Author Topic: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear  (Read 29910 times)

Mr Arch

  • Maker of things! Married to Arch!
  • Gothic Arch
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2011, 05:50:33 pm »
Warrenty is important I guess but some of us could be using preloved hubs and don't have the warrenty issue.
ATF sounds a promising alternative then.

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2011, 03:30:00 pm »
£45 maintenance kit = complete rip off,

£16 for 50ml of oil: works out at £320 per litre!


Is it possible to open the drain hole, rotate the hub with it at the bottom and let the old oil drain out by itself overnight?

And maybe use a funnel to put new oil into the hub.

Surely any car gear oil at a few £ per litre is good enough for this.
I am absolutely no expert (as you can see by the above palaver) but I would imagine you could change the oil without buying the kit. I reckon, if you didn't mind making a bit of a mess, you could use gravity to drain out the old oil, although this'd take quite a long time. You could presumably use any other syringe which would hold 25ml to squirt the oil back in the hub, as long as the syringe end was narrow enough to fit through the hole.

However, I certainly wouldn't use any alternative oil unless I was 100% convinced it was exactly the right stuff and that I wouldn't need any kind of warranty replacement. I've learned that the hard way!

You can buy a litre bottle of the stuff for £80ish. Huw at Madison suggested I did this as he thought doing the oil change a bit more frequently than they say (perhaps every 3,000 miles) would make the hub run much better and last much longer; if you've bought a litre bottle of the stuff you don't mind doing that.

As it happens, the replacement bottle of oil arrived today from the cycle shop that sent me the wrong stuff. This is what it looks like:

My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


pdm

  • Sheffield hills? Nah... Just potholes.
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2011, 12:35:31 pm »
Having hit 1000km this week, I serviced my Alfine 11 hub this morning.

For those wanting to save money on the exhorbitant Shimano maintenance kit, the Rohloff screw in drain tube fits perfectly - I used one left over from previous Rohloff oil changes. A Rohloff maintenance kit with oil is half the cost of the Shimano kit without oil!

I could not drain more than 10 mls from the hub initially despite waiting, turning the gears, shifting and waiting again - was it sold underfilled, I wonder? It certainly has not leaked any oil in the 2 months I have had it. It was horrible, black, thickish stuff than came out. The flush oil was also a distinctly darker shade coming out and all that went in came out.

Initial impressions from before/after suggest the hub is running slightly more freely with the proper 25mls of fresh oil - before there was a just detectable extra drag in the gears above and below 5th gear compared with 5th with hand cranking the pedals which hopefully seems to have improved a tad. We shall have to see if journey times and the shifting performance improves on the commutes next week.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2011, 07:20:07 pm »
If anyone who knows about the technicalities of Rohloff and Shimano oil can categorically say that they are either interchangeable or the same thing, I've got 2 litres Rohloff oil here, one litre flushing oil, one litre gear oil. The syringes were available on ebay the last time I looked.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2011, 08:48:41 pm »
They might not be the same thing but they will do the same job.

If car gear oil is good enough for revs in the thousands and can withstand hundreds of horsepower...

The "proper" stuff is almost certainly re-bottled car gear oil anyway.

Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2011, 01:53:01 am »
If you are thinking of using an alternative oil, it may be worth getting a sample of both analysed first.
There are many subtleties in oil specification which may make an apparently similar oil incompatible with an intended application.
There are even used oil analysis services available which will detail any wear products in the used oil so you tell what is wearing out without stripping the mechanism.
I do know of a commuting cyclist on Usenet who knows all about oil analysis, so it may be worth making enquiries in that direction.
Even if he can't do the analysis for you, I'm sure he could provide valuable information on what aspects of the specification are important to match and what can be safely disregarded.
It wouldn't surprise me if Shimano and/or Rohloff put a chemical marker in their oil so that they can check any warranty returns have been using the recommended stuff.
It also wouldn't surprise me if that was the only difference between their oil and a generic hypoid oil of the same viscosity.

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2011, 05:18:56 pm »
My wheel arrived back this morning (Huw at Madison, who was servicing it, was off work for a couple of days at the beginning of the week).

In refitting it to the trike we have discovered a tip to help you line it all up right as there's the arm that holds the cable that can be a pain to get in the right place.

We found that it's best to take the blue and the green spacers off either side of the axle before putting the wheel in. Then the wheel can be rotated until the arm thingie is in the right place, then the spacers can be put in (they stop the axle rotating). This was way easier than my previous attempts of getting everything lined up.

I went out for a ride this evening and the hub is wonderfully quiet and smooth - the service has made a huge difference. Huw said "I have taken the unit apart and cleaned out the hub, then refilled the unit with fresh oil for you." Based on this, I shall definitely be servicing it again sooner rather than later (with the correct green oil!) as it has clearly improved its running.

