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  1. #1
    PeT
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    When will my Rohloff finally "break-in"?

    While a big fan of my Rohloff Speedhub, after 3+ years and several thousand miles I'm growing tired of the sound and feedback found in gears 1 through 7. I don't really feel it's gotten any better from when it was new and I've been through two oil changes. While grinding up a hill I recently fantasized about the hub having the smooth as silk feel in gears 1 through 7 as it has in 8 through 11. Feedback in 12 -14 don't really matter because of the speed I'm riding when using them and how little I use those gears off-road. My fantasy continued on, wondering if there might be some way to speed the break-in -- say, hook up an electric motor and run the hub in reverse in 5th gear (most moving internal reduction gears, right?) for about a month during the heart of the winter when I'm skiing rather than riding. Might that be the equivalent of quite a few thousand miles of riding? That's probably just a bad idea, but is there any way to break this damn thing in so it really has no peers in the world of drivetrains?
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  2. #2
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    Ya know, the reality is (after owning 5 Speedhubs, currently 4), they each have their own personality -- each of ours shifts differently, makes different sounds and feels different under torque.

    I suppose it's a result of the gobs of tiny helical gears contained within, which Rohloff probably contracts out in small batches. All the minor variations combine together in different ways, break in differently, mesh differently, and wear differently.

    Maybe they need to introduce a "tuning oil" with just a small amojnt of lapping compound injected. Run it for a few rides, replace your bearings (GAH!) and presto: Quiet Hub!
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  3. #3
    Rohloff
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    I'm afraid you are just hearing/feeling the extra grind of the lower gears that will never go away. I think this comes from the meshing of a reducer gear ... essentially an underdrive gear that turns the 7 primary gears into a 14 speed hub. If you've got several thousand miles on your hub, I don't think what you are hearing/feeling will improve much from here.

    The low gear grind is probably the primary issue to deal with if you are going to get and stay with a Speedhub. It bothers me on occasion. I have to remind myself, that as inefficient as it feels, it's not really slowing me down. I have to remind myself of the good and bad of a derailleur. Here's my experience with that:

    Rohloff vs. Derailleur

    In the end, I think most Rohloff owners will not claim that the Speedhub is better than a derailleur system. They'll just say that there are trade-offs with each and you have to decide which issues you'd rather deal with. For me, I prefer grinding the hills on my Speedhub.

  4. #4
    PeT
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    Oh, I know where the grind is coming from -- I've owned the hub for about 4 years and am well aware of its pros and cons. Well, the only con for me is the grind and that's only a true bother when I'm out of shape and my resolve is weak, which I currently am and hence my whine. I must have got into the hub at the right time from a cost standpoint -- I got it new when I had my frame built and it worked out less than a new XTR system would have run me. I think I could probably sell it at a profit on Ebay -- not that I will. I do lots of riding in the dirt on a geared cross bike and tandem, so I have a continual basis for comparison and I don't see any reason to put derailers on my mtb. It's just that the Speedhub could be so far-and-away superior to a derailer system (even considering the weight penalty) if that grind in gears 1-7 were mitigated -- Rohloff could rule the world! I like Speedhub.Nate's idea of a tuning oil -- can you get working on that Rohloff?

    The attached low-res picture is the bike in question, taken on what passes for a well-beaten in Wyoming single track...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  5. #5
    Rohloff
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    I think I see your problem. Look at that smooth trail. I think the one thing that helps me ignore the grind is all the rocks, roots, and gravel on most of the trails I ride.

    I don't see how Rohloff could cut out the 1-7 grind without cutting out the underdrive (reducer) gear ... unless they built a 7 speed hub ... maybe with larger steps between the gears ... ???

    Until they come out with tuning oil, you could try running your hub without oil for a while. :-)

  6. #6
    PeT
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsdc
    I think I see your problem. Look at that smooth trail. I think the one thing that helps me ignore the grind is all the rocks, roots, and gravel on most of the trails I ride.
    Clearly, you've never been to Wyoming . I took that photo in large part because this portion of the trail is exceptional. For several reasons, I only ride that trail downhill and for the two mile section of smooth singletrack snaking through the aspens. I then pay for it with 3 miles of -- I'm serious here -- fist sized scree scattered over solid limestone, affectionately known around here as "dickrock" (not to be confused with "slickrock"). Most of the trails I ride are sections of rocky and sandy tracks littered with sagebrush shards and lined with cactus interspersed with sections of dickrock. Tubeless is a must, as is an appreciation of wide open spaces. I lost two rear derailers to sage brush prior to going to the Speedhub. The audible feedback from the hub is becoming less of a problem as I age and grow deaf, just the feeling in the pedals is what's irritable to me. And I'd happily trade in my 14 gears for a 7 geared hub with the same range if it got rid of the grinding! In fact, I'd be happy with a 3-speed with the range and durability of a Speedhub. How about a 22" bail-out gear, a gear with around 49 inches for 80% of the miles, and about 90" for downhills and tailwinds. I'm really a single speeder at heart, but old enough to need to begin the riding season with gears and certain rides just demand something more than one gear (for me).
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  7. #7
    Rohloff
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    My sole experience with Wyoming is I-80 from Cheyenne to Evanston. I'm glad to hear you've got your share of trail mess to deal with. I guess if we wanted it smooth, we'd be road biking. I've wondered how much a belt drive would mute the feel in the pedals.

    One idea I've toyed with is a Hammerschmidt x1. That would give you a clean 2x1 with a climbing gear and a gear for the flats. I calculated that would be a 4 gear jump on a Rohloff. I played with that on a ride or two but found I like having a few extra gears.

    I've read a few Alfine posts. It seems the hub is holding up pretty well and is relatively smooth. I'm thinking of trying one out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT
    And I'd happily trade in my 14 gears for a 7 geared hub with the same range if it got rid of the grinding! In fact, I'd be happy with a 3-speed with the range and durability of a Speedhub. How about a 22" bail-out gear, a gear with around 49 inches for 80% of the miles, and about 90" for downhills and tailwinds. I'm really a single speeder at heart, but old enough to need to begin the riding season with gears and certain rides just demand something more than one gear (for me).
    I agree with you here, accept that 49" is too hard for my normal SSing. I would prefer the 7 speed hub for sure. Sometimes, after sitting on my FS bike and spinning to the top, my nutz actually start to go numb when I have it in 5th for a certain stretch, due to the feedback at the pedals that seems to go all the way into my seat! I still like it though.

    I'm going to try an Alfine soon, to see how that works. Like you said, I could probably gear it to suit most of my SSing, but give me a bit more range when I want/need it.

  9. #9
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    The grinding in gears 1~7 never go away, but they do become a little mute.

    Usually my breathing is too heavy, and the heartbeat pounding in my ears are too loud for me to notice, or maybe I've been riding them too long to notice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    I suppose it's a result of the gobs of tiny helical gears contained within, which Rohloff probably contracts out in small batches....
    There are no helical cut gears in the Rohloff, they are all strait cut. I have suggested to them that using helical cut gears on the reducer section would be nice, but the reality is that strait cut gears are more efficient.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    There are no helical cut gears in the Rohloff, they are all strait cut. I have suggested to them that using helical cut gears on the reducer section would be nice, but the reality is that strait cut gears are more efficient.
    Thanks for that. I should study my assembly diagram a little closer, huh?

    All the same, they do farm these out in small batches for manufacturing, and there's bound to be enough variation in the final assembly that speaks to why mine all have different personalities.
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