Rohloff or Alfine 11? I've experienced both!

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Andywl, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. Andywl

    Andywl New Member

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    A teeny bit of background first. I had a Raleigh bicycle for many years, and in December 2011 finally treated myself to an On-One Pompetamine iwth Alfine 11 gears. You can see a review of this here. I was happy with the bike, but in July 2012 it was nicked from a seedy underground car park in Saint Denis in Paris, along with a few other less valuable possessions (and yes, I know I shouldn't have left it there in the first place ...).

    I called Planet X, but they said they couldn't source Alfine 11 gears at that time (I have no idea why - anyone else know the story?). It turned out that getting a bike with these gears was going to be more expensive than I'd thought. I considered the Genesis Day One, but in the end splashed out a lot of money (over £3k, since you ask) on a Thorn Mercury with Rohloff gears. I still feel guilty about the cost, but it IS a nice bike (although it's not worth 3 times more than the Pompetamine).

    Anyway, my reason for posting is just to help anyone else out who's faced with the dilemma: Alfine or Rohloff? I read a lot of online reviews before buying the Thorn, so I thought I'd add to the information out there.

    What's Better about the Rohloff?

    The Rohloff gears are better in three main respects. Firstly, and most obviously, they have a wider range (the botttom gear is just silly!). Secondly, they feel more solid: the Alfine gears always felt brittle, as if they might break some time. The people at Thorn said that they liked people to buy Alfine gears, because they knew they would be sold on the idea of hub gears, and come back in a couple of years when the Alfine gears broke to buy a Rohloff bike (but then they would say that, wouldn't they?).

    The third big plus of Rohloff gears is that you can change several gears at once, which for me is the best feature. On the Alfine I was apprehensive about large hills: I used to have to plan in advance my descent through the gears. Yes, you could change two gears at once if you got the flick of the lever right, but with the Rohloff you can twist the (admittedly stiff) dial from one end of the scale to the other in one movement.

    One other plus for the Rohloff: although I've that both gears slip, the Rohloff tends to do it in a less dramatic fashion. The Alfine had a habit of slipping suddenly when I was putting strain on it. It's worth pointing out that both the Rohloff and the Alfine gears were far nicer to use than derailleur gears, however.

    What's Better about the Alfine?

    The cost!

    Apart from that, the Alfine gears are quieter (in fact, they're noise-free, as far as I could tell). Rohloff gears make a grinding noise in 7th and 8th gears, and are never totally quiet. Also, when free-wheeling there is a loud clicking sound from the chain area, although not being remotely technically-minded I couldn't tell you whether this was due to the Rohloff gears or not.


    If I had unlimited funds, I'd go for the Rohloff (contrary to what other bloggers have expressed), but it's a personal decision. I like being able to go through several gears in one go. And now it's time to create a separate post on the differences between an On-One Pompetamine and the Thorn Mercury, then I'll feel I've repaid my debt to society ...
     
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  2. Andywl

    Andywl New Member

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    One quick PS - I've written a separate thread comparing the Pompetamine and Thorn Mercury bikes themselves.
     
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