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  1. #1
    Senior Member jawnn's Avatar
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    Exclamation Nuvinci gearless hub

    The Nuvinci gear-hubs for bicycles are worse than usless, they can't handle more than 26 gear-inches of torque (with human legs). And they weigh 11lbs. The maximum torque before it starts slipping is 130Nm or 96 LbFT . One wheel revolution to one crank revolution is the lowest gear possible.


    Some one said they saw a vidio of some guy jumping on the pedals, and thought that it showed how strong the thing is. All it really shows is that it takes much more leverage to move in higher gear. And it shows how strong the chain is; I have torn chain links just climbing hills in low gear.
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    Why the hate? Did someone at NuVinci say something nasty about your bike? It's obvious you haven't tried one. I have been riding one for over two years now, and I love it. I have also set up NuVinci drive trains for several other riders, none of whom have had complaints about it. What's your beef?
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  3. #3
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    130 Nm is more than any other IGH which specifies it is rated for including the Rohloff which lists a limit of 100Nm for input torque. Most hub makers do not even specify a limit but if they did I suspect that it would be a lot lower than the NuVinci specification. Rohloff also state that if their hub is geared to their specified input ratio limits then it will withstand use by even world class athletes. The old SRAM P5 Cargo is rated for 85Nm and yet was rated for use on tandems and cargo bikes.

    Per posts here people have used considerably lower input gearing than NuVinci lists without problems including one member who has reported using it with an auxillary motor on a cargo bike. On the same bike he reportedly destroyed bothy Sturmey Archer and SRAM hubs IIRC before switching to the NuVinci hub. The main limit to going to lower gearing is the very low high gear that would result with the hub's overall gear ratio range of 350%.

    I have a NuVinci hub bike I assembled myself, an old Trek 950, using the 2 to 1 ratio listed and it works fine. I do not see the 130Nm torque limit as a limitation and actually consider it a testament to the strength of the hub considering the other hubs I have listed specified torque limits.

    Do you actually have any experience with the NuVinci hub or is your rant based strictly on the manufacturer's documentation?
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  4. #4
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    What application could possibly justify 11 pounds (5 kg)?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  5. #5
    Senior Member GeorgePaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    What application could possibly justify 11 pounds (5 kg)?
    According to Falbrook Technologies, a N171B hub weighs between 3.8 and 3.9 kg, including freewheel and mounting hardware.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgePaul View Post
    According to Falbrook Technologies, a N171B hub weighs between 3.8 and 3.9 kg, including freewheel and mounting hardware.
    He's asking "what purpose would require or justify using such a heavy hub instead of a lighter IGH".

    The answer, if there is one, is unclear. I know of people who run NuVinci hubs on cargo bikes, and I'm somewhat tempted to as well. For a dedicated cargo hauler, the extra weight is somewhat irrelevant.

  7. #7
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Could it withstand the torque that a strong rider would generate pedaling a cargo bike? And I suspect that pulling cargo obviates the appeal of continuously variable ratios. So again, I see no point in it, other than the fact that it's cool.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  8. #8
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by jawnn View Post
    The Nuvinci gear-hubs for bicycles are worse than usless, they can't handle more than 26 gear-inches of torque (with human legs). And they weigh 11lbs. The maximum torque before it starts slipping is 130Nm or 96 LbFT . One wheel revolution to one crank revolution is the lowest gear possible.


    Some one said they saw a vidio of some guy jumping on the pedals, and thought that it showed how strong the thing is. All it really shows is that it takes much more leverage to move in higher gear. And it shows how strong the chain is; I have torn chain links just climbing hills in low gear.
    Lets examine your 96LbFt limit. With 170 mm cranks (6.69") this is 172 pounds of force at the crank arms and then multiply it by 2 due to the specified input ratio which halves the torque actually seen by the hub so the actual force applied at the pedals would need to be 344 pounds, with the pedals horizontal, to match the Nuvinci specified input torque limit! That sounds pretty strong to me.

    Also as a retired reliability engineer I am familiar with most companies published specifications practices which typically have a reserve strength fudge factor built into them.

