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Old 01-13-07, 11:21 AM   #1
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rohloff speedhubs. . .

i did the search and read what is here but didn't really see much from anyone who toured fulltime with one. i'm thinking of getting a bike equipped with one and would like to hear from those who've ridden tham. thanks!

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Old 01-13-07, 12:03 PM   #2
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While I haven't ridden one I've spoken to several folks passing through town who have. All mentioned that they were damn expensive, and all would buy one again.

One gentleman had an older model that had some oil leakage problems which were fixed by Rolhoff under warranty. He seemed satisfied. Aside from the price that's the only negative thing I've heard.
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Old 01-13-07, 12:06 PM   #3
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It isn't all that popular over here. Try out the cyclingplus.co.uk. forum lots of tourists over there use them.

There are a variety of problems with them, though none of them dissuades the enthusiast who feels they are overall a better choice:

- Heavy

- Mechanical problems that cause grinding, noise, or persistent oil loss. The former seems to get better over time and the latter seems to be part of an earlier series. They can still loose oil in airplane holds.

- Efficiency, not quite as efficient as a working derailleur system, some difficult tours may hurt the derailleur system, lots of dirt for instance, but not necessarily.

- Breaks seat stays. Most people slap one of these babies on for perceived extreme use, but they can rough up your frame and make maters worse. Simply buying the appropriate drop outs and scabbing them on to an existing frame design is not enough to make it a real Rohloff bike, needs proper design.

- Fixed ratios, This is good news bad news. All the ratios increase by a fixed amount which is better than the worst case with a derailleur. all the gears are real, no labyrinth to find the next shift. On the other hand, while you can adjust the gear ratios by changing the chainring or sprocket, you can't increase or reduce the density it's always X apart to the next shift. So you can't go mega range for one tour then high density for the next. You can't create areas of density and then areas where there is a big jump.

- Biggest advantages seem to be that the system is generally more rugged and mud proof.

- Here are two I forgot: no wheel dish, equal spoke length and tension. Some claim this makes the rear 32 hole hub as strong or stronger than a 36. On the downside there isn't a 36, 40, whatever, hole pattern, which is a bias against the 700C wheel touring set-up, And generally shows the emphasis on the dirt use, rather than heavy cargo use.

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Old 01-13-07, 12:12 PM   #4
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On the expense, they are pretty reasonably priced for what they are. Compared to a Harley 6 speed trans, you get your money's worth, it's just an unusual cost to the derailleur rider.

There are several long term german riders who use them, and have sites up. And there is one English guy who built his own frames for an around the world tour who has a site.

There is also a competitor site that savages Rohloff. Impunes their business practices and warrantee support.

For less demanding uses there are the Nexus and Sachs gear hubs. I think one of these has a 9 speed out, and the nexus red line is pretty well respected. At this point these would appeal to more fairweather users who are running clean and don't need as many gears. The price for the red line is about 170.

Where they are popular over here is among MTB riders. They have even morphed some odd instalations in the cranks. This indicates that where dirt is a serious issue they justify the price without question. Whether the same can be said for a tour through the Rockies, or some guys "touring" racing along with all their gear in a sag wagon...
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Old 01-13-07, 12:20 PM   #5
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Who makes a hub that competes with Rohloff?
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Old 01-13-07, 01:06 PM   #6
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I don't know whether these are any good. This is not a recomendation:

http://www.rohloffspeedhub.com/
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Old 01-13-07, 01:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by brunop
i did the search and read what is here but didn't really see much from anyone who toured fulltime with one. i'm thinking of getting a bike equipped with one and would like to hear from those who've ridden tham. thanks!
what would you like to know?

I have toured full time with one.
Absolutely brilliant, gears change instantly, straight line chain, next gear is always the right one.

They just work.

george
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Old 01-13-07, 01:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jibi
what would you like to know?

I have toured full time with one.
Absolutely brilliant, gears change instantly, straight line chain, next gear is always the right one.

