An internal gear hub will help you to reduce maintenance and make your bike look a lot slicker. By putting all the gearing mechanisms in a sealed hub, you can benefit from the ability to change gears without needing any derailleurs or clunky groupset.
The best internal gear hubs come as a pre-oiled sealed unit. This makes them one of the best upgrades for your bicycle if you want to improve reliability and reduce maintenance.
Thanks to continued innovation, you can now get the same gear range as with some of the best, more traditional derailleur-based groupsets. However, the most popular internal gear hubs are 3 – 8 speed.
Best internal gear hubs
Sturmey Archer S2C Kick-Shift Hub Kit 36h
Best for simplicityTo kick (pun intended) off the list, we have the Sturmey Archer S2C Kick-Shift Hub Kit 36h. This simple internal gear hub only has 2 gears. However, the reason it is one of the best is the kick-shift feature.
Rather than worry about shifters and gear cables, you change gear on this rear hub by backpedaling slightly. Once you hear the rear hub clicking, you can start pedaling and make use of the 38% higher gear.
This simple internal gear hub is not for everyone, but if you are looking to upgrade a cruiser or city bike, it is perfect. This particular model comes with 36 holes for your spokes, but it is also available for 32h. It may not be a performance-orientated internal rear hub, but it is durable, simple, and unique.
What we love
- The simplicity of not needing shifters or cables
- Enough of a change in gear for city riding or commuting
Shimano Nexus SG-C3000-7R 7-Speed Internally Geared 36h Rear Hub
Best for commutersThis one of the most complete internal gear hubs sets you will be able to get your hands on. The Shimano Nexus SG-C3000-7R 7-Speed comes with 2 cogs (19t/21t), 3 size chainstay clamps, 3 sets of non-turn washers, hub nuts, and cassette joint (axel). Although this may not be the most affordable internal gear hub, it is very reliable, durable, and has an excellent gearing ratio.
This 7-speed internal gear hub from Shimano is an excellent introduction to internal gear hubs for those looking to take their bike on weekend-long adventures. The gear ratio allows for plenty of variation and can easily be paired with a touring or adventure bike. Shimano Nexus gear is really popular due to its high build quality and seamless ability to work whenever you need it.
What we love
- The 7 gears provide a great range, perfect for city rides or more challenging touring adventures.
- Shimano is renowned for high quality and durable components, and this 7-speed internal gear hub is no exception.
Sturmey Archer X-RK4 4 Speed Rear Hub With TSS42 Twist Shifter – DISC
Best for disk brakes
Another entry from Sturmey Archer. Their X-RK4 4 Speed Rear Hub is a more traditional version of an internal gear hub. It is 4 speed and includes the mounts on the hub to install a 6-bolt disk brake.
The gear steps on this hub are smooth, and it comes with a twist shifter you need to make use of the 4 gears you have to choose from.
The aluminum hub shell is anodized for improved durability and a nice shiny finish. This model only comes with 36 holes for your spokes, but that is not an issue, as the more spokes you are using, the more sturdy your wheels will be. For the price, this is a high-quality internal gear hub that is built to last.
Although it is ‘only’ 4 speed, the 28% increments of gearing give you plenty of versatility no matter the terrain.
What we love
- Includes twist shifter
- Reliable gear increments of 28%
Wheel Master Rear Bicycle Wheel 26 x 1 3/8 36H, Steel Bolt On, Silver, Sturmey 3SP Hub
You may have come here for some inspiration for a new internal gear hub, but unless you did not already realize, installing a new internal gear hub is not as easy as replacing a cassette on a traditional groupset.
If you do not fancy attempting (or paying a professional) to build you a new rear wheel, you can skip the queue and get this ready-built rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub built-in and ready to go.
Not only do you get the wheel, but this kit also comes with the shifter and cables you need to get this set up. This kit is perfect if you want an affordable (and, to be honest, lazy) way of upgrading your single speed or cruiser to a 3-speed bike.
The Sturmey 3 speed is a decent internal gear hub, and it is surprising to find such an affordable rear wheel with it included. This wheel is 26 x 1 ⅜, which is quite a unique size, so you may have to invest in a new tire, but given the time you will save by not needing to build a wheel, it is worth considering.
What we love
- Take all the stress (and cost) out of having built an internal gear hub into a wheel
- Very affordable introduction into the low maintenance world of internal gear hubs
- The Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub is reliable and has plenty of gear steps for city and weekend bike rides
Shimano Nexus SG-C6000-8C 8-Speed Internally Geared Coaster Brake Rear 36h Hub
To round off the list of the best internal gear hubs, we have another entry from Shimano’s Nexus range. However, the Nexus SG-C6000-8C has an extra trick up its sleeve. Not only do you get 8 seamless and nicely spread out gears, but this hub also comes with a coaster brake.
