First off, the context of my question is 80% urban commuting and 20% weekend road trips of up to 70km, with a bit of casual trail riding mixed in. I ride my bicycle for transport and I value minimal maintenance and frugality a lot!
With that goal in mind, over the years I've noticed that besides punctures it's drivetrain wear that causes the most damage (because of rain and winter weather). I admit I've neglected to maintain the chain lots of times and rode for weeks with poor efficiency, increasing the wear on the parts. So I thought of tackling this issue on my next bike by going with an internally-geared hub and chain-case. (I will probably get the chain-case custom-made in a workshop¹). Speed and performance are not important, reliability and versatility are. Currently I ride single-speed.
What I hope to get out of it:
- Nearly 0 maintenance
- No maintenance after a ride through rain/sleet/snow
- Longer-lasting parts
- Better chain clearance, more protection from rocks/curbs/sticks
- Always clean hands and pants
- Puncture repairs that are still simple to do
However there are trade-offs involved. Compared to the standard derailleur setup there's:
- Increased weight – I love light bikes and packing light
- Decreased gear range – will it be enough if I want to take a trip in the mountains?
- Lower availability of parts – in case something happens on a tour
- Price – definitely can't afford Pinion or rohloff. Alfine 11-speed tops.
My question is: am I overreacting to the maintenance needs of an exposed drivetrain? Would going internal be justified, or should I stick with the more common derailleur setup... perhaps there is some lubricant or other products that protect it better that I don't know about? What about if we're talking about a folding bike (20" wheels)?
1. Said workshop is run by a friend, so I may get a better price. I don't really care as much though, because of the IKEA effect.