Recently I took a trip down to Payson, UT to check out internally geared hubs (IGH). This was a pretty crazy trip, 900 miles and around 12 hours of driving for a couple hours with the folks at Utah Trikes. That says a lot about my expectations for the shop and they didn’t disappoint.
But before I get to that, some completely useless and off-topic info about the trip. From Boise to Payson via I-84 was a little over 400 miles and at 45 MPG took almost a whole tank of gas. I usually get about 50 MPG on this leg, I think the combination of the new 80 MPH speed limit (was 75) and (maybe) the tank of non-ethanol-laced gasoline made the difference. I hate returning the same way and have already made my share of trips along I-84 so I took the Nevada route home. That adds almost 100 miles so I was right at the 500 mile mark on the tank of gas I purchased in Payson when I rolled into the driveway back home in Boise. 49.6 MPG on that leg. Yay Prius.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Nate, Luke and Matt (via phone) at Utah Trikes were very accommodating. Luke was just finishing up installing a Schlumpf High Speed Drive on a Cattrike Expedition for my demo ride when I walked in the shop. I got a good ride around downtown Payson on it. The trike was in the process of being set up and hadn’t been tuned so I won’t comment on the trike itself other than to the say the Expedition looks like a nice one. But I got a great look at the Schlumpf and… it’s nice! None of the “mushiness” in either gear that I remember in underdrive on my old Schlumpf Mountain Drive. The idea for this site came after the test drive so I didn’t get a picture, but with a small 27-inch chain ring with bash guard and clean hardware it looks really good. Stealthy even, it’s hard to imagine a 2.5x shift lurking in there.
High Speed Drive (courtesy Utah Trikes)
In overdrive there was noticeable “whirring” noise coming from the hub but it was uniform and Nate, Schlumpf, and others on the web state that the noise diminishes after the break-in period. On the order of 1000 miles I think. In direct (1:1) drive it is completely silent, as expected. More on this in a future post, but if I go with the Schlumpf I’ll try to set up the gearing so that most of my commuting is in the 1:1 gear and I kick in overdrive for fast cruises and descents. If I can achieve this, the gear noise I heard won’t be a deal breaker.
Shifting the Schlumpf sounds weird but works quite well. There is a button on each end of the bottom bracket that you hit with your heel. Pop it in on one side and the other side pops out. There is an optional attachment to the button that increases the contact area if you have trouble hitting the button center with your heal but I’ve never felt the need for it—shifting was one aspect of my Mountain Drive that I liked. The best part is: no shift cable!
They didn’t have an Alfine 11 hub on hand (that was an afterthought of mine anyway) but Nate did pull out an Alfine 8 that was laced into a wheel. I have some experience with the SRAM DualDrive and Sturmey Archer CS-RF3 3-speed hubs (more on this in a future post) and a common characteristic is that if you shake it, it will rattle. Likewise, both hubs rattle on bumpy roads with my trike. I shook that Alfine 8 until I ran the risk of being escorted out of the shop and forcibly sent back to Boise and it was completely silent. Of course that doesn’t mean it won’t rattle in use or that the Alfine 11 will behave the same way but I’m encouraged nonetheless.
It’s great having a dedicated trike shop “so close” and the crew at Utah Trikes bent over backward to help me out. I talked to Matt on the phone at length, he’s extremely knowledgeable about IGH’s. I’m looking forward to doing some business with them once I pull the trigger on this project.