They just work.

george
jibi sold me. i bought one. am having it put on a surly karate monkey for load hauling around town and maybe further. i can't wait. should have it built up by the end of next week as my lbs had to order a size small frame. thanks!!
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Old 01-13-07, 02:01 PM   #9
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That other hub is 7 gears. Yuck!

"jibi sold me. i bought one. am having it put on a surly karate monkey for load hauling around town and maybe further. i can't wait. should have it built up by the end of next week as my lbs had to order a size small frame. thanks!! "

He's English! See what I mean. I remember one winter in Dublin that could have washed away my chain.

Load hauling around town is one of my worry areas. As soon as folks figure out that the rear hub is worth 1600 Canadian.
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Old 01-13-07, 03:44 PM   #10
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I've had one and they are good. Great for touring and very reliable and with practically no maintenance. I think they do better on a frame designed for them eg the Thorn Raven, which has dropouts designed for the hub and an eccentric BB.
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Old 01-13-07, 05:24 PM   #11
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On the Divide Ride I met a Danish tourist with a Rohloff hub on his mountain bike. He loved it after 18 months touring Europe then across the US and then on the Divide after starting in Prudhoe Bay Alaska. He was doing 100 mile days offroad with no problems.

I have since used original model Rohloffs on two friend's bikes-one a Moulton APB and the other a Bike Friday Pocket Llama. I did notice the low gear noise mentioned above but found the gear spacing excellent. Both non-touring friends are pleased with their hubs.
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Old 01-13-07, 05:59 PM   #12
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The problem I have with the Rollholf hubs is they can't be serviced or replaced in so much of the world. Your wheel can get damaged by so many things and what will you do? There are der bikes all over the world with 26" wheels - if you have barend shifters that can go into friction mode you can get back on the road in almost any country with minimal fuss. With a Rollhof its great until something happens and then you have a bike that is screwed - maybe a bike that can't even accept a rear der.
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Old 01-14-07, 02:44 PM   #13
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With a Rollhof its great until something happens and then you have a bike that is screwed - maybe a bike that can't even accept a rear der.
Good point, I think--it's not something you can bend back in shape or fix with tools on hand. Much less likely to break, but much more trouble if it does. A black box. If something happens, does the Rohloff still work in one gear?

I don't understand why the alternative hub Peter sites uses a roholoff weblink...seems misleading. Is it a Rohloff?

I'm liking the idea of a geared hub the more I read, though. I don't think the extra weight is very consequential for touring. I prefer the look to a der, definitely. I wish there were cheaper alternatives to the Rohloff with as much total range. I'm not as concerned with how many gears or how evenly they are spaced. I could probably tour comfortably on three speeds if they gave me a good traveling gear, a low granny for climbs and something in between.
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Old 01-15-07, 06:03 AM   #14
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The makers of the Rohloff will tell you that not one of their hubs has suffered a mechanical failure. I understand that some of the earlier ones leaked a little oil but this has since been fixed.
This is why they are favoured by world travellers.
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Old 01-15-07, 08:50 AM   #15
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The makers of the Rohloff will tell you that not one of their hubs has suffered a mechanical failure. I understand that some of the earlier ones leaked a little oil but this has since been fixed.
This is why they are favoured by world travellers.
Several rohloff hubs have had flanges break and spokes tear out. I don't know if any have had internal mechanical failures, but the flange problem is well documented (see the phred bike touring list archives).
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Old 01-15-07, 11:03 AM   #16
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Several rohloff hubs have had flanges break and spokes tear out. I don't know if any have had internal mechanical failures, but the flange problem is well documented (see the phred bike touring list archives).
That may be so but I'm not sure that one can attribute such problems to the design of the Rohloff but more to the nature of hubs in general. Any hub will break if subjected to enough abuse. The Rohloff, in that it requires no dishing and is a wide hub,is strong enough for Thorn, who have sold hundreds, to recommend a 32 spoke, 26 inch wheel for heavy touring.
To the best of my knowledge, and as stated on the Rohloff site by the makers, they have had not one hub out of ten years production, where the internal mechanism has broken.
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Old 01-15-07, 01:14 PM   #17
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I understand that people say they are expensive. But its only the outlay.
Take into account repairs and maintenance
No new rear mech, front mech, chains last 5 times longer, reduced waiting time due to problems.

