Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-track

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Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-track

Postby symotelli » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:26 pm

I am loving the look of the Focus Urban Planet 3 ( http://www.focus-bikes.com/au/en/bikes/ ... et-30.html ) and am thinking of doing a conversion from the 8 speed IGH chain drive to the 11 Speed Alfine IGH and centertrack belt drive setup from the Avanti Inc 3 ( http://www.avantiplus.com.au/products/a ... anti-inc-3 ). The idea of a belt drive that is quiet with minimum maintenance sounds good to me and the Alfine 11 Speed gives better steps and a larger gear range than the Alfine 8. The Focus frame looks a bit meaner than the Inc too.

The plan would be to buy a new Focus Planet 3 and a 2nd hand Inc 3 and swap the necessary bits over. Would it be worth swapping over the Shimano hydraulic brakes to the Focus too?

Can anyone think of any issues I might have in building a Focus with centertrack and Alfine 11? Both frames are belt capable.

Chianstay lengths on the
Inc 3 - 444mm
Focus 3 - 440mm
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by BNA » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:29 pm

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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:29 pm

Sounds like an expensive way to end up with a bike that will look and perform exactly like the inc3...
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:46 am

The cross bar on the Inc slopes down too much at the back for my liking.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:30 am

Buy one of these then:

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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby Calvin27 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:07 pm

I'd still go the focus over the BMC. Eccentric bottom brackets are notorious for creaking - mine certainly did anytime there was any moisture at all.

Anyhow, you are buying 2 bikes to mash into one? That's dedication. Just buy the Focus and get an alfine 11 wheel and shifters. The centre track is good to ease the nerves of the belt falling off, but I haven't heard any cases of this before from factory which suggests it's just backyard joes getting the diy wrong or chain line issues on retrofits. If you really want centre track you can just buy a belt and sprocket kit from gates.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:45 pm

Just rode both the focus 3 and Inc 3 and noticed the dreaded eccentric bittom bracket creak from the Inc. Belt drive was super quiet and smooth though.

The focus had a more agressive riding position which I prefer. I'll definitely get the focus (although the BMC looks amazeballs) and see how the 8 speed IGH works out first.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby dinga78 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:32 am

you will run out of gears in no time with the 8 speed. i had one on my inc 2 and luckily got it replaced with an 11 speed under warranty. if you ride enough you will run out of gears if you are looking to ride fast. the standard hydraulics with the inc 3 are very good and the vertical dropouts make changing tyres very easy. Not sure what the focus has?? i havent had any BB issues and have just ticked over 3000km on the inc. i have the cdc standard belt and have no issues with any belts being thrown off etc, however the centretrack is wider and gives peace of mind.

i looked at both but went the inc 2 as it was a fair bit cheaper and the focus didnt offer that much extra for the price difference. as mentioned i found i ran out of gears quick and i upgraded to hydraulics from the shop and this worked out cheaper than buying the focus. i preferred the EBB to allow easy tyre changes and belt adjustments.

your plan sounds like a very expensive way to get what you want. get the Di2 BMC if the money isnt an issue!!! i dream of this as the almost perfect commuter.....no dropbars though but that can change easily with the di2 and hydraulic option
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:43 am

dinga78 wrote:you will run out of gears in no time with the 8 speed.

That depends very largely on your terrain. I have no problems with the range of the 8 speed on my commute, however I have swapped the rear sprocket twice in order to get the range where I want it.

(I used to go only as low as 2nd or 3rd but spin out 8th with a 20T rear, now with a 16T I occasionally need 1st and 8th still gets me down hills with plenty of speed.)
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby Gordonhooker » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:15 pm

MattyK wrote:
dinga78 wrote:you will run out of gears in no time with the 8 speed.

That depends very largely on your terrain. I have no problems with the range of the 8 speed on my commute, however I have swapped the rear sprocket twice in order to get the range where I want it.

(I used to go only as low as 2nd or 3rd but spin out 8th with a 20T rear, now with a 16T I occasionally need 1st and 8th still gets me down hills with plenty of speed.)


