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  1. #1
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    Economics of the Rohloff hub

    Now that I've tried the Alfine hubs (on someone else's bikes) I'm not keen on going back to derailer drivetrains, so I'm considering going the whole hog and upgrading my currently single speed Surly Ogre to a Rohloff.

    Obviously the price is deterrent, but the idea is that you save on the regular repairs and component replacement costs.

    So, has anyone done the hard data on this and assessed just how much a regular drivetrain costs to maintain over the years, and therefore how much the Rohloff saves?

  2. #2
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    ive got both hubs - the rohloff and the alfine 8

    and unless my alfine dies a horrible death over the winter i dont think the rohloffs going back on my bike.

    the alfine feels like multiple singlespeed ratios

    my rohloff feels like pedaling through trecle.

  3. #3
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    That's interesting. I don't think I've seen the two compared, but that's the first time I've seen the Rohloff mentioned as anything other than the best IGH available.

  4. #4
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    depends what you want

    reliability to go world wide touring and forget about it

    or the ability to not feel like your bogged down by your hub.

    Ive tried mine in everything from mtb racing to training to road touring and i just cannot get my head round it.

    i bought my partner an alfine equiped bike and had a shot on that and was instantly sold. of course the maintainance intervals are alot shorter and you have to keep on top of the cup and cone but i can live with that.

  5. #5
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    The lack of maintenance is the real seller. How much upkeep has the Alfine 8 needed so far, versus the Rohloff?

    I don't think I'm going to do any cross-continent touring, but I'd like to try some 2-3 day trail rides next year.

    What do you mean by "bogged down" by the hub? Is it deadweight?

  6. #6
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    no more a dead weight than the alfine but with the rohloff you know your riding an IHG - it may be psychological as per all their marketing bumph but if you have not ridden one i suggest you try and find one for an extended test ride before you drop 1000 euro on one.

    ive only done 800k on my Alfine so far so cannot comment on that but i believe its due a clean and service ever 1500miles - ill investigate the cup and cone bearings at the time as well.

  7. #7
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    Have had Rohloff's for almost 8 years.
    My 1st and old one was a pain!
    BUT My new one is great! Like Night and Day.
    NZPeterG

  8. #8
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    Thanks Peter.

    How much do you reckon you're saving on drivetrain costs per year by running it?

  9. #9
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    I have both Shimano on my commuter and Rohloff on my MTB

    I'm on my third Shimano hub on my commuter , I have that bike for 10 years.

    I have my Rohloff for 8 1/2 years , cost me maybe 100$ in a pair of shifting cables and oil. That's it. I never had to open the hub.
    Three to four times the price of an Alfine but infinitely more reliable.

    If you do serious MTB and lots of mud and snow , I STRONGLY suggest a Rohloff.
    The shifting of the Shimano rely on spring tension like all deraileur system do.
    You will need to open the Shimano twice a year if you do serious mud.

    On the Speedhub , the shifting is on the hub , no need to adjust the cables.
    Bad adjustments of the Shimano can kill it.

    It is true that there are 3 speeds on the Rohloff that you can "feel" the gearing compared to the Shimano , but if you forget these , you still have 11 others.


    As for the economics , I calculated that after 9 year , it has been paid for itself.
    What I had to do with standard drive train:
    Add a chain once or twice a year
    A cassette a year.
    Middle front plate every 3-4 year
    Derailleur , depending on how many rocks it meets.
    Shifters every 5-6-7 years
    Last edited by fokof; 10-30-2012 at 02:56 PM.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  10. #10
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    Thanks fokof.

    I'm not a hardcore offroader, but I do like to chunk it off paths sometimes.

    The bike is currently a commuter, but I'm likely to take it trekking in future, and I hear the Rohloff is great for that.

  11. #11
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    I dunno. I've seen Rolhoffs fail. I have a bud who popped the freehub pawls, and he ain't that strong a rider. Also, his Rolhoff bikes (he had two) both felt draggy at the pedals to me, even after he put a few thousand miles on them.

