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Thread: Rohloff bicycle hub

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Rohloff bicycle hub

    I have toyed with getting one of these for years. Got sniped on a nice one (with a bike attached) on ebay the other day. Was a shame too. My bid was already 3k! At least the seller got a decent price for his setup.

    But back to the topic...

    I have _never_ seen an item with such glowing feedback on amazon as this thing. People are nuts about it, after they turn aloose of the cash to purchase one. I said 'ok' and ordered one from cyclemonkey, the sole US service center for them.

    I have pretty high standards, and they were pushed even higher by the price I had to pay for the hub, wheel, spokes, wheelbuilding, disk rotor, and nuts/bolts you need to attach it to your bike.

    Yes, the thing is heavy, but that's deceptive. It concentrates the weight in the rear hub. Net weight gain is around 1 lb, depending on configuration. If you've got a frame built for it (dropouts) and an eccentric bottom bracket (no chain tensioner needed), you can get by pretty good on weight.

    They do make a little noise, but it wasn't as bad a the youtube videos I had watched.

    Shifts are quick and very precise. I was worried about this. They say indexing happens in the hub, and the shifter is dumb. So I was worried that shifting would be imprecise, mushy, and prone to skip around due to the grip shift (rapid-fire not an option).

    All of those were false. You can shift by ear, feel (through your hand), or feel (pedal feedback). Pedal feedback is the hardest since shifts are SO quick and seamless.

    And yes, you can shift while stopped, coasting, pedaling backwards, pedaling forwards (light to heavy load), and anything in between. Gear engagements are solid. I never 'missed a shift', overshot a gear, got stuck in neutral, or had other problems.

    Installation took ~4 hours. I was not in a hurry. Had to work out some small problems with my crank arms and chainring, but that was not a hub problem.

    The hardest part was the shift cable installation. Getting that sucker in the grip shift was close to a nightmare. The instructions, although extremely detailed (it is a german product), were NO help in this area. You have to wrap 1 cable around the shifter and cram it in there, while holding tension, and cussing like mad. Then you remove the shifter a little, enough to hook up the other cable.
    (EDIT: found supplementary instructions on cable installation. My method was completely wrong. Cable install done properly is an easy, 30 second, job.)

    Once you get the shifter done, then you carefully trim the cables at the other end. Careful... trim them too short and you have to 1)buy new cables and 2)rethread the new cables through the darn shifter.

    Overall, the thing, and all parts, are beautifully made. There is a very precise fit to all parts. It look like it should last a quarter-million miles.

    I hate grip shift, but I love it on this thing.

    Cyclemonkey paired it up with a nice hand built wheel. I gave about $2100 for the hub, spokes, nipples, disk rotor, wheel, external shift box, torque arm, monkeybone adapter, and race face bb-crank-chainring.

    If you're on the fence, buy one.
    Last edited by turbodog; 12-14-2014 at 07:23 AM.
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  2. #2

    Default Rohloff bicycle hub

    I've read nothing but good things about these. And an internal shifter makes external sprocket setups look and feel like 19th century equipment. I have a shimano 8 speed which is enough gears, but likes to pop out of gear when I least expect it.

    Thanks for sharing!
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  3. #3
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I honestly don't have problems with shifters at all. I've run a few muddy races where both gummed up, but that's unavoidable.

    I really bought it out of curiosity. Part of my hesitation was from the 'it'll be good, but not good enough to replace a smoothly-working derailleur setup' line of though. Well, that just went out the window.

    I had planned on running in on a spare bike and using it is races when it was raining. The rohloff and disk brakes should allow you to dominate when compared to derailleurs and non-disks. But I guess it's a daily driver now.
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    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I had a buddy use the Rohloff hub when he rode across the USA in 1999. It was an early production hub, and had a tendency to leak oil, but otherwise was trouble free. It really is an incredible bit of engineering, and incredibly rugged. Whether or not it's the right bit of hardware depends on personal needs, but it is good to have the Rohloff option available.

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    Flashaholic* chipwillis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Lets see a picture of your set-up.

    I have this.



    I wanted it really bad but it was $6500. I found it on ebay and scorded it for $3500. Been riding the hell out of it.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    No picture currently. But it's on a 2011 Orbea Oiz (carbon softtail). This is the same bike I rode from durango, co to moab, ut through the san juan mountains last year.

    Took the click box apart tonight and greased it. Neglected to do so during install. Made a slight difference in shifting.

