Recent Upgrade to Nexus Redline 8-Speed Hub

By the spring of 2009 I had given up my car and believed that it was simply going to take me 2 hours, each way, to get to work and back by transit. To me, there was no other way.

When I purchased a Marin Hamilton 29er I thought I’d found a simple, sturdy bike that would take me to and from my girlfriend’s apartment on the other side of town. After spending 4 hours of my day on transit, taking another trip by subway and streetcar was of no interest to me, so why not bike I said. Turns out the answer to that question would open up a much larger world for me. I found an escape from the restricting timetable of transit and I found a new obsession.

After many thousand kilometres the easy-going singlespeed setup of my Marin took me to work and back and recently, on 100+ km rides to my hometown. Now that I work from home my commute needs have changed. My Marin is now my one and only piece of exercise equipment (but you’re more than a ThighMaster to me, bike). My commute is as long as I want it to be as I search for new mobile offices around Toronto, hopefully spending part of my day in a warm space with tasty espresso and wifi. You see, I simply couldn’t give up commuting, that’s how much I loved my morning and evening rides to and from the office.

As I started to venture further and further from the city on my weekend rides I began to feel limited by a singlespeed. Just one more gear option could come in handy on longer climbs or descents. So I began searching for options and with 70+ bicycle shops in Toronto, well the options were plenty.

I test rode touring bikes, road bikes, cyclocrossers and everything in between. I tried out every frame material I could and started to enjoy the feel of drop bars. There are hundreds of beautiful, functional and simply awesome bicycles to be found here in town. Of course, many of the bikes that offered a better frame and components than my existing bicycle cost $1,000+, which when you’re looking for quality is certainly reasonable, but when you’re working on a budget like mine, well, they quickly become out of reach.

Knowing that I really enjoy the ride and position of the Marin Hamilton 29er I started looking at conversion options. With horizontal, rear-facing dropouts the Marin frame would make adding a derailleur challenging (though not impossible) so I began reading about internally geared hubs and the leading manufacturers; Sturmey Archer, Rohloff and Shimano.

With horizontal dropouts, accommodating one of these hubs on the Marin would be relatively simple. So I decided upon the Shimano Nexus Redline 8-speed hub due to the positive reviews online and middle of the road pricing. I paired the hub with a Mavic A 319 rim and chose a Shimano twist shifter.

After one week and a couple hundred kilometres I’m really enjoying the gearing options of the 8-speed hub. Being so used to a singlespeed I find myself sticking to just a few of the gearings, often forgetting that I can switch to higher or lower gears. However, when I do remember the options make the few hills on my daily rides far more enjoyable, both riding up and down.

I took the Marin out for a 35 km rain ride recently and the hub performed flawlessly. Once dry there was no change in performance as well. The hub does add around 3 lbs of weight to the rear of the bike. It is noticeable but doesn’t affect the ride.

I offer many thanks to Martin at Hoopdriver who helped me decide on what parts I’d get and for doing a great job on the installation.

You can learn more about Shimano Nexus parts here.

Be sure to visit the Hoopdriver web site or stop by the shop on College just east of Dufferin.


  1. Nice internal hub gear. You now need to get a full chaincase to protect your chain, gear and your clothing.

  2. Something like this may be really good for preventing the snow/salt of winter roads from gumming up the gears of my bike.

  3. I’m shopping around for one now, balancing out the cost of just putting one on my current bike vs. picking up an old used 3spd or even a nice newer Dutch bike.

  4. I’ve used Sturmy-Archer’s on a number of bikes I’ve owned over the years, including two that I still use. My custom stretch cruiser (Firebike) and my new Birota cargo trike both use a 3-speed Sturmy Archer and I find them great. I especially love the coaster brakes. Reminds me of when I was a kid. More importantly, they are an effective and instantaneous brake system, especially on my cargo trike where they are used in tandem with front caliper brakes. Glad to see internal hubs are making a bit of a come-back. They are less trouble-prone than a derailleur, but more challenging and costly to repair and replace.

  5. Hey Duncan – it’s been a few months now. Any more comments? Still like the hub? Anything you’d have done differently?

  6. Hi Todd, certainly.

    Let’s start with the overall feel of the hub. For the first few months there was a distinctive “squish” feeling every time I shifted to a new gear. As though the gearing would slowly set in, not skip, just set in place. Since the internals are floating in oil, this makes sense. That feeling has since disappeared and shifting is very smooth. I opted to go with a twist-shifter instead a finger/thumb shifter, this was mainly because the twist-shifter was half the price. I regret this decision. Shifting is fine and efficient but I just don’t like the extra width of the shifter grip. I could simply move the shifter closer to the stem and use a full grip, but this wouldn’t work with my existing brake levers, so it will stay as is for now.

    I’m happy with the range, though still find myself using mostly 5 and 6. On steep hills I’ll rarely get to use 8 on the way down and haven’t found anything so steep as to need gear 1 on the way up. For this reason, and for what I’m using this bike for (rides of 50-100 km) I feel I should have stuck with a single speed and just bought a smaller rear cog. If I was commuting daily downtown then the hub would be far more than I’d need.

    As for durability, I’ve had to adjust the cable twice and lube it only once. Each fix took about 5 mins at most. I rode this bike all winter and the hub has held up fantastic. Shifting did get a bit sticky below -20, but it still worked so I’m pleased.

    In the end, I don’t regret getting the hub and I think it works nicely with my bike. I do regret not simply buying a touring bike as I feel that would be more suited to what I’m using the bike for these days.

  7. Cool – it looks like this could be a good decision for me. It seems like my bike is becoming a little of everything at this point. For those who don’t know, I started with a Dahon Cadenza – a full-size (26″) folding bike then added an Xtracycle Free Radical to it to make it something of a folding cargo bike.

    After a ride from Toronto to Quebec City with it both loaded and unloaded I found it to be really great for touring. Super stable when loaded and the weight didn’t feel that bad. I did wish I had a lower low gear, but the highest gear I have did get some use on downhills, particularly flying in to Sherbrooke Quebec at 60 km/hr pushed by a storm-powered tailwind. The geometry is perfect for me. After a few days I settled in to the ride and felt really comfortable in the saddle.

    I tried last winter to buy a beater bike and failed. The bike just wasn’t quite it. This time I am thinking that I might as well just add an internal hub and make *this* my winter bike. Cost permitting, of course.

  8. Brad Kilburn says:

    I’m wondering about servicing these hubs. I’ve heard Shimano recommends changing the oil inside these hubs every 5000 kilometres, then again, I’ve many service shops say they do not need this service.

    I asked a local shop that sells bikes with this hub how much this service costs and it about a quarter to a third of the cost of a new hub. IMHO, that makes the cost of service too high and keeps me away from buying such a hub

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