    I'm not sure it would actually save you any money over a derailleur setup. You can pop a lot of derailleurs for what a Rohhoff costs. And, I wouldn't trust it on an 'around the world' kind of adventure. The thing breaks, you're calling AAMCO to fix it. Good luck with that if you're in Costa Rica or some other far off place like that. A derailleur bike you can get fixed anywhere.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot View Post
    And, I wouldn't trust it on an 'around the world' kind of adventure.
    Yet that's precisely what a lot of trekkers do, and specifically because the Rohloff is reliable far from civilisation, where a bent derailer may not be fixable.

    That's from what I've read, anyway. I'd be interested in seeing some opinions from tourers who consciously chose a standard drivetrain over a Rohloff.

  13. #13
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    Helmut, there are a few threads here that have some comments on touring with rohloffs and pros and cons. It would be worth wading through them. I can't comment on the Alfine but my Rohloff has been flawless. Many other components on my bike have had faults but not the Rohloff. Possibly on road with skinny tyres you may feel drag....I don;t know, and I would assume the same for all IGHs. I use mine with mtb and honestly can't say I can tell a difference between a derailuer and rohloff efficiency. I thnk on mtb there is so much more to worry about like trail conditions, tyre pressure/drag, gradients etc that it isn't noticable. Cost wise I am sure it will pay it self back over the years so long as you do the mileage on it. For me the cost was a deterrent but when I saw I could just afford it, it became more about the benefits of, yes, low maintenance but also the simplicity and style of riding. Using the rohloff is just more enjoyable to me.Reasons to choose a rohloff over other IGH's are simplicity, low gear range, reliability, and relatively light weight for the gear range. the beauty of it is that all the complxity is inside the hub so that very little can go wrong. If something does go wrong, make use of the warrantee. If you can find the Rohloff book on rohloff Stories, there are heaps of anecdotes there.

  14. #14
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    I did some math a year or two ago just based on how many parts I replace per year. I usually replace my chain, casette and chainrings yearly, front derailer every other year and rear derailer maybe 1 times a year. It worked out that an Alfine 11 needed to last 3 years to break even, and a rholoff about 6 years. That seemed very reasonable and included installation. BUT with 5 Alfine 11s, the most I got out of one was about 2 months. That said, the Alfine is/was new, where the rholoff is old and has a bulletproof reputation. But even though you'll eventually brake even. And after 6 years, you'll be saving money. You still need $2000 to get one. And grip shifters are terrible. Some day I'll try to get into IGH again.

    Also I guess I should give some more detail. I ride a 6.5" all mountain bike, and before switching to my Alfine, I was running a 3x9 XT setup. And I ride a lot so things got plenty of wear and tear. After the IGH, I decided being a cheap bastard was my best plan of action, so now I ride a SRAM 1x9 short cage setup. I miss the range but like how much less it costs me. But this is way off topic. Figure 2-3 years for an alfine to pay for itself and 5-6 years for a rholoff. But I don't think you'll get 2-3 years out of an alfine (11 that is, no opinions or experience with the 8, but it is even cheaper)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fellsbiker View Post
    Also I guess I should give some more detail. I ride a 6.5" all mountain bike
    Do you mean you're 6' 5", or is that a bike specification?

  16. #16
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    I mean my bike has 6.5" of travel front and rear.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fellsbiker View Post
    I mean my bike has 6.5" of travel front and rear.
    Cheers. Pick the noob.

  18. #18
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    Another thing. There seems to be two Rohloffs on the market, the usual silver one and a red one that's a third more expensive.

    I can't find an info on the differences. Is the red just a newer model?

  19. #19
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    I've been confused by exactly what is available as far as models and options too. From what I can tell, you can just get it in different colors, disc or no disc, and 32 or 36h. But I may be wrong, their website is not clear on this.