He didn't take any photos of my hub in pieces but did send me this cutaway pic.



Having used the Trice Q for the last week and a half, the Sprint initially felt a bit odd (much heavier at the back - the gears-in-a-can are heavier than the sprocket and derailleur setup on the Q) but it's a much more comfortable ride and I was soon back into the groove.

Oh, and there was no invoice in with the hub so I believe this has been done as a freebie - which is amazing as it's not Madison's fault at all. I shall have to send him some mince pies at Christmas...
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2011, 05:27:34 pm »
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2011, 05:30:30 pm »
Found this pic of the innards as well

My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2012, 02:25:26 pm »
I have done my second service! And this time I used the correct oil.

Today was to be Alfine 11 Hub Gear service day, in preparation for my Berlin to London cycle ride for Help For Heroes next week.

I wasn’t sure if it was due a service yet (it had done 2,653 since the last service) as I have variously been told 5,000 miles between services or 5,000km. If 5,000km then it was just about the right time and I didn’t think it’d hurt to do it early anyway.

My last hub gear service went both brilliantly and disastrously; brilliantly in that it all worked fairly well and I was happy that I had followed the instructions successfully, and disastrously in that an online cycle parts retailer had sent me the wrong oil and it could have been damaging to the hub. Fortunately Huw at Madison (UK Shimano distributor) spotted this and did a service of my hub free of charge. Hurrah!

So today was the big day. This time I had the correct oil - green!



I had also left myself with a week to hopefully correct any other unexpected disasters before setting off to the Fatherland.

Because the weather is a bit horrible at the moment I decided to do this oil change in the shed. Although the Shimano Oil paperwork warns you to do the oil change in a well-ventilated place, I thought the shed was fine. There are so many warnings on the paperwork anyway I’m surprised it doesn’t warn you that the Apocalypse might take place whilst you’re doing the oil change and so you might not complete it successfully.

Another change this time was that I didn’t wear rubber gloves. I read all the dire warnings of hands dropping off if exposed to one drop of oil (slight exaggeration there) and decided that, as I remember you have to keep leaving the thing for five minutes for the oil to settle, I might as well do some work at the same time and just wash my hands a lot.

So, all prepared, all the tools in place: off we go.


For those who have an ICE trike like mine with the rack fitted, the side portion of the rack gets a bit in the way so I decided this time to remove it. This was well worth the small effort as it meant I could rotate the wheel easily, even with the syringe/tube attached.

Before:


After:


This time I couldn’t find the paper written instructions so was using a PDF on my iPad which isn’t optimal but I managed to keep the iPad from being bathed with oil, so that was a win.



I attached the nozzle, discovering that this time I seem to have two O-rings on the bolt (a bonus gift from Madison?) This was good to know as those things have a tendency to fall off and are very hard to find.



I didn’t read the instructions as closely as I should have as they say to remove the locking nut and the O-ring but then say, a bit later, use the O-ring with the tube to stop oil leaking out. I didn’t see that so had a few drops of oil leak out as I was doing the procedure; you’ll see in some photos some kitchen towel to mop it up. There wasn’t that much though.

Now the nozzle and syringe were attached


I the rotated the wheel and left it for five minutes for the oil to settle downwards


Then it was time to start the long procedure of sucking out the old oil with the syringe. You really have to do this for a minute, then leave it for five, then do it for another minute, leave it for another five etc etc to give the oil time to ooze down to the hole. So, I started extracting the oil and stopped when I was getting more air bubbles than oil, giving it a rest for a few minutes and then continuing.



This is a bit of a drawn-out procedure so time for a cup of tea and piece of cake (I washed my hands first, of course).


I realised it would be easier on my knees/back if the trike rear wheel were raised up so I found one of our many orange buckets (used by James sometimes in cycle training) to hold up the rear wheel.



I only got about 15ml of oil out (and a lot of air!) but spent about half an hour (on and off) doing this and decided to leave it there. Of course I would be flushing oil through as part of the procedure so hopefully if there was any bunged up somewhere it would come out.



Then I rotated the wheel so the syringe/nozzle were at the top (this is so much easier to do without the side rack extensions!) and then took off the syringe and emptied it into my jar of muck.

I then opened the new GREEN oil (remember, it’s Green and not Pink!):


I discovered that the neck of the oil bottle is narrower than the syringe so you can’t just dip the syringe in there to suck up the oil. This was a bit annoying as I had to undo the nozzle from the hub, attach that to the syringe and then suck up 25ml of green oil.

Here it is - definitely green!


