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  1. #1
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    Rohloff rinse alternative

    What do you guy use instead of the rinse stuff when changing oil ?



    I bought the gallon of oil a couple of years ago I I wonder if the Rinse stuff can be something else ....
    Is that step (rinsing) an obligation on the yearly oil change ?

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    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  2. #2
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    I only rinsed mine on the 1st oil change. After that, only an oil change.

  3. #3
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    does seem to get a lot of dirt out...if you have a gallon maybe just use the oil to clean it, then replace with same stuff.

  4. #4
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    the rohloff kit contains some kind of cleaning oil to thin the existing oil in the hub before draining. i dont recall the instructions calling for a rinse (at least in the same sense that the shimano alfine 11 says drain, put new oil in and then drain again) unless adding the cleaning oil to the old oil is what you mean by "rinse."

    from the rohloff site...

    *There will already be approx. 25ml fluid in the hub (old oil and any penetrated moisture). After the cleaning oil is also filled into the hub then there will be approx. 50ml fluid to drain out. For this reason the cleaning oil comes in a 50ml bottle so that the old fluid can be drained out into this bottle for safe disposal.

    after that you just add the new oil and you are good to go at least according to the instructions.

    edit: not sure where i was going with all that but i was trying to be helpful. if you dont have the cleaning oil maybe just some sort of solvent or mineral oil or just do a rinse i guess haha
    Last edited by honkonbobo; 08-22-2012 at 08:56 AM.

  5. #5
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    With that much oil I'd warm a little up to reduce viscosity then put it in and whirl it around on your bike stand after of course draining the old oil. Then fill with the appropriate amount. That's what I do because I bought a liter. Seems to work well.

  6. #6
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    I wonder if cutting the oil with Kerozen might be harmfull to the seals/plastics

    ( I thought I've read somewhere someone cutting his oil with Kerozen for sub -40°C temperatures )
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  7. #7
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    A motor car boils off any left over kerosene, but a rolhoff wont get that hot. Its an expensive experiment.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fokof View Post
    ( I thought I've read somewhere someone cutting his oil with Kerozen for sub -40°C temperatures )
    That was probably me, back before thier multigrade oil, we had some issues with low temperature perfomance, so we added a few ml of kerosene to the hub to thin the oil. That recomendation came from RohloffUSA back when Thomas work there. The users in Alaska did the same thing in the winter. Mine went through 1/2 dozen winters with ~10mm kerosene added, after which I stared using the multigrade oil. I stopped adding kerosene as the hubs had less issue as the wore in, and I rode them less in the winter (switched to SS, which is less maintenance).

  9. #9
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    Rohloff Oil Alternative or Substitute

    G'day all,
    I chose this forum and topic because it is the newest on the subject that I can find. I searched tediously looking for a suitable and cheaper substitute for Rohloff oil change fluids. If money is not an issue, perhaps it makes sense to not gamble on other oils, but I have some thought about that as well. There's no doubt that there are folks who have substituted other oils. Even in this thread there's a response of a member who deviates from Rohloff by only changing oil without the cleaning fluid step. Yet, despite all of the warnings, "don't do it," I have not found one incident of anyone posting about a hub failure using another oil.

    My approach has been to contact several lubrication companies and asked for recommendations. Here is the response I received from SuperLube.

    "Thank you for your inquiry and interest in Super Lube®. You can use the Super Lube® Air Tool Lubricant to clean and Super Lube® Oil with Syncolon® PTFE to lubricate your bicycle hub. Attached are the Technical Bulletins for your reference." [Debby Alagna International Sales Administrator Synco Chemical Corporation]

    While I could not get a recommendation from Lucas Oil products, I did get a response that stated in regard to Lucas Tool Oil and Lucas Chain Lubricant that states: "No. There is nothing in those products that will harm the seals or nylon." [Lucas Oil Products, Inc.]

    As I understand it, sufficient lubrication and not harming non metal parts is the issue. After consideration, I used Lucas Tool Oil for the cleaning fluid followed by filling 25 ml of Lucas Chain Lubricant, part no 10014, because it contains molybdenum, as it has been speculated that Rohloff hub oil has this additive, and because it lists enclose gear boxes and differentials as one of its uses.