  20. #20
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    That's what I thought at first, but AFAICS the red is always about $1800.

  21. #21
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    you get one thats non disk mount

    you get one that has the cables going into the hub which means you have to disconnect them before taking the wheel out

    you get one with a quick release click box - this is the one i have.

    dont think the colour signifys anything but might be wrong

  22. #22
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by HelmutHerr View Post
    Thanks Peter.

    How much do you reckon you're saving on drivetrain costs per year by running it?
    Hi Well, Cost's of running a Rohloff Speedhub is very low! a Rohloff is good for over 200,000km's.
    The only on going cost's are Oil change kit every 5,000km's, the odd set of cable's from time to time.

    NZPeterG

  23. #23
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by fellsbiker View Post
    I've been confused by exactly what is available as far as models and options too. From what I can tell, you can just get it in different colors, disc or no disc, and 32 or 36h. But I may be wrong, their website is not clear on this.
    Hi thats right, plus Nutted or QR axle (the only thing you can NOT change after ordering a Rohloff) and gear change EX box or Cable's from inside.
    This is all you need

    NZPeterG

  24. #24
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    Hope

    Quote Originally Posted by HelmutHerr View Post
    Another thing. There seems to be two Rohloffs on the market, the usual silver one and a red one that's a third more expensive.

    I can't find an info on the differences. Is the red just a newer model?
    Hi,
    Black too.

    Why can you all not work this out?

    NZPeterG

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZPeterG View Post
    Hi,
    Black too.

    Why can you all not work this out?
    Anodised? Titanium gears? Tastes like bananas?

    Don't hold out on us man!

  26. #26
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    it's confusing....there are so many options but just work out what you need. For mtb I guess you want disc brake, QR, 32 hole. Work out what you need for your frame set up...External Mech, and if you don't have an oem drop out you may need a monkey bone or tourque arm. The external Mech just makes it easier to remove your wheel I think. If you get the kit it should come with the shifter etc, but where ever you get it from can advise you what to get if you tell them what you need. I got a red one...I thnk it did cost more but I can't remember..not a huge amount. There is the old powder coated version which was red (don't get one of those). the new ones shouldd all be anodised in red, clear (silver), or black. All the differnt options may make it hard to compare prices unless oyu go through the specs.

  27. #27
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    i neverback to internal gear hubs, bcuz they are so few efficiency, I just spending my muscle power to heat this hubs lol, no thx, in other life.
    winter XC

  28. #28
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    Just add my 2 cents worth...I sold my Rohloff 10 years ago after a year and around 4k miles of use. There are a few gears when selected that "tick" noisily, some more so than others (this annoyed me a little). The bottom seven gears were like cycling in treacle/molasses with a few degrees of crank movement before power was transferred to the rear wheel, I believe due to utilising another set of gears in the hub. I tried to avoid the bottom seven gears at all costs. I spent the majority of my time in gear eleven (direct drive...44x16). The 13% jump between each gear I found irksome, when in the high gears the jump is too big, in the low gears it's too small. Also the grip shift takes some time to get used to being triangular in shape and can bind if the control cable tension is too tight.
    I swapped the Rohloff for a 1x9 derailleur setup which I have toured, mtb'd, commuted and shopped on for the last ten years. Fortunately Rohloff hubs were sort after second hand at the time (are they still?) and I recouped 80% of my outlay.
    I have not kept a record of replaced parts but I guess from memory, at least four chains (€10 each), three cassttes (€20 each), one chainring (€20, these can be turned around when worn on one side), replaced jockey wheels from spares box. If I had replaced the chain, cassette, derailleur and chainring every year for ten years It would still only be half the price of a Rohloff hub!!
    Whilst the Rohloff didn't work for me, it may well work for you. I am sure, if you can live with it's idiosyncrasies, that the rohloff hub will give good service and long life. If the grass looks greener, check it's not just a trick of the light....
    Kind Regards David
    What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world

