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Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 21st 09, 01:12 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Andre Jute[_2_]
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Posts: 9,233
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

The technicalities of the Rohloff hub have been reported on RBT many
time, so I'll confine myself to few initial impressions. Note that my
bike hasn't yet run even 50 miles, so these are *initial* impressions.
Note further that the Rohloff gearhub is intended to survive the
antics of downhill offroaders while my expectations are of a refined
city-n-country nature.

I had a Rohloff hub on loan from an RBT lurker in Dublin who wrote
offering to lend me a wheel and controls for a few weeks, to whom
anonymous thanks because he asks not to be named. His gearbox has
never been open in several years, except for routine oil changes. It
has enough miles on it to be certain that it has settled in. (He
bought a Cyber Nexus bike on the Continent after he saw my netsite
about my automatic Trek, and took the wheels and the rest of the
groupset over to his previously Rohloff-equipped bike.)

I therefore expected my new Rohloff gearbox to be more noisy than his
and was pleasantly surprised. The SON hub dynamo appears to be louder
than the new Rohloff box. That makes the whole bike noisier than the
Nexus/Shimano dynohub combination but it is all pretty marginal. It's
one of those things you hear only because you're listening for it, and
you're listening for it not because the noise has disturbed you but
only because others have made a song and dance about it. I don't hear
the noise of derailleur-equped bikes ridden by people in my group
unless I listen for them or the riders make an awkward change. You get
used to much, and with the automatic Cyber Nexus you have no reason to
listen because it is irrelevant which gear you are in: the box will
find the right gear without your assistance.

Less pleasing is the agricultural quality of the Rohloff gearchange,
which I expect to be able to adjust a little and then to have to live
with, the reference being the well-used Rohloff box and controls I had
on loan, which after a few thousand miles were still pretty resistant.
Apparently one can send the Rohloff hub away to get a softer spring
fitted to give a smoother gearchange.

The rotary control for the gearchange is beautifully finished but the
entire, sturdy design is a ton less pleasing or ergonomic than
Shimano's Nexus (manual) rotary control (the cheapest Nexus control --
there are trigger shifter alternatives available). For a start, the
Rohloff rotary handle is triangular, so that at one point or another
it will be higher than the edge of the handlebar grip. This
discontinuity will be enough to bruise the pad on your palm below your
forefinger, and the pad below your thumb as well. With short grips
made for hub gearboxes there's nowhere else to rest your fingers
except on Rohloff's rotary control. I shall probably change to
standard length, long grips on both sides to give me somewhere to rest
my hands where they won't be blistered or worse. I wear gloves all the
time, in winter leather dress gloves, but that is not enough
protection. Still, the Rohloff control is well enough finished not to
damage fine gloves immediately.

There is more wrong with the control before one even operates it. The
gear indicators, all fourteen of them, are raised numbers, black on
black rubber, invisible at a glance even in good light. Gears 11 and
7, at least, should be distinguishable at a quick glance. 11 is the
normal everyday gear with 1:1 power transfer, the three gears above it
being overdrives. Changes from 7 to 8 and 8 to 7 require a brief lift
on the pedals or the box might drop you into 14, which could be
dangerous in traffic. This is a known peculiarity of the Rohloff hub
gearbox; one just has to live with it. But it would help to avoid the
problem if one of those two gears was somehow marked. Furthermore,
gear 3 should be marked in my use, because the gears below are
intended only for the hill in front of my house. One doesn't want to
start off in traffic in such a limp gear. I'll probably make dabs of
white luminous paint on the rubber numbers.

The control is stiff; you don't move it with your fingers but with
wrist-twist or even whole arm action. Hardly elegant, hardly a gliding
action.
The whole agricultural outlook of the Rohloff gearchange control makes
the Nexus look like it was built by a Swiss jeweler. I expect the
Rohloff control will settle in a little with wear. I plan to grease it
thoroughly in the first service at 200 miles.

Even the weight of your foot on the pedal at standstill is enough to
create a good deal of resistance against a gearchange, and to cause
the change when it happens to clunk. These clunking noises are in fact
more disturbing than the whirring noise others have written about,
which I do not hear over the SON's noise. If one lifts the foot
between gear changes, the change is clunk-free but still requires more
force than I find agreeable. The run-in Rohloff gearbox I had on loan
had a much-smoother change altogether; I hope I don't have to wait
until the end of the summer before my Rohloff hub gears have enough
miles on them settle in.

