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  1. #1
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    Rohloff vs. standard drive train? XC, offroad adventure, travel, commute

    Hello,

    I am purchasing an new mountain bike in the near future but still have ambivalence reagdring a rohloff hub.

    Here are my general biking habits: daily commuting (I might just use my crap bike for this), mountain biking 2x/week (primarily XC), small offroad overnights (e.g., being out from Friday night/Saturday morning – Sunday evening 1x/month), less common extended tours (1 week – 2 months; 1-3x/year), mixed offroad/road travel biking (e.g, Great divide, Bulgaria, la ruta, Australia, etc.). Lastly, I hope to bring my dog (~35 lbs) with me on some of these trips, especially the small offroad overnights. I plan to do this with a modified bob Ibex trailor and a leash/springer like setup. I have done a few overnights with a previous dog and really enjoyed them but have never donw extended tours with a dog which I would hope to do. For some inspiration see:http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...el&context=all

    I am 6’3” 180 lbs.

    So here is what I was thinking.

    Moots 29er y-bb with: 1) slider drop-offs, 2) a rohloff hub, and 3 ) s and s couplers. See also someone with this build: http://bikingbakke.blogspot.com/2007...ox-review.html

    I feel pretty good about the frame choice and s&s. However, I still have lingering concerns regarding the Rohloff: While I am still leaning toward the rohloff, I am not sure I am ready to give up the standard drive train. I definitely want to put some more time in demoing it, but was hoping I might be able to get any input from riders who have used it for longer periods of time to see if I am missing any benefits/cons and to get your input on it vs. a standard drive train for my riding.

    Rohloff benefits for my usage: 1) reduced maintenance (I really appreciate this), 2) more functionally simplistic (certainly not mechanically), 3) changing gears while stationary or not peddling (this one is big for me if I am going to be loaded at times or with a dog), 4) stronger wheels for touring, reliability, 5) better performance in bad weather (e.g., mud, snow).

    The cons being: 1) weight and bike weight balance (for my purposes I don’t think this is much of a deal breaker), 2) availability of parts/service, in particular for touring abroad ( I have fears of getting stuck in Bulgaria wishing I had a traditional drive train), 3) slight internal friction, reduced efficiency and 7 to 8? Shifting issue, 4) cost – while I can make this financially work, and from my readings it doesn’t seem all that much more expensive than say an XTR system (I would probably go XT for my setup if I go standard), I like to be reasonable with my finances – if I am paying more for it I want it to give me that added benefit.

    Are there any pros and cons for the rohloff vs standard drive train that I am not considering vs. a traditional dive chain?


    Thank you.
    Ryan

  2. #2
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    You're got your arms wrapped around it pretty well, Ryan.

    I would suggest that on your list of cons:

    (1) Weight isn't really an issue. It's about a pound and a half total extra weight.
    (2) This is a concern IF it breaks, but there are web logs full of cross-continent journeys where the Rohloff has proved perfectly reliable. There was a story of a fellow in Africa (IIRC) who air freighted out a broken Speedhub and had a replacement in hand in just a couple of days.
    (3) Some gears have more drag, others have less. The 7 to 8 bugaboo is a non-starter -- you'll quickly gain an understanding of what it is and it will cease to be an issue.
    (4) Cost is a very real concern. Even though they pay for themselves over time, the up front investment is a large chunk of change, especially for somebody unsure. Trust me, I felt exactly the same way. So did my wife. We now own 4 between the two of us. Just rest assured that if it doesn't work out, you can sell it at very little loss.
    speedub.nate
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  3. #3
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    speedub.nate - thank you for the thoughtful reply! Good to know the 7 to 8 thing isn't a big deal.

    They do seem to be very reliable and very glad to hera that someone was able to proceed with their trip after busting one.

  4. #4
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    I don't think you'll be dissapointed witht he rohloff for your use. I can't bear the thought of going back to deraliuers any more. One thing to check is the limits of gearing with the 29" wheel to make sure it fits your terrain. I use mine mainly for trail riding and it was a concern for steep tracks here. Off road I haven't really noticed the efficiency thing, and over all my rohloff bike is much faster than the other one due to other reasons. The weight is the only thing I gripe about but only when my friends are kicking my butt....like everything, when I'm faster it doesn't seem to matter Being able to change instantly is great for technical climbing too.