The nozzle was dripping green oil when I lifted it out, of course, which then dripped onto the hub.

Anyway, I was able to screw the nozzle back in OK and this time included the O-ring to prevent any more drips. The oil pushed in very smoothly, much better than last time, and the syringe was empty in a minute or so.




I forgot to pull the syringe back slightly before undoing it and had a small amount of oil bubble out but that was no problem.

I then put the bolt in and, as the instructions say, pedalled for a minute whilst changing up and down the gears to give the oil time to spread around inside the hub and flush any grotty bits out (hopefully).

So then it’s a repeat of the previous procedure - fitting the nozzle, turning the wheel so the hole is pointing downward, leaving it for five minutes to settle, then using the syringe to extract the flushing oil.



As you can see, when the first few mls came out there was a faint greenish tinge to the black...



But by the time more had come out, it was all decidedly yucky black again. This is from two minutes inside my hub! Scary!



And now back to the start of the procedure again, this time putting in the green oil which will be the lubricant for the hub for the next 5,000km.

I actually seemed to get almost 30mls of oil from the remainder in the pot, not the 25 they say, but I thought I’d see if it’d all go in - and it did.



Then I replaced the cap on the hub and gave the top a wipe (had various drips of green oil on it) and all was completed!



I then re-attached the side plate to the rack and went out for a ride. The hub shifts even more smoothly than before, it’s great!

The whole procedure probably took an hour but my actual time that I was doing something was probably only 20 minutes (5 minutes of that was removing and replacing the rack side). It takes longer than you might think because of the waiting around for the oil to ooze down so that it can be removed with the syringe.

Anyway, this second attempt appears to (so far!) have been a success. In a couple of days’ time I will change the chain and give the whole chain tensioner/front derailleur a good clean as (as is evident on many of these photos), it is all appallingly mucky now after winter!
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2012, 02:45:47 pm »
Fitting and removing those rack sides is annoyingly fiddly.  They both have to come off to use the trike in a turbo trainer (though we bought barakta a rack top bag, so they only have to go on for carrying panniers).  I'm thinking some wing nuts might be a good addition...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2014, 12:05:16 pm »
Cheers for this, used this guide on my Dawes Nomad...
instagram / twitter: @bluemcardle

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2014, 02:22:36 pm »
No probs.

My blog has other items on 'Alfie the Trike' including changing the Alfine sprocket, which you might find handy.

www.auntiehelen.co.uk
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #38 on: January 06, 2014, 11:33:50 pm »
No probs.

My blog has other items on 'Alfie the Trike' including changing the Alfine sprocket, which you might find handy.

www.auntiehelen.co.uk

Indeed, saw that too in preparation of me swapping up to a 20T sprocket - both jobs done! :)
instagram / twitter: @bluemcardle

Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2014, 04:38:32 pm »
Hi, thanks so much for posting.

Based on your posting, I took the plunge and changed the oil in my Alfine 11-speed for the first time yesterday, after about 800 miles, or 1,300 km. of use. It took me about an hour including oil draining time. My old oil looked dirty, but not cloudy or milky. My hub has seen extreme duty, as I weigh 135 kg, and ride a lot of hills - mountains by UK standards.

A couple of thoughts:

I put the bike in the house over night so the oil would be warmer than if it had been left outside in the garage. (I think this job is probably best done on a hot summer day.) I used the Shimano oil and changing kit, both from Amazon.

I was unable to drain a full 25 ml of old oil out of the hub (in about 15 to 20 minutes and two full syringe extraction pulls I got about 20 ml). Therefore, I decided to only use 20 ml of fresh oil for the cleaning “rinse”. (I did not want the hub to end up over-filled.) The oil came out almost as dirty after the rinse as the old oil did. The rinse is definitely a good idea. Of the 20 ml of cleaning oil rinse, I could only extract about 15 ml – again in about 15 minutes of draining and two syringe extractions. I was pulling the syringe VERY slowly and stopping and starting the pulls, but would still get air bubbles. When the syringe was pulled all the way out, I would rotate the wheel to put the port back on top, disconnect and empty the syringe and then collapse the syringe for a second go-around at sucking oil.

I then put in 25 ml of fresh oil. This went smoothly.

Some say to super glue the tube to the syringe tip, but I did not find this necessary. The connection never slipped or leaked. In fact, I never had so much as a drop of oil escape the system. I did have a rag handy to wipe off the tip of the tube after immersing it on the fresh oil when it was sucked into the syringe.

I found the job very easy to do. Shimano’s prices are exorbitant, but at least I can now make the change next time by only purchasing the oil.

Again, thanks for posting your photos.  They gave me the confidence to give this job a try!

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2014, 04:50:10 pm »
Thanks Augsburg.