I did have a slight problem with gears 4 and 11 ( its the same internal cog with a reducer) slipping uphill under load, SJS and Rohloff got it fixed for me, price...... free.
I heard anecdotes of someone waiting in Mendoza, Argentina for a replacement hub due to losing the mid gears.

Nothing is perfect.

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Old 01-15-07, 02:48 PM   #18
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"is strong enough for Thorn, who have sold hundreds, to recommend a 32 spoke, 26 inch wheel for heavy touring."

I'd be more impressed if they offered them in 36 and Thorn was still recommending that size hole spacing for their bikes. Hard to seriously consider it on a 700c. Keep in mind that a wide staying base from wideset flanges is actually weaker, relative to the in-line loads. It's stronger as regards the diagonal and banking loads. In other words, ride endlessly down straight roads with a load on your bike, or land heavy jumps, it's weaker (for the same spoke count). Do a lot of switchbacks or leave the bike sitting there unused, it's stronger. Sounds sorta like it's stronger where I don't need it. And anyway it's 4 pounds. Is the 32 stronger than a 48 on DT hugli, because you can have that and a big wadge of cash in your pocket. You could probably carry an extra rear wheel for what the R costs in dollars and rotating weight. You could carry an extra 2 derailleur and stay on budget. You could run 719s, they never break.

I was looking at an online source for the Rohloff and daring myself to jump in last night. So I ran the numbers on the Harris site. The ratios for the Rohloff are worse than a 7 speed, with 3 chainwheels. The straight line rations are reasonably comparable, I would choose the R. ratios (though with a derailleur system I could build more Rohloff like ratios if I wanted to). With double shifts there isn't any comparison, the derailleur win hands down. Double shifts are a pain, but they are worth it if you have the opportunity to stay in a particular gear for a while and you can get closer to your optimal cadence, which is usually the condition where I get most done. And that is a 7 speed, if you want to work in more gears the argument is even more one sided.

The only problem with the Rohloff is the initial price. I'm sure I would have tried it at least once if I didn't have to consider it so carefully. It's certainly worth the price, it's just that not having owned one, the numbers from price, to weight, to strength, to ratios, are not encouraging by themselves.
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Old 01-15-07, 03:13 PM   #19
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snip<
I'd be more impressed if they offered them in 36 and Thorn was still recommending that size hole spacing for their bikes. Hard to seriously consider it on a 700c. Keep in mind that a wide staying base from wideset flanges is actually weaker, relative to the in-line loads.>

There was a lot of discussion on just this issue and many argued that the 32 spoke wouldn't make it. Experience would seem to prove otherwise and many tourists have taken them to very rough territory with good results.
The gear ratios for heavy touring again proved to be pretty good, but the price, I agree is high. It is a very classy product made to a very high standard and is a joy to use. What I didn't like was not so much the overall weight, as I calculated the Thorn Raven as being within a few ounces of conventional tourers, but the fact that the extra weight was to the rear.
You can read of many experiences with the Rohloff at; http://www.cyclingplus.co.uk/forum/default.asp?CAT_ID=1
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Old 01-15-07, 03:46 PM   #20
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That may be so but I'm not sure that one can attribute such problems to the design of the Rohloff but more to the nature of hubs in general. Any hub will break if subjected to enough abuse. The Rohloff, in that it requires no dishing and is a wide hub,is strong enough for Thorn, who have sold hundreds, to recommend a 32 spoke, 26 inch wheel for heavy touring.
To the best of my knowledge, and as stated on the Rohloff site by the makers, they have had not one hub out of ten years production, where the internal mechanism has broken.
I agree with you totally - except that with your Rohloff hub busted you are screwed, your bike may not even be able to take a der and if it does you'll have to do a lot of mods to get it to work.

