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  1. #1
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    Rohloff Speedhub gear-slip?

    At the end of my mtb season my Rohloff would "pop" when I put torque through the drivetrain. On one of my last rides of the season I stood up to get up a steep pitch in the trail and the gears popped and the cranks spun like I had lots my chain, but I had not. At this point I am a little freaked out, so I dismount the bike and walk the rest of the hill. I stopped at the next flat section and check out OEM the shift mechanism, make sure the bolt is tight, then I ran through the gears while the bike was static. Every thing functioned as normal, so I got on a rode my bike home. After much analysis I have theorized that the reason the hub "popped" and the gears broke free is because I slipped between the gears. I believe I was one of the gears 6-7-8. I know this is the gear range where the reducer engages, could the reducer have something to do with this freak occurance? Anyone else have this happen? Need I be worried? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    That being said, I'm currently not running the Rohloff for the winter months, so I want to make sure the hub is in prime working order for when I put it back to work in the spring. I performed an oil change less than 600 miles ago.

    Thanks and Cheers,
    BFE

  2. #2
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    If the gear isn't completely engaged, it can "pop" out on you and sometimes feel like you're in 'neutral'. Try loosening your cables just a touch and you will probably have a little better luck engaging the gears.

    Almost everytime I thought my Rohloff was fouled on a gear, I looked down and there was something caught in the chain. Check your chain for stiff links and/or debris too.

    Winter time is when the Rohloff shines.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply Swift. When I switch the bike back to gears in a couple of months I will be installing a new chain, front chain ring, and probably install new cables and hosing.

    With loosening of the cables comes more slack between gear changes, no? I am trying to better understand the mechanics and use of adjustments on the Speedhub. I think the simplicity and lack of maintenance of this drivetrain just makes me curious as to how it all works. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    I had this a couple of times when my rohloff was new.
    SJSC advised a couple of oil changes to flush any particles out, and to make sure the cables had a bit if slack but not too much.
    That sorted it for me.

  5. #5
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    Fwiw

    Had the exact same symptoms/problem near the end of my first season on the Rohloff tandem - replaced the drive chain and problem eliminated. PC1 chains are $7 for a reason, I guess (342 miles and it was toast, nearly a half link 'stretched' or worn.
    GET Bret Weir, I said.

  6. #6
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    If you loosen the cables too much there is more slack between gear changes, but because the shift is 90% complete as soon as a cable starts to move it is really easy to get them to the point where one cable is too tight so it wants to pull the hub back into the previous gear with the least wiggle of the shifter. There should be a bit of freeplay in the twist shifter.
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  7. #7
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    I like swift's cable suggestion. I've had that happen, too -- where the cable is under so much tension that the shift lands you on the cusp of a shift detent rather than firmly in it.

    Two items that seem to cause the regular trouble among Speedhub users: overfilling the oil, and losing one or both off the detent springs nestled underneath the External Shifter mechanism.

    Too much oil will gum up the works, and can lead so some funky shifting as well as a messy puddle on the floor. Rohloff has three times modified their oil change procedures to reduce the amount of oil that should be going back in to the hub. They're down to about 15mL now, with the assumption that 12mL is sticking to the internals. A bone dry, factor fresh hub takes 20mL.

    If you've removed the External Shifter for any reason, there's a good chance you lost one or both of the tiny springs under it. They apparently lead to shifting woes, although if I recall correctly, it's more apt to be ghost shifts to neutral.



    Edit: BTW, the hub pictured above was an eBay steal -- the seller throught the internals were shot due to wonky shifting. I took a gamble ($300 buy-it-now), and sure enough, all it was missing was the two detent springs.
    Last edited by Speedub.Nate; 01-01-2010 at 12:33 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Hi there BFE, The Rohloff has nylon shear pins between the gearbox and the hub shell. Maybe you sheared them. They are cheap and fairly easy to replace. The hub will still transmit a small amount of power even with them sheared.

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    He says he rode the bike home afterward. I can't imaging doing this successfully with the pins sheered, even if it were a totally flat ride.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    ...SNIP...Edit: BTW, the hub pictured above was an eBay steal -- the seller throught the internals were shot due to wonky shifting. I took a gamble ($300 buy-it-now), and sure enough, all it was missing was the two detent springs.
    Dang you!

    I've been wondering where all the deals have been going? So you're the culprit?