One chooses the range of a Rohloff hub and tyre combination by
altering the sprocket/chainwheel ratio. I chose the lightest legal
transfer offered, 38 tooth chainwheel with 16 tooth sprocket, because
this would give me two or three ratios below what I could get with a
Nexus gearbox, in order to tackle the steep hill in front of my house.
Essentially, a Rohloff gearbox is like Shimano's Nexus 8 speed gearbox
with two or three equally spaced gears below the mountainbike-like 26
gear-inch bottom common on Nexus-equipped bikes, an overlap for 9 of
the Rohloff gears (because the Nexus isn't as equally spaced over its
8 gears), and then two or three equally spaced gears above the Nexus
on the Rohloff hub. You can move the Rohloff's 526 per cent range up
and down with the sprocket/crank combo, but with such a wide range
already the range of movement is limited before gears become wasted at
the top by your leg power and at the bottom by your ability to balance
the bike.

However, I might have underrated my own power somewhat. I tend on the
level to use gears 12 or 13 in the Rohloff box, when in fact it would
make sense to arrange the crank/sprocket ratio so that the 1:1 gear,
11th, is the one normally used on the level, leaving three overdrive
gears for assisting gravity on downhill speed runs. This is a worse
midjudgement than the bare facts given suggest, as in freezing weather
I rode out in long underwear; in the summer I'll probably be in 14th
on the flat and looking for something faster.

If you want a fully enclosed chaincase, the choice of crank and
sprocket are not free. Chaincases of the Utopia Country and the Hebie
Chainglider type fit only a very limited choice of sprocket/crank
combinations. Any other full chaincase would be a hassle to fit. I
think I might get away with fitting a 15 tooth sprocket without having
to change the chaincase.

Just as well I didn't get the 38x17 combination I first wanted; though
he had a 17t sprocket in stock, the dealer refused to fit it with a
38t chainwheel on the grounds that Rohloff had declared it "illegal".
Uh-huh.

****

All in all, the Rohloff gearbox is precisely as advertised (Rohloff
even tells you about the rotary control edge not matching the grip
edge -- how's that for customer-awareness?). Out of the box the
Rohloff Speedhub isn't as smooth as a manual Shimano Nexus box, it
isn't -- of course it isn't! -- as unobtrusive as my Cyber Nexus fave,
but I imagine the Rohloff will last forever. It also has the range I
now need, which the Nexus doesn't provide. The Rohloff is much less
noisy than I expected, and the initial change is probably less rough
than trying to learn to change with derailleurs again. In practice, in
less than 50 miles, I'm already in danger of forgetting some of these
first impressions and adapting to the Rohloff's foibles.

I'll report back when my Rohloff has a thousand miles or so on it and
has settled in or I have the hang of adjusting it.

Andre Jute
Did no one tell Herr Rohloff that a little inaccuracy sometimes saves
a thousand miles of waiting. -- with apologies to H.H.Munro ("Saki")
(1870-1916)

Visit Jute on Amps at http://members.lycos.co.uk/fiultra/
"wonderfully well written and reasoned information
for the tube audio constructor"
John Broskie TubeCAD & GlassWare
"an unbelievably comprehensive web site
containing vital gems of wisdom"
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  #2  
Old January 22nd 09, 02:01 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Tom Ace
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Posts: 391
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On Jan 21, 5:12*am, Andre Jute wrote:

I'll report back when my Rohloff has a thousand miles or so on it and
has settled in or I have the hang of adjusting it.


The cables are adjusted just like the chain: just a bit of
slack so that it doesn't bind. One gets the hang of that in
a couple minutes. Other than that, there is no adjustment.

Apparently one can send the Rohloff hub away to get a softer spring
fitted to give a smoother gearchange.


If your serial number = 18100 you already have the weaker indexing
spring.

Changes from 7 to 8 and 8 to 7 require a brief lift
on the pedals or the box might drop you into 14, which could be
dangerous in traffic.


The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.

The info about changes in production comes from http://tinyurl.com/cuawt7

Tom Ace

  #3  
Old January 22nd 09, 07:19 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
[email protected]
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Posts: 41
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On 22 jan, 03:01, Tom Ace wrote:
On Jan 21, 5:12*am, Andre Jute wrote:


The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. *And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.


