I have an almost-new New-Old-Stock Shimano Alfine11 internal geared hub in the rear wheel of my bike. Its on 300 km now, with a first oil change due at 1000 km and then yearly or every 5000 km after that.

There seem to be two ways to lubricate them

  1. Remove the drain screw, let the oil all dribble out into a catch-bag, and refill.
  2. Undo the entire guts of the hub and dunk it into a big jar of lube for 90 seconds, then reassemble.

Option 1 needs a 50mL bottle of oil, probably good for one change at a cost of $21 USD **https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51PYx6OzGGL._SL1200_.jpg**

Option 2 requires a Shimano kit with code Y00298010 which costs $115 USD and has 1L of lubricant. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61jkGTCiAhL._SL1200_.jpg

That tin is 1 litre, so its twenty times the oil, so each oil change is 1/4 the price of a single bottle.

I will probably ride enough to need an oil change every 6 months.

What other reasons for choosing one over the other other than straight price? Lifespan of the opened tin?

  • 1
    I may be missing something but I thought the 11 speed ones were for oil replacement via the oil port only. The Shimano DM manuals I've read never mention dunking them, and they seem like they would be too big for the Shimano oil jar. Dec 4, 2018 at 3:37
  • 3
    @NathanKnutson More intensive googling confirms you. "Y00298010 is not for use with Shimano Alfine SG-S700 speed hub. Please use Shimano Special Oil for Alfine SG-S700 11-Speed Hub." Bother.
    – Criggie
    Dec 4, 2018 at 7:22
  • 1
    I'll leave this as a comment since it doesn't directly answer your question. I've been using automatic transmission fluid as my "dunker" solution for a year and a half now. However, on the next change I'm going to use gear oil. From some extensive internet research and personal insight, I could not find any difference between the Shimano oil and generic high weight synthetic gear oil (plus a little oil treatment/stabilizer). Your bicycle is not running at the extreme forces of a car so the specific lubricant used is not as important. SA 3speeds have lasted a long time with very little oil May 9, 2021 at 2:11

2 Answers 2


As far as I've discovered, the alfine oil is the same stuff in both the small and large jars. So the large jar makes sense for high-mileage gearboxes, but you don't "break even" till you're doing your fifth oil change.

The downside is that the ongoing oil change intervals are "every 5000 km or every 2 years" so I don't know if the oil will spoil in the same way brake fluid spoils once opened. I'm not prepared to risk that.

The Alfine 11 does come apart for repair, but it is not lubricated this way. I understand that there's grease inside, and this oil somehow "feeds" the existing grease.

The proper Alfine Oil came in a bottle in a bag. The labels are: enter image description here

Instead you need to buy the proper Shimano TL-S703 tool, which is a bit of pipe and a fitting. And you need a disposable syringe to fit the tube. Instead, I built a replacement.

Tool The later version has a 50 mL barbeque syringe on it instead. 10 mL was too small.

In the middle is the bolt that normally seals the gearbox filler hole. Its really quite short.
So I scrounged an old bolt that had the same thread. Using a combination of drill press, a drill vice, and a small spirit level I drilled a tiny hole right through the center of the bolt. This was widened out to about 5 mm using a series of drill bits. Once that was done, I cut the head off just where the blind hole stopped.
Then I flared the very ends of the holes using a larger drillbit. This was to help the oil flow in better.
The two nuts are tightened together leaving the same amount of thread exposed as the original bolt. Ideally this would be flush with the inside of the casing, but I have no way to tell.
The O rings were simply what I had around. They are optional.

Extracting old oil. Later on I shortened the tube to about 30mm total. A long tube was unhelpful.

Injecting new
Adding the charge of new oil. Here this shows the short tube, and injecting with the hole rotated to the top. Adding 25 mL with three separate shots was a bit silly, hence why V2 has 50 mL BBQ syringes.

To limit cross-contamination, I have a "clean" and a "dirty" syringe, each with their own hose and attachment.

The oil itself goes in a vivid translucent green when new, and comes out grey and stinkier. The old oil is still viscous, and a 5000 km change interval probably reflects shimano's cautious limits, same as tooth capacity counts for their derailleurs.

The oil's odour is hard to describe - its not like any motor oil I've ever used. I'm also familiar with the tang of EP90 gearbox oil, and its as strong in smell intensity but otherwise different.

This gearbox oil smells waxy, with strong hints of vegetable. I cannot think of any other fluid that smells the same.

An oil change takes HOURS mostly because the syringe can only suck the oil that has pooled at the bottom of the housing. So going for a bike ride beforehand is a good idea to warm the oil and make it less viscous.

Disposal: I haven't disposed of the oil yet - not sure that it could go in an oil recovery tank. The quantity is quite small that landfill may be a valid option.

  • Note to self - if I ever get an Alfine hub, let servicing it be the bike shops problem :)
    – Andy P
    Aug 13, 2019 at 9:41
  • @AndyP its not that bad - hardest thing is knowing when 5,000 km rolls around. Its about every 6 months for me now.
    – Criggie
    Aug 13, 2019 at 9:44
  • Regarding brake fluid, isn’t it true that DOT fluid spoils (absorbing water from atmosphere) while mineral oil doesn’t? I would actually lean towards this oil having relatively long shelf life, but I understand if you don’t since it’s your hub and hubs aren’t cheap.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 7, 2021 at 11:13
  • @WeiwenNg true - but all oils degrade with usage, either becoming shorter chains at the molecular level, and filling with suspended particles of metal/dirt.
    – Criggie
    May 7, 2021 at 21:49

I´ve been using Shimano A11 for long time now. It has about 12000 km on the clock. Works fine, shifts perfectly. In the beginning I had issues with leaking oil which is a common thing. I decided not to use oil but went to light grease with spec. NLGI 00. Doesen´t leak anymore and works fine. I do the gear maintenance once/3000-4000 km or once a year.

  • 1
    How do you replace the grease in the hub?
    – DavidW
    May 7, 2021 at 20:55
  • I've learned that things designed for oil tend to function poorly when greased. Machine ways on heavy tools, for example, and front swivel hubs on a 4WD that were designed to be an oil bath.
    – Criggie
    May 7, 2021 at 21:47
  • I have an older revision, SG-S700. These are more prone to oil leakage than the newer revision, SG-S7001 (and there have been reports of especially bad units). Leaking oil was causing constant headache with disc brakes (oil ruins brake pads very quickly), so I also replaced oil with NLGI 00 grease. Been riding daily for 2 months now (in the city), so far so good, the shifts are quick and precise, and I'm not feeling any loss of efficiency (though I suspect there is some). Let's see how well this works during winter. Oct 10, 2023 at 13:16

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