I am on my third hub (I tend to kill them) and interestingly when I did the first service of this third hub the flushing oil came out perfectly green so I didn't bother draining it all out - just left it there. This is the first time that's happened, it's usually really mucky and black, so I think my new hub is maybe a bit better sealed or less muckily made.

I never get 25ml of oil out, only ever 15-20ml, but I do put 25 back in as I don't think overfilling is too much of an issue and these things do ever-so-slightly ooze from time to time (my Rohloff is way worse - it is really oozing).

I have done these oil changes about 7 times now and that's usually when it's warm but I guess doing it inside (if your bike fits through the door) is a good idea. I initially paid attention to the warnings of the oil being dodgy for your skin and needing a well ventilated area but now when I do it I don't bother with rubber gloves and it seems fine - it's only time-consuming because the oil takes so long to drain.

Like you I have no need to glue the syringe to the pipe - it never wants to come off. What I do find tricky is attaching the syringe adapter to the hub as my spoke lacing makes it rather awkward. But I manage.

Glad it worked well for you anyway - if you're going to keep the hub a long time then the litre can of oil is helpful (although you also need another bit of pipe to suck the oil out of it) but is scarily expensive.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2016, 04:03:39 pm »
My experiences of changing the gear oil on my Alfine 11-speed....

1.   DIY. My local bike shop won't do it and recommended sending the entire real wheel to a specialist. Too much hassle; I'll do it myself. 

2.   The Kit - yes, I bought the kit too. This must be the World's most expensive plastic tube, syringe and tub. You could probably do with homemade or other sourced parts, apart from the screw attachment that locks into the hub.   I think you COULD manage without that, if you had a tube that fitted tightly into the hub hole (perhaps with a conical end on the tube). I bought the oil too; Shimano share price must go up every time someone buys this (at 50ml a pop).   Price of kit in UKP was £33 !!,  Price of oil was UKP £16. 

3.   Drain old oil - my bike has done about 3000 miles, over six years.  So it's WELL OVERDUE for oil-change. It’s fiddly to remove plug, and attach the tube – the spokes get in the way.  I could only get about 5ml of old oil out, after trying over one hour, on a nice hot day – so I guess there was just no more in there.  This may reflect the six years with no service. (BTW, the gears operate just fine).  What old oil there was, was quite runny, and pale brown – so not much evidence of dirt or water.  Not much evidence of ANYTHING, actually.

4.   Flush with new oil – seems a waste to use this expensive stuff for flushing – but I did what it said on the instructions. About 20ml of nice, new, green oil went in very easily. I spun the pedals, and worked the gear change for a while then left it to settle.  It all came out again easily. The oil was a little cloudy – but not bad – no sign of dirt, black gunge, water or any other nasty.

5.   New oil – again, the 25ml of fresh oil went in very easily – no need to wait, or pump the syringe. I refitted the plug and aligned the gear shift at gear 6 and the yellow marks – so easy to do this.

6.   Other observations – Shimano – please add another length of tube to the kit – there must be a bit of margin in the profit :-)  That way, I don’t have to detach the tube from the hub, to use the tube to suck up fresh oil from the bottle.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2016, 04:51:43 pm »
I wonder if you could re-use the flushing oil if you filtered it?
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #43 on: July 18, 2016, 06:02:15 pm »
I think really buying the litre can of oil is a sensible decision if you expect to do this job a few times (I think I've done it 8 or 9 now).

Of course, the issue then is getting the oil out of the can into the syringe (I now have another length of pipe for that).

The third hub had very little dirt in the oil with its first oil change, they seem to vary a lot.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #44 on: July 18, 2016, 07:00:13 pm »
So annoyed at the price of the Shimano oil change kit that I did some (minimal) research on alternatives.

Oral syringe, 30ml - on Amazon about £1
Plastic tubing - any home-brew shop sells for about 80p a meter
Tub - I recommend a Waitrose leek & potato fresh soup tub (but any flavour will do) - cost £0
Connector - it is said on the Internet that this tube http://www.billys.co.uk/english/group.php?prod=luro-shuboil fits - cost £4.50
Total cost of DIY kit - about  £6-£7 - compared to Shimano (on Amazon) at about £33

The oil, I'm not competent to comment on whether another, cheaper oil would do- and there are warranty issues too, so your call....

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #45 on: July 18, 2016, 08:13:19 pm »
I personally wouldn't risk alternative oil, as you say (warranty issues - and Madison have been extremely helpful with my warranties).
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Servicing my Alfine 11 hub gear
« Reply #46 on: July 18, 2016, 08:15:35 pm »
I split the difference with Shimano oil and a copycat kit for HK's Alfine commuter.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...