Author Topic: Rohloff SpeedHub  (Read 5524 times)

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Offline Gus

Rohloff SpeedHub
« on: January 13, 2021, 10:50:49 am »
I have asked about drivetrains before. This question is specific to the Rohloff. For cyclist who have toured with them, do you or have you had any problems with them? Leaking oil things like that. Any regrets on getting one? Do you wish that you stayed with a standard chain derailleur system? I have read several articles with the pros and cons. I know they are expensive. Just wanted feedback from cyclist who use them. Thanks.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 11:34:03 am »
Gus, I have three bikes with Rohloff hubs; 1 chain and 2 belt.  The answer is it all depends.

A Rohloff hub is nice (but not required) for the following conditions:
1) You want less maintenance.  You have to change the oil once earlier of once a year or every 3k miles.  If you have a chain, you still have to deal with chain maintenance. I absolutely love belts.  BTW, the hubs do leak some but that is not an issue if you change as required.
 
2) You frequently have to stop on uphills and have a difficult time starting again due to needing a lower gear to get started than what you were using when you stopped.  The Rohloff can change gears when stopped.
 
3) You do off-pavement touring where gumming up or breaking the rear derailleur with mud is a definite possibility.  I frequently tour off-pavement so that is by far the main benefit for me.

4) You have difficulty remembering your gear shift pattern, i.e. go from the middle to out chainring then drop the rear hub to a larger cog to get to the next closest lower gear ratio type of thing.  My lovely bride hates shifting a derailleur as she frequently shifts the wrong direction, i.e. makes it harder when she wanted easier.  Switched here to a Rohloff and she is now happy.
 
If none of the above apply to you, I would definitely stick with a traditional system.  The Rohloffs due have a definite noise in the lowest gears.  I swear I feel more resistance in certain gears but everything I have read says it is just my acute imagination. When it comes time to change the shifter cable, it is a pain as you have to get it just right. I would think that a higher quality derailleur set would weigh less than a Rohloff system.  Also, changing the rear tire is a bit more of a pain but not too much. Finally, if set up properly, a derailleur system can easily have 50% more usable gears which is nice if you have a narrow preferred cadence range, i.e. you only like 95-100rpms.
 
All that said, the primary reason I have them is due to my off pavement touring and that I am lazy when it comes to maintenance, which is not a good trait when days (or weeks) from the nearest bike shop. Otherwise, I would personally go with a derailleur system.
 
Tailwinds, John
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 11:35:44 am by John Nettles »

Offline RonK

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 04:35:29 pm »
I did tour with a Rohloff, I don't have one any more. They are overpriced and overrated, a triumph of marketing. Keep your money in your pocket.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 04:37:11 pm »
Ron, what specifically did you not like about them?

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 08:40:40 am »
I don't tour these days, but I did tour with a Rohloff, and I still rite quite a bit locally. Touring with a Rohloff was OK, but I don't own one now and I don't plan to ever own another one. I'll start with the good stuff. The Rohloff is an engineering marvel. It is built with the highest level of craftsmanship and quality. There are absolutely no leaks. They even put a LokTite like substance on the tiny oil change port screw.

Now the minor complaints. Rohloff recommends oil changes. They offer an oil change kit that costs a small fortune. I changed oil at recommended intervals. The old oil always looked dark and dirty. I don't know what causes this, but it convinced me to keep on changing the oil at the recommended intervals with the recommended kit. A casual reading of their marketing material indicates you can change to any gear at any time without backing off on the pedal force. A more careful reading of the owner's manual suggests timing the shift to when your feet are vertical, to minimize the pedal force. Then they say something like " ... but if you want to shift under force, we built it strong". That's far from an exact quote, but that's pretty much the message. I recall quoting the page number in an earlier post on this site. You can probably find it if you are feeling energetic. The Rohloff has a very good range from low to high gear. To get that range, they use a two-speed system. The transition in and out of 7 is notably different than the other gear changes. (I might have the gear number off by one, it's been a while.) Shifting into or out of 7 under force is not going to happen.

Finally, the bad stuff. After 15,000 miles, it started to get hard to change the gears. I'm sorry to admit it took me that long to wake up to what I really had. The only two ways to get a Rohloff hub is to buy a wheel that already has a hub, or have a wheel built. If your hub is defective, Rohloff has decent warranty. Simply disassemble your wheel, send the hub off to Germany, and wait for its return. If you are on tour and the hub is causing problems, the only reasonable solution is to have an LBS (local bike shop) convert you back to a derailleur. My experience with LBS on the road was fabulous. The two times I needed their help, they put me at the top of the queue. But a major job like that pretty much means you're going to spend a day or more walking to local attractions. Plus you would hit the road with an untested wheel and derailleur the LBS had in stock. I always wanted 500 miles on every major component before starting a tour. Roadside repairs might be required to get you to an LBS. Roadside repairs of a Rohloff are very unlikely to be necessary. That's a very good thing, because road side repairs are impossible.

Offline RonK

Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 04:48:05 pm »
John, that would take a very long post, something that I don't care enough to do anymore. The post above covers some of the issues.
Suffice to say the only one of Rohloff's marketing claims is 100% true is that you can change gears while stationary.
But the two issues which I consider unacceptable is the unremitting noise and the poor shift quality, particularly the 8-7 shift.
That's long enough already.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 05:14:16 pm »
Ron, I agree with the noise is annoying but is does become substantially more quiet as the miles add up.  I agree though that it is a bit of a pain. I personally have not had any issues shifting except when the cable starts to wear and that is normal with any shifting system, IG or derailleur.  Everyone knows they are pricey but Gus specifically mentioned that so that is not a factor for him. 