    I'm sure that this is not the final word on the subject, and I'm sure there will be the admonishment "why risk a 1000 dollar hub to save a few bucks." The answer is that Rohloff makes hubs not oil, and given its monopoly, it has created a steady revenue stream.

    IF, and I don't expect it, my hub fails, I will be sure and post about that.

  10. #10
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    Subeedude, I looked into this when I was looking for a substitute for shimano's Alfine hub oil. I didn't find much, but I did find a post on another forum of someone who's been using 75w-90 gear oil in their alfine 11 for the life of the hub. They didn't specify a brand, but I remember them being in the UK, so it may have been a brand we don't have available to us.

    My understanding was the danger you come across using "un-approved" oils in IGH's is mostly to do with the seals. I know that car manufacturers match seals to the oils they recommend, and that the wrong oils can make seals start to leak.

    I run Valvoline Syntech 75w-90 in my Alfine 11, and it runs well so far. I still run Rohloff hub oil in my Rohloff, however, mostly because it's a much more costly experiment.
    Welder for Andrews Design Works in Durango, CO

  11. #11
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    I have been using off the shelf oil for years and I agree the main risk is the seals leaking. For the cleaning, my comment on kerosine was just based on something I read about cleaning car engines, I dont actually know.

  12. #12
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    We have a guy in our group who uses a powder solvent. It is pretty much like the Hoppe's #9 Gun Cleaning Powder Solvent but this is made in France and issued to their armed forces.

    Now he has yet to have any issues after 2 years and several thousand kilometers but I sure as heck would not do that to mine if I had one. But when he rinses he repeats the process until it is as clear as it is out of the bottle; says that if it is good enough for a weapon then it is good enough for the bike.

    Now I can see using such products on bikes like the chain for a real good cleaning; but if that has half the stuff in it that Hoppe's #9 has in it I would not want that inside my hub. But that is just me, I do not own one.
    De oppresso liber

  13. #13
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    Erichimedes,
    Hey, you are just down the road from me. I'm in Littleton, CO.

    Expounding upon the discussion, we have a Miele Vacuum cleaner, made in Germany, and it, too, states, "Use only Miele replacement bags." We didn't pay quite as much for it as the Rohloff, but close. And I have not hesitated to use generic replacement bags which I find to be every bit as good as the OEM.

    Frankly, I think it's bunk that you risk any failure, seal or otherwise, by using an alternative to Rohloff. But I do agree it's tricky to find the right replacement because Rohloff, unlike most oil manufacturers, doesn't make public, at least not in English, the specifications for their specified oils. Being a Yank, I did what Yanks do and winged it and attempted to emulate what would likely work equally well and not damage the hub. I particularly did not choose something specified for an internal combustion motor, and I am confident that these fluids will be a good alternative.

    Rohloff's scheme has been around for a long time. I recall many years back buying a Toyota when the brand was new to the US. The service department INSISTED that only Toyota oil filters could be used because of a bypass valve that supposedly leaked down in other filters and leaving the engine with inadequate oil on cold start . Of course, later we learned that, too, was complete bunk, and in the United States those stipulations have been outlawed.

    My last point is that we all know that everyone is NOT running Rohloff oil, and I cannot find one post that describes hub failures related to non Rohloff oil. To the folks who suggest purchasing the larger quantity of oil, I found it was going to cost me over a 100 dollars to do that. My solution for equal quantities cost me about 20 dollars.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by subeedude View Post
    I particularly did not choose something specified for an internal combustion motor, and I am confident that these fluids will be a good alternative.
    Out of curiosity, what did you choose? I too, did not choose an oil specified for an internal combustion engine.

    I think manufacturers' reason for suggesting their own supplies is because they simply have no idea what people might mix with their products. It's much easier to provide the correct oil than to give the long list of specifications that makes up a qualifying oil. While I think it is a source of income for them, it's also an assurance that no one is putting, I don't know, WD-40 in their hub.

    The main reason I do choose to use Rohloff oil is because that hub is currently on our MTB tandem in the lowest gearing Rohloff recommends. If there is a setup that can break a Rohloff, it's going to be that. I'd prefer to keep the warranty process as smooth as possible, if it ever comes to that.