That means that you can still coast as with all the other internal gear hubs on this list. However, if you backpedal, a brake is engaged without you having to use your hands.
Coaster brakes take some getting used to, and you need to know that if you try to backpedal, the rear wheel will come to a stop. However, once you are used to the mechanism, it makes coming to a controlled stop a lot easier.
The Shimano Nexus SG-C6000-8C 8-Speed is a little noisy when you first start using it; however, once it is ‘bedded in’ it becomes near-silent and super reliable.
What we love
- The addition of a coaster brake gets rid of clutter on your handlebars and once you get used to it makes for controlled and simple handling
- Once you have put a few miles into the rear hub, it runs smooth and near-silent. This is an internal gear hub that is built to last.
If you are searching for the best internal gear hub, you have probably done some research already and are well aware of the work and additional cost involved in upgrading your bike to have an internal gear hub. However, here are some pointers and things to consider before you go out and purchase an internal gear hub.
Firstly, an internal gear hub is not something that you can just plug in, and away you go. You are replacing the central console of your rear wheel. To do this, you need to respoke and basically rebuild your rear wheel.
If you are savvy and have all the right equipment, this can be a gratifying but time-consuming endeavor. A lot of people prefer to employ the assistance of a professional bike mechanic. Especially because if something goes wrong with your rear wheel, your ride would be over, and if it collapses mid-ride, you are in for a nasty fall.
Before buying an internal gear hub, you need to check that the dimensions fit your current setup. In particular, ensure that the width will be able to fit your frame. Most of those listed above will suit any modern bike. However, a popular reason for getting an internal gear hub is a popular reason to restore and upgrade an older frame.
Also, consider the parts coming as part of the package. You may need to buy an axel, cables, shifter, washers, cogs, etc. If you are attempting to build the wheel yourself, do plenty of research on sites like Youtube that offer plenty of handy and detailed tutorials for various bike types.
Internal Gear Hub Installation Video
The spoke count is simply how many holes the internal gear hub has to allow for the installation of spokes. You will generally find that the best internal gear hubs have 32h to 36h.
You can also get some with 28 or even less, however bearing in mind that this is an investment for the life span of your bike, you are better off going for the more robust construction afforded by a higher spoke count.
A coaster brake is a great addition to an internal gear hub. A coaster brake means that you do not have to have a separate lever for a rear brake. Instead, you rely on your legs and backpedal when you want to stop.
You will often find that internal gear hubs with a coaster brake are more robust as they have been designed to withstand more pressure from the force of stopping the wheel from turning.
Although it does take some getting used to, an internal gear hub with a coaster brake is perfect for city or cruiser bikes. Not only does it make the bike look sleeker and reduce maintenance, but it also provides very effective and efficient braking power.
The reason they are called ‘Coaster Brakes’ is that they still allow you to coast. Unlike a fixed gear, you do not have to keep pedaling while the rear wheel turns.
Nor do you rely on your leg power when you backpedal. The action of backpedaling engages the brake mechanism that is hidden inside the rear hub.
Why would I want an internal gear hub?
Internal gear hubs are super simple, low maintenance, and incredibly fun to ride. Because they are an enclosed system, you do not have to worry about the elements slowly wearing them away or spend any time cleaning or oiling them.
For the ultimate low-maintenance bike, you can also replace your chain with a belt-drive, which means no more lubing or cleaning your chain. But one step at a time, an internal gear hub is excellent for commuting, city bike, and cruisers. They are also favored among some bike packers and cycling adventurers.
Due to your bike not having any derailleurs hanging down, not only does the bike look cooler, but you have less chance of things going wrong or accidentally damaging the drivetrain if you drop your bike. This is one of the reasons that investing in an internal gear hub is a lifetime investment.
Are internal gear hubs worth the cost?
Yes, but do not forget that you are not just paying for the internal gear hub. Buying an internal gear hub will reduce the amount of time and money you spend maintaining your bike. However, the initial investment is relatively high.
That is one reason why getting the best internal gear hub the first time around is so important. By far, the most cost-effective way of reaping the benefits of riding an internal gear hub is by buying a complete set, including wheel and shifters (such as Wheel Master Rear Bicycle Wheel)
The best internal gear hubs have all the gears you need for your local terrain and riding style, in addition to being reliable and built to last. Upgrading to an internal gear hub is not a very cheap investment, but it is worth it in the long run. Especially if you want to save money and time on maintenance going forward.
Just make sure you factor in the additional costs of buying all the parts you need to have a complete system and do not get sucked into buying the cheapest internal gear hub online. This is a bit of kit that you will want to last as long as your bike does, so go for quality brands such as Shimano or Sturmey Archer.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.