  29. #29
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    You know, I used to hear these kind of things about rohloffs 10 years ago, and I don't hear them from anyone who uses them these days. Makes me wonder if they've made them better. But I don't have any facts to support that idea. Just a thought.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by fellsbiker View Post
    You know, I used to hear these kind of things about rohloffs 10 years ago, and I don't hear them from anyone who uses them these days. Makes me wonder if they've made them better. But I don't have any facts to support that idea. Just a thought.
    Things may well have changed, I don't know either. These were my experiences and my Rohloff never gave me a moments trouble, I just never took to it. I'm sorry my input is ten years out of date, perhaps users of newer hubs could correct any outdated information in my post.
    Kind Regards David
    What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world

  31. #31
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    A lot of the time those who mention drag seem to use it on road mostly...that is what I see anyway. I have only used mine in a mtb for 90% off road use so that may colour my perceptions, but I haven't felt any drag worth mentioning. Narrow gear spacing is also a good thing for on road use, but not so great for off road or varied terrain, so there will be people bound to fall into either category. My hub is also a new one.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherWingnut View Post
    Just add my 2 cents worth
    Cheers.

    It's important to hear from people who didn't like the Rohloff because most of what's written about it is from enthused fans.

    The Rohloff situation seems to be:

    Pro:

    • Super reliable
    • Low maintenance
    • Cost saving over >5 years


    Con:

    • Expensive
    • Heavy on rear of bike
    • Might feel a bit draggy
    • Over a thousand bucks right there on my wheel for an enterprising thief


    I wonder if a better plan would be to try a Nexus 3 speed for a few months and see how I like the IGH before deciding whether to move up to a Rohloff.

  33. #33
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    I'm not sure a nexus 3 is really going to give you an idea of what it will be like to have a rohloff

  34. #34
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    No? I've taken test rides on bikes with the Alfine 8 and 11 speeds, which is what got me excited about the Rohloff, so what I'm most curious about is the sensation of drag and slow engagement that some have mentioned.

  35. #35
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    I would like to add that up until recently I spent much of my time riding fixed and SS, although I have nearly always had a geared bike on hand. My original thought behind the Rohloff purchase was the low maintenance, which it delivered in spades, but the charicteristics of the hub were too far removed from what I enjoyed about SS/fixed. My fault not the hubs.
    What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherWingnut View Post
    My original thought behind the Rohloff purchase was the low maintenance, which it delivered in spades, but the charicteristics of the hub were too far removed from what I enjoyed about SS/fixed. My fault not the hubs.
    I've been enjoying SS since I got the bike about three weeks ago, but I figure I'll want gears eventually. There are a couple of steep hills around town that have almost beaten me (although I'm very unfit) and I hate spinning out on the flats.

    The SRAM 3 speed in particular seems like a good compromise, but maybe I'm better off with a Dingle hub and adjusting the chain depending on my plans.

  37. #37
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    I'm afraid SS is always a compromise. Having run a dingle for a number of years, I never changed on the fly, I just slogged up the hills or spun out on the flat. A dingle imho is best used as a road/offroad option. Ride to the trail on 34x16 then ride the trail on 32x18. Swapping mid ride on the road or trail mentally destroyed the rythm of the ride for me...ymmv
    Kind Regards David
    Last edited by AnotherWingnut; 11-08-2012 at 04:52 AM.
    What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherWingnut View Post
    A dingle imho is best uded as a road/offroad option. Ride to the trail on 34x16 then ride the trail on 32x18.
    Right now I'm commuting on a very flat route, so I think I could easily step the gear up and let my fitness rise to meet it, and keep the other gear ratio in reserve for weekend trails.