I am sorry to anger you with asking you to clarify your statement.  Gus was just trying to get actual reviews and yours came across, to me at least, as a bit condescending, angry, and vague.  I was just trying to get more info from you to help Gus.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Inge

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 02:15:30 am »
I like my Rohloff, have had it for a bit over a year now, because of Covid I have only used te bike on short day trips around the house. But I would not want to go back to a derailleur set up - have that still on my gravelbike now functioning as training bike on my indoor trainer. Hopefully coming summer, if and when Covid has become a bit less off an issue, I will be able to take the bike on a proper tour.

Things I like are that I no longer have to think when and which gear to shift (front or back or both), I really like the fact that I can shift when at a standstill + that I now have a lower gear than is possible in the gravel bike (24T x 36T). Also I have a belt drive and like that maintanance takes a lot less + is a heck of a lot less dirty of a job. Cleaning the chain has never been my favourite part of maintanance.

Offline j1of1

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2021, 04:06:53 pm »
I have a Thorn Nomad with a Rohloff (with chain...do wish I had the Gates drive...) and would never go back to a rear derailleur.  #1 reason:  Reliability; #2 reason: Flexibility; #3 reason: Easy maintenance;   I have had friends whose loaded bikes fell over and bent their rear derailleurs; I have friends who ran into problems with rear derailleur adjustments with the chain skipping all over the place - or worse skipping when they up off their seats pedaling up a hill (ouch!).  I rode the C&O a few years back and my partner had to stop at every campground to get the mud out of his rear derailleur because it wasn't shifting.  I never had a problem with the mud. Another reason I like my Rohloff...Flexibility in the gearing.   My could setup has a low of slightly less than 17 gear inches and a high of 89 gear inches.   While my friends are walking up steep hills, I'm pedaling.  Changing the rear sprocket to change the gearing requires one to remove a snap ring, remove old sprocket, put new one on, put snap ring back on and wheel back on bike.  I can, if so desired, put a sprocket on back that gets my gear inches down to 13 (low) and 73 (high) or I can put in a sprocket that changes my gear inches from a low of 22 to a high of 117.  #3 reason Maintenance - almost zero maintenance.  Oil changes, yes, but only after 1000s of miles and can be done in less than 30 minutes.

Downsides to a Rohloff:  1) I have heard of some problems associated with cable routing with the hub, but have not experienced any of those problems myself on my Thorn; 2) They are expensive - I haven't checked lately, but you will probably pay a grand plus for a hub, wheel and specialized spokes for those wheels; 3) I've heard complaints about how much they weigh, but really don't know if those complaints are valid or not.
 

Offline Inge

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2021, 02:57:33 am »
j1of1 - You mention: I wish I had Gates drive - is that not possible on the Nomad?

I know I am really glad with my Gates. No more oil chainges. Just hosing it down with water and ready to go  :).

Offline DaveB

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2021, 01:22:44 pm »
  I can, if so desired, put a sprocket on back that gets my gear inches down to 13 (low) and 73 (high) or I can put in a sprocket that changes my gear inches from a low of 22 to a high of 117.
Rohloff (and other IGH makers) has a minimum chainring/cog ratio that you shouldn't go below to avoid exceeding the hub's torque limit.  The minimum primary ratio Rohloff recommends iis 1.9:1 (2.5:1 for heavy riders and Tandems) and given the hubs low gear of 0.279 that gives a low gear of 14.3 gear-inches so your 13 gear inches is a bit lower than Rohloff likes even if you are light and your touring load modest. 

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2021, 01:32:25 pm »
Not only is that beyond the warranty limit, for me, I would tip over if I used a 13" gear. 

My low ratio is 1.91 and that is pretty dang low.  I creep up at about 2.3 miles per hour (about the same as walking) but I don't need to stop and break as often compared to walking.  When loaded touring, I very rarely spin out in my top gear (I usually only lightly pedal downhill to keep my legs warm).  I actually wished the spacing were tighter as I would prefer the low but less of a high.

Offline Inge

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2021, 01:17:42 am »
Rohloff has reasonably recently agreed that the gear ratio is allowed to be lower than before - do not know what mine works out to be but 48t + 22t is now allowed by rohlof. using gear calculator it  shows; https://gear-calculator.com/?GR=DERS&KB=48&RZ=22&UF=2240&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=KMH&DV=teeth&GR2=RLSH&KB2=42&RZ2=22&UF2=2240
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 01:20:22 am by Inge »

Offline John Nettles

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2021, 09:45:03 am »
Inge,  a think you are mistaken.  A 48/22 would be a pretty hard gear ratio, i.e. 2.18, compared to the previously allowed 42/17 (2.47).  I "think" the low allowed is a 1.9 ratio (42/22) but not positive.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Rohloff SpeedHub
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2021, 09:47:51 am »
My low ratio is 1.91 and that is pretty dang low.  I creep up at about 2.3 miles per hour (about the same as walking) but I don't need to stop and break as often compared to walking.  When loaded touring, I very rarely spin out in my top gear (I usually only lightly pedal downhill to keep my legs warm).  I actually wished the spacing were tighter as I would prefer the low but less of a high.
At that point I welcome the change of pace of walking a bit.  I have no desire to ride that slow and never envied the super low gear ratios some of you guys run.  Not knocking others who do though.

When I was in really good shape I never needed gears lower than 25" or so even with a heavy load and a steep climb and these days I don't mind walking if I need to.  Also since I pack real light these days it helps keep the need for walking down a bit as well.

I am not inclined to use geared hubs, but my gearing choices would be well within their requirements.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 10:20:15 am by staehpj1 »