Rohloff hubs are an internally geared hub. As with any internally geared bike, the front and rear derailleurs are no longer needed and one twist grip does all the gear changing rather than the shift levers usually seen.
Mick built the Rohloff hub into the rear wheel way back in early May this year, not long after we mentioned it in an April post. We were envisaging racking up hundreds of kilometres and being able to talk with experience about how well (or not) the Rohloff performs on our tandem.
Well, right about that time, Mick’s neck and shoulder decided to do weird things and he could hardly ride a bike the short distance to work, let alone ride hundreds of kilometres. So, barely 300 kilometres later of Rohloff on Powderkeg riding, here we are with our initial Rohloff hub reflections.
First of all, changing gears on the Rohloff hub has been a bit trickier on the tandem because you have to have pressure off all the pedals at the same instant in order for the change to go well. This may seem simple, but we have found it more prone to glitches than with the derailleur gears. We fully expect this issue to have sorted itself out at least by the time we get back from our six weeks cycle touring around Queensland (only 6 weeks to go!). If not, there’s always the bus…for one of us at least…
Usually we feel quite comfortable with each other’s pedalling patterns and the gear shifting changes on the tandem after a few years of practise, but we are finding the Rohloff requires an even more streamlined partnership in this regard.
Despite the pedal pressure teething issues, the capacity to shift multiple gears in one quick twist has been a brilliant feature, and we have found this useful many times even in the few kilometres we have ridden.
We expect that having the gears enclosed in a well-sealed hub or ‘encapsulated oil bath’ will prevent damage from dust and dirt out on the roads. Rohloff themselves say an oil change is good every year or 5000kms. We have heard of a few cases where Rohloff hubs have run as smoothly as ever for a lot longer than that without an oil change! In keeping with Rohloff guidelines however, we don’t recommend going for a record here. We have too much experience with other bicycle repairs to think that being slack in this department is worth testing!
My wonderful Vivente Gibb comes with a Rohloff hub. It has done a bit more than the Salsa Powderkeg, just over 2000kms, including the 900km out to Mount Isa. The Vivente Gibb also comes with a belt drive instead of the usual chain, and I mentioned how good this was in this post, written on the way to Mount Isa.
My reflections after using the Rohloff on my Gibb are very sparse because…well…I haven’t had to think about it AT ALL since I got it! There have been no gear adjustments required, no issues with shifters or dirty cassettes and chains, no lubrication required, no worries about knocking the derailleur out of shape or getting grease on my legs and bags of shopping and other assorted items I seem to end up carting around. I turn the twist grip shifter and the gears change, simple as that.
Unfortunately the Rohloff doesn’t stop bike tyres from losing air, so I still have use the pump every now and again.
You may be able to tell that we are secretly in love with the Rohloff hub, despite the little use it has had so far. Forking out an extra couple of grand for it definitely helps the love, but if the Rohloff doesn’t live up to it’s super reputation we will be MIGHTILY disappointed!
You are sure to hear more about the Rohloff as time goes on, although there may actually not be much to say except ‘IT WORKS!’. We will let you know!