Long-term readers of my blog will know that Alfie, my ICE Sprint, had his hub gear internals changed in September 2011, after I’d ridden him a 1300 miles, due to skipping of gears/slipping into neutral.
The new hub gear worked fine and I got quite adept at the oil changes and even changed the sprocket (see various blog posts). 17,000 miles passed, and I noticed that when I did an oil change in late August 2013 that I wasn’t able to get that much oil out. I’d seen some evidence of it oozing out over time (I had to occasionally wipe traces of oil from the outside of the hub) but wasn’t particularly worried.
I happened to send an email to my contact Huw at Madison to ask him if this was normal. I’d read reports on the web of people with Alfine-11s having a bit of oil loss when the bikes were stored lying down. Obviously that’s never the case with Alfie, his rear wheel is always vertical (except when I fold him which is for very short distances in the car and only occasionally) so that wasn’t likely to be the problem for me. But I wasn’t unduly concerned, just thought I’d send Huw an email to check.
He replied that it shouldn’t leak but that Shimano had changed the seals they use on the hub now. He offered to swap the seals for me sometime so we arranged for my wheel to go to him when I was having a short holiday in Germany in early December and wouldn’t be using the trike.
So Alfie’s rear wheel returned to Madison on Milton Keynes for the third time in early December.
Huw had a look and sent me the following message:
Bad news I’m afraid, I’ve discovered the cause of the leak from your hub, but it’s not going to be repairable.
Unfortunately the disc rotor mount has split from the main body of the hub, I’ll have to strip your wheel down and rebuild it for you.
If your happy with me sorting it all out then I can go ahead but it may take a bit longer than expected. Should be back with you early next week?
So that was a bit of a surprise, particularly as I don’t have a disc rotor on the rear wheel so the mount is entirely unused. He explained further:
It is interesting as to how it’s failed, I’m not quite sure what’s gone on, Shimano will want to see it back.
To be fair, you probably wouldn’t have seen it, if you’ve not got a rotor installed then there is a little black cover that goes over it (which was installed).
And then he made another offer:
Having looked at your hub to strip down the spokes/nipples, it looks like your rim is probably on it’s way out, the braking surface is pretty worn.
Would you be able to see if ICE have a replacement wheel available for you? I can cover the cost of the wheel under warranty for you.
It’s worth noting here that the rear rim only has the parking brake, not brakes for normal use, so it’s impressive that I’ve worn the rim out. However this can be explained by the fact I often forget to take the brake off and ride for a mile or two thinking it’s very hard work and my legs are rubbish before I realise! I haven’t been that good at adjusting it to hold very tightly so you can actually move the trike with the brake on.
I agreed to the new rim and spokes (very sensible plan!) and contacted ICE who sent Huw the rim and spokes directly and explained to him how it’s all laced (not as you lace a usual bike rear wheel as it has almost no dishing).
He sent me a message to say the rim and spokes had arrived and then gave me another option:
Did you want a black or silver hub? (you had silver originally but black is available too).
Well of course I went for black for the variety (and it might not look so dirty!).
So after a couple of days the parcel came from Madison, extremely well wrapped up with sticky tape!
And inside was my shiny new wheel with shiny new hub.
I fitted the wheel back on Alfie and all looked great.
I’ve now ridden Alfie with the new hub gear for 350 miles and it’s working really well. It’s a little bit smoother than the old hub (which had covered a fair distance), although it’s still in its running in period. I’ll need to do an oil change on it in another 500 or so miles.
It’s looking a bit muddier now, of course, but I like the black colour very much!
Thanks again to Huw at Madison who has been so brilliantly helpful to me over several years. I wrote a letter to the Chief Executive of Madison praising Huw’s helpfulness so hopefully he got a bit of credit for all the advice and support he’s given me. He did tell me that he’s now changed his job within Madison and is no longer in the Warranty department so I hope that Alfie’s new hub behaves itself so I don’t have to contact a new person at Madison and start annoying them! Mind you, with my new velomobile I expect Alfie will get less use so hopefully the hub will have an easier time of it.
Once again, full marks to Madison for customer service – they have been brilliant.