    The other factor is that I kind of wonder if SS is wasted on a Surly Ogre, considering it's one of the most versatile bikes on the market.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelmutHerr View Post
    So, has anyone done the hard data on this and assessed just how much a regular drivetrain costs to maintain over the years, and therefore how much the Rohloff saves?
    I've seen various analysis of the life-cycle cost of a Rohloff vs. a derailleur drivetrain. They are all forced to make quite a few assumptions that skew the results significantly. Are you comparing the Rohloff to Deore or XTR, are you using MSRP prices or the lowest EBay sale prices, what conditions do you ride in, what's your annual mileage, etc...?

    Personally I'm not concerned that my IGH bikes are saving me $$$. What I really care about is that they are saving me hassles - both in terms of maintenance and performance.

    Here are a few examples:

    - I was on a dirt road tour in the Yukon. It started on pavement, then turned to dusty roads for a day and the several days of heavy rain resulted in tons of mud. I encountered bike tourists whose derailleurs were shifting poorly on the dry roads it was so dusty and of course the mud caused a lot of problems. As I was riding I recalled a tour report that got me interested in the trip where the cyclist had to stop every hour and find water in the ditch to clean the mud from his drivetrain so the bike would shift. My bike had a Rohloff and it shifted/pedaled as well on the paved road as it did after several days of mud riding. That was great because conditions were tough and I had enough to deal with camping and riding in the rain/mud without having to spend energy keeping my bike working.

    - The local trails where I live are lightly used and very overgrown. I am frequently forced to hike a bike up and down steep slopes and over fallen trees. My bike gets treated roughly, snagged on vegetation and dropped/thrown up and down the trail. That bike has an Alfine 11 IGH without a chain tensioner. I am really glad I never have to worry about bending or breaking the derailleur on that bike as it gets abused.

    - my GF is a born again bike commuter. She rides most says year round in BC. She's not bike savvy. Her bike has a Nexus 8 IGH without a chain tensioner. It requires very little attention to continue to run perfectly. That means she doesn't have to think much about her bike and I just have to check it once a month to keep it rolling along.

    Have I saved money with IGHs? I doubt it, but I don't regret the choice in these sort of situations.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  40. #40
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    Very informative thread...

  41. #41
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    I have nothing informative to add to the conversation other than this, I tried a Alfine 8 on my Surly Pugsley, quite enjoyed it for the 5 weeks it functioned properly and found that for me it was not robust enough.

    This summer I purchased a Surly Moonlander and wanted to build it up "hell for stout" with the absolute best parts I could muster, so I chose a Rohloff. This hub has been one of the most enjoyable pieces of bike equipment I have ever owned and worth every cent I paid for it!!! Would I buy another? Yes I would and I would add a Gates sprocket to it and go belt drive!!!

    Oliver "Ollie" Whalley used on on his ride of the Tour Divide this year and had little to no complaints.

    Mark Beaumont did 18,000 miles on his Guinness World Record ride around the world.

    There are others but I'd say despite the ones that have failed, there are some exemplary examples of these hubs doing a marvelous job!

  42. #42
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    I guess I'm going to have to ride one to see how I like it, but with the costs I think I'm willing to even lose out a little for ease of maintenance.

    Yoreskillz, what sort of weight did the Moonlander finish at? A weight weenie I'm not, but the Ogre is on the heavy side already, so I'm curious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vindiu View Post
    Very informative thread...
    MBTR has a high signal-to-noise ratio.

  43. #43
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    "Personally I'm not concerned that my IGH bikes are saving me $$$. What I really care about is that they are saving me hassles - both in terms of maintenance and performance."

    This is why even with its niggles i still have my 'hoff !

    When i dont feel like riding SS i can throw it on in minutes ( i keep it set up with a tire read to go and have the chain set up with a gear so its the same length in 32:18 as it is in 38:14 rohloff.

    I know i still wont get any hassle from mud !

    "- my GF is a born again bike commuter. She rides most says year round in BC. She's not bike savvy. Her bike has a Nexus 8 IGH without a chain tensioner. It requires very little attention to continue to run perfectly. That means she doesn't have to think much about her bike and I just have to check it once a month to keep it rolling along."

