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Old 09-13-21, 12:45 PM
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Salubrious
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: St. Paul, MN
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Bikes: Too many 3-speeds, Jones Plus LWB

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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Every so often I ponder an IGH bike for my next PBP. Likely not a Rohloff but something much simpler (and cheaper) like a Sturmey-Archer 3- or 4-speed. No derailleurs would simplify drivetrain setup, not to mention making it a lot easier to pack. Would I hate the limited gearing by the end, or would it liberate me to have a simpler ride overall? Who knows.
That is where I started. The old SA hubs spun as well as the best Campy hubs made. I rode them on road bikes quite a lot.

Shimano then came out with their disastrous 11 speed. It really made me wonder if building a road bike around that was a good idea or not. I really enjoyed the resulting bike, but the Shimano reared its ugly design/construction flaws. I felt guilty letting someone have the hub for free at a swap meet. But it did do one thing: it convinced me that a Rohloff was a good idea, since even by that time they had a solid reputation of reliability. I had just been too cheap to pay for it; buying crappy bits like the Shimano (who refused to honor the warranty) has been a valuable lesson.

Rohloff solved a fundamental problem with shifting- all the indexing is in the hub so the shifter is simple; dirt, mud, water just doesn't mess with it. Even though people have won the Tour Divide with a Rohloff, it gets docked a lot, mostly on efficiency. Jones, who built my frame, is really down on them on this account. But once you're out in the field and things go south with the weather and not like you planned at all, the efficiency numbers work in your favor, especially if you hang with it and break the hub in properly prior to your race. It really seems to me that most people give up on it long before that ever happens.

One thing I really appreciate about it is the ability to shift gears instantly. When you hit a downhill you can build up speed faster than people with derailleurs simply on that account. I've done it many times. You don't miss a gear on a climb; I've seen people have to turn their bike sideways or downhill when that's happened to them. I've passed them on that account. Further, you have a progressive shift (its a 1-by after all) so getting in the right gear is always easy, but especially on a road bike you also have a wider gear range. This may well mean that you have taller gears available so if you get in a downwind or slight downhill grade situation you can really move.
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