    I'm glad people are trying out different lubes. This has gotten me interested in this question all over again. I hope people post up their lubes of choice and their current results.
    Welder for Andrews Design Works in Durango, CO

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erichimedes View Post
    Out of curiosity, what did you choose? I too, did not choose an oil specified for an internal combustion engine.

    I'm glad people are trying out different lubes. This has gotten me interested in this question all over again. I hope people post up their lubes of choice and their current results.
    It's a subject that really pesters me, too. I elected to use Lucas Tool Oil for the cleaning fluid, and Lucas Chain Lubricant 10014 for the hub oil. I got there in a round about way. I was able to get confirmation for Super Lube (described in my initial post) the two products they would recommend. Their representative is "on record" stating that the company is "confident" that these two products of theirs will perform as well or better than the Rohloff Oil. However, SuperLube is based upon PTFE or micro particle teflon solution. Dupont, which formulated teflon, has maintained that micro particles of teflon do NOT improve the friction reducing nature of oil, and in fact may degrade that slipperiness factor. (A number of lawsuits and FTC actions in regard to claims such as Slick 50) Further research in the "forums" finds there is speculation that molybdenum isin the proprietary Rohloff Oil. To my knowledge, there is no dispute that molybdenum reduces friction in extreme pressure applications, and that led me to choose the Lucas formula because it contains molybdenum. I also decided to use the Lucas tool oil, however, any tool oil may work as the cleaning fluid. In my mind, Lucas may outperform Rohloff because it is formulated for automotive and industrial applications.

    I differ with you on the "why" Rohloff specifies only their proprietary oil because they do not publish or make available the specifications of their oil. If another oil manufacturer meets Rohloff specifications, they should not have a problem with its use. Regarding the Germans, let's not overlook the deceptiveness of Volkswagen in the recent turbo diesel anti pollution scandal. Or, Germans really play hardball in maintaining market share.

    When I selected Lucas, I did not choose the least expensive lubricants that I can find. Rather I chose products that I think meet the requirements of the IGH, AND are much less expensive and more available than Rohloff. If money were no object, I might still go with Lucas because I believe it likely may be a superior oil product because of its specifications and intended applications. Cheers!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan67 View Post
    We have a guy in our group who uses a powder solvent. It is pretty much like the Hoppe's #9 Gun Cleaning Powder Solvent but this is made in France and issued to their armed forces.

    Now he has yet to have any issues after 2 years and several thousand kilometers but I sure as heck would not do that to mine if I had one. But when he rinses he repeats the process until it is as clear as it is out of the bottle; says that if it is good enough for a weapon then it is good enough for the bike.

    Now I can see using such products on bikes like the chain for a real good cleaning; but if that has half the stuff in it that Hoppe's #9 has in it I would not want that inside my hub. But that is just me, I do not own one.
    I agree, I would not want that stuff in my IGH either!

  17. #17
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    I should point out that my Rohloff is long out of warranty--serial number is on the label, old. I might think differently if I thought Rohloff would warrant any failure, which is unlikely based upon history of Rohloff. Very, very well made.

  18. #18
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    I've had one of the early Rohloffs (1999, non-interchangeable parts) and have had lots of communications and discussions with Rohloff USA (pre Cyber Monkey) re wheel builds and maintenance, etc... over the years. I've built 5 rohloff wheels, and still have 3.

    In early discussion with Rohloff, their concern is the additives in the oil that may damage the carbon parts in the hub. However, I've taken apart the hub several times, I did not notice any carbon parts, but I did not disassemble the gear unit.

    The other issue is additives used in automotive fluid, particularly the seal swell components. These are fine in gas engines, but deteriorate the seal and add drag. Since there are so many fluids out there, it's difficult to certify which are OK, and they change from year to year, so I'm not surprised that a small company like Rohloff will only specify an oil that they can be sure of.

    I bought the 1-liter cans of rinse and multigrade oil ~2004 ($100!) and am still using them.

