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From the workshop: Alfine internal gear hub oil change and deep clean

Updated: 5 days ago

This article deals with two basic maintenance tasks for the Shimano Alfine internal gear hub; oil change and deep clean. The Shimano Alfine comes in two main versions: Alfine 500, which is 8-speed and Alfine 700, which is 11-speed. Aside from the gearing range, there are also quite a few other differences between these two versions. For example, although both uses oil bath for lubrication, only the Alfine 700 can be drained and refilled without disassembly. There are also some differences (and incompatibilities) between the parts used. This articles deals with the Alfine 700, sometimes also referred to as Inter-11. If you are looking to replace a worn out belt on a Gates Carbon Drive system with Alfine 11, you might be interested in this article.


Oil change

The oil change 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. The part number for the oil maintenance kit from Shimano is TL-S703. Note that this kit does not include the oil, which has part number Y-13098481. The oil is readily available from a number of internet stores.

The parts needed to change oil on an Alfine hub

Step 1 - Preparations

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.

Alfine hub put to good use

Step 2 - Drain old oil

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.

Drawing out used oil from the Alfine hub

Step 3 - Cleaning

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 1-3 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.

Fresh oil for the Alfine hub

Step 4 - Fill new oil

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.


Deep clean

The oil clean procedure outlined above is certainly quick, and as recommended by Shimano, but it wont help you much in cleaning out the 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. The disassembly process consists of four main steps:

  1. Removing the hub from the shell

  2. Disassembling the hub itself (optional)

  3. Cleaning the shell, cassette joint and hub

  4. Refitting the hub to the shell

Step two is optional, and way too complicated for us, as it entails disassembly of the hub itself. So far we havent seen the need to do this and get by fine by just cleaning the exterior of the hub and the interior of the shell, including the cassette joint. If you feel frisky and want to do the full disassembly, JB over at Cycling UK Forum has an excellent walk-through. The three other steps are described below, inspired by a great article from AdamK's Cycling & Travel. In the following we name the different parts according to Shimanos dealer-manual for the Alfine SG-700.


Step 1 - Removing the hub from the shell

  1. Remove the wheel from the bike and start on the non drive side by removing the disc brake rotor (C). Its a good idea to get the rotor out of the way as soon as possible, so it wont get contaminated during the process. This is also a good opportunity to clean the rotor itself, if thats needed.

  2. Switch over to the drive side and remove the cassette joint (1). This is done by turning the small plastic lever on the cassette joint counter-clockwise. Once the two yellow dots are aligned, simply lift it up and remove it.

  3. Remove the driver cap (2). You can easily pry it up with a flat screwdriver. As with all things on these hubs, be gentle. Remember which side is up on the driver cap.

  4. Remove the snap ring (3). This one you must also pry off with a flat screwdriver, but it is a good bit more fiddly than the driver cap. The snap ring has no up or down side, so you dont need to pay attention to which way it is facing.

  5. With the snap ring out of the way, the sprocket of choice (4) should now be loose and can simply be lifted up. Although it is obvious for some sprockets which side should be facing up, e.g. for belt sprockets, its good practice to take note of which side is facing up. On some chain sprockets the sprocket can be flipped in order to adjust the chain line.

  6. Remove the right hand dustcap b (5). At this point the dustcap will be completely loose and can just be lifted up. Note which side is facing up.

  7. Remove the chain guard. You might need a flat screw driver to pry it up, but usually you can also just do this by hand. Note which side is facing up.

  8. Switch over to the non drive side. Unscrew the lock nut (D) and cone (E). Use a spanner to keep the cone from spinning when undoing the nut. You need 15mm and 17mm cone spanners for this purpose. Also, note which side is facing up on these two items.

  9. Switch back to the drive side and position the wheel horizontally. Unscrew the right hand dustcap (6) and remove it. Note that you must turn it clockwise to unscrew. Be particularly careful not to damage this part, as this is the main seal for the hub. Pay attention to which side is facing up. You might be able to unscrew the dustcap by hand, but Shimano also offers a special tool for this purpose, the Shimano TL-AF10.

  10. At this point, the top of the hub internals (F) should be visible and nothing, except gravity, is holding the hub internals in place in the shell. Remove the hub internals from the shell by simply, gently, lifting it straight up. It will be dripping of oil, so have a suitable, and clean place, ready to park it. Thats it for the disassembly. Next up is the cleaning.

The Shimano Alfine after basic disassembly

Step 2 - Cleaning the shell, cassette joint and hub

  1. Let the hub internals rest for a while so most of the oil will seep out.

  2. Clean the interior of the hub shell. At this point AdamK recommends to pack the non-drive side bearing with fresh grease and grease the seals in the cone and drive side dust cap.

