Lighter than the current eight-speed model, Shimano’s new SG-S700 Alfine hub offers an additional three gear ratios, a wider overall gear range, smaller steps between ratios and improved shifting performance, all packed into a shell no bigger, if less aesthetically pleasing, than the eight.
With a much lower purchase price of somewhere around £350 , it should make an impressive alternative to the market leader in high-end hub gear technology. Hub sealing has been improved to allow use in more challenging conditions, while oil lubrication is used instead of grease to enhance durability and lessen internal resistance. The internals also feature helically-cut gears, which both engage more gradually and run with less vibration than the usual straight-cut gear teeth.
A gear range of 409% and weight of 1600g compare well with the 306% gear range and 1680g of the eight-speed hub. The sprocket fitment kit is all-new as is the 11-speed SL-S700 shift lever, which offers top-normal operation and multi-gear shifting through two innovations labelled Instant Release and Two-Way Release. Both the shifter and hub will initially be offered in silver finish only.
Release date is slated for September 2010.