    Your post indicates the hub can slip if the torque is exceeded and I am not sure that this is correct either. I did not note that this was stated anywhere on the NuVinci web site, only the input torque limit specification. I think that you are making a presumption of what the failure mode would be if the torque limit was exceeded.

    BTW I would not set up any IGH with a low gear much below 26" except the Rohloff. Others which specify input ratios generally are close to the 2:1 limit of the Nuvinci and have low gear reductions in the .5 to .6 range. The Rohloff can be set up with a low gear below 20" due to having a low gear internal reduction closer to .3 and it can still have a reasonable top gear due to it's much wider overall gear range.

    All in all this appears to me to be a troll post from someone with more experience at reading specifications than interpreting them sensibly as relates to bicycle use.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  9. #9
    Elitest Murray Owner Mos6502's Avatar
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    One wheel revolution to one crank revolution is the lowest gear possible.
    Pardon my ignorance, but why would you need less than a 1:1 drive ratio on a bicycle?

  10. #10
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    130 Nm is more than any other IGH which specifies it is rated for including the Rohloff which lists a limit of 100Nm for input torque. Most hub makers do not even specify a limit but if they did I suspect that it would be a lot lower than the NuVinci specification. Rohloff also state that if their hub is geared to their specified input ratio limits then it will withstand use by even world class athletes. The old SRAM P5 Cargo is rated for 85Nm and yet was rated for use on tandems and cargo bikes.

    Per posts here people have used considerably lower input gearing than NuVinci lists without problems including one member who has reported using it with an auxillary motor on a cargo bike. On the same bike he reportedly destroyed bothy Sturmey Archer and SRAM hubs IIRC before switching to the NuVinci hub. The main limit to going to lower gearing is the very low high gear that would result with the hub's overall gear ratio range of 350%.

    I have a NuVinci hub bike I assembled myself, an old Trek 950, using the 2 to 1 ratio listed and it works fine. I do not see the 130Nm torque limit as a limitation and actually consider it a testament to the strength of the hub considering the other hubs I have listed specified torque limits.

    Do you actually have any experience with the NuVinci hub or is your rant based strictly on the manufacturer's documentation?
    That's me.

    I have a 24 tooth cog on the NuVinci, a 42 front ring, and a 350 watt inline Panasonic motor.
    SRAM's 5 would not hold a gear, always slipping down, the SA cracked in half, and the NuVinci has never given me a second of trouble.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mos6502 View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but why would you need less than a 1:1 drive ratio on a bicycle?
    Virtually all deraileur mountain bikes have lower than 1:1 gearing as do the Surly Big Dummy, Yuba Mundo and most loaded touring bikes. This is common gearing for the less athletic to use for riding steeper climbs, albeit slowly. With compact 5 arm cranks and cassettes the practical limit is about a 15" gear on a 26" wheel bike using a 34 tooth rear sprocket and 20 tooth front. 4 arm MTB cranks can take a smallest chainring of 22 tooth size.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  12. #12
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    You must need pretty good balancing skills to ride such a low gear. My wife isn't very strong so she needs low gears to climb hills, but she can't use her lowest gear because she loses her balance at such slow speeds. So she ends up walking up the hills.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  13. #13
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    You must need pretty good balancing skills to ride such a low gear. My wife isn't very strong so she needs low gears to climb hills, but she can't use her lowest gear because she loses her balance at such slow speeds. So she ends up walking up the hills.
    On the geared Hub Bikes Yahoo group a couple of posters, both bike mechanics I believe, told of building bikes with low gears of 13" and 10.9" for customers. The 13" low bikes for hauling cargo trailers in Marin county and the 10.9" gearing for loaded touring in the Andes. Apparently the owners learned to balance the bikes ok at the very low speeds involved in such usage so it can be done.

    With things like the Schlumpf mountain drive available the mechanical limit for how low you can go seems to be pretty open if you can learn to balance at the speeds involved.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  14. #14
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    The nuvinci hub also has a large following along light electric and gas vehicles to increase their top speed/climbing ability w/o a gearbox (hence the large torque specs). Additionally, the weight is usually negated by the smooth transition of power by most riders. Clearly these aren't marketed to speed racer or weight wenies.