Interesting must look into that for one of my bikes... thanks for that... :)
OI onya bike!!!
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby dinga78 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:54 pm

yeah agreed Gordon.....i have hills where i couldnt pedal down with the 8 speed and just had to coast and on the flats i was hunting for more gears pretty quickly so i was happy to go to the 11spd and the gear ratios are less of a jump too. i started using my commute to try and improve my cycling so included sprint intervals etc, i found the 11spd was more beneficial for this type of riding
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:56 pm

dinga78 wrote:you will run out of gears in no time with the 8 speed. i had one on my inc 2 and luckily got it replaced with an 11 speed under warranty. if you ride enough you will run out of gears if you are looking to ride fast. the standard hydraulics with the inc 3 are very good and the vertical dropouts make changing tyres very easy. Not sure what the focus has??


Dinga78: the focus has vertical dropout brackets that slide backwards and forwards on the frame with adjustment bolts.

How did you get an 11 speed out of a warranty claim on an 8 speed?
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby dinga78 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:07 pm

Ok, so tyre changes should be easy too. Focus was a nice bike when i rode it but im just to tight to buy it.

Im happy with the inc, no complaints here

Shimano sent an 11sp by mistake so the shop fitted it i just bought an 11sp shifter
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:11 pm

Good job on scoring an 11 speed!
There is little difference between the inc 2 and the focus 3 here in NZ. Both are a shade under $1600

Just trying to compare gear ratios with the 8 spd IGH to my current 26" x 1.5 slick mountain bike with a 22-32-42 triple and an 11-32 casette, then figure out what I actually use on my daily ride. Brain hurting already
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:34 pm

The 8 speed has the same range as a 11-34 cassette. So not much different to your bike on only the big chainring.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby OldBloke » Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:11 am

Symotelli, Sheldon Brown's gear calculator may help:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

OB
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:11 pm

Bought the Focus after comparing it side by side with the Inc 3. Even though the Inc was only $300 more, it didn't feel as good to ride as the focus. Front brake pad contacted the disc when standing on the pedals and riding position way too upright. Looking forward to first commute tommorow morning to see how it goes on the hills. Appears to roll easier than the old slick shod MTB.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:54 pm

1st gear has me working hard up the steep bits at around 14kph and top gear has me spinning out at 55kph in a 50kph zone. My downhills seldom last more than 1 min 20 seconds and given the speed limit, the exta gears of the 11 speed wouldn't do much for me I don't think.

The belt drive might need to come later. Would cost around $250 for me to set that up. That is a lot of chains...
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby coyote » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:44 pm

Chain drives and belt drives are old school, go shaft drive. 8)

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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:16 pm

Certainly makes for some clean lines. Looks a bit futuristic
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby AP81 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:22 pm

Calvin27 wrote:I'd still go the focus over the BMC. Eccentric bottom brackets are notorious for creaking - mine certainly did anytime there was any moisture at all. .


Most EBB's that come on bikes are complete rubbish. It's an addtional cost, but upgrading to a decent one like a bushnell almost always remedies creaking & slipping issues.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby travellingminds » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:40 am

I recently bought the 2015 Focus Planet 3.0 in NZ for my commute. I wanted something that would fill the gap between my MTB and my roadie. Commuting on my MTB was like driving an SUV to work every day, and the roadie like a Ferrari. Neither particularly suited - and in fact a few near death experiences on my road bike was enough to push me into looking for something that was still pretty light and quick, but with more rubber on the road and that could happily jump a kerb or slam though a pot hole if necessary.

As a frame I've been stoked with the Planet. The riding position is upright enough to be comfortable, but it still has nice efficient geometry and is a quick, responsive ride. It's pretty light as well, but certainly solid enough to take the punishment of Auckland less-than-bike-friendly pavement.