Yes, it is off road goddammit.

Lou
  #4  
Old January 22nd 09, 08:52 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Chalo
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 5,012
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

Andre Jute wrote:

Less pleasing is the agricultural quality of the Rohloff gearchange,
which I expect to be able to adjust a little and then to have to live
with, the reference being the well-used Rohloff box and controls I had
on loan, which after a few thousand miles were still pretty resistant.
Apparently one can send the Rohloff hub away to get a softer spring
fitted to give a smoother gearchange.


In my limited observation, the shift feel of Rohloff hubs is pretty
variable. The ones I own and the others I have seen firsthand are
relatively early production-- mine is #5XXX and my wife's is #6XXX.
Mine is _very_ stiff to shift; I have twisted the shifter cuff loose
from its tube twice. After the second time I tore it loose, it was
not in suitable shape to reuse, so I glued on a section of a BMX grip
instead.

My wife's hub, on the other hand, is quite easy to shift. She tends
to shift three or four steps at a time, and she would complain
bitterly if her hub took as resolute a twist as mine.

For a time, I thought the difference between my shifter and my wife's
was all in the installation. So I kept making changes to the cable
housings and routing in the attempt to make my shifting feel like
hers. Three or four recabling jobs may not sound like much, but
stringing the Rohloff is an odious chore. It got a little better for
my efforts, especially after I switched to full housing, but it never
freed up like I had fixed something wrong with it.

The rotary control for the gearchange is beautifully finished but the
entire, sturdy design is a ton less pleasing or ergonomic than
Shimano's Nexus (manual) rotary control


Pleasing is of course subjective. I'm not pleased with the trigger
and twist grip shifters on my Nexus 7 equipped bikes, because they
have both broken in annoying ways. They work with a lighter touch
than the Rohloff, but they are not robust.

The nicest bike shifter of any kind I have ever experienced is the one
that comes with the Fallbrook NuVinci CVT hub. It's solid-feeling,
smooth and easy to twist, and very nicely shaped and finished.
Because there are no discrete gear ratios in the NuVinci hub, the
"gear indicator" is a bright orange rubber strip that forms a little
hill of varying steepness as you turn the grip.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?...shifter_uphill
http://fallbrooktech.com/images/controller_1000px.jpg

For a start, the
Rohloff rotary handle is triangular, so that at one point or another
it will be higher than the edge of the handlebar grip. This
discontinuity will be enough to bruise the pad on your palm below your
forefinger, and the pad below your thumb as well.


That didn't really bother me. But now it's gone, replaced with a
round segment of an ATI "Pistol Pete" grip. The larger diameter of
the shifter tube compared to the handlebar means there is still a step
where the shifter cuff meets the fixed portion of the grip, but it is
the same contour regardless of which gear the bike is in.

I shall probably change to
standard length, long grips on both sides to give me somewhere to rest
my hands where they won't be blistered or worse.


Blistered? Them's some soft paws you got there. Makes me wonder what
would become of your hands if, God forbid, you had to put a shovel or
an axe to productive use. They might just harden up, but I guess
you'll never know unless you try.

There is more wrong with the control before one even operates it. The
gear indicators, all fourteen of them, are raised numbers, black on
black rubber, invisible at a glance even in good light.


After a few initial attempts to discern what the gear indicator said,
I gave up. Now I don't have a gear indicator, so I don't worry about
it.

Gears 11 and
7, at least, should be distinguishable at a quick glance.


That would be nice, but I don't miss having that feature. You could
sort yourself out with a light-colored paint marker or a bit of nail
polish. One dot on the metal grip housing, and two dots on the
shifter cuff at the relevant gear positions.

I'll probably make dabs of
white luminous paint on the rubber numbers.


I see you already thought of that. I suppose since you live in the
UK, you can get tritium paint if you want it. Yes?

I expect the
Rohloff control will settle in a little with wear.


That's a nice thought, but don't count on it. Like most German
mechanisms, this one breaks in over a period that Shimano would
consider in excess of their products' service life. Mine doesn't have
astronomical mileage, but it has been working for me a long time, and
it shows little sign of easing up at the shifter.

Just as well I didn't get the 38x17 combination I first wanted; though
he had a 17t sprocket in stock, the dealer refused to fit it with a
38t chainwheel on the grounds that Rohloff had declared it "illegal".


