At the minute I'm using an Alfine 8 hub on my Hummingbird and, for the sort of riding that I do, I reckon its the best thing since sliced bread.
For those of you that don't know what sort of riding I do (all of you then
) it involves lots of scratching around in rough forestry, boggy moorland and overgrown sheep tracks mixed in with some techy singletrack - all places where a rear mech can be a PITA and a singlespeed can be great 75% of the time - the Alfine handles the other 25%. Like a SS with a few gears.....
Now, if you have an Alfine, you'll know that the cable stop on the shifter mechanism uses a little split shouldered ferrule which fits into the pressed steel "arm" on the gear change unit. Sometimes when you remove the cable this ferrule stays with the hub, sometimes it comes out on the cable - it just depends how it feels on the day.
Sometimes it drops on the workshop floor and has to be found and refitted.
Imagine this scenario - I'm out last Wednesday on a nice club evening ride, starting in my village and heading up into the hills. About 25 of us altogether. I'm testing a new rear tyre (Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.4", run ghetto tubeless). I somehow end up at the front of the group and, along with one other guy, climb a steep rocky pitch and then sit and wait for everyone else, who it turns out have decided to go a different and easier way. So we hammer back down to catch them up and as a result my rear tyre burps most of its air and a load of sealant . Two CO² carts. and one mile later I give up and decide to fit a tube - whip the wheel out, tube in, last cartridge to inflate and wheel back on. Cool
- now to play catch-up, as I've told them not to wait for me....
Hang on - gears won't work, that bloody stupid little ferrule has dropped out during the wheel change and now lies buried in 6" of grass among the sheep shit. So I have no option but to take a shortcut home and ride it all in 1st. gear. Just wonderful .
So, the next morning out came the hacksaw and brazing gear and the stupid cable stop arrangement was cut off and a proper split cable stop (like on a frame) brazed on in its place. It's how it should have been made in the first place. I'd advise anyone who actually uses an Alfine anywhere that they might have to whip the wheel out in less than ideal conditions to do this modification - it means that there's one less thing to go wrong and I don't know why I was too slack to do it months ago. Well, actually I do - I'd rather be out riding than in my workshop but it only took 10 minutes...
If you haven't got the gear to do this yourself then feel free to send the cassette joint unit to me and I'll gladly do it for you FOC. I just hate bad design details like this.
I'm also looking to modify a cassette joint unit so that it's permanently locked in 5th (direct) gear. It's small enough to carry with me so if I end up destroying the shift lever or breaking the cable I can swap it over and still have a decent gear to finish my ride and get home.
Much the same as with a Rohloff you can select a gear with a spanner if the shifter gives up.