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  1. #1
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    rohloff speedhub: worth it?

    thinking about getting one of these for a bike i plan on building up this winter (most likely turner or ellsworth, 5 or 6 inch). i rode a friend of a friend's bike with one, but didn't know what it was at the time, so focused more on checking out the bike. also rode a hard tail at a local dealer and found it to be clunky when shifting more than one gear at a time, but i've heard it takes some time to break in. i like the idea of no-pedal shifting and no external parts, but is it worth the high price? i've seen them go on ebay around 800, but 1600 new. anybody riding one can weigh in? also, are there any similar alternatives? i've heard that both sram and shimano have something similar, but couldn't find anything on their websites.

  2. #2
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    They are expensive...

    initially. But I think the pros outweigh the cons once they're broken in. Only requiring an annual oil change. Perfect chainline all the time. Sealed from the elements. The only two cons I can think of (once it's broken in and the noise and rough feel in some gears is gone) is cost and weight increase. Everyone who has one says the weight is only noticeable when you're hefting the bike up to your roof rack.

    The "similar" alternatives that you speak of from Shimano and SRAM don't offer the reliablity for real off road riding and don't offer the gearing range as well. Mostly, those hubs are designed for the commuter market.

    Disclaimer: I don't have one, but have built a bike with one and ridden it a little bit. The pictures are floating around the 29" board...it's a latte_hardtail's Niner One9. I want one for my next geared bike.

  3. #3
    rohloff rich
    Reputation: rs3o's Avatar
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    Try using the search function and you will find lots of info on the Rohloff.

  4. #4
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    Hey metal, the cost downside is only a factor up front.

    Yeah, at face value it's a chunk of change (ok, ok, it's a chunk of change no matter what), but compare it to the cost of a full XT or XTR setup and you'll begin to see some reasonable offset.

    But the real savings comes two, three years down the line -- whenever you're ready to sell your bike and move on to the next one.

    The way it works is, you pick out a nice rig with a decent mix of XT / XTR / SRAM 9.0 parts on it. Part out the drivetrain -- cranks, rear wheel, everything -- and throw your "well broken-in" Speedhub on there instead.

    I swear to you, you'll eventually pay back that initial investment in the hub. And that's not including the saved dollars from cassettes, chainrings, chains and derailleurs you're either (a) not replacing or (b) increasing replacement intervals for up to 4x their "normal" life.

    My first Speedhub, which I purchased back in fall of '01, has made the jump from an NRS to a Hollowpoint to an Iron Horse MkIII. All three bikes were new, so that resulted in three complete drivetrains I've eBayed that's easily pushed me over my initial $650 investment.

    Compared to Shimano Nexus or SRAM Spectro... well, the Rohloff Speedhub is in its own category. I've got a Nexus on my street bike, and a Spectro on my wife's cruiser. Neither is sealed. The Nexus feels somewhat "grindy". The Spectro won't drop into a lower gear if there is moderate pressure on the pedals. Both hubs have somewhat irregular, relatively narrow gear ranges. I haven't tried either off-road, but from what I've read, neither is expected to hold up.
    speedub.nate
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  5. #5
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    The Speedhub is nice, although heavy and close to $1,000 USD range for the complete kit.

    I can't imagine how much the "lightweight" version will cost. I emailed Rohloff for details and never got an answer. For myself, I spend about $70/year for chains and cassettes. I would most likely stop riding before the cost is offset.

    Now I have seen some Speedhubs that were only used once and the owners found it wasn't their thing. What are the other reasons people don't like them besides weight? Are they tough to get the hang of?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerk_Chicken
    Now I have seen some Speedhubs that were only used once and the owners found it wasn't their thing. What are the other reasons people don't like them besides weight? Are they tough to get the hang of?
    "used once" is the key.

    (a) they do take a couple hundred miles to break in. Once all the gears are meshing correctly, the hub gets quieter, it becomes smoother (as transmitted to the rider through the chain and crank), and it shifts more readily.

    (b) the shifting is a little different and requires a slight modification of technique. Whereas a derailleur depends on some crank rotation to carry the shift through to the next gear (taking up 1/3 to 3/4 of a crank rotation), the Speedhub shifts near instantly. Shifts are best made when the crank is top dead center of the pedal stroke, when the least pressure is on the chain. On steep grades under heavy effort, sometimes it's necessary to lightly "burp" the pedal stroke to facilitate the shift.

    Yeah, it's a little different. I can see some riders getting nervous that they may have made a mistake and cutting their losses early. Those who express concerns but stick it out seem to come around after a matter of rides.
    speedub.nate
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  7. #7
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    What Speedub.Nate said.

    We have 3, the oldest being from 1999, and it's the smoothest running of the 3. Show me an XTR drivetrain from 1999 that has been run year round in sun, snow, mud (lots of that), underwater, and been to Moab, Pisgah, North shore... pretty much everywhere in the last 6 years, that is still running now. One cog replacement, MANY chains, twice yearly oil change (2x due to sub-zero winter riding). I like them, and I've divested myself of derailleur drivetrains (read: I have a bias!).

    Weither it is worth it for you, depends on you. If your drive train lasts over a year, then an economic aregument may not be valid. But if you consider instant shifts, no broken derailleurs (except you still need a chain tensioner on the FS you are considering), no shifting problems due to dirt, riding in mud & snow, and contrast that with the 2 main complaints - weight and cost, then you might make a different choice. It's clear they are not for everyone.

    Alternatives: Sturmey, Sachs/SRAM, & Shimano - these 3~8speed hubs were all made for commutting. They usually don't survive mtb trail use (ie: 4 months on a Shimano 7-speed). The only exception is the Shimano "Red-Band" 8-speed, which is reported to be much more durable. I picked one up to test last year, but it ended up on my mother-in-law's bike. It's still not as nice as a Rohloff.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  8. #8
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    related question, and yes i could go look at a bike that has grip shifts to figure it out, but i'm here sitting at my desk thinking about it...

    do you have to cut the grips down to fit the grip shift in? or does it already fit in the space between the grip and brake lever where the thumb shifter would normally be without cutting the grip? can the grip shifter be used with lock ons?

  9. #9
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    Depends...

    Quote Originally Posted by metaldork
    related question, and yes i could go look at a bike that has grip shifts to figure it out, but i'm here sitting at my desk thinking about it...

    do you have to cut the grips down to fit the grip shift in? or does it already fit in the space between the grip and brake lever where the thumb shifter would normally be without cutting the grip? can the grip shifter be used with lock ons?
    You'll probably have to cut down a standard length grip a little bit to make room for the shifter. You can use SRAM brand grips that are designed to go with a twist shifter. And finally, yes there are twist grip length ODI lock-on grips out there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by metaldork
    thinking about getting one of these for a bike i plan on building up this winter (most likely turner or ellsworth, 5 or 6 inch). i rode a friend of a friend's bike with one, but didn't know what it was at the time, so focused more on checking out the bike. also rode a hard tail at a local dealer and found it to be clunky when shifting more than one gear at a time, but i've heard it takes some time to break in. i like the idea of no-pedal shifting and no external parts, but is it worth the high price? i've seen them go on ebay around 800, but 1600 new. anybody riding one can weigh in? also, are there any similar alternatives? i've heard that both sram and shimano have something similar, but couldn't find anything on their websites.
    Have a look at this article
    Living with a rohloff I ride One of these : ) The hubs are really excelent, not if you're a weight weeny tho'. If you like fit and forget then this is for you. I use 36x17, gives 14" - 80" range.
    Regards, David

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