    How long does it take for this thing to free up some? Noticable drag in the unit...
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  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    How long does it take for this thing to free up some? Noticable drag in the unit...
    the hub or the shifter?
    There are intrisically higher losses in an internally geared hub (IGH) than in a derailleur system. The losses in the IGH vary with the gear selected. I've seen numbers for the Rohloff.... in Bicycle Quarterly??
    My impressions were that there were some gears with noticeable losses... 5% to 7% maybe (I'm just pulling these numbers out of my ... dusty memory)? One or two gears were direct drive or nearly so, so the losses were very small.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Ah man, this thread is making me want a Rohloff hub now, the mental justification has started! Oh to have more than one gear and not faff with a derailleur! (Currently running a 32*16 singlespeed ridgid On-One Scandal)

    Quote Originally Posted by chipwillis View Post
    Lets see a picture of your set-up.

    I have this.



    I wanted it really bad but it was $6500. I found it on ebay and scorded it for $3500. Been riding the hell out of it.
    Nice bike, absolute bargin for $3500! Is the bottom bracket one of the White Industries ones?

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* chipwillis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    The bottom bracket is where you can make ajustments. Never looked at it myself, I should change the oil though. I'll wait for next year and I'll start riding my BlackSheep custom Titanium fat bike

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Drag in hub. Shifter cables are ok after I greased click box.

    When bike is on the stand and I spin the rear wheel... it's noticeable.
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  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    This IHPVA publication has some very good data on the efficiencies of hub gears and derailleur gears, including the Rohloff:

    http://www.ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp52-2001.pdf

    It does show that the Rohloff has relatively high drag, even for an internally geared hub, and it does vary with the gear selected.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    This IHPVA publication has some very good data on the efficiencies of hub gears and derailleur gears, including the Rohloff:

    http://www.ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp52-2001.pdf

    It does show that the Rohloff has relatively high drag, even for an internally geared hub, and it does vary with the gear selected.
    Now that is a nice post. Smack on point.

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  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I got the IHPVA link from a mtbr forum thread. The thread also discusses the trend for the Rohloff to "wear in", and get a bit more efficient with age.

    The Rohloff is an amazing bit of engineering, but considering that it is essentially two 7 speed hubs connected in series, it's not surprising that it has a fair bit of drag.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I read the pdf. Wow. Rohloff levels were shocking. However it seems they used a new hub. A broken in hub would *seem* to rate slightly better. But more surprising was that their 3x9 mtn group had levels that low.

    Then... if your drivetrain is covered in mud/grit... the numbers drop even more. But, that's part of rohloff's marketing... that their geared hub compares very favorably with a real world (dirty) derailleur setup.

    I've got about 30 miles on it so far. Gonna ride it to 500 miles then change the oil.
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    I got the IHPVA link from a mtbr forum thread. The thread also discusses the trend for the Rohloff to "wear in", and get a bit more efficient with age.

    The Rohloff is an amazing bit of engineering, but considering that it is essentially two 7 speed hubs connected in series, it's not surprising that it has a fair bit of drag.
    the abilities of the rohloff to instantly shift any gear from any gear at any time under any condition and not get clogged, jammed, or skip
    trumps any sort of drag. the only drawbacks are: pure weight, and for hardcore racers that is an issue

    otherwise these hubs rock and are far superior to derailleur systems. I have thousands of miles mountain biking on rohloffs. there used
    to be a question...can it handle >1650 watt grunts, and mtb hits all day and night for a race season ? answer is a strong yes indeed

    does the weight add up after a 35 mile race ? yep. they are damn fun the dirtier it gets though...
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I got myself a NuVinci N360 hub some time ago. This is a continously variable transmission. Not unlike to the Rohloff, but without seperate gears. It is also considerably cheaper, so maybe someone finds it interesting.
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    I read the pdf. Wow. Rohloff levels were shocking. However it seems they used a new hub. A broken in hub would *seem* to rate slightly better. But more surprising was that their 3x9 mtn group had levels that low.
    I've read in a few places that it takes a really long time for the Rohloff hub to break in. It is something on the order of 10,000 miles. Once broken in, the drag levels should be comparable to a derailleur setup.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I just gotta hook it up to an electric motor and change gears once a day. Wear in w/ be done in a week.

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    I've read in a few places that it takes a really long time for the Rohloff hub to break in. It is something on the order of 10,000 miles. Once broken in, the drag levels should be comparable to a derailleur setup.
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  19. #19
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Spent 2 days riding trails w/ the new hub. Where do I start...

    It's a solution in search of a problem. If you suffer from the things the hub is good at, you're golden. Buy one and enjoy it. This includes mud, freezing derailleur (wintertime issue), can't keep your shifting working, etc.

