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NuVinci N360 hub - long-term reliability?

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NuVinci N360 hub - long-term reliability?

Old 03-05-15, 04:23 PM
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bikeboy
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NuVinci N360 hub - long-term reliability?

Greetings, fellow cyclists. For several years, I've been eyeing a bicycle with the NuVinci N360 CVT hub. (Specifically, the REI Novara Gotham.) The down-side: some say there's a loss of efficiency compared with direct chain drive; it's rather heavy. But the up-side: It's infinitely variable. It - at least on the Gotham - uses a belt rather than a chain... essentially no maintenance.

Every year around this time, when REI has their 20% off sale, I start lookin' again. (Which makes the bike $1120 instead of $1400.)

My only real reservation is the question of long-term reliability, of the NuVinci hub itself. I'm not concerned about the belt... I've got many, many miles of problem-free belt riding on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. But... that hub! It was not designed to be user-serviceable, and probably not even bike-shop serviceable. And a quick web search reveals that it would cost $300 or so, plus labor, to replace.

REI offers a 1-year warranty. Falbrook - the hub manufacturer - is twice as confident, offering a 2-year warranty. And they told me it's designed to last "at least 36,000 kilometers." (About 21,600 miles.) Frankly, I'd hope to get more life out of it - maybe twice that much. (I'd likely put 5000-6000 miles per year on it.)

Is there anybody out there in BikeForums land, who has been riding a NuVinci hub for awhile and could give me some real-life feedback? THANKS!
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Old 03-06-15, 05:05 AM
  #2  
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I have no experience with this hub, but will say that $300 replacement is very reasonable... Especially since it's covered for 2 years. Traditional drivetrains could easily cost you that much or more with the kind of mileage you ride, especially if ridden in poor weather conditions.

Hopefully some NuVince users will chime in.
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Old 06-02-15, 08:50 AM
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Old(ish) thread that I just found when looking for other Nuvinci reports. Probably you've missed your 20% REI opportunity, but it seems like there's always another one around the corner. I've been riding on Nuvinci hubs almost exclusively for about 6 years. I started with the N170 model that was phased out when the N360 came out about 5 years ago. I love the shifting. I don't mind the weight. I commute every weekday, cruise around town most weekends and some weeknights, and take a few, longer, touring/bike-camping trips. But it's more commuting than anything else, and my commute isn't long, so back when I was keeping track, I was doing a little more than 3,000 miles/year. If Nuvinci's estimates on the reliability of the hub were accurate, that first hub would still be in service or would have died relatively recently. Although those numbers are for the N360.

I had to send my first hub in for service shortly after installing it because it was leaking fluid. Easy, warranty repair. Used that hub for two and a half years. Then one day it started slipping in low gear. They replaced the hub, no problem (the N170 had a 5 year warranty). I rode the new hub for just over 2 years before having the same problem. This time they replaced the hub with an N360. I actually used their replacement on a different bike, because I had already found an N360 for my daily ride. I just hadn't built the wheel up yet. I did that last year in March, and this morning, on the way to work, when I was trying to beat some traffic across an intersection, the hub started free-wheeling. I'll have to get it home and on the stand to confirm that it's a problem with the hub. It could be that the cog has come loose somehow, but it seems very much like I've destroyed another hub.

If I can determine that it wasn't the hub, but rather some other failure in the drive train, the love affair will be back on, but if it was yet another hub failure, then I'm likely done with this hub. I may try to get it replaced under warranty, but I don't think I'll be putting it back on my bike. But I will say that customer service has never given my trouble about my claims. They asked questions about the problem, and asked for my paperwork, but they never even asked for my old, broken hubs to be returned.

I hear great things about the reliability of the hub. I don't hear stories like mine, but then I don't actually know anyone in person who has a Nuvinci for us to compare notes. The last time I contacted support, they said they almost never hear of a hub slipping that wasn't connected to a motor (mine wasn't), and I've always been careful to keep it at or above the lowest allowable gear ratio. I am more of a masher than a spinner, and I am over 200 pounds, so hub takes more of a beating than with an average rider. So I hesitate to say that the hub isn't reliable. It seems like under the right conditions, it might be fine, but seem to have broken three while keeping them within manufacturer's specs, so that may be something to consider when evaluating the reliability of this hub.
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Old 06-11-15, 10:17 AM
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And an update on my hub: It looks like the first version of the N360 had a freewheel assembly that could, under right circumstances, get pushed out just enough to stop the freewheel pawls from engaging. I interpreted this as a hub failure because the symptoms were similar to other hub failures I have witnessed, but, AFAIK, pushing one, little spring clip back into place fixes the problem, and my wheel should be operational again as soon as I re-install it. It sounds like this is not even a potential problem on any hub made in the last 3 years. Mine just happens to have been made before the cut-off date.

I don't think my experiences are typical, and I love the shifting of the Nuvinci, so I would say if a deal comes around again, I would consider it. My current experiences have tainted my love of this hub, and I think I'm going to experiment with other options for a while, but I could easily come back to Nuvinci in the future. It is a neat hub that I have enjoyed riding (and I still one in operation on one of my bikes). I just am not in a position to verify the long term reliability of the hub. Though, as I said, I don't know of anyone who has had the same problems as I have.
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Old 06-13-15, 04:13 PM
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I've got 6000+ miles on my N360, including 3200 miles self-supported touring with a camping load (bike + rider + gear = ~290 lbs). No issues so far. I purchased it late 2013/early 2014.
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Old 07-16-15, 07:59 AM
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I didn't see this thread earlier because I tend to stay in the "Commuter" subforum. I have a Nuvinci 360 on my 2013 Novara Gotham and It is going strong for all weather commuter duty. Essentially no maintenance, which is what I wanted. The seal always looks damp; but there is no leakage, streams, or puddles. In all I am happy with it.

My commute is only about 2.5 mi; but, it is done in all weather.

I am looking to replace the grip shift wit a simple lever for use on a trike based velomobile. As far as losses, my derailuers are seldom on perfect tune; so I really do consider it to be about the same as my other bikes.
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Old 07-15-16, 01:06 PM
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no problems with NuVinci hub after 6,000 miles

I have been riding my REI Novara Gotham with carbon belt drive and NuVinci hub since March 2013 and have just completed 6,000 miles. The hub has performed flawlessly all this time. I commute daily, 8 miles roundtrip, in temps from 95 to -20F (in central Minnesota). BTW, I'm also impressed with the longevity of the belt drive. It's well past the rated miles (perhaps because I take it off periodically and reverse it!).
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