    I switched to changing the oil every 2 years, and its probably more like 3 years now since I don't ride mine as much (I'm mostly on a Single Speed these days). But early on, when it was ridden daily (year round) and the oil was difficult to get, plus their definition of winter (oil) didn't match our experience, we did a lot of substitutions to keep things working. Rohloff USA did say my hubs had an excess amount to water contamination (riding all winter in snow and slush, as well as rain or shine, I'm suspecting), but they said there was enough oil remaining in the system to protect it.

    Anyways, here's what we did:

    Unlike the Alfine/Nexus, the Rohloff oil bath requires a light weight fluid to keep the ratchets engaging. They use the same system as Chris King's Ring Drive, or DT Swiss' Star Drive - both of which need light/thin lubes and need to stay clean.

    The oil clearly has a Moly additive, which makes sense as the metal gear teeth are under proportionately large load at low speed and low power.

    Prior to the multigrade oil, the Winter oil got too thick in the winters here, the ratchet would slip at ~-2C. Adding pure kerosene was a way to thin the oil and maintain performance. We did this for 4+ winters. Even after the switch to multigrade oil, I would sometimes have to add some kerosene to keep it running in the winter, although as the hubs wore in, they had less issues with the cold.

    Kerosene alone was an acceptable rinse fluid, although it would leave the resulting oil bath on the thin side (residual kerosene in the final oil), which was fine if you rode in the colder climates. The rinse oil appears to be the winter oil without the Moly additive.

    I've used ProGold ProLube MFR in the hub one season when I could not fine my bottle of winter oil. I think one of the hubs ran on an extra light weight mineral oil too.

    Back when you had to change the oil 2/year (summer oil/winter oil), it got expensive, but now that I only change them every few years with the multigrade, I don't think the $100 I spent 10 years ago is too expensive, and I still have capacity for many more. So I recommend sticking to the Oil of Rohloff, it works. But don't let that stop you.

    Has my seals deteriorated? That's hard to tell. My hubs have always weeped a bit, and had a few larger leaks that left a puddle on the floor. The hub as a serpintine air path through the axle so it can equalize pressure. When you lie the bike on it's side, you can sometimes get a puddle at the axle (like when you put it in the back of a car!). When the serpintine path gets clogged by mud/ice/grease, and you bring the bike inside from a winter ride (-10C outside) the pressure build up inside the hub pushes the mixture of grease and Rohloff oil in the bearings, out through the seals. The oil change instructions tell you to use more oil than necessary, so right after an oil change, the hub is overfilled, and that combined with the above, results in a puddle on the floor. Knowing all these things, laying the bike drive side up, using less during an oil change, etc... our hubs are still running great. (gotta go find some wood to knock on...)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable View Post
    I've had one of the early Rohloffs (1999, non-interchangeable parts) and have had lots of communications and discussions with Rohloff USA (pre Cyber Monkey) re wheel builds and maintenance, etc... over the years. I've built 5 rohloff wheels, and still have 3.

    In early discussion with Rohloff, their concern is the additives in the oil that may damage the carbon parts in the hub. However, I've taken apart the hub several times, I did not notice any carbon parts, but I did not disassemble the gear unit.

    The other issue is additives used in automotive fluid, particularly the seal swell components. These are fine in gas engines, but deteriorate the seal and add drag. Since there are so many fluids out there, it's difficult to certify which are OK, and they change from year to year, so I'm not surprised that a small company like Rohloff will only specify an oil that they can be sure of. ...)
    Your post is extremely relevant, and I'm glad we've reinvigorated this discussion since this subject won't go away unless Rohloff releases the specs for its oil, and I wouldn't hold my breath for that.

    I, too, am puzzled by what in heck are the "carbon" parts in the hub? Carbon steel, but otherwise I'm baffled.

    Seals, I understand the concern for swelling, and I agree one would be wise not to use just any automotive fluid without thoroughly researching its properties. That said, if the hub internals can tolerate kerosene for chrissake, one might think that the hub is not as fragile as we are led to believe.

    I am glad now that we have two oil manufacturers for the first time on record stating that the correct SuperLube and Lucas products will not harm the internals of the hub. If you are correct that moly is in the Rohloff oil, Lucas Chain Lubricant when used with a thinning cleaning fluid such as tool oil should be an affordable substitute for Rohloff maintenance fluids.

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