    If you don't have those problems, stay far away and enjoy your normal shifting equipment.

    Man was this thing slow. (I know... that's bait...) I've got blisters on my hand. It shifts slower than my sram x7 setup. When I came out onto the road at the end of the ride, that's when I knew there were serious sponginess issues with it. Before, I could always hear the tire 'tearing' at the pavement on even medium pedal strokes. This thing would not do it even when standing on the pedals.

    I'm gonna keep it around for 24 hr races (rain is often a problem), but for any other riding... sram x7 3x9...

    Expensive inquisition/
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  20. #20
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    well, at least that's one more itch that's been scratched, eh??

    I've had a similar observation regarding disc brakes on my commuting bike. If you ride in wet sloppy conditions regularly, or have some problem keeping rims straight and true, then discs may be for you. Otherwise... they just seem to be heavy, wear out fast, and a bit fiddly to adjust. I'll give them credit for preventing the generation of aluminum sludge when you ride in the rain, which gets all over your hands if you have to handle the wheels. For my purposes, I'm best served by rim brakes.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    i got a old English bike the hub it uses been around for years and years cant recall the name right now
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by raggie33 View Post
    i got a old English bike the hub it uses been around for years and years cant recall the name right now
    Probably a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed?

  23. #23

    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    yeppers that was it .it still works great i just olied it and its great. just wish it went lower we have huge hills
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    well, at least that's one more itch that's been scratched, eh??

    I've had a similar observation regarding disc brakes on my commuting bike. If you ride in wet sloppy conditions regularly, or have some problem keeping rims straight and true, then discs may be for you. Otherwise... they just seem to be heavy, wear out fast, and a bit fiddly to adjust. I'll give them credit for preventing the generation of aluminum sludge when you ride in the rain, which gets all over your hands if you have to handle the wheels. For my purposes, I'm best served by rim brakes.
    Think the wife loves it though.

    Swapping it to her bike this weekend.
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  25. #25

    Default Rohloff bicycle hub

    [QUOTE=Steve K;4295693]I've had a similar observation regarding disc brakes on my commuting bike. If you ride in wet sloppy conditions regularly, or have some problem keeping rims straight and true, then discs may be for you. /QUOTE]

    I switched to discs after locking up rim brakes, trying to prevent a collision. Ended up flying over the handle bars and getting friendly with the concrete. Not sure the car wouldn't have been an improvement. Been a few years and even when trying to create a lock, enough slip keeps it going. Like ABS for bikes.
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  26. #26
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    To revisit an old topic...

    I think it suffers from 2 problems:

    a. Pure friction. When I spin the wheel while on the bike stand, the pedals want to turn. This may improve as times goes on, gears wear in, and seals loosen up some.

    b. Sponginess. I noted before that I was unable to make the bike make 'tearing' sounds on the pavement, even while standing. The HPV test used an electric motor. This was steady state, and any sponginess was negated. Under real-world use, springiness/sponginess consumes energy.

    I think the net numbers are more like 20% loss, give or take. I rode with a friend (making him ride the rohloff), one who I have trouble keeping up with on my BEST days. I was easily able to keep up and overtake him. On a funny note... from the noise it made we ended up calling it the dishwasher.

    Still... a solution in search of a problem.

    Nice equipment though. Wife still likes it.
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  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    at the risk of repeating comments from a year or two ago.. you really do need a good reason to have a Rohloff in order to put up with the intrinsic disadvantages. Even a 3 speed hub has noticeable friction losses. The Rohloff is basically two 7 speed hubs connected in series, so its losses are twice as bad. If you need a very reliable drivetrain, or ride in awful conditions, it may be worth it. If you just want something shiny and high-tech, get a nice watch and stick with a regular derailleur system.

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    What I'd like to find is about a 5 speed cogset on a wheel with NO dish.
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  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    maybe an old tandem hub? The distance from end to end of the axle was pretty long, and ought to be able a 5 speed freewheel with minimal dish. The hard part is fitting it into the frame on a single (i.e. non-tandem) bike.

    I used to have a wheel with a Bullseye hub set up for 135mm axle. I used it with a 7 speed freewheel, and it was plenty strong for loaded commuting. If it was respaced for a 5 speed freewheel, the dish would be pretty insignificant. The Bullseye and Phil Wood hubs have strong axles too.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rohloff bicycle hub

    I just could not stay away. Bought ANOTHER rolhoff and put it on a blacksheep fastas softtail mtn bike.

    After properly adjusting the shifter cable slack and learning how to ride it, the hub's growing on me. Wife won't give hers up.
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