Author Topic: To Rohloff or not ?  (Read 18787 times)

To Rohloff or not ?
« on: February 01, 2010, 09:38:43 pm »
I'm now thinking about a replacement for my stolen Enigma.
Some things will stay the same- Enigma, Ti, discs- as will the main uses- day rides, light touring, light off-road plus I intend doing more (only done one so more won't be difficult  ::-) ) audax.
Longer term the plan is to get a lighter, faster bike as well but, for now, I'm thinking about the tourer.

So, what about getting a Rohloff ?
The main attraction to me would be the lack of maintenance and wear on the drive-train. On the previous bike I got through chains in about 1000 miles, probably because of the off-roading.

Drawbacks ? Main ones that I can see are:-
  • The shifter because I want drops. Hubbub would be fine except that the cable run looks wrong on the pictures that I've seen.
  • Puncture changing. How difficult is it getting the wheel off and to disconnect the cables ?
  • Weight at the back. Since it's a tourer carrying luggage, will it matter too much ?

I'm aware of the other drawbacks (particularly cost, noise and drag) but I think I can come to terms with that.
On the brief ride that I've had on a Rohloff equipped bike, I didn't notice the drag or any noise.

Are there any other things that I should be thinking of ?
Anything that I've missed ?

TIA.


Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 09:45:15 pm »
I don't believe they're efficient enough.  Google Berto and Kyle's measurements (which are backed up by theory anyway; one top-quality epicyclic is about 97% efficient, so stick three of them in series as the Rohloff does in some gears and you get only 90% or so).  It's beautifully engineered and everything, but a 10% power loss would eat away at my soul.

If you can cope with seven speeds, a SRAM Spectro S7 is a sounder design.  Actually, for the price of the Rohloff you could have a Schlumpf bottom bracket and the SRAM hub.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 09:49:28 pm »
You missed weight, and running it in. It really takes a couple thousand kms before it runs smoothly. Before that you definitely will notice noise (and you'll always know by the amount of noise when you're in 7th), and probably some drag too.
I find getting the rear wheel out very easy, but I have an EX type with disc.
To get a lot better chainlife you should protect the chain from dust/sand. It won't help a lot if the chain is still in the open air. I am still eating chains like I used to with a derailleur on my recumbent.
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been too many days since I have ridden through the night with a brevet card in my pocket...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 09:59:31 pm »
I don't believe they're efficient enough.  Google Berto and Kyle's measurements (which are backed up by theory anyway; one top-quality epicyclic is about 97% efficient, so stick three of them in series as the Rohloff does in some gears and you get only 90% or so).  It's beautifully engineered and everything, but a 10% power loss would eat away at my soul.

If you can cope with seven speeds, a SRAM Spectro S7 is a sounder design.  Actually, for the price of the Rohloff you could have a Schlumpf bottom bracket and the SRAM hub.

The Rohloff is a 7 sp hub (ie 3 epicyclics, only 1 used at a time) with a doubler epicyclic to get 14 gears.  So at most only 2 epicyclics used, for the lowest 7 gears.  The Rohloff never has 3 epicyclics in series.


Personally, only the drop bar thing is a problem for me.  There isn't really an elegant way of combining a drop bar and Rohloff twist shifter.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

rdaviesb

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 10:05:30 pm »
As you are touring, I would go for Rohloff. If its fast enough for Bowthorpe and Beaumont, it's fast enough for me. Our tandem is Rohloff with a disk, and I really like it. Removing with wheel is really easy if go for the external gear box.

dasmoth

  • Techno-optimist
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 10:06:20 pm »
The puncture-fixing situation isn't too bad.  At least, getting the wheel off is very easy indeed -- just twist a couple of bayonet connectors in the gear cable.  Getting it back on again is slightly fiddly if the cables are tight, but not too bad.

I'd say it's worth trying to get a decent-length test ride on one before deciding.
Half term's when the traffic becomes mysteriously less bad for a week.

rdaviesb

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 10:15:46 pm »
Quote from: dasmoth link=topic=29392.msg538903#msg538903 date=1265061980
I'd say it's worth trying to get a decent-length test ride on one before deciding.
[/quote

Definitely. Its a lot of money to add onto the build.

CommuteTooFar

  • Inadequate Randonneur
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 10:43:52 pm »
You can use one of those Thorn headset spacer bar extender things to mount the shifter. I think that is why SJSC got the things. 

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2010, 11:22:37 pm »
I've got more than 3 years' experience of Rohloffs. More than 6 if you multiply the years by the number of bikes!

Weight: does a Rohloff weigh more than a big block of cogs, extra front rings, two gear changers, longer chain etc? If so, it's not by much.

Wheel removal: there are two types of connection but both are dead simple. It's also a lot simpler to get the wheel back on because you don't have to worry about getting the derailleur in the right place.