  3. Use a cloth to clean off the different parts. Do not use water or any detergents. The cassette joint is an exception to this. To rinse the joint we find it useful to submerge it completely in water and then rotate the gear lever back and forth repeatedly. We believe this to be ok since the cassette joint is mounted outside all the seals in the final assembly.


Step 3 - Refitting the hub to the shell

  1. Once all the parts are cleaned, you are ready to re-assemble the Alfine. Start on the drive side, by gently reinserting the hub internals into the shell. You may need to wiggle the hub internals a bit, so it matches up with the internal grooves of the hub shell.

  2. Attach and fasten the right hand dustcap (6). Do not overtighten, as this could damage the threads and seal. Hand tight will do. Remember that you have to screw counter-clockwise to tighten.

  3. Flip over to the non drive side and fasten the cone (E) and lock nut (D). Pay attention to get the correct side facing up, particularly on the lock nut. You must get the tightening of these two items right - unless you will strain the bearings when riding. JB over at Cycling UK Forum has an excellent tip to dial in the tightening correctly. He says: "Place finger and thumb over the lock nut so that they are touching the hub, move the wheel rim up and down and feel for a slight bit of play through your thumb. If none is detected back of the cone until it is. Then by small increments turn back the cone and nip the lock nut until the play is almost undetectable then tighten the lock nut."

  4. Switch back over to drive side and snap on chain guard (5). It should just click into place.

  5. Slip on right hand dustcap b. It just sits there and will be kept in place by the sprocket.

  6. Fit the sprocket of choice (4). Some sprockets just slip on, while others may be need to be snapped on. If you have a sprocket that requires to be snapped on, the Gates SureFit installation tool will be of great help. Although a bit more fiddly, it can also be done without this tool, which is quite costly by the way. Note that some sprockets for chains may be flipped in order to adjust the chain line. So take care to mount it with the same side facing up, as when you removed it.

  7. Fit the snap ring (3). This can be a bit fiddly. We find it to be a good tip to use two small flat headed screwdrivers, and pry it on. Make sure that the snap ring seats correctly.

  8. Click on the driver cap (2) and pay attention to have the correct side facing up.

  9. Attach the cassette joint (1). Make sure the two yellow dot are aligned, and then secure the joint in place by sliding the lever clockwise.

  10. Switch over to the non drive side and attach the disc brake rotor (C), followed by the rotor spacer (B) and finally the disc brake rotor installation ring (A). Tighten the installation ring according to the recommended torque.

  11. Place the wheel in the frame and tighten the fastening bolts. In our experience it is necessary to tighten these to around 40 nm. You could probably get away with a bit less, if you apply some Loctite or similar. Do not use grease on the Alfine fastening bolts as it may prevent the threads from properly engaging. Finally, connect the gearing cable to the cassette joint.

  12. ROLL OUT!


Please send us an email if you have comments or questions to this article, or comment below. We are more than happy to update it!

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4 Comments


john.nor
Sep 19, 2022

This is how I change my Alfine 11 oil.

Basic engineering maintenance here but when changing the oil on your car it is best undertaken when the engine is warm, the oil is less viscose & runs out better. It is the same principles with your IGHs.

Knowing oil runs smoother when it is warm have your hairdryer to hand, attach the hose & invert the wheel, warm the hub so the oil is thinner & it ensures all of it is removed with the syringe, take your time to let all the old oil drain out

For refilling Shimano missed a little detail, ie, another hole in the hub body to release the pressure when the syringe is being…

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Blu Acciaio Editor
Blu Acciaio Editor
Apr 07, 2023
Replying to

Dear John.nor! These are really good tips. Thank you for contributing to the community! All the best from us at 2blua!

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mirosan
Aug 05, 2022

Would you not recommend swishing in some kerosene and running the shifter and pedals around some prior to doing the cleaning oil and final oil fill? Also Im thinking if it would be a good idea to add a little ptfe to the oil to further cut down on friction. It should make quite a difference as it does in chain lubricants. Lastly, it's been quite a few years since you've published this article, how are the hubs behaving and wearing? Mine is a few years old at this point and behaving quite nicely although I have found the source of the shifting woes - the shifter's barrel adjuster threads allow the adjuster to slowly work it's self out o…

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Blu Acciaio Editor
Blu Acciaio Editor
Aug 10, 2022
Replying to

Dear Mirosan! Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your insights with the 2blua community. I have read on the interweb that some other riders indeed use petrol to clean the hub, and also that they use automatic transmission fluid for the oil bath, instead of the recommended oil from Shimano, e.g. https://www.mtbr.com/threads/alfine-servicing-guide.570119/ From what I gather it works fine and is a lot cheaper as well. But I am pretty sure it breaks the warranty, so I stick with the Shimano oils for both cleaning and the oil bath. My hub is almost five years now and close to 20.000 km. It runs super smooth, but I have the same experience as you with the shifters barrel…

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