Author Topic: Rohloff- two questions  (Read 15870 times)

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Offline dombrosk

Rohloff- two questions
« on: February 02, 2011, 07:30:29 pm »
I'm having a new frame custom built and considering Rohloff...

1) I'd be curious to hear from anybody who has actually toured with one what their experience was, especially just how noisy they can be in use.

2) I'm not very mechanically literate... but if I understand the system, to get a lower 'granny gear' you adjust the size of the front chainring.  I'd love advice from the many mechanically blessed members of the forum on a good front ring for touring for this 58 year old rider who doesn't mind going uphill at 4 mph as long as I can keep pedalling. 

Here's where to get some useful numbers that I don't understand:

Thanks in advance, and I hope people have good daydreams going about 2011 tours!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 07:55:53 pm »
I can't answer to the "How well does it work" question, but the gearing is another story.  Assuming you're going to get an other-wise standard touring bike, taking about a 622x32 touring tire, and you want the low gear on Rohloff's chart (38x16 or 40x17): Sheldon says you can get down to 17.9 gear inches.

That is one low gear.

I'm guessing you can pedal uphill at less than 3 mph, assuming you can balance the bike, with a gear like that.  If a coal truck has jack-knifed, you may have to get a friend to tie a rope around the truck and attach it to your rack to pull it upright.  You can surely pull stumps out with that gear, if you have enough traction.

OK, the last two were in jest.  But seriously, you're getting into "you could walk faster" territory with a gear that low.

Oh, and a 26" wheel will be even lower!

Offline DaveB

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 10:30:41 am »
Smaller chainrings = lower gear
Larger rear cogs =   lower gear

So you want the smallest chainring and largest rear cog combination Rohloff offers.  However be sure not to exceed Rohloff's recommended lowest gear combination.  Rohloff has a maximum recommended torque the hub is designed for and going to a lower chainring/cog combination can overstress it.

Offline cotterg3

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 12:20:20 pm »
I'm also getting a rohloff for a new build (currently in the mail). I've done my research, but haven't ridden it so I'll be brief.

If you are familiar with a standard 27 seed mtb, a good comparison can be found here between the gear ratios:

Also, check out the owners manual (page 13 of the pdf). Same info, slightly more detail. This also lists the smallest allowable gear ratios between chainring and crank.

As for the noise, I can let you know in a couple weeks.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 05:30:52 pm »
We purchased a Thorn bike from SJS Cycles of England. They are big on Rohloff and have a lot of experience with them. Andy Blance and his partner have them on their expedition bikes and have done extensive touring in South America. He actually wrote an article on it.

I had a friend who put one on his Comotion Tandem, toured the Alps with it, and LOVED IT!!! Yes it can be noisy between gears 7 and 8. $1300 is a big investment. However, I think other than recommended maintenance, the thing lasts 50,000 km. I am not sure if one has failed yet, they are virtually indestructible.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2011, 10:14:54 am by Fred Hiltz »

Offline Tourista829

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 01:24:35 pm »
DaveB is correct a 38 front x 16 tooth rear gear is an ideal touring combination. It would give you a 17.9 to 90" gear inches or 526% range. Rholoff wil not warranty certain gear combinations. I have an 18.6"  low gear, on my Santana Tandem (I believe a 35 tooth rear and 24 tooth front x 27" wheel) and if I do not maintain 90+ rpms, climbing a steep hill, the bike will fall over. (3.2 mph) Don't forget to change your cables and not overfill the gear hub with oil. I have heard that the noisey gear 7 gets a little better, with age. Other than it sounding noisey, I understand it doesn't hurt the hub. On a windy day you will hardly hear it.

Offline Trek950

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 06:56:36 pm »
I have toured twice with the Rohloff running 38x16 on a 26"wheel which gives me 17.2 gear inches.  I was very glad of the low gearing on the Great Divide last summer as I had done very little in the way of physical prep for the trip.  The relatively low high gear has never concerned me.

The hub noise is not as bad as you would think given all the fuss about it on the net.  Mine has had 2 oil changes and is now very quiet.  It has never bothered me and I am very easily irritated.

IMO on a trip like the GDMBR the Rohloff is a far superior system to derailleurs due to the low maintenance and the ability to shift gear at a standstill. 