    This also - mrs T-r has a dayone alfine for commuting to work and i like you look at it once a month keep it rolling , keep it safe. Saves everyone time , she used to use an easton tubed 950gram custom Omega with a pink flame paint job that i bought for her birthday a couple years back - not only did she wreck an ultegra SL gruppo in 6 months but i had to constantly tweek it , keep it sweet because she would commute on it daily then want to race it twice a week also.

    Im not a complete IHG hater i just wanted to point out that they are not the magic solution for everyone . When i was looking round i had a bunch of folk telling me they were and i had one guy - a friend who id known to have had a rohloff but sold it and he was telling me exactly what im telling you now.

    Please try and get a test ride on one for a weekend - make up your own mind before spunking alot of cash on a marmite hub.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail_rat View Post
    When i dont feel like riding SS i can throw it on in minutes ( i keep it set up with a tire read to go and have the chain set up with a gear so its the same length in 32:18 as it is in 38:14 rohloff.
    Which reminds me - is changing tyres a royal PITA with a Rohloff on?

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelmutHerr View Post
    Which reminds me - is changing tyres a royal PITA with a Rohloff on?
    easy withthe external mech, but I have never tried the other version. The wheel comes off completely withteh x-mech. You only need to align the tab ont he hub when putting back on, with the drop out, or otherdevice supplied. Not much differnt to aligning a disc into it's caliper.

  46. #46
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    rohhloff pisses on alfine for wheel changability with the click box

    good security tip for touring with rohloff

    when im going into a shop/cafe etc ... i always keep it in sight but equally i will kick the gear box into lowest gear - which at 90 rpm does about 4mph then i remove the clickbox and leave it flapping. - its a 2 second job but it means theif jumps on bike pedals - changes gear , nothing happens.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail_rat View Post
    rohhloff pisses on alfine for wheel changability with the click box
    Thanks. That's where I'm getting confused, because the Alfine is a bit notorious for that.

    I'm conscientious with locking the bike, and it's a 26" frame with very high seat, so most would-be thieves will have to push it. I'm more worried about someone just cutting the wheel off.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherWingnut View Post
    Just add my 2 cents worth...I sold my Rohloff 10 years ago after a year and around 4k miles of use. There are a few gears when selected that "tick" noisily, some more so than others (this annoyed me a little). The bottom seven gears were like cycling in treacle/molasses with a few degrees of crank movement before power was transferred to the rear wheel
    This is exactly my Rohloff experience, with a similar vintage hub. Still have mine and use it on the trails with my kid on a trail-a-bike, but it's been relegated to "non-serious ride" duty. The drag on gears 1-7 make them very unpleasant to ride. Traditional derailleur setups are much more smooth and quiet for me. For that matter, I have a Nexus 8 on a Breezer Uptown that is much smoother than the Rohloff. It just doesn't have the gear range that I want for MTB.

    It's very possible that the new Rohloff hubs are better or that the older ones had a wide range of sample variance. The problem is that I certainly wasn't in a position to buy 3 hubs to try out and keep the best sample. Rolled the dice, tried the hub, wasn't happy with its performance, will likely not buy another.

  49. #49
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    Well shiii

    As a prospective rohloff customer and an ever conscious deal hunter, this whole rift between old and new really concerns me. I've had my eye on this guy for a while now having almost pulled the trigger a few late nights. Anyone have insight into when/if the change happened? A big thank you to everyone contributing to this thread - you can't really do too much research when buying a $1300 piece of kit.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renruthsoj View Post
    Anyone have insight into when/if the change happened?


    I only have two Rohloffs and they are relatively new so I can't speak to the problems of old vs. new, but one easy way to gauge a Rohloff's age is that they switched from stickers to laser engraving a few years ago. My oldest Rohloff is from 2008 and it is laser engraved so a hub with a sticker is definitely older vintage than that.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

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