If your normal 26" wheel hub breaks you can get back on the road with minimal hassle just about anywhere.

I am not arguing that Rohloff doesn't makes a high quality product, but I think it is too specialized to use on tour. I'd be more inclined to use one on my commuter.
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Old 01-15-07, 03:57 PM   #21
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I agree with you totally - except that with your Rohloff hub busted you are screwed, your bike may not even be able to take a der and if it does you'll have to do a lot of mods to get it to work.

If your normal 26" wheel hub breaks you can get back on the road with minimal hassle just about anywhere.

I am not arguing that Rohloff doesn't makes a high quality product, but I think it is too specialized to use on tour. I'd be more inclined to use one on my commuter.
Fedex does deliver globally!
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Old 01-15-07, 05:19 PM   #22
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Fedex does deliver globally!
Sure. Just think that through. You are in the middle of nowhere and your hub breaks. So you have to get to someplace you can make an international call and contact Rolhoff or a bike shop. sort out your hub issue through warranty or simply buy a new one. Then you either have to arrange for a whole wheel to get to you, deal with customs, etc.. or do the same with a hub (slightly easier). Then you have to rebuild the wheel if you get just a hub. All the while watching kids with mtn bikes roll around town.

Impossible? No, but worth it over the performance of a 26" wheeled der system which can be replaced just about anywhere in the world????
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Old 01-15-07, 10:22 PM   #23
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"There was a lot of discussion on just this issue and many argued that the 32 spoke wouldn't make it. Experience would seem to prove otherwise and many tourists have taken them to very rough territory with good results."

I completely agree with you. I've never broken a 32 spoke 26" wheel. I'm not so sanguine about a 700c, and I'm not experienced enough with the 26" road wheel with 96 pound pressure, that's a differnt sort of punishment than playying in mud with fat tires. I still stick by the idea that the real proof is in offering the 36 and seeing where it goes. I don't see why that should be such a big problem the 29r is coming, and if they are serious about road uses they should support the 700c. I don't believe they are sticking with the 32 because it's better, but because it's enough market for them in the MTB area.

"The gear ratios for heavy touring again proved to be pretty good"

I agree there too. It's obviously good enough. The issue is where is the upside for a product where the ratios are not as good as the alternative, the hub weighs SOO much, it isn't spoked right, costs a fortune, breaks your stays, requires a special frame. What are the things that make all that worth it. Mud, rain, shifts when you aren't moving (big on recumbents), that's about it.

Also for the price you have about 800+ bucks left over when you opt for the Hugli, that's an upgrade for the front hub (750 left); Paul brakes (650); Mavic double eyelet rims (575); Gordon racks (200); Otlieb pannier set (-20).
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Old 01-16-07, 04:39 PM   #24
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There are a variety of problems with them, though none of them dissuades the enthusiast who feels they are overall a better choice:


- Breaks seat stays. Most people slap one of these babies on for perceived extreme use, but they can rough up your frame and make maters worse. Simply buying the appropriate drop outs and scabbing them on to an existing frame design is not enough to make it a real Rohloff bike, needs proper design.


My BS detector is beeping. Sources?
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Old 01-16-07, 05:24 PM   #25
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"My BS detector is beeping. Sources?"

My lazy dude with google sensor is firing

I think I mentioned the source. Couple cycled round the world on a tandem, build own frames, try google. There is currently a rohloff thread on the frame forum, and while there isn't doom and gloom stuff there, you can see re-enforcement for the very problem discussed and contrasting opinions. Keep in mind that even on the FF most of the designs are pretty hefty trail bikes, low hours big bits compared to expedition bikes. The point is the stock options are designed for deraileurs. so if you want to go this route to actually strengthen your bike you need to buy something with a track record like thorn or do some research on it. Because Rohloff on standard frame is not necesarilly an upgrade as far as drivetrain durabilty is concerned. But there is a flip side also. Some touring specific frames get low mileage. An ultimate tour like across the US or something may not be big mileage compared to a heavily used comuter, so getting relevant data is tough.
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