About a year ago, I blogged about my shiny new bike, a Giant CRX City Pro. I was very excited about the hub gears on it. A Mark Jones found my post and asked me about it, so I figure I should share my response for anyone else considering buying it.
Glad you asked because I wouldn't recommend it!
The bike itself, frame, wheels, everything but the gearing is brilliant. A mate bought the (somewhat cheaper) deraileur version and is wildly happy with it. It's a really zippy geometry, really wants to go.
The big problem is the Nexus internal hub. It's a real pain in the arse. I was won over by the idea of zero maintenance gearing, but that just hasn't panned out.
To fix a puncture, you need a spanner and end up covered with grease getting the wheel off and on. It takes ages, and you'll get it wrong the first three or four times you do it, causing further problems. Chain tensioning isn't exactly easy, either.
What's more, a couple of weeks ago one of the anti-rotation washers (the yellow one in this picture as described here by the late, great Sheldon Brown) had one of the lugs break off, which meant the axle rotates. Taking it into the shop tomorrow.
So while I was after a much reduced maintenance bike, it really hasn't turned out that way. I managed to seriously screw things up the first few times I had punctures, requiring shop visits to sort it out and show me the right way. What's more, you need to carry a spanner and end up covered in grease.
Longest ride I've been on? Dunno, not that far, maybe 50kms. It's my commuter bike, so it normally only does 10km a day. If you're thinking of touring with it, be aware that the lowest gear isn't all that low, so loaded up and going up mountains wouldn't be good.
If I were buying again, I'd buy the derailleur version of the bike. For the price and the quality of the bike, it's an amazing deal. I might spend the difference in price on a hub dynamo and light set.