I used a 44/16 combination to spare my gearbox unnecessary torment. I
still find the top gear pretty modest and the low gear almost silly.

Chalo
  #5  
Old January 22nd 09, 09:17 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
M-gineering
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,016
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

Chalo wrote:
Andre Jute wrote:
Less pleasing is the agricultural quality of the Rohloff gearchange,
which I expect to be able to adjust a little and then to have to live
with, the reference being the well-used Rohloff box and controls I had
on loan, which after a few thousand miles were still pretty resistant.
Apparently one can send the Rohloff hub away to get a softer spring
fitted to give a smoother gearchange.


In my limited observation, the shift feel of Rohloff hubs is pretty
variable. The ones I own and the others I have seen firsthand are
relatively early production-- mine is #5XXX and my wife's is #6XXX.
Mine is _very_ stiff to shift; I have twisted the shifter cuff loose
from its tube twice. After the second time I tore it loose, it was
not in suitable shape to reuse, so I glued on a section of a BMX grip
instead.


as from 18200 the detentspring is modified for lichetre action, it can
be retrofitted to older hubs

With the cable actuation version, make sure the cables exit the hub in a
straight line, with some setups modifying the adapter for a better angle
(with factoryparts you could be 15 degrees out) is well worthwhile


I used a 44/16 combination to spare my gearbox unnecessary torment. I
still find the top gear pretty modest and the low gear almost silly.



Fit a higher gear then, it's only with low gears you run the risk of
breaking the plastic drivepins

--
/Marten

info(apestaartje)m-gineering(punt)nl
  #6  
Old January 22nd 09, 11:32 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Andre Jute[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,233
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On Jan 22, 7:19*am, wrote:
On 22 jan, 03:01, Tom Ace wrote:

On Jan 21, 5:12*am, Andre Jute wrote:
The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. *And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.


Yes, it is off road goddammit.

Lou


I'm teaching myself consciously to lift between gearchanges. Better to
be aware in advance that it could happen and to adapt your riding
style to prevent it ever happening, than to find out with headlights
glaring at you and screeching tyres...or whatever the off-road
equivalent is (in the ditch with the thorny branches?).

Andre Jute
Ein perfektes Sorglos-Rad für Schöngeister
  #7  
Old January 22nd 09, 11:37 AM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Andre Jute[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,233
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On Jan 22, 2:01*am, Tom Ace wrote:
On Jan 21, 5:12*am, Andre Jute wrote:

I'll report back when my Rohloff has a thousand miles or so on it and
has settled in or I have the hang of adjusting it.


The cables are adjusted just like the chain: *just a bit of
slack so that it doesn't bind. *One gets the hang of that in
a couple minutes. *Other than that, there is no adjustment.

Apparently one can send the Rohloff hub away to get a softer spring
fitted to give a smoother gearchange.


If your serial number = 18100 you already have the weaker indexing
spring.

Changes from 7 to 8 and 8 to 7 require a brief lift
on the pedals or the box might drop you into 14, which could be
dangerous in traffic.


The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. *And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.

The info about changes in production comes fromhttp://tinyurl.com/cuawt7

Tom Ace


Thanks, Tom. Oddly, the corresponding English page seems to stop after
talking about the chain tensioner. That'll teach me always to consult
the original, and not just what the translator thought would be good
for me to know. -- AJ
  #8  
Old January 22nd 09, 12:22 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Andre Jute[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,233
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On Jan 22, 8:52*am, Chalo wrote:
Andre Jute wrote:

Less pleasing is the agricultural quality of the Rohloff gearchange,
which I expect to be able to adjust a little and then to have to live
with, the reference being the well-used Rohloff box and controls I had
on loan, which after a few thousand miles were still pretty resistant.


[snips for bandwidth, sense intact]

In my limited observation, the shift feel of Rohloff hubs is pretty
variable. *The ones I own and the others I have seen firsthand are
relatively early production-- mine is #5XXX and my wife's is #6XXX.
Mine is _very_ stiff to shift; I have twisted the shifter cuff loose
from its tube twice. *After the second time I tore it loose, it was
not in suitable shape to reuse, so I glued on a section of a BMX grip
instead.

My wife's hub, on the other hand, is quite easy to shift. *She tends
to shift three or four steps at a time, and she would complain
bitterly if her hub took as resolute a twist as mine.