    I saw one for sale on Google/CL about a week ago for $400 or $450 but when I opened the link the ad had already been deleted. No wonder! At that price someone snatched it up.

    I don't think I should've ever bought my (used) Rohloff because now I'm spoiled & I'm yearning for another. The Alfine I had & the Nexus I have don't quite measure up.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sometimes
    Dang you!

    I've been wondering where all the deals have been going? So you're the culprit?

    I saw one for sale on Google/CL about a week ago for $400 or $450 but when I opened the link the ad had already been deleted. No wonder! At that price someone snatched it up.

    I don't think I should've ever bought my (used) Rohloff because now I'm spoiled & I'm yearning for another. The Alfine I had & the Nexus I have don't quite measure up.
    Eh, I wish. That was maybe four years ago. My last one I paid something closer to retail. Granted, it was nearly new and already built into the wheel I needed, but still...
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  12. #12
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    Thanks for the replies guys. I have not pulled the hub apart at all and have only done an oil change in the last 2,000 miles. I have not had any problems with the hub other that this one incident. I'm pretty sure the cables were just a bit out of adjustment and is the reason for the 'neutral' shift. I had done a handful of rides after this incident, so I'm pretty sure I haven't sheered any pins.

    Here is the next question, how does one find the 'sweet spot' in regards to cable tension? I just want to make sure this doesn't happen again. Thanks.

  13. #13
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    Couple mm slack in cables; at the shift box end. Much tighter binds the shift up.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Rohloff has three times modified their oil change procedures to reduce the amount of oil that should be going back in to the hub. They're down to about 15mL now, with the assumption that 12mL is sticking to the internals. A bone dry, factor fresh hub takes 20mL.
    Where did you get this info?

    The offical info from Rohloff themselves clearly states that the whole bottle (25ml) of oil should be used - granted, no more, but definitely the whole 25ml. The official literature also still states that the factory hubs are filled with the whole amount of 25ml (when purchasing a complete bicycle).

    I am confused now. If your source is correct, then I would expect the info to be identical with that from Rohloff directly. I dont want to risk loosing my warranty by riding with too little oil!

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    Quote Originally Posted by estutjaweh
    Where did you get this info?

    The offical info from Rohloff themselves clearly states that the whole bottle (25ml) of oil should be used - granted, no more, but definitely the whole 25ml. The official literature also still states that the factory hubs are filled with the whole amount of 25ml (when purchasing a complete bicycle).

    I am confused now. If your source is correct, then I would expect the info to be identical with that from Rohloff directly. I dont want to risk loosing my warranty by riding with too little oil!
    My original manual stated a higher amount -- I believe 30mL, but I'd have to find it to check. You're right, the newer and maybe even current manual states 25mL.

    I got to know Thomas formerly of Rohloff USA over the years and he was the one who initially told me to replace only 15mL on subsequent refills, with the rationale I stated in my previous post.

    Sometime after that (and this is all going back a number of years) Thorn Cycles in the UK posted these Speedhub oil change instructions on their website, essentially confirming what Thomas of Rohloff USA told me:

    http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/rohloffhuboil.html

    You would have to take this advice on faith, or stick with the "official" recommendations in the manual. I've been rolling with the 15mL quantity for a good long while and haven't had problems. In fact, the amount of oil seepage my older hubs experience is significantly reduced.

    The info posted by Thorn has been up for at least three years. They're a solid brand in the UK and their Speedhub-equipped bikes are sold around the world. I trust their info to be reliable and presume Rohloff would have had them change it were it incorrect (otherwise Thorn would have their own warranty worries).
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  16. #16
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    Nate is correct.

    I started running the Speedhub back ~2000, and they recommended 30ml. This was subsequently reduced to 25ml. However, if you put 25ml into the hub without spilling any, about 10ml would weep out in the next 2 months, which was really annoying if you ran discs.

    When talking to the Rohloff service (Thomas for this continent back then) he mentioned that you really only needed 15ml during an oil change, 25ml was for a dry hub, but it was better to put more in than not enough, so the recommendation for home service was to put the full 25mm bottle in. Too much oil does not hurt the hub, but does lead to leaking.

    There was also discussion that you can easily go 2 years between oil changes (with mileage & hostile environment exceptions), but they kept the recommendation to 1 year - since you can't hurt the hub by changing the oil more often.

    This was also discussed in the ROC, but unfortunately that forum has since died.

