When it comes to gearing, you have many options to choose from. There are mountain bike groupsets such as Deore and SRAM SX, road bike groupsets such as Ultegra and SRAM Rival, and city bike groups such as the Shimano Nexus and Alfine.
City bike groupsets are less mainstream than road, gravel, and mountain bike groups but still incredibly popular in some cycling groups. A question often asked is whether I should use Shimano Nexus or Alfine.
In this article, we’re going to be answering that question.
- What Are Touring Bike Groupsets?
- Shimano Nexus Vs. Alfine Comparison
- Which Is Best For You: Shimano Nexus Or Alfine?
What Are City Bike Groupsets?
Shimano Nexus and Alfine are classed as city and town bike groupsets even though they are commonly used in many other applications, such as touring and even on some hybrid bikes.
They are made not for extreme climbing or speed but for ease of use and reliability. This means you have simple but effective shifting, components designed for miles of use with no maintenance, and cheap and easy to repair.
Shimano is the leading brand when it comes to bike components, and both the Nexus and the Alfine are incredible options of theirs to choose from. Which is the best and the right one for you?
Shimano Nexus Vs Alfine Comparison
Now for the fun part, let’s start comparing these two groupsets. Alfine and Nexus are unique as groupsets because they are internally geared hubs.
This means the gearing is hidden in the rear wheel, making it more reliable and allowing it to last much longer without maintenance.
Although an ideal solution, when it comes to working on them, it can be more challenging as they are harder to get to and more complex inside. Aside from that, here’s what you need to know when it comes to real-world differences:
The first thing to mention is cost. When it comes to buying components from either groupset, you will find that Nexus is cheaper than Alfine. Nexus is generally more basic than Alfine, which is reflected in the price.
Both groupsets are easy to assemble. They are very similar systems. The Alfine or Nexus Di2 system may be more complicated.
This is electronic and might take a little more time and research to get it right. Overall, both are easy for a mechanic to install.
Regarding technology, the Alfine and Nexus differ greatly. It’s not just components we discuss later, but the geared hubs are very different. Firstly, the nexus is greased when the Alfine uses oil bath lubrication.
The Nexus is a straight-cut with a single-release system. The Alfine is a helical gear system with a multi-release system. There are huge differences internally, with Alfine being a little more refined.
You also, in both groupsets, have options for dynamo hubs, which means you can power lights or charge on the go. Although not as common as before, it’s a very good way to go, and even many long-distance cyclists use them.
When it comes to speeds, both Nexus and Alfine offer 8-speed options in the modern-day selections. However, Alfine offers an 11-speed option if you live in a hilly city or town, which will give you more range and ability.
Although 3 speeds might not seem like much, it does make a big difference. Not only does it give you more options to choose from, but you can get lower and higher options if you find yourself struggling to get up or down hills at the speeds you want.
Stopping is very important, and having good brakes goes a long way on a bike. When it comes to internal hub gearing, you get to pick braking systems that you want to use, and you have to stick to them as they are not interchangeable.
Nexus offers coaster brake, roller brake, V-brake, and disc brake compatible options but not their own Nexus disc brake calipers. Alfine currently offers only disc brake options on Shimano’s website.
Although Nexus offers more options for compatibility, the future is disc brakes. They are much more efficient, convenient to use and service, and incredibly powerful.
If you need compatibility, then Nexus is the way forward. Performance, Alfine disc brake options are the best.
When it comes to shifting, there’s a huge difference between Nexus and Alfine. The Nexus shifter is a classic roll-shifting system, which is okay, but again, it’s quite old-school technology, and means it’s harder to brake when shifting gears.
On Alfine, you have the options between modern mountain bike trigger shifters, and even if you are using hydraulic brakes, they have a road bike-style brake option for drop handlebars. Alfine definitely takes the win here.
When it comes to weight, it’s challenging to differentiate as there are many different setup options. Overall, the Alfine is made of lighter, more efficient components than the Nexus, but depending on how you set it up, it could be heavier or lighter.
The bottom bracket on the Nexus systems and Alfine systems are very different. Nexus uses a square taper bottom bracket, and Alfine uses a modern style hollowtech bottom bracket. Both will work fine, but the hollow tech is overall better.
Which Is Best For You Shimano Nexus Or Alfine?
Both Nexus and Alfine are incredible gearing systems. They offer incredible reliability and require next to no maintenance. There’s little in it, but here’s what I would recommend.
For price and simplicity, consider using Nexus. It’s important to remember it’s quite old technology, and if you can pair it up with better disc brakes, then you will have a better cycling experience than using roller brakes.
If you are happy to spend a little more money, then Alfine is going not just to offer better options for shifters, but you can opt for 11 speed over 8. You can add modern parts to the setup, such as a better bottom bracket, chain tensioners, and better brakes.
In modern times, many people tend to go with either Alfine or a mix of Nexus and Alfine where they are compatible. With these systems, the options for the perfect setup are endless.
A Final Note
Shimano Nexus and Alfine are excellent systems for enjoying great gearing and braking on your bike. We can’t recommend them highly enough.
Whatever route you choose to take, you are going to have an amazing experience.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.