From the workshop: Alfine internal gear hub oil change
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
This is another article in our article series: "From the workshop". In these series we write brief notes on bicycle maintenance, ranging from wiring of dynamos to basic service of internal gear hubs. These articles will sometimes deal with the most obvious of maintenance tasks, but still we find them useful as reminders for our future selves, and perhaps also for some of you other amateur mechanics out there..
This article deals with oil change on an Alfine internal gear hub. This should be done every 5 000 kms or about every 12 months, whichever comes first. The procedure is super simple. All you need is a canister or similar to dispose of the used oil, some sheets of paper, a syringe with a capacity of at least 25 ml, an Allen key of 3 mm, two tubes with bleed nipples and 50 ml oil for the Alfine-system.
1. Start out with positioning the bike so the wheel is upright, either by using a stand or by turning the bike upside down. Rotate the wheel so the oil port is facing upwards. Give the bolt of the oil port and surrounding area a quick clean. You have to reuse the same bolt after you have inserted new oil, so make sure not to toss it away, and keep that o-ring in place on the bolt.
2. Unscrew the bolt of the oil port and attach one of the tubes with bleed nipples. According to the instructions you should use a wrench to secure it with 1-3 nm, but we have always gotten by just fine securing it finger tight. Once the tube is in place, connect it to the syringe. Make sure the piston is fully inserted at this time. Turn the wheel so the oil port is facing downward and wait about 5 minutes to allow the oil to trickle down to the oil port. When the 5 minutes have passed, slowly retract the piston to draw out the used oil from the hub. Take your time, and you might also move the piston back and forth a little, to get out as much of the oil as possible. When you are satisfied, rotate the wheel so the oil port is facing upwards once again and remove the syringe. Dispose of the used oil in the syringe using a canister.
3. Fill the syringe with 25 ml of clean Alfine oil. With the wheel still in the same position, secure the syringe to the hub with one of the tubes with bleed nipple. Its not a big deal, but we usually use one tube for unused oil and the other tube for used oil. Now, insert the 25 ml of new oil into the hub. Take your time and do it slowly, so it wont push back as the pressure in the hub increases. After you have inserted the oil, secure the bolt for the oil port to about 2-3 nm with the Allen key. Turn the pedals while you alternate through the gears, so all the barrels inside the hub are cleaned with the new oil. You should do this for about 1 minute.
4. When you are done cleaning the inside of the hub, cf. step 3, repeat step 2 to drain the oil once again. When the oil is drained, you are ready to insert another 25 ml of new oil, cf. step 3. After you have done this, you are all good to go, with 25 ml of fresh oil well in place inside the now cleaned hub.
Doing this regular oil change is also a good opportunity to check the hub and rims for cracks. Make sure to not get any of the hub oil on the brake rotor.
The procedure outlined here is certainly quick, and as recommended by Shimano, but it wont help you much in cleaning out these tiny pieces of metal shrapnel that can build up inside the hub over time, particularly during the break-in period. To do that you need to disassemble the hub and clean the interior. Have a look at this excellent and easy to follow article from AdamK's Cycling & Travel for guidance on how to do that.