I’ve been the proud owner of my Alfine 8-Speed for around 2 and a half to three years or so now…I think. Truth is I’m not sure, or how many miles I’ve done on it either. I read somewhere that the recommended service interval is 2000 miles or two years, and I’ve definitely done a lot more than that on it, so I decided to dive in and service it. This is a daunting task for anyone since everybody knows that Alfine hub gears are extracted from deep within the earth in one piece by experts who work in top secret hub gear mines around the world. No one actually knows exactly how they work. (This may or may not be true.)

With this in mind though, I engaged in a Google search which threw up some wild, unconfirmed claims about £90 Shimano service kits and £17 spanners as well as some DIY advice. Now I’ve taken apart a few Sturmeys before and as far as I was concerned that makes me frankly over-qualified. And it was a successful endeavour ideal for the aspiring DIY mechanic, so I can’t have been too wrong. Here’s what I did…

You will need…
– Either the correct tool, or if you’re like me, some pokey, fiddly tools for removing the cog retaining ring.
– Some cone spanners.
– A litre of the cheapest available automatic transmission fluid (£4.50 from your local motor factor).
– The bottom half of a 2 litre drinks bottle.
– Some nice fresh grease for the bearings.
– A suitable space to do it all in.
– A helper to hold the wheel for a minute halfway through. (No qualification required.)

Step 1 – Remove all the ancillaries.
I do this regularly for cleaning so it’s a familiar process. You need to take off the nuts and the anti-turn washers. You can then rotate the central locking part of the gear actuator anti-clockwise so that the dots line up, releasing the actuating mechanism in two parts. To get the cog off you will need to extract the retaining ring from around the edge, which gets easier with practice, and there’s a metal thingy and a rubber thingy somewhere in there as well which just pop off. Oh, and the disc brake if you have one. I don’t so I’ve no advice for that. Last of all there’s a large plastic ring that protects the curved teeth around the edge of the black plastic cover on the drive-side.

LAY THEM ALL OUT ON A NICE CLEAR BENCH SO YOU DON’T FORGET WHAT ORDER THEY TO REASSEMBLE THEM ALL IN! (Fig. 1 is a good example of a dirty bench with far too many tools on it, so don’t try to find inspiration there.)

Step 2 – Remove the non-drive-side cone.
Get the cone spanners out and remove the non-drive-side cone and locking nut and unscrew them until they come all the way off the axle. (Do not move the drive-side cone.) The bearings are in a clip and are nice and captive so they won’t fly everywhere (Fig. 7).

Step 3 – Remove the mechanism from the hub body.
You need to rotate the very large plastic thing with curved teeth round the edge that makes up the drive side of the hub. Note that there is a sign on this thing that indicates it has a reverse thread so you need to turn it clockwise to loosen it. There is alledgedly a special tool you can buy to make this process an easy one. I just had someone hold the wheel, gave it some VERY gentle encouragement with a drift in traditional Sturmey Archer style, grabbed it with two hands and a cloth and it turned with relative ease before smoothly coming away (Fig. 8).

Once it is removed, the internal mechanism of the hub will slide out for your inspection (Fig.2).

Step 4 – Bathe the mechanism.
Take the bottom half of your two litre drinks bottle, maybe a bit more than half, and fill it with the transmission fluid. You should find that dunking the mechanism into the fluid is a fairly straightforward procedure (Fig. 4). Remember the mechanism is going to displace a great deal of fluid, so don’t fill it to the top. Once it’s in there, swill it around a bit agitate it all a little. After that, leave it to soak for a few minutes. When you’re happy it’s soaked through, pull it out and prop it on the container, with the axle across the top, and it should start draining quite nicely (Fig. 5). I used this time to clean the old grease out of the hub body (Fig. 6).

Step 5 – Re-grease.
Re-apply grease generously to all the bearings. Push some into all the accessible parts of the mechanism to and give it a twist if you can to draw it all in.

Step 6 – Re-assemble.
After replacing the mechanism in the hub body and re-attaching the big black plastic thing, adjust the non-drive side cone as with any open bearings. The rest of the ancillaries are re-assembled in the opposite way to which you took them off. It should look like Fig. 9 if you’ve done it right.

Voila! Smoothly, is once again how you roll. It took a short ride changing through the gears to draw the lubrication into all the right places for me.

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Fig.1 – Stripped down and laid out neatly.

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Fig.2 – Dirty close-up.

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Fig.3 – Fluid and the perfect container.

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Fig.4 – In the oil bath.

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Fig.5 – Draining.

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Fig.6 – Dirty hub body.

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Fig.7 – Non-drive-side close-up.

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Fig.8 – Stronghands Shimano spanner system.

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Fig.9 – Built back up and ready to rock.