Shimano Alfine hub gear £261

Budget geared hub

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Shimano’s eight-speed Alfine hub was originally designed for utility and trekking bikes, but it’s since been adopted by a handful of mountain bike manufacturers.

Rohloff’s Speedhub is an obvious point of comparison, but the two systems aren’t really competing with each other. The Alfine has fewer gears and a considerably narrower range (it’s like a 12-38T, eight-speed cassette), but it’s markedly cheaper.

We’ve found that the gear range is adequate for most rides – you’re just losing the extremely low and high gears – although the jumps between gears are big enough that you tend to choose a gear for the next mile of trail and then stick with it.

Being able to shift without pedalling is a boon on technical trails, though, and there’s nothing to snag or break off. Alfine’s trigger shifter is ergonomically familiar, although its action is reversed – the thumb lever accesses higher gears.

Shifting is remarkably smooth and the hub is usually quiet. But wheel removal is fiddly, requiring a suitable spanner and careful alignment on refitting.

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