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I have a touring bike with road-style Shimano brifters, which I love. I'm also very intrigued by internal-gear hubs, but these hubs seem to focus on rotary or push-button shifters.

Is it possible to run an internal-gear hub, especially one of the 11-, 12-, or 14-speed ones, with road-style brifters? And if so, what parts would be needed?

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Basically, you need to somehow arrange for the cable distance traveled between gears to match. It could be miraculously matched already, or you might have to use an interposer, which you might have to make yourself. Success would not be assured. And keep in mind that you can practically only use one brifter, so your number of gears would be limited to ten max. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 3 '12 at 18:18
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I have an IGH (Rohloff) with two non-springed cables, one to pull in one direction and other to pull in the other direction. It would be nice to have one lever on for each hand to change gears using the thumbs like a rapid-fire MTB shifter, instead of the cumbersome twist-shifter it has, but it would for sure involve some clockwork-building skills and tools that few people have. Brifters most probably wouldnt be very usable for that, I think. –  heltonbiker Jun 3 '12 at 21:55
    
Heltonbiker, if you build something like that I suspect a lot of Rohloff-owners would love you. It comes up regularly on their wish-lists. You might sell, oh, dozens! –  Kohi Jun 4 '12 at 5:20
    
The 3-speed fixie hub from Sturmey-Archer has a brifter option, as do some of the other SA hubs. You can get brifters with 5-10 indents, but not more I think, so getting 11 or more gears would mean friction shifting. Which most hubs do not like. Brifters would also struggle to move enough cable for most hubs. –  Kohi Jun 4 '12 at 5:24
    
It's sounding like the answer is "no"; if nobody else puts that as an answer soon, I'll do so and accept it. –  Reid Jun 4 '12 at 13:48
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Based on the number of other people asking the same question around the internet, I suspect the answer is no.

This page contains the best wrap up I've found of available shifter options for Rohloff hubs.

Mittlemeyer may be bringing out some brifters that work with hydraulic brakes in September, but they've already delayed their earlier March release date.

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I'd love to see a similar roundup for other hubs! –  Reid Jun 5 '12 at 13:42
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Versa makes an 8 speed drop bar shift/brake lever intended for use with Nexus/Alfine 8 speed. UPC is 686605506835, image: http://img1.qbp.com/6SPsvm45/prodl/LD0090.jpg

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An ugly solution would be to build a cable pull adapter for one lever, then use the other lever to pull that back and forth. That would give you more cable travel and more indents, so you might be able to get the indexing to support more gears. I fear that some hubs have variable travel between gears, though, so that's not guaranteed. If it does work you're going to have the ungainly adapter hanging round somewhere on the bike where it can move. Which is going to be messy and I'm not convinced of its longevity. But it would be easy enough to make one and see whether it works, assuming you already own the hub/wheel to test with. If you do, I suggest building one and seeing what happens. Maybe even build a double beam version to start with rather than machining up a travel adapter. Then slide the cables along the beams until you find an arrangement that works.

diagram of double beam adapter

For Rohloff, as heltonbiker said in the comments, you have two cables and need to pull in both directions so that's not going to work. The twist shifter rotates 273°, so a brifter would need closer indents (less rotation) or a very long travel (from almost hard against the handlebar on top, to the same underneath it. Various people have tried to make adapters to fit Rohloff shifters to drop bars, but they (IMO) don't work very well. Broadly, they either mount the Rohloff twist grip on the end of the drop bars in a slightly odd position that leaves cables wandering everywhere; or they rely on what amounts to a straight bar with drop bar bar-ends fitted. Either way, twist shifting.

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This still wouldn't work unless the cable distance travelled with each shift matched between the shifter and the hub, which doesn't seem likely. –  Mac Jun 4 '12 at 7:11
    
@Mac, doesn't the lever in the adapter account for that? –  Reid Jun 4 '12 at 13:47
    
@Reid only if the "steps" required by the hub are all a consistent and equal distance, the "steps" provided by the brifters are all a consistent and equal distance and the levers can be tuned to accommodate this. Admittedly I don't know if the steps are all the same, it just seems unlikely, as it would make it too easy to make 3rd party shifters compatible with Shimano parts, allowing people to buy after market gear, rather than pay the Shimano tax. –  Mac Jun 5 '12 at 0:14
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