  15. #15
    Val
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    Mine has a 34t chainring, 22t freewheel, effective low gear of around 12", and it goes up the 10-15% grades around my house just fine, even with payload. As alleng notes, every other IGH (besides Rohloff) will self destruct within a year under these conditions. Nuvinci has been trouble free, and is at least an order of magnitude easier to shift in dicey situations. As for riding slowly, has no one here ever heard of a track stand? Not that I can do one, but I can ride really slowly if I have to. Practice, that's the ticket.
    rollingjackass.com

  16. #16
    Gear Hub fan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Val View Post
    Mine has a 34t chainring, 22t freewheel, effective low gear of around 12", and it goes up the 10-15% grades around my house just fine, even with payload. As alleng notes, every other IGH (besides Rohloff) will self destruct within a year under these conditions. Nuvinci has been trouble free, and is at least an order of magnitude easier to shift in dicey situations. As for riding slowly, has no one here ever heard of a track stand? Not that I can do one, but I can ride really slowly if I have to. Practice, that's the ticket.
    Unless you are running a very small rear wheel that is a gearing of about 20", not 12". Presuming you are running a 26" nominal diameter wheel here is my approximate calculation for your gear inches. You would need to be running a 16" rear wheel for your stated gear inches to be correct.

    34 / 22 = 1.55 (Sprockets input ratio) x .5 (internal hub minimum ratio) = .77 x 26" (wheel diameter) = 20".

    A 12" gear on the NuVinci with a normal diameter wheel would require a slightly larger rear sprocket than front one, say a 22 front and 24 rear. With a 26" rear wheel this would be 11.9" gearing. High would be about 42" which is about the lowest gear on many road bikes.

    For ultra low gearing on an IGH or NuVinci bike you would need to have dual front chain rings if you also want a reasonable high gear available. A limitation of the gear range of IGH units. Even the Rohloff, if set up with a 12" low, would only have a 63" high.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  17. #17
    Val
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    Oops, my mistake; it's been a while since I calculated it, and the number seems to have mutated in my head. Yes, you're right, 26" wheel, 20" low gear. Still not too shabby for hauling, and yes, I am using two chainrings - the large one is 46t, which is all the high gear I'll ever need on a bike like that.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I have a Nuvinci in my LHT set up with lowest recommended ration of 2:1. Yes, if I have it at the lowest gear setting I can move pretty slowly, but I move pretty slowly anyway. There have been times that I've wished I could gear it a little lower, but lately I've been happy with the ratio. There are always balance issues when you slow down to a crawl, but that's not the hub's fault. It's the rider's. And, of course, that's the lowest setting. If it's too slow, you shift into a higher range. Or set it up with a different ratio. There's no reason you can't set the hub up with a higher ratio, if lower isn't comfortable.

    The hub is heavier than most (any) other hubs out there, but the real "penalty" of the hub isn't the actual weight, but rather the difference in weight between that hub and any other set-up you might want to use. I agree that if you worry about weight, this isn't the hub for you, but if you regularly use your bike to carry any significant amount, then the weight of the actual hub is hardly an issue. Whenever the Nuvinci hub comes up, someone has to point out how it's just too heavy to make sense. You can't really argue with that, because if someone thinks that amount of weight is that big of an issue, then I guess it is ... to them. Meanwhile those of us who tried it generally seem to like it.

    I wanted a bike that I wasn't afraid to load up. I like IGHs for their ability to shift in any situation and for the simplified drive train. I wanted range and durability, and that's what Nuvinci has to offer. Rohloff has a better range, but is, I believe, a little less sturdy at about 3X the price. If money were no object, I'd still like to give it a try, but I'm really hooked on the variable gearing now, so I don't know. Higher range and less weight seems like a no-brainer, but I do love how the Nuvinci shifts.

