No Grimy Derailleurs

The same day that Noah wrote about those grimy derailleurs last weekend, I received a shiny new Abio Penza shaft drive folding bike with a 3 speed Shimano Nexus hub.

This bike has some interesting features that I’ll write about another time, but this is the first internal hub gearing (IGH) bike in a long time on which I’ve put more than a couple of miles.

In the United States, derailleur gearing is much more popular than IGH: derailleurs are more efficient, they’re lightweight, and you can pack a lot of gears into a little space without spending thousands of dollars.

For utility use, though, IGH has its advantages. Hub gearing is more robust — you don’t need to worry about a bent derailleur hanger, for example. The enclosed mechanism means no worries about grimy gears and hard shifting due to gunk in the moving parts. A chainline that doesn’t move means you can completely enclose the chain or even, as in the case of the Abio Penza
I’m testing, replace the chain with an enclosed drive shaft.

Another option that was mentioned in the comments is going singlespeed or fixed gear. Fewer moving parts means fewer things to clean, and you have two fewer cables to worry about icing up. I personally love riding fixed gear on skinny tires in light snow and ice, although hills can be a problem! I converted an old bike to fixed because I got sick of my derailleurs and cables icing up.

A problem some people encounter is the rear wheel “freewheels” in both directions. This can happen with any hub: either the hub oil has congealed, or water got inside the hub and froze. In either case the freewheel pawls are stuck open, so even though you pedal the wheel won’t spin. The solution if this happens is to flush the thick grease out of the hub and replace it with a lighter oil.

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