Author Topic: Rohloff Hubs  (Read 12346 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Calngage

Rohloff Hubs
« on: December 14, 2014, 07:59:12 pm »
I will be building a bike to use for the GDMBR.  To avoid any catastrophic damage to a derailer, I am contemplating the Rohloff hub for this demanding ride.  Thoughts/opinions??

Thanks

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2014, 05:05:57 pm »
I like mine a lot and would do it again. After 15,000 miles, mine has delivered many hours of trouble-free riding. In fact, it still operates like new. I decided I wanted to put the twist shifter on my bar end. I like that a lot. If you want to do the same, you will need a HubBub Twist Shifter Drop Bar Adaptor, available from Amazon. I like to gear my bike low. Rohloff specifies a minimum front cog size, below which they do not warrant the hub. I geared mine lower than their spec, so my hub is not under warranty. But it has not caused any trouble. As they say in their manual "We built it strong." There are 3 things I don't like about it:

The oil change kits are expensive (about $25).

After the change, oil seeps out of the seals for several weeks, making the rear wheel messy.

The most common installation is to connect the rear cable  guide to the post for the rear brake arm. That created an issue with water getting into the joint. After a year or so, it would get rusty and the one side of my rear brakes would not release correctly. I re-routed the cables to attach the rear cable guide to the chain stay. This requires a straight cable guide (Rohloff part number 8260). The only US source I could find for it was Cycle Monkey. At $25, I thought it was rather expensive.

Offline Calngage

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 09:40:45 am »
OGNH,

Thank you much.  That is just what I was looking for and then some.  I appreciate it very much.  Happy riding.  Take care.

Offline twalls

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2014, 09:38:28 pm »
For a less positive view see Bicycle Quarterly, vol 11, No 4. (Summer 2013).

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2014, 09:41:08 am »
For a less positive view see Bicycle Quarterly, vol 11, No 4. (Summer 2013).

It's not an obsolete, hand-built, custom French gear changing system - even though, like Rene Herse derailleurs, it requires frame modifications to use it on a modern bicycle.  Of course Heine doesn't like the Rohloff!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2014, 10:14:33 am »
Of course Heine doesn't like the Rohloff!
Not knocking those who like it, but it isn't hard to find reasons not to like it.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2014, 01:34:22 pm »
Of course Heine doesn't like the Rohloff!
Not knocking those who like it, but it isn't hard to find reasons not to like it.

Cost, weight, and the pecularities of the frame needed, to be sure.  But at the risk of getting personal, Jan Heine is such a French bike chauvinist that I discount his opinion of the Rohloff.

Offline RonK

Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2014, 10:18:36 pm »
Of course Heine doesn't like the Rohloff!
Not knocking those who like it, but it isn't hard to find reasons not to like it.

Cost, weight, and the pecularities of the frame needed, to be sure.  But at the risk of getting personal, Jan Heine is such a French bike chauvinist that I discount his opinion of the Rohloff.
Nonetheless, Heine's comments on the Rohloff coincide precisely with my own experience - in fact he was quite moderate compared with the opinion I've formed after owning one for several years.   

As Heine stated, the issues he encountered are never mentioned or glossed over by love-struck fans, but are they are absolutely factual.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline DaveB

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2014, 08:43:51 am »
Jan Heine is such a French bike chauvinist that I discount his opinion of the Rohloff.
Yes, I put him in the same category as I do Grant Peterson.  They are so narrow in their attitudes that they get tiresome quite quickly.

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2014, 04:22:14 pm »
So, if we are to know the negative points of a Rohloff, those issues that Rohloff lovers never mention, we are to purchase a year's worth of back issues of Bike Quarterly? The three negatives I see in this discussion are cost, weight, and peculiarities of the frame. The initial cost is certainly known up front, and I specifically mentioned two points where ongoing cost are an issue in my experience. Weight is a big issue for racing, but I don't race. I have a Trek 520 with a Tubus rack, a heavy-duty stand, SKS fenders, etc. Mine is certainly not a light weight bike. Many touring bikes value rugged construction over light weight. The hub works well on my bike without any frame modifications, so I can't imagine what the peculiarities of the frame are.

So if you have negative experiences with the Rohloff hub, what are they? Certainly there are pros and cons to anything. There is nothing that is best for everybody. But if you don't like the hub, you should state your reasons so readers can evaluate the facts or experiences you want to bring up, not the quality of a magazine or the personality of an author.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2014, 02:05:58 pm »
12 years ago I did the great divide on a regular mtb frame with my rohloff hub. I had no problems whatsoever.

People often rightfully claim that they dont want such a complicated gear system, because you cannot fix it on the road like a derailleur system. That is very true and I understand the problem. However, the hub is so robust that it will not fail at all ... mine did not ... and I would do it again. I have never opened and serviced the hub, and would not do so if I had to do the trip again.

Try reading this post about a guy who used both the rohloff and the belt drive.

http://twentynineinches.com/2012/08/03/interview-with-tour-divide-winner-ollie-whalley/

Based on his interview alone, I transformed one of my bikes into a belt driven bike and I would like to turn my Rohloff bike into the same.

