Alfie going in for repair… well, his back wheel

I have now had Alfie just over two months and absolutely love riding him!

I am really, really impressed by the dynamo in the front right hand side wheel – it makes life so easy to be able to have lights whenever I want without worrying about batteries. Also the Busch & Müller IQ Cyo Senso Plus light is incredibly bright and I don’t need another light at all (except for mending punctures in the dark!).

I have found the seat very, very comfortable. When I go out on the old trike I find the seat seems very slippery and doesn’t hold you in as well. It’s also clear, when I get on the old trike, that the boom is higher with Alfie. This may explain why I had some muscle tiredness when I first started riding the new trike.

But all is not entirely rosy in this garden. Unfortunately Alfie’s back wheel is going on a little trip tomorrow to Madison, the Shimano distributor for the UK. The reason being that his Alfine hub gear seems to be playing up.

The Alfine hub gear (before the chain was attached!

Those who have read my reports from Berlin will see I had a few gear problems whilst away. In summary, gears 2 and 4 in the Alfine hub have started slipping so badly that they are unusable. If you change into that gear you get a horrible crunching sound when you put the trike under any sort of load and it skips into neutral, suddenly catching again and giving you power for half a pedal-revolution, before jumping into neutral with a nasty banging sound.

Now Alfine 11s are meant to have an oil change at 1,000 miles and every 5,000 thereafter. It turns out this oil is rather difficult to get hold of (out of stock everywhere until early October). I have now done 1,350 miles on Alfie so am over that distance by a reasonable way. However, the combined wisdom of ICE (Inspired Cycle Engineering), BikePhil in Berlin and Colchester Cycle Stores suggest that the problems I am having seem far more significant than needing an oil change, even if I were able to source the oil (which, magically, I was finally able to do and I now have some!)

ICE contacted Madison, the Shimano reseller, and they have agreed to look at the hub and possibly exchange it under warranty. So they are sending a courier to collect the back wheel tomorrow morning and it will be looked at.

This is disappointing but I’m glad it’s getting sorted as some of the other gears have now started playing up. Plus climbing steep hills with only gears 1, 3 and 5 to choose from has meant my knees are complaining a bit, and I seem less able to get away quickly at traffic lights when I gave to shift from 1st directly to 3rd.

I hope to get a report of what was actually going on in the hub when it returns. It all seems a bit of a mystery, locked inside that nice shiny chrome outer…

Wheel has now been collected. Poor Alfie looks rather forlorn!

A two-wheeled vehicle!


I had an email from Madison today to say that they have replaced the internals of the hub and it will be making its way back to me later today, hurrah.

The very helpful Madison contact Huw included a photograph of himself “prepping the hub shell for the new internals.”

So I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road with Alfie again. The Trice Q is still a good machine but I am decidedly used to disc brakes now…

Another Update

On Friday morning the postman delivered a very large box marked “Shimano” – this was my back wheel with replacement hub.

I couldn’t check it out until the afternoon (too much work to do in the morning!) but eventually I unwrapped the box (indeed, it was my wheel!)

I would never be employed by the Tour de France teams to change back wheels as I am slow at it and always end up oily. True to form it took ten minutes to fit and I ended up oily, but all looked good and after I had washed most of the oil off my hands I went out for a ride.

15 miles later and it was clear that all was fixed. Gear changes were lovely and smooth and all the gears worked fine. Since then I’ve done another 60 miles or so and it’s still brilliant. Here’s hoping this hub isn’t afflicted by the same mystery ailment as the last one but I am confident all will be well. And I now know who to contact if it does go wrong…


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