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 10:48:58 pm »
We use a Rohloff-equipped Surly Big Dummy to haul our two toddlers on our cycling adventures. Geared 38x16, we can testify it is perfect for touring with lots of weight -- our rig weighs in over 160 pounds (and growing!) with the kids on-board, and we have yet to drop into the first gear (saving that for when we cross the Rockies later this year).

Really can't be beat it for ease of use,  maintenance, and reliability on a touring bike.

Reuben rides the dunes by Pedal Powered Family, on Flickr

Follow along with our year-long family bicycle tour at, with real-time updates on Twitter @pedalpoweredfam

Offline threedogs

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2011, 02:54:21 pm »
i have a Rohloff on my Surly Pugsley, and plan on doing the northern tier. The recommended gear combinations by Rohloff include tandems and world class athletes. In other words, you can use a ' forbidden ' gear combo with no harm done if you are not a team of world class athletes on a tandem, and many do use lower gearing with no ill effects that I'm aware of.

I have a 36/17 on 29 wheels ( Pugsley has 26"rims, but effectively 29 " tires ) which gives me 17.1 - 90.1 g.i. I love that gear combination. If you buy one, buy new. I would suggest never buying off ebay or second hand. Cycle Monkey is the US distributor for Rohloff. Contact them if you have any questions.

Offline dombrosk

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2011, 05:53:37 am »
Because I started this thread, I thought I should give an update on how my decision went.  I decided to get my frame built up for a Rohloff, and have no regrets at all.

I'm a daily bicycle commuter (10 miles each way) and did a 700 mile tour this summer through Germany and the Netherlands.  With the first snow I've finally retired the new bike for the winter and pulled out my rusty old diamondback with studded tires, and I miss the Rohloff already. 

The noise issue has been a non-issue for me.  At times, it's been a plus as I'm coasting up on a pedestrian and they can here me before I ding my little bell, but it's not significantly louder than other freewheels.

For gearing, I went to the absolute lowest ratios possible and my old knees have thanked me for that.  I tend to pedal as slow as 4 mph uphill, and the Rohloff has handled that just fine.  On the top end, pedalling maxes out a bit above 20 mph.  That's fine by me, faster than that and I'm usually coasting.

Being able to shift at a stop turned out to be a bigger advantage than I expected.  Yes, we all know to shift in advance of a stop... but sometimes a car or pedestrian does appear in front of us... or we forget.  It's kind of magical to be able to spin into any gear.

I was nervous about the grip shifter, but the triangular design has been very easy to handle, even with heavy cold weather gloves or heavy rain.

My chain life is definitely improved thanks to the lack of stress put onto it.

It was interesting to notice how many cyclists in Germany noticed my Rohloff.  Many were surprised that Americans had heard of it.  In many cases it was the first thing they noticed about the bike.

Summing up, yes it was expensive.  But I'm satisfied that the price is fair for the quality of the unit and I expect to get many years of service and happy riding.

Offline pptouring

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2011, 09:07:00 pm »
Thank you for the update dombrosk.

Are you using their chain tensioner too? How much did you chain life improve?


Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Rohloff- two questions
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2013, 10:11:50 am »
After reading this thread (and also reading some other stuff), I put a Rohloff hub on my bike 2 years ago. I haven't had a moment's trouble, and have been very pleased with the Rohloff performance. I use a 17.9 gear-inch granny gear. I can tell you from personal experience that riding my bike up a steep hill at 3.5 MPH is faster than walking the bike up that hill at 2 MPH. After three oil changes, the noise is still there. And it still a little bothersome when riding on a quiet back road. And the chain tensioner works very well. But that's not why I'm posting.

I was finishing a ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive last week, and came across a couple in Harper's Ferry that was doing a 4-day ride on the C & O Canal. Their experience made me think. His pannier came loose, broke several spokes, and pretzeled the rear wheel. Fortunately, they were near a bike shop. Their options were to either buy a new wheel and take off in an hour, or have the shop re-build the existing wheel and take off in two days.

There are other accidents that can pretzel a wheel. The're rare and none of them have happened to me (yet). But if something like this ever does happen to me, I'll have only the 2-day option, which would have a serious detrimental effect on my mental attitude, if you know what I mean. I expect to be riding this bike and the Rohloff hub for quite a while. But if I were building another bike, I'm not sure whether I would spend the money on a Rohloff again.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 10:14:54 am by Old Guy New Hobby »