When discussing negative issues:

1. There is a bit more drag in the hub, you will probably never notice it offroad, but I am sensitive and would never do a trans am on paved roads with a rohloff, because it drags a bit more.
2. In particular gears it makes a clicking noise, so it is def not silent.

Lucas

Offline Calngage

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2014, 07:21:01 pm »
Thank you all for the replies and the interview was a great read. 

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2014, 05:47:47 pm »
So, if we are to know the negative points of a Rohloff, those issues that Rohloff lovers never mention, we are to purchase a year's worth of back issues of Bike Quarterly? The three negatives I see in this discussion are cost, weight, and peculiarities of the frame. The initial cost is certainly known up front, and I specifically mentioned two points where ongoing cost are an issue in my experience. Weight is a big issue for racing, but I don't race. I have a Trek 520 with a Tubus rack, a heavy-duty stand, SKS fenders, etc. Mine is certainly not a light weight bike. Many touring bikes value rugged construction over light weight. The hub works well on my bike without any frame modifications, so I can't imagine what the peculiarities of the frame are.

Pardon me for beating a dead horse; I'm off from work and it's raining outside, so I dug up BQ's mini-review.  Heine's points are noted below, with a bit of my discussion.

Weight, about a pound and a half over derailer based weight (hub, cassette, and derailer).  Previously mentioned.  Like Old Guy, I don't notice the extra weight of a full water bottle.

"Gritty feel" Heine noted in 7th gear (and lower?), supposedly because of the extra gears.  Old Guy, any comments on this one?

Need for a longer pause when shifting from 8th to 7th gear.  This is also noted in the Thorn designer's review at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/rohloff-impressions.html  Even with STI and Ergo shifters, I try to avoid those double-shifts between chainrings, to which I think this is analogous.

OGNH, as you noted some people have had problems with the rear cable guide installation.   I believe Thorn, among others, sometimes add a braze-on to the frame.  This is the frame mod I mentioned.  You've also got the problem of how to put a shifter onto drop bars.

As to your other previous point, $25 (now $30) for an oil change kit is a whole lot cheaper after 25,000 miles than the new $60 cassette I had to install the other week after only about 15,000 miles.  I wouldn't consider that a disadvantage to the Rohloff in that context.  Also, since you son't have the lateral displacement of a derailer, do you get a longer chain life with the Rohloff than the 1,500-2,500 most people get with derailers?  Or even the 5,000 miles Pete gets?  Those are getting expensive, especially as the chains get thinner; it looks like $15 chains have gone the way of the dinosaur (I almost said $2/gallon gas!).

I didn't see it previously mentioned in this discussion, but you don't have to worry about the fragility of a derailer system with a hub gear.  A rider on a tour with me dealt with poor shifting for two days after his bike was knocked over, until his shop at home could take a derailer hanger off a show room bike and FedEx it to him.  I'd guess a couple incidents like that would start to eat into the price difference of the gear hub.

After all that cheerleading, the next $1,500 I spend on a bike is still likely to go into a custom bike without the Rohloff hub.  Sure looks nice, though.

Offline RonK

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2014, 06:15:21 pm »
So if you have negative experiences with the Rohloff hub, what are they? Certainly there are pros and cons to anything. There is nothing that is best for everybody.
Two years ago I posted about my Rohloff experience my own blog. I'm not going to re-state here since it's quite detailed and considered. You can read it for yourself here.

Since writing this blog post, I've more than doubled the distance travelled. The 5000km oil change did not diminish the noise, although I was assured by many that it would. My initial impressions have not not changed at all. I regard this as a failed experiment and will likely replace the bike.

So if you have negative experiences with the Rohloff hub, what are they? Certainly there are pros and cons to anything. There is nothing that is best for everybody. But if you don't like the hub, you should state your reasons so readers can evaluate the facts or experiences you want to bring up, not the quality of a magazine or the personality of an author.
I believe it was Rohloff fans that made the personal attacks on Heine, not the other way round.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 06:36:12 pm by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Rohloff Hubs
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2014, 09:09:21 am »
Pat - thanks for taking the time to post your comments. It's a fair summary and agrees with my experience. Since you mentioned it, my solution to mounting the shifter on drop bars is the bar-end / Hubub adaptor.

Adding to the minus side, the shift from 7 to 8 deserves its infamy, but any shift while under pressure can lead to surprises. I have learned not to shift while pressing on the pedals. A lot of people mention the extra noise in the lower gears. But I think the "freewheel" click is too loud in the upper gears. This is not a quiet device in either gear range. I would like to claim a longer chain life, but mine is highly irregular. Is it variation between chains? Or is it some combination of rain and road grit?

Since my last post, I remembered that some frames built for the Rohloff allow adjustment of the rear wheel to set the chain tension. This might be one of the frame issues. But Rohloff offers a chain tensioner. Like the hub, it's a mechanical marvel, rugged, expensive, and heavy.

As with most things, a lot comes down to personal preference. I hope my preference doesn't make me a "Rohloff lover". The biggest issue for me is that with a derailer, I was dropping the chain several times a year. The reasons varied, but it seems to have always been at a particularly bad time. With the Rohloff, I never drop the chain (so far).