Recommend an extra-large hybrid bike with an internal hub
July 21, 2014 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to purchase an extra-large hybrid bike with an internal hub. This would be for casual riding with my family, but ideally the bike is somewhat sporty for longer rides and something I can grow into. The bike will not be used for commuting. If the internal hub request makes this bike a unicorn, then recommend a good all-around hybrid.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
Depending on your budget, even various tandem teams use some model of the Rohloff Speedhub. If it can handle 2 riders plus the bike on off-road trails, extra large hybrid should be no problem.

The question then becomes what frame you want to mount it on.
posted by straw at 10:21 AM on July 21, 2014

What's your budget?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:25 AM on July 21, 2014

Any specific reason you want an internal hub? They aren't common on sporty bikes because they're a little less efficient and can have a mushier pedal feel, in addition to being more expensive. Their advantage is more moving parts are sealed inside the hub, so they're lower maintenance, especially in bad weather, but that doesn't matter so much for a non-commuting beginner.
posted by akgerber at 10:25 AM on July 21, 2014

There are more "commuter" bikes with hub gears than "flat bar road bike" or "fitness bike" hybrids with non-suspended forks. [hybrids w/ suspension forks are often called "comfort" bikes now. "Hybrid" seems to have gone out of fashion]
Jamis Commuter 3
Scott Sub 10 [warning: some people have trouble with belt drives squeaking under load, but it its grease-free]

The point about a Roholoff's reliability in the face of big loads is a good one. I've broken a Shimano internally-geared hub by mashing the pedals (when I weighed 240 lb.) with it a little misadjusted between gears. You can buy a new "core" in the U.K., but in the states you have to buy a whole new hub when you break one little part.
posted by morganw at 10:31 AM on July 21, 2014

Seconding questions about why you want an IGH and what your budget is. Further, a definition of "extra-large" is appropriate - how tall are you? IGH's are novel, but their utility is somewhat limited except for regular bike commuters who don't like to clean their bike's drivetrain.

That said, two places to look are the Norco Indie series and, at the very highest end of hybrids, the BMC Alpenchallenge AC01.
posted by saeculorum at 10:33 AM on July 21, 2014

What about a Surly Karate Monkey, stock fork, Jones H Bars, 29x1.9" tires, and the Rohloff or the NuVinci hub?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:39 AM on July 21, 2014

Yeah, I would just assume you find a bike frame you like, then work backwards to build a wheel with the desired hub up in thurr.

That said, I'd check out Surly frames; they're fairly light and can take a beating.

And, I don't know if it is exactly what you're looking for, but the Nuvinci N360 is the creepiest, most awesome hub I've ever had the chance to test-ride. I don't have the cash to make it happen on my bike right now, but it's just a progressive shifter…no steps. It's weird and really comfortable.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: What's your budget?

Since I honestly don't know what's a good price and what's a best buy, let's assume that money is no object (although I probably won't spend more than $1800). If I knew what the best brands/features are, I can work down from there to where I'm comfortable.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: Any specific reason you want an internal hub?

I've never mastered the voodoo of derailleurs and knowing when and how to shift smoothly in an efficient manner. I understand (maybe incorrectly) that an internal hub means I can flip from any gear to any gear without having to smoothly step through all the gears between them. Also, internal hubs mean I can switch gears when I'm stopped.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on July 21, 2014

1800? That's the range where you can afford to walk into a local bike shop and get a surly or salsa frame and build it up just the way you want it. Since you will want the strength of hand built wheels anyways, that's the direction I would go.
posted by rockindata at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2014

You cannot flip between arbitrary gear ratios with an internal hub, except the NuVinci, which isn't used on sporty bikes because it's very heavy. Instead, you step between gears in order, as on a derailleur bike, although an internal hub can shift when you are not pedaling.

If you find a bike with two derailleurs confusing, just set the front one to the middle chainring and ignore it, and your rear derailleur will have the same shifting options as an internal hub.
posted by akgerber at 12:23 PM on July 21, 2014

I understand (maybe incorrectly) that an internal hub means I can flip from any gear to any gear without having to smoothly step through all the gears between them.

That's unfortunately, not quite how internal hubs work either. They still have steps (the Nuvinci I mentioned above has 'infinite' steps, so it's a smooth transition, but you can't jump from a 'high' gear ratio to a 'low' gear ratio without the steps in the middle…). You can tell the gears to switch, but they won't actuate the switch until you start pedaling; which isn't really all that easy on any gear system internal or otherwise.

And yeah, what Rockindata said, with that budget you can have someone build you something from scratch and make it exactly what you want, within pretty reasonable constraints. There are quite a few good bike builders and legit shops in your area. I would hit them up individually for quotes and ideas on what you want to accomplish bike-wise.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2014

The Raleigh Misceo 4.0 suits your needs, and is pretty state-of-the-art in bike technology. It uses a Shimano Nexus 11-speed hub and and the Gates carbon belt-drive, which makes it pretty much maintenance-free as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:45 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If gears are mystifying, I recommend spending time on the late great Sheldon Brown's site. This article is an introduction to gears.

If you decide to have a bike built up, you can elect for only one chainring, meaning only one thing to shift (in the back).
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:41 PM on July 24, 2014

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