    I rinse with 25ml, and add 15ml+ of the multi-grade oil once every 2 years, unless I run the hub in the winter - then I add 10ml of kerosene when temps go below -5C, and change the oil in the spring. I tend to run SS or fixie in the winter, so I have not winterized my hubs recently (but my SO's does get the winter treatment).

    There was also discussion about using oil other than Rohloff's, but you didn't hear me mention it...

    FYI: Thorn Cycles is part of St. John Street Cycles (or visa-versa), which is the UK distributer for Rohloff. SJS cycles is a good web retailer of Rohloff stuff.

  17. #17
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    From my misspent youth in sports car racing, I'm always struck by how much the Rohloff lube smells just like Molyslip G that used to be added to manual transmission gear oil to make it slipperier.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    FYI: Thorn Cycles is part of St. John Street Cycles (or visa-versa), which is the UK distributer for Rohloff. SJS cycles is a good web retailer of Rohloff stuff.
    ...not quite correct. Thorn Cycles are the largest UK manufacturer who build bicycles around the speedhub. For this reason their shop (SJSC) is well stocked with all the stuff a Rohloff user needs. They are however only a shop or a manufacturer and still receive their parts through the UK distributor (ISON Distribution). Being that ISON is not a normal retailer, they will not supply us normal folk directly and therefore we dont get to know them ..... until we look up the info on the Rohloff website

  19. #19
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    sorry, I have re-read the replys and I am still a little confused by the answers.

    If this Thomas worked for Rohloff USA and advised the use of less oil and less frequent oil changes, then... am I supposed to believe that an employee is actively trying to earn less money for his company?? I may have a small trust problem here, but thats just not normal in the industry so........
    ........will following this advise lead to more service issues from which he can earn money?? .... or are Rohloff earning so much money that they dont need the business?

    If he was telling the truth to be a "good person" and help Rohloff customers, then I would expect this info to be published somewhere officially by Rohloff HQ in Germany.
    I havnt found any such info.
    Im sorry, this shouldnt sound like a personnal attack on anyone but if my only option is to believe hearsay about someone who for some reason no longer works for the company and take the risk that I get a huge invoice should I ever have a warranty claim...
    ...then I must admit, Id rather pay out for the oil-kit once a year!

  20. #20
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    Pessimist?

    Quote Originally Posted by estutjaweh
    sorry, I have re-read the replys and I am still a little confused by the answers.

    If this Thomas worked for Rohloff USA and advised the use of less oil and less frequent oil changes, then... am I supposed to believe that an employee is actively trying to earn less money for his company?? I may have a small trust problem here, but thats just not normal in the industry so........
    ........will following this advise lead to more service issues from which he can earn money?? .... or are Rohloff earning so much money that they dont need the business?

    If he was telling the truth to be a "good person" and help Rohloff customers, then I would expect this info to be published somewhere officially by Rohloff HQ in Germany.
    I havnt found any such info.
    Im sorry, this shouldnt sound like a personnal attack on anyone but if my only option is to believe hearsay about someone who for some reason no longer works for the company and take the risk that I get a huge invoice should I ever have a warranty claim...
    ...then I must admit, Id rather pay out for the oil-kit once a year!
    Most all the information on MTBR is what YOU call hearsay. Why do you ask questions which you have already formed an answer too?

    Re-fill your hub with all 25mL of oil, let it weep all over, and give yourself a pat on the back for "going by the book".

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    Yeah, that's kind of the nuts & bolts of it. Like I wrote, you'll all have to take it all on faith. I, too, would like to see it come officially from Rohloff, but I trust Thomas and I trust Thorn.

    Now ME, I'm just some anonymous Joe on the internet, and I could be making the Thomas part of it. But Thorn? I didn't hack their web page.

    By all means, anyone not comfortable with this advice should stick with the directions in the Rohloff owners manual.

    And let's not forget the other half of the equation, addressing the OPs complaint: Thomas advised that too much oil can cause the shifting to hang up. I don't know the specifics of this, and from my understanding of how the shifting works, I don't see how this is possible. But again, I hold his Speedhub experience and advice in high regard.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by estutjaweh
    ...not quite correct. Thorn Cycles...... their shop (SJSC) ...... still receive their parts through the UK distributor (ISON Distribution)....
    Yes, I stand corrected - but I though they were all "related". It's important to keep the distribution separated from the lbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by estutjaweh
    ...this shouldnt sound like a personnal attack on anyone but if my only option is to believe hearsay about someone who for some reason no longer works for the company and take the risk that I get a huge invoice should I ever have a warranty claim...
    Keep in mind, this is the internet, and by definition, everything you read here is hearsay.