  5. #5
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    Not sure if you're still on thread - I'm about a year and a month into my first (and hopefully only!) Rohloff. I run it on a 29er frame but with 700c touring wheels, discs and rigid carbon fork. Yes, the initial payout is high, but the only extra costs I've had since setting it up regarding wear and tear are £20 on an oil change kit and a new chain for £40 (but the last chain broke cos I abused the sh*t out of it andd didn't clean it so prob would have lasted a lot longer.

    To put this into perspective:

    I think I've done around 6-7000miles on it so far.

    I use my bike with full mudguards (fenders for you fellas across the pond!) and rear panniers for commuting to work (its 48-50miles a day at the moment).

    I've been using it to commute in the snow for the past couple of weeks with the mudguards off but still loaded with panniers and managed to get through snow a foot deep (thanks to being able to change gear without pedalling!) using some fairly slim cyclocross tyres and it only takes me an extra 15-20mins each way!

    I also sometimes go out with a bunch of roadies and eat all but the best of them for breakfast lunch and dinner with slicks on (and just about manage to keep up with the quick ones!).

    I also swap out me road slicks for knobblies and go on fairly rough terrain.......again can smash most people on top speeds and only struggle up some hills because I have a 13t on the back for a higher top speed (45mph is my best so far!)

    Yes my bike is a tad heavy, but it's an all rounder and a hell of a work horse. The frame you're looking at is lighter than mine (got a Gary Fisher rig 29...prob 2004-5)

    Doing the pounding variety of mileage I've done on this on a standard set up would have put me through a couple of groupsets at least. Nothing can measure up and I will never go back!

    Just for fun.........beating cars setting off from traffic lights is sooooooo much fun! It's great cause not only is the Rohloff sequentially geared, you can skip gears in order to maximise your acceleration and don't have to worry like you do with derailleur setup that you're gonna mash the gears or the chain drop off a chainring! Also, car drivers really don't expect it when I kick up to over 30mph and they're stuck at the speed limit of 30mph round town!

    All-in-all - if you're not competing (and even then some people do with Speedhubs), there is no way that any of the negatives matter when you have such overengineered madness that will still work perfectly after more than 100000miles!

    Enough prattle......am off to book my hub in for disc conversion at Rohloff HQ!

  6. #6
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    Again I'd say you've covered off the issues pretty well. Don't worry about the gear 7-8 thing, you'll time your gear changes to the top of each pedal stroke. One big plus you missed is that it's so easy to change gears that you'll be spending more time in the right gear or making rapid fire gear changes during up-down xc biking. IMHO friction is made up for by being able to select the right gear all the time especially if you're pulling away from the lights (like johnnybags says) or doing up-down XC.

    I also tour with mine with a Bob trailer - it's not friendly with a speedbone but sounds like you'll have the OEM1 plate anyway so no need. I just file the OEM2 feature into my disc brake mount arm with a big barstard file so also don't need the speedbone.

    For spare parts you mention the only killer bits are the "externals". On a massive world tour I would carry a spare shifter box, cables maybe. I ripped the cable out of the box (box wasn't screwed on properly so the gear change was jammed!) in Normandy once and had to borrow a torx from the nearest mechanic. I've since changed the screws for hex head from torx too as it's easier to find. But don't forget you can manually select a gear internally and ride to the nearest town.
    I've found that changing the cog can be a nightmare due to how tight it ends up. I made my own 80cm long chain whip from a steel bar and put the cog tool in a vice to get more torque on it - with that set up it's always come off quick and easy. So change cogs before commencing a long tour! That said mine gets thrashed daily with salty commuting, muddy mtb and even downhilling (e.g. 4 weeks in Morzine, France). Gear change arm got bent when I smashed it on a rock but I straightened it with a hammer and it still works fine!!! (I don't recommend that sort of abuse though!)

    Cost - ouch. I got mine for £350 in 2005 (eBay), they've gone up so much since then even on eBay. Rest assured it's an investement as well as a cost. Since 2005 the only items I've replaced is two oil changes and 2 cogs. It's outlasted 2 rims and it's now on it's third frame! Might need a new shifter rubber in a few years too. Try and find another bit of bike kit that only gets better!? --- Brooks Saddle? Hmmm..

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