Noise: generally much quieter than derailleurs - no more chain graunching / power loss when you get in the wrong gear. Gear changing can be done either stationary or on the move, although not when under heavy pedal pressure. There's a certain amount of "meshing" noise most noticeable in 6th & 7th, but there's none in the higher gears. It gets a bit less with use, but I still get it on both bikes. The tandem has done more than 7000 miles, my solo machine more than 11000. The freewheel is quiet too.

Spoke breakages: I got a few early on at the nipple end on the solo machine, but this was down to Thorn not supplying correctly drilled rims. They use 26" wheels and the large hub/small rim diameter combination means that the spokes enter the rim at about 78°. They've cured that problem now. If you do get a spoke break, it's easy to post a new one through without even taking the wheel off.

Power loss: definitely some. I'm sure you don't notice any when you are riding but when you wheel the bike, in most gears the pedals still turn, which means that the friction is greater than that caused by the freewheel.

Dropped bars: Lee has a Rohloff / dropped bar combination and seems to have no problem.

Chain wear: my first chain was discarded at 6000 miles. I'm beginning to think about changing again now that 12000 is approaching.

The big problem we've had has been on the tandem: we've broken three Rohloffs when bits of flange have cracked. I've never had a problem on the solo bike. Thorn offer a lifetime guarantee so the only inconvenience we've had has been sending the wheel back for a rebuild. Thorn paid the postage.

Rohloffs are fantastic for touring. Mine's on a Thorn Raven Sport Tour and although the Thorn website suggest keeping loads down a bit (12kg at the back I think they mention) I've exceeded this with no problem whatever with handling and the tubes, which are a light gauge than on the Thorn Raven Tour, seem to cope very well. Since the bulk of the weight of the rear rack is supported by a really hefty stainless steel dropout, I'm not sure why they are so coy about the Sport version's luggage capacity. Then I'm no engineer.

We've twice had gear cables break on the tandem but it's a 10 minute job to replace them. To be fair both times the breakage has been at the join where the S & S couplings are. You need a torx 20 screwdriver to get into the cable housing at the changer end.

If you were thinking of going down the Thorn route, you've always go their 100-day money-back guarantee on every Rohloff equipped bike they sell. They won't do you a bike in titanium though.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2010, 11:35:22 pm »
for mounting the shifter I'd say the Thorn Accessory bar is the best, off the shelf, provided it doesn't interfere with anything else. You can also do a homemade handlebar mount, akin to the Hubbub idea, but mounted at rightangles to the flat section of the bars. I did this and it works fine but is a bit crude. However following on from another forummers efforts here, I've been able to file out the bar clamp of MTB trigger shifter pods and put them on drop bars. It took about 10 minutes for each pod, combination of filing and bending out the clamp a bit. So this got me thinking and I tried the same with a bar end, worked very well. Any old bar end as long as it's got enough straight section for the shifter and it's standard 22.2mm diameter. I'm not sure I'd trust it for bar end duties but mounting a twist shifter seems fine.

I've only done this with my SRAM twist shifter so just one cable, but the routing is very tidy. It comes down from the bar straight to the top/down tube join area.
Nuns, no sense of humour

robbo6

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2010, 01:27:58 am »

Personally, only the drop bar thing is a problem for me.  There isn't really an elegant way of combining a drop bar and Rohloff twist shifter.

I would like to differ:-
Members' bikes

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2010, 09:12:33 am »
Weight: does a Rohloff weigh more than a big block of cogs, extra front rings, two gear changers, longer chain etc? If so, it's not by much.

I think a Rohloff weighs less than all that cruft for low end groupsets, but not if you spend the same amount on the groupset as you do the Rohloff. Still, it's close.

But the majority of the Rohloff weight is added as rotating mass on the rear wheel, which will add to the feeling of sluggishness of the bike.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Julian

  • samoture
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2010, 09:17:35 am »
I didn't get on with Rohloff when C. & I tried it out at JD Cycles on tandems.

The range isn't nearly as wide as you can get with a derailleur.  Plus, if you want to change gear, you have to 'pause' in the pedalling.  This is a disconcerting experience for the stoker when you're going up a two-chevron hill at 2mph.

They also make a noise like a crazed sewing machine and come with the added anxiety that if it goes kaput in the middle of nowhere, you won't be able to fix it.

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2010, 09:48:32 am »
I've had a Rohloff since last May. It's been quiet since the beginning and gear changes feel wonderfully smooth. Not sure about loss of efficiency, but, is that a big deal when touring? Same thing with the weight -  heavier to lift the rear end of the bike but then my other regular bikes are all fixed. Not taken it loaded touring yet but the attraction of painless hill-starts is something I'm looking forward to.

You're welcome to come up to North Chorlton and have a go  :)

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2010, 09:54:53 am »
Singletrack did a comparison review of the Rohloff vs. the Alfine. I haven't read it yet though so that's probably not much help ???