    A lot of people follow manufactures recommended maintenance (which are always conservative) so they can keep their warrenttee active, especially on a high ticket items. Nothing wrong with that. Some don't, and follow "reasonable" maintenance schedules. In my case, my first hub is over 10 years old, and well out of warrenttee - but Rohloff being a pretty reliable company, did take care of some issues out of the warrenttee time frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by estutjaweh
    ... am I supposed to believe that an employee is actively trying to earn less money for his company?? I may have a small trust problem here, but thats just not normal in the industry so....
    That's a pretty pessimistic view of the technical service the company is providing when you suspect they will try to up-sell you $5 worth of oil for a $1500 part.

    Weeping oil contaminates disc pads, and leave a mess in your car if you put the bike inside.

    Oil change, winterization, and several other topics have been discussed on ROC & icebike forums. Rohloff has always been careful not to put any of this on emails or websites, but if you talk to their technical service, they have always been pretty forward. Liability and lawyers.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Yeah, that's kind of the nuts & bolts of it. Like I wrote, you'll all have to take it all on faith. I, too, would like to see it come officially from Rohloff, but I trust Thomas and I trust Thorn.

    Now ME, I'm just some anonymous Joe on the internet, and I could be making the Thomas part of it. But Thorn? I didn't hack their web page.

    By all means, anyone not comfortable with this advice should stick with the directions in the Rohloff owners manual.

    And let's not forget the other half of the equation, addressing the OPs complaint: Thomas advised that too much oil can cause the shifting to hang up. I don't know the specifics of this, and from my understanding of how the shifting works, I don't see how this is possible. But again, I hold his Speedhub experience and advice in high regard.
    Hmmm...Thomas had a falling out with Rohloff USA and is no longer a part of the company, Neil's handling Rohloff in the USA for now.

    I wonder if Thomas became PNG when he lost the company money by only using 15 ml of oil? He told me many times it's fine to run it 'dry'...ie once the oil was drained out or leaked out there was enough residual oil coating the parts to keep the hub operating properly.

    Also, re the moly slip, that's what I noticed as well...it's def got moly in it, hence the black opaque nature of the oil.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2xPneu

    Hmmm...Thomas had a falling out with Rohloff USA and is no longer a part of the company,

    I wonder if Thomas became PNG when he lost the company money by only using 15 ml of oil? He told me many times it's fine to run it 'dry'...ie once the oil was drained out or leaked out there was enough residual oil coating the parts to keep the hub operating properly.
    I don't know many of the details of his and Rohloff's disagreement, but I do know it had nothing to do with oil quantities and resulting warranties. I presume your suggestion was tongue in cheek, but if you're being serious, Rohloff would had almost certainly posted a bulletin correcting widespread erroneous information.

    Thomas told me that he inadvertently rode a brand new hub "dry" for an extended period of time, thinking it had oil. While if offered this an a testament to the Speedhub's durability, he never implied "it's fine" to do so.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Thomas told me that he inadvertently rode a brand new hub "dry" for an extended period of time, thinking it had oil. While if offered this an a testament to the Speedhub's durability, he never implied "it's fine" to do so.
    I heard the story from him when I was asking about any issues with oil weeping out - at that time, my concern was not having enough oil left in the hub. And he definitely said not to try that at home.

    The oil level issues have been discussed in several forums, with input from both UK, Germany and USA. I remember Stewart from Rohloff AG posting on ROC.

    But after ~10 years of changing oil (and winterizing) on 3 hubs, my conclusions are:
    - if you put more than 15ml of oil into a hub, the excess leaks out onto your rotor & caliper. Or on your floor and in your car.
    - after 2 years of regular riding, I can still drain oil out of the hub.
    - water does get into the hub, so if you ride in wet conditions, a yearly oil change is preferred.
    - on a new hub, you have to add kerosene (thinner) below 0C. Older hubs can make it to -5C, sometimes -10C before you get freewheeling issues with shifts.
    - the oldest, most used hub is the smoothest.

    As to Thomas' departure, I don't know the specifics, but I would not be surprised if the Canadian Distributor fiasco played a role. And I also remember him saying something about burn-out and wanting a break. Thomas provided good CS, and I have only heard good thing about Neil.

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