The 8 speed Alfine I've been really pleased with. The range is more than adequate for Auckland (which is generally not too steep). The ratios feel well designed - the only weakness is that the highest gear isn't massive - so if you really want to fang it on a downhill you end up looking a little like a hamster on a wheel - but that's a minor gripe. The low is low enough for all but the most extreme hills. The main thing it has made me realise is how redundant many of the gears are on my other bikes. Shifting is nice - not massively crisp but for commuting it's fine, and being able to change under load is great.

On the down side - the stock 'Concept EX' components, and the Tektro brakes are very average. I have changed out the brakes for a set of Formula C1s and Shimano XT discs which was a significant improvement.

The other change I've made is to tape out the red stencilling on the top tube and remove the cheap looking decals on the rims. It now looks very stealthy and is a real head turner.

Overall, great urban ride.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby symotelli » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:14 am

I see that Focus do not do the Urban Planet in theire line-up and very few other manufacturers offer a similar type bicycle too. Are people just not that keen on the IGH?

I partly bought this bike for looks to and like the shape. I have some black 3m stickers to put on the frame to be more visible from the side while riding in darkness. Can't trust Auckland drivers enough!

On the Alfine 8, i find the jump to 6th gear can be quite big. I guess I just need to develop a bit more power to keep the speed up in that gear. On my commute, the spread is good enough for the uphills and any faster on the downhill and I'd be well over the speed limit. Sometimes i wish for some closer and even steps between gears to keep it on the boil, but it's fine for the short commute. Looking forward to minimal maintenance this winter thanks to the IGH though.

Would I get another Alfine IGH? I.d love to give the Alfine 11 a good go, maybe on the BMC Alpinechallenge (dreams are free). That would give a greater spread and more even steps between gears with the clean look of no derailleur too. Better save my pocket money
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:31 pm

IGH bikes seem to be a hard sell for most bike shops. I don't know why. You can point to a couple of downsides (harder to change rear tyre, weight, efficiency, fear of servicing), but these are insignificant for most people, and there are lots of upsides (no maintenance, hard to damage, clean looks, reliable, shifting at a standstill). Maybe buyers (and shop owners) are just afraid of what they're not familiar with.

I have a Nexus 8, bought and rode it in Auckland initially too. The worst issue was punctures on all the glass in the bike lane. No issues with the hub itself, still none in about 20000 km of commuting. Yes there are big jumps between 1-2 and 5-6, but for a commute this isn't really a big issue. I use a 44-16T chain combo, so I'm going pretty quick by the time I need 6th.

For what it's worth, the gearing on the 11 speed basically has the same range as an 8 speed, but spread over ten more even gears from 2-11, plus a super-low bailout gear (30%) below that.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby mikedufty » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:28 pm

I've been a bit unimpressed with the belt and IGH on my focus planet Tr2.
Mainly the belt tension is difficult to get right, too tight and it squeaks, too loose and it skips teeth. Even with the vertical drop outs removing and replacing the wheel results in a slight change in tension. I've been patching flats with the wheel still on to avoid the hassle though, so it's usually a few 1000km between having to remove the wheel. 1 tyre change and 1 disk side spoke in 9000km so far.
I like the shifting of the 8 speed hub, the range is fine, the gaps are larger than I'd like but can be dealt with by pedaling harder or going slower. What I don't like is that it jumps under hard pedaling which can be dangerous. I've had to accept that standing up and pedaling really hard is not really an option, which makes the big gaps in gears worse. I think they are designed for cruising around gently, and work great in that application, but don't handle abuse.
I did recently add a small electric assist motor in the front hub, and that pretty much resolves all issues with the belt and IGH as I end up not pedalling as hard and the wind noise drowns out the belt noise.
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Re: Focus Urban Planet 3 conversion to Alfine 11 + Centre-tr

Postby MattyK » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:30 pm

I have a chain, so I don't have any belt related issues. I've stood on the pedals plenty of times, it doesn't jump under load unless it didn't engage the shift cleanly. This is rare, and usually because you've shifted under power (or the cable tension is out). Even then, it just clicks over one pawl and everything is fine after that. It never continues to slip.

If you're getting flats, you have the wrong tyres. The tyre wear and spoke breakage aren't related either.
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