What are Internal Gear Hubs?
September 24, 2023
With the rising popularity of electric bikes, more and more have discovered the numerous benefits of ebiking ultimately making it a no-brainer choice for sustainable and cost-effective transportation. It has pushed ebike brands to refine and improve the experience with their new technology to improve the overall experience for riders. One of those refinements is the introduction of the internally geared hub.
In this article, we will lay out what internal gear hubs are, their pros and cons, and other considerations to understand when deciding if it is the right choice for your ebike purchase.
What is an Internal Gear Hub?
Internal gear hub (IGH) systems replace the traditional derailleur system and house the multiple gears needed in the enclosed hub of the rear wheel. Since the gears are enclosed and not exposed to the elements, they offer several advantages to the traditional cassette and derailleur system.
Advantages of an Internal Gear Hub
IGH hubs are known for their low maintenance requirements. They are sealed units that protect the internal components from dirt, debris, and weather, reducing the need for frequent cleaning and adjustment compared to external gear systems.
Reduced Wear and Tear:
Traditional chain and derailleur systems can suffer from wear and tear due to chain slippage and constant gear shifting. IGH hubs mitigate these issues since they minimize strain on the drivetrain and offer the option to use a belt instead of a chain. Belt-drive bikes offer a cleaner and lower maintenance alternative to chains.
Ease of Use:
IGH hubs are incredibly user-friendly. Shifting is typically done with a twist-grip, handlebar-mounted shifter, making it easy for riders of all skill levels to find the right gear.
IGH hubs are versatile and suitable for a wide range of bikes however you will typically see them more often on ebikes that are meant for commuting, hauling, and urban riding.
IGH hubs are designed for durability, and many models are built to withstand the rigors of everyday cycling. There is no need to worry if the derailleur is not perfectly aligned or the hanger is bent.
Disadvantages of Internal Gear Hubs
While the weight difference between IGH and traditional drivetrains is slight, typically, an IGH hub will add between one to two pounds to a bicycle’s scale weight. This is why traditional derailleur systems are preferred amongst competitive performance riders and professionals because every ounce counts when they are competing.
IGH systems tend to have a higher upfront cost, so the choice between IGH and traditional derailleur systems depends on individual riding preferences and budget considerations.
Some cyclists, particularly those who require precise gear ratios for competitive or performance-oriented riding, may prefer traditional derailleur systems.
What is a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)?
A Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) hub is an internal gear hub that uses similar mechanics, but instead of cogs or metal sprockets, they use metal ball bearings inside the hub to transmit power. Certain companies have employed this design for their hubs and call this “continuous variable transmission” technology as the spherical bearings within the hub take away the need for numerical gear shifting. This design provides additional benefits over the classic IGH design.
Advantages of CVT Hubs
Smoother, Seamless Shifting:
CVT hubs provide a smooth and stepless shifting experience. Unlike IGH systems, which shift between distinct gears, CVTs offer an infinite range of gear ratios. This allows riders to find the perfect gear for any incline or riding condition without abrupt gear changes.
Effortless Shifting Under Load:
Traditionally, you cannot switch gears from a dead stop without running the risk of misaligning your derailleur. For example, if you are in a high gear and come to a stop without switching to a lower gear, you would need to start pedaling again to switch back down. With a CVT, whether you are riding or stationary, you can shift and change gear ratios without any awkward stop-and-go pedaling.
Improved Riding Comfort:
The smooth and uninterrupted power delivery of CVT hubs enhances riding comfort, especially when climbing hills or facing varying terrain. There are no noticeable jumps or jerks during gear changes, providing a more enjoyable and controlled ride.
CVT hubs tend to be even quieter than IGH systems. There is no clicking or clanging associated with gear changes, which can be particularly beneficial when riding in quiet areas or during early morning rides. Couple this with the integration of a belt drive system and your ride experience is nearly silent.
Enviolo’s CVT Technology
Enviolo brand CVT hubs are termed “continuous variable planetary” systems due to the ball-bearing design encased in the rear hub. They offer the best quality CVT hubs in the market. This is why we improved our groundbreaking mid-drive model, the Prodigy, with the Enviolo Trekking hub as an option.
Prodigy v2 – Mid-Drive Ebike with Enviolo Trekking CVT Hub
Understanding all the benefits a CVT hub provides, Ride1Up has developed the industry-disrupting Prodigy v2 – It pairs the Enviolo Trekking CVT Hub with the German-engineered Brose™ mid-drive motor along with a Gates Carbon belt drive. This pairing is a match made in ebike heaven bringing performance technology into a package that is mind-blowinginly affordable.
All systems work in harmony to yield the absolute premium riding experience for a fraction of the cost of any comparably equipped electric bike in the market. With value and performance at the core of Ride1Up’s DNA, the evolution of electric biking just made a huge leap to your doorstep.
While internal gear hubs can be a bit more expensive, they may be a better option considering the benefit of overall lower maintenance. Those benefits are compounded if you choose one that has a continuously variable transmission like that in the Prodigy v2. Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding and can confidently choose between a traditional derailleur system and an internal gear hub with CVT.