    At any rate, I'm pretty happy with the range. I'm running a double up front, but I so rarely get into the big ring that I'm thinking about taking it off, switching to a little higher small ring, and losing the front shifting entirely. It just doesn't get enough use to justify it's existence, plus I could then go with a simpler chain tensioner set-up.

    So, sure, the Nuvinci is series of compromises, but, as near as I can tell, so is every other system out there. It's just a question on where you want to put your priorities. I prioritize having a bike that gets me where I'm going and is fun to ride. The Nuvinci fits right in there.

  19. #19
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Hmm, so it's good for small horsepower motors, cargo bikes, and why not touring bikes, too? If you're doing long distance touring and carrying lots of stuff, the extra weight of the hub won't be too bad. Plus, it reduces the chance of needing a mid-tour repair.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Hmm, so it's good for small horsepower motors, cargo bikes, and why not touring bikes, too? If you're doing long distance touring and carrying lots of stuff, the extra weight of the hub won't be too bad. Plus, it reduces the chance of needing a mid-tour repair.
    There are a few downsides I can think of.

    1) It is heavy. 10lbs+ for the wheel. Even for fully-loaded touring that much extra weight may not be desirable. Or it may not matter; I don't do fully-loaded touring (yet).
    2) From what I gather, removing a NuVinci rear wheel is a pretty significant pain. Definitely not a quick-release setup, and possibly even worse than other internally geared hubs. Don't get flats.
    3) Because the NuVinci is so unusual, if it does fail you're basically SOL. Even if you can find someone who can fix it, getting parts in a reasonable amount of time will be difficult or impossible.

  21. #21
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Right, but if your wheel fails in Timbuktu, you can at least get a new wheel. It might be a 3-speed wheel or a 1-speed wheel, but you can get going. Or you could buy a new bike. I was almost faced with that decision in the middle of my three-month tour, and it would not have been a disaster. It would have left me with less money, so I'd spend a little less time before my trip ended, but still not a disaster.
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  22. #22
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    2) From what I gather, removing a NuVinci rear wheel is a pretty significant pain. Definitely not a quick-release setup, and possibly even worse than other internally geared hubs. Don't get flats.
    3) Because the NuVinci is so unusual, if it does fail you're basically SOL. Even if you can find someone who can fix it, getting parts in a reasonable amount of time will be difficult or impossible.
    2.) To remove the NuVinci (and most other IGHs) is the exact same as removing any solid axel wheel.

    3.) This can be said of most of the working parts on your bike. I live 50 miles from Atlanta. We have two stores that sell bike parts; they are both WalMarts.
    A spoke, a 700c tube, a brake cable can all be difficult to find if you are touring outside of urban areas. Major mechanical failures can take you out of the saddle no matter who manufactured the critical part.

  23. #23
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    True enough. My point was that it's liable to be tough even in an urban area. It seems like you'd be more likely to be in a "replace the drivetrain, or replace the bike" situation like noglider mentions. Maybe the difference doesn't matter, though, and maybe the extra base durability of the NuVinci would be worth it. I'm just speculating on possibilities.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    2.) To remove the NuVinci (and most other IGHs) is the exact same as removing any solid axel wheel.

    3.) This can be said of most of the working parts on your bike. I live 50 miles from Atlanta. We have two stores that sell bike parts; they are both WalMarts.
    A spoke, a 700c tube, a brake cable can all be difficult to find if you are touring outside of urban areas. Major mechanical failures can take you out of the saddle no matter who manufactured the critical part.
    Allen;

    Your #2 depends on the installation. The NuVinci wheel removal requires carrying two wrench sizes, a 15mm and a 22mm, due to the size of the nut on the drive side. Also the design of the anti rotation plate for use with vertical dropout bikes requires removal of the chain tensioner before the rear wheel can be removed. That requires a Allen wrench IIRC.

    Probably no worse than removing the rear wheel from a IGH bike with an old style metal full chaincase but IMO the NuVinci is best installed in a frame with horizontal dropouts.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  25. #25
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    I forgot about the different sized nuts. It's been about 6-8 months since I have removed my rear wheel.

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