Aah. I can shift several gears at once and do; I don't fear I'll twist
the control collar loose, either. It might be that my expectation (and
my Nexus experience) is colouring my judgement.

For a time, I thought the difference between my shifter and my wife's
was all in the installation. *So I kept making changes to the cable
housings and routing in the attempt to make my shifting feel like
hers. *Three or four recabling jobs may not sound like much, but
stringing the Rohloff is an odious chore. *It got a little better for
my efforts, especially after I switched to full housing, but it never
freed up like I had fixed something wrong with it.


That's not a happy thought for me. I'm forty years past the age when I
thought the reptilian ripple of a Porsche steering wheel was a
desirable connection to the road's imperfections. I have for decades
preferred my mechanisms to serve unobtrusively.

The rotary control for the gearchange is beautifully finished but the
entire, sturdy design is a ton less pleasing or ergonomic than
Shimano's Nexus (manual) rotary control


Pleasing is of course subjective. *


........

The nicest bike shifter of any kind I have ever experienced is the one
that comes with the Fallbrook NuVinci CVT hub. *

........
http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?...ler_1000px.jpg


Classy!

I shall probably change to
standard length, long grips on both sides to give me somewhere to rest
my hands where they won't be blistered or worse.


Blistered? *Them's some soft paws you got there. *


Not many admit it, but a writer is a manual worker too. He operates a
keyboard. But yeah, when I leave the house I wear gloves, and ditto
when I use tools. I look after my hands because they're the tools of
my trade.

.........

I'll probably make dabs of
white luminous paint on the rubber numbers.


I see you already thought of that. *I suppose since you live in the
UK, you can get tritium paint if you want it. *Yes?


I don't know but probably not; the EU is one big nanny-state. I have a
light on my handlebars (common small clipon hinged booklight sold on
gifts counter at Marks & Spencer -- their Stateside arm is Brook Bros)
for reading my favourite heartrate monitor, by which I regulate my
cadence, gears and speed. That will do to light up any old white paint
on the numbers.

I expect the
Rohloff control will settle in a little with wear.


That's a nice thought, but don't count on it. *Like most German
mechanisms, this one breaks in over a period that Shimano would
consider in excess of their products' service life. *Mine doesn't have
astronomical mileage, but it has been working for me a long time, and
it shows little sign of easing up at the shifter.


The guy who lent me a Rohloff wheel to try said it became "a little
easier" over what he thought was maybe 5-6000 miles total during
several seasons. It's starting to look like he means "a very little"
when he says "a little".

Thanks for the info, Chalo.

Andre Jute
http://members.lycos.co.uk/fiultra/Andre%20Jute's%20Utopia%20Kranich.pdf


  #9  
Old January 22nd 09, 12:41 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 41
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On 22 jan, 12:32, Andre Jute wrote:
On Jan 22, 7:19*am, wrote:

On 22 jan, 03:01, Tom Ace wrote:


On Jan 21, 5:12*am, Andre Jute wrote:
The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. *And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.


Yes, it is off road goddammit.


Lou


I'm teaching myself consciously to lift between gearchanges. Better to
be aware in advance that it could happen and to adapt your riding
style to prevent it ever happening, than to find out with headlights
glaring at you and screeching tyres...or whatever the off-road
equivalent is (in the ditch with the thorny branches?).

Andre Jute
Ein perfektes Sorglos-Rad für Schöngeister


Off road you not always can see what is coming and you have to shift
immediately. Going from the 8th gear to the 11th instead of the 7th is
a PIA. Shifting under pressure, as you mentioned, is disapointing. You
always have to back up a little, something I wasn't use to with a rear
derailleur.

Lou
  #10  
Old January 22nd 09, 04:24 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Tom Ace
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 391
Default Initial Report: Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub

On Jan 21, 11:19*pm, wrote:

The 7-8 shift issue is not a big deal. *And if your serial number =
33000,
you get gear 11 rather than 14 in the middle of a 7-8 shift.


Yes, it is off road goddammit.


Derailleur bike riders put up with worse. It's less of a pain
than shifting to a smaller front chainring under pressure.

As Chalo once so aptly put it:

Front derailleurs are pretty brutal devices even in this day and age,


Amen. They are just about as delicate and sophisticated as using
salad tongs to jerk your chain between different rings.


Tom Ace

 




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