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2010, 10:18:03 am »
There is another player in top end hub gears.  The SRAM i-Motion 9 looks like a splendid unit.  Lighter than a Rohloff, and, while it doesn't have quite the range of the Rohloff, I could pretty much replicate the range & number of effective gears of my derailleur set-up.
Getting there...

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2010, 10:32:20 am »
Wowbagger just about says it all.

I love my rohloff equipped tourer and especially the lack of maintenance.
If you are into continually fettling bikes then you will miss out with a rohloff ;)

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2010, 10:48:55 am »
I've used my Rohloff for 2 years and just over 11000 miles and not once regretted it.

Taking the wheel off is not a problem at all, although it has only been off once (to change the frayed gear cable).

The gear noise in 7th is not as big a deal as it may appear - its relatively noisy compared to the rest of the gears which are very quiet indeed.  The differences (weight, noise etc.) are small and often exaggerated in my limited experience, especially on a touring bike.  

Oil changes are straight forward.  I haven't needed to reverse the sprocket yet, but this can apparently be quite tough to remove - a strong chainwhip seems to be mandatory.

Chain life - I'm on the original chain still.

My Thorn is a flat bar bike - LEE would be able to give you an honest evaluation of the drop bar setup for long term use.

There are pros and cons with everything but the hub has done everything I wanted from it and done it well.

Right, i'm off to fit a computer to my Ti audax bike - sod riding the Thorn for 200km up hills and into a headwind! ;D
 

robbo6

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2010, 12:29:44 pm »
I like the drop bar set-up I made. The only very minor problem is that I had to move the handlebar bag forwards a bit to give index finger clearance. Obviously if you're a HDAU type of cyclist it won't be so convenient as you're on the drops more. I hardly notice it being any different to a derailleur bike to ride.

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2010, 12:49:25 pm »
Alfine is cheaper than the Rohloff.
Alfine only has 8 gears vs 14 on Rohloff

I haven't used a Rohloff but here are my impressions on going from single speed to Alfine.
Further to these comments, after approx 600km I am noticing a slight decrease in drag as the hub wears in.

Alfine bits and pieces are fairly widely available in the UK ( or Eurozone) , whereas if you go Rohloff you'd have to deal with SJS. 

There is a third party bar end shifter for the Alfine, made by jtek.  My drop bar bike has a "brifter" trigger shifter on it.  Fitting it was "interesting" but in the end fairly easy.  See Vorsprung's Commuter Bike Build in Progress

According to a recent letter in the CTC mag reply by Chris Juden it is difficult to get your hub gear serviced by a LBS regardless of what type it is.  This kinda negates part of the low maintenance argument for fitting it in the first place
Audaxing Blog follow @vorsprungbike on

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2010, 02:17:29 pm »
Has anyone other than Chris Juden got Shimano on record as saying to service every 2000 miles? My bakfiets has done a fair bit more than that and feels likes it's running in nicely.

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2010, 02:24:55 pm »
The Alfine tech doc says:

Quote
In order to maintain proper performance, it is recommended that you ask           
the place where you purchased the bicycle or your nearest Pro shop to
carry out maintenance such as greasing the internal hub about once
every two years starting from the first time of use (or once about every
5,000 km if the bicycle is used very frequently). Furthermore, it is
recommended that you use the Shimano internal hub grease or
lubrication kit when carrying out maintenance. If the special grease or
lubrication kit is not used, problems may occur such as the gear shifting
not working correctly.
Audaxing Blog follow @vorsprungbike on

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2010, 02:25:18 pm »
There is another player in top end hub gears.  The SRAM i-Motion 9 looks like a splendid unit.  Lighter than a Rohloff, and, while it doesn't have quite the range of the Rohloff, I could pretty much replicate the range & number of effective gears of my derailleur set-up.

Clarion, mine is currently away for repairs, siezed solid and no info on why yet. Though have had the usual questions indicating suspicion of idiotic user. I returned the wheel to Roman road in Wales, they've now sent it to Fisher. The guy at Roman road hoped they'd have sent him a new internal but no, they wanted the whole hub back. This could run into several weeks, not happy.

Weight wise, it's a fair bit heavier than a Rohloff, not far off 3kg including shifter etc.
Nuns, no sense of humour

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2010, 02:33:28 pm »
Alfine bits and pieces are fairly widely available in the UK ( or Eurozone) , whereas if you go Rohloff you'd have to deal with SJS. 

http://www.starbike.com/php/product_info.php?lang=en&pid=5267 do Rohloff spares. Compare the price of the oil change kits with Thorn's. I bought a litre each of cleaning and hub oil from Starbike.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: To Rohloff or not ?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2010, 02:41:02 pm »
Mittelmeyer in Germany make a drop-bar compatible Rohloff shifter that would normally sit near the stem. Googling "Mittelmeyer Rohloff" should find it.