With giddiness I read last month's Sram I-motion 9 thread ( Thoughts on the upcoming SRAM 9-speed hub (and the future of internal gears)? ) but still feel hungry for new information. Any i9 updates in the past six weeks anybody wishes to share?
My own comments & responses to some of the points made in that thread (or random musings, if you didn't read it):
- I'm very excited about the Sram i9. I don't expect it to compete with my Rohloff, but am anxious about the near 50% increase in gear range over my Nexus-8 on my street bike.
- My expectations are high. I want this hub to be a stepping stone -- a "gateway hub", if you will -- to riders unable to commit to a Speedhub drivetrain.
- I'm a realist! Derailleur will always be cheaper and lighter, and therefore dominant. But I expect gear hubs to make large strides in gaining acceptance by "serious" mountain & touring cyclists on mid- to high-end bikes.
- Further, can't derailleur only get better? Yes! Are even w-i-d-e-r gear ranges truly desired by cyclists? I think not! Derailleur drivetrains have room for improvements in build strength & shifting action, too!
- Twist shifting -- a common dig against gear hubs -- does have its benefit! I, too, was a Rapid Fire fan, but triggers & STI cannot allow you to shift through the whole gear range in one fluid twist, a feat a derailleur is most certainly incapable of.
- The Speedhub, while expensive, is most certainly not "unaffordable" when compared to the cost of a full XT or XTR drivetrain. Not convinced? Add up the price you'd fetch if you parted out the brand new XT / X.9 level drivetrain you typically find on a $1600-$2200 bike. A little elbow grease makes quite a dent in the price of a new Rohloff.
- The expense of wear items -- cassettes, chainrings, chains, and the occasional derailleur -- eat further into this cost over time.
- If you jump to a new bike in three or five years, you can once again part it out and re-install the Speedhub. At this stage, you'll be in the black!
Although I'm currently biased towards Speedhubs (if my screen name didn't already give that away), I would love to see some competition in this market. Though I'm not affilliated with Rohloff, I have been on their hubs since '01 (my wife since '03) and between Rohloff, SRAM Spectro & Shimano Nexus, we're done with derailleurs!