoke may not be man enough for light touring that I am planning to do and am dithering over the choice at the moment…

As for drop bar solutions. Sheldon (as always) has some good ideas, The HubBub looks good if you stick with the twist. Personally I’m going to try the Hyawatha cyclery workround with a travel agent and see where that gets me.

We’re working with a manufacturer on a new prototype and will have it soon - posts to follow.

Also see Drop-bar SRAM spotted yesterday at [a bike shop](http://bikehugger.com/2008/11/the_racemuter.htm).

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