The SPEEDHUB with touring axle and lock nuts. The Speedhub models with quick release are designed to be mounted on frames with vertical drop outs whereas the SPEEDHUB 500/14 TS is required for frames with horizontal drop outs.
a Weekend Warrior
from Oakland, California
Date Reviewed: November 29, 2009
Strengths: Having installed this particular hub – my 5th Speedhub since 2001 – on a tandem Cannondale frame, I’m writing my review from the vantage of a bike built for two. Practically speaking, everything that’s to be said about the Speedhub is covered in the dozens of reviews posted on MTBR over the past 10 years.
All the awesomeness of the quick release / disc brake versions of the Speedhub, with the security of a bolt-on axle.
- (nearly) flawless shifting
- about as close to maintenance-free as it gets
- great gear range, equivalent to a 27-speed derailleur setup
- sturdy wheel build due to symmetrically offset, large diameter flanges
- has the internal fortitude to withstand the abuse of a heavy tandem team (which can’t be said for many hubs)
Weaknesses: - any weaknesses of the QR / DB versions of the Rohloff
- 7/8 shifting hiccup is particularly noticeable on the tandem
- the threaded axle isn’t actually a single, solid axle; it’s two pieces, and the non-drive piece attaches to the hub in the same manner as their QR axle plates
- incompatible with 145mm dropout spacing without resorting to creative solutions (designed for 135mm dropout spacing)
- limited gear range (gah!) – specifically on the tandem, I’d really appreciate a few more gears to choose from on both ends of the gearing spectrum
I posted my original Speedhub DB review on July 4th, 2003. Referring back to it, not much has changed. There have been improvements to the main seals, new detent springs have been spec’d for lighter shifting action, the Speedbone design has been modified to allow use with Avid’s BBDB/BB7s (whoda thunk those’d still be alive and kicking 10 years later!?!), and there are a few aftermarket parts available (Tune shifter, Cycle Monkey’s Monkeybone, Ti cogs, CDS belt drive). But the guts – the nuts and bolts of the Speedhub – are still pretty much unchanged.
With my wife’s encouragement, I bought a used derailleur-based tandem in fall 2007. We both ride Speedhubs – me since 2001, she since 2003 – and were not enjoying our reacquaintance with derailleurs. The used tandem magnified all the faults of derailleur shifting, which was particularly bothersome to this inexperienced and out-of-sync tandem team accustom to instant Rohloff shifting.
Installing the Speedhub on the Cannondale was in and of itself a major undertaking, which I wrote about in a post titled “Unconventional Speedhub” (http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=521975).
The 7/8 shifting gremlin was never much of a problem for either of us on our single bikes, but it really stands out on the tandem. The stoker is pedaling while the captain is shifting, so it’s not so easy to organically feel the resistance of the sudden shift to gear 14 and “burp the pedals.” Naturally, this occurs at an inopportune place on a climb and if not caught immediately, the low momentum very easily bleeds to a standstill – and to a potentially awkward dismount. Team coordination, high pedaling cadence and captain attentiveness helps avoid this. Having a stoker who is familiar with the 7/8 bugaboo through her own single bike experience helps even more. But we continue to struggle with this a couple of times per outing.
Because we are mis-matched physically, lower gearing would be appreciated to allow us to chug up certain climbs in a great-granny gear. But on the flats, the power of two is such that we need all the high gearing we can get, to prevent from spinning out. So the gearing I picked (40x16; 26” wheels) is in the middle-low range of the gear ratio spectrum, leaving us compromised at both ends. 38x16 remains the minimum lowest permissible gearing per Rohloff (tandem or not), but would leave us high-and-dry at the tall end. Ideally, we’d like to go as low as 36x16 (through I wouldn’t risk damaging the hub) and as high as 44T or 46T.
The modest weight penalty of the Speedhub is even more easily dismissed on a mountain tandem. Our bike weighs about 50 pounds, so the ~1.5 pound weight gain over an XT derailleur system doesn’t faze us. Also, the weight shift to the rear of the bike isn’t apparent. I only notice it on my solo bikes when I’m lifting them; the tandem is just so damn heavy that it would be nearly impossible to notice.
The stout, symmetrical build that results from two equally spaced hub flanges is perfectly suited for a tandem. The resulting equal spoke lengths and even tension is convenient for novice mechanics, whether building or truing. Asymmetric builds on cassette-based wheels often require 36 or 40-spoke builds to gain the proper level of resistance to abuse. This limits rim selection (although the front wheel may require additional spokes, so the rim selection problem doesn’t necessarily go away). There have been a smattering of reports across the internet of cracked Speedhub flanges doing tandem duty, but these seem to be exceptions due either to build problems or to hidden material defects in the hub shell.
In conclusion, the Speedhub is a great way to get around on a tandem. It replaces the drivetrain adjustments, chainring wear-and-tear, and shift timing difficulties of a derailleur setup with smooth, instant, reliable shifting (notwithstanding the occasional 7/8 problem). If forum commenters are to be believed, Rohloff’s masterpiece ranks only second to King’s durability under tandem use.
Note: Rohloff initially offered a “tandem” version of the hub. Its only difference from non-tandem hubs was larger-diameter spoke holes drilled into the shell. All else was the same. A few years back, Rohloff began drilling the same oversized spoke holes in all of their hub shells, and eliminated the tandem designation. They now have a tandem version listed that comes with longer cables. The stock cable housing with its removable, kink-prone liner is a pain in the butt to work with, and I immediately replace it with Quality/Jagwire spiral-wound brake cable housing, and use off-the-shelf 1.1mm derailleur cables as replacements.
Another note: Co$t. Price is always a concern. It seemed less of a concern with the tandem because this whole bike was a (relatively) costly undertaking. I haven't paid full retail for a Speedhub yet, but this was the closest I've come. But I also witnessed firsthand how quickly tandem abuse eats up a derailleur drivetrain. On my solo bikes, I can justify the Speedhub cost by spreading it over about 4 years, at which point it becomes less expensive to operate than a derailleur drivetrain (factoring in chains, rings, cassettes and busted derailleurs). On the tandem, I believe that break-even point is accelerated forward after factoring in the increased drivetrain loads, the abusive shifting, and the potential for damage to a conventional hub. I'd reluctantly pay full price for a Speedhub on a tandem, knowing it's an economically sensible choice over a couple years of use.
Strengths: The Rohloff provides a full range of gears from very low hill climbing gears to pretty fast downhill gears. Switching gears is easy, just twist the knob. You can shift even when not moving. I ride in mud, rain, and snow, all year round, studded tires in winter, and I like that the hub is nearly maintenance free. Initially 7th gear was very noisy, but now it's broken in and the noise is minor--less than a just-slightly-misadjusted derailleur. The extra weight isn't very noticeable--let me worry about dealing with a few pounds around my middle first.
Weaknesses: I'd like a higher gear for downhills--don't use 1st or 2nd even on steep climbs. My instinct is to roll the knob away from me for a higher gear, toward me for a lower gear, but it's set up the opposite so I often downshift when I meant to upshift (oops, quick turn the other way, hardly miss a stride).
I love the Rohloff Speedhub and if I ever have to replace my bike, the next one will have a Speedhub too. Great choice for touring, riding in rough conditions, or day in, day out, any weather commuting. Not recommended for occasional riders unless money is no object. Not for racing bikes, but here's an observation: When I was commuting every day on the old Hercules, and then on an occasional weekend got out on the Trek road bike, I was amazed at how light and responsive the road bike was. Now I'm amazed at what a nuisance those derailleurs are.
Similar Products Used: Standard 27-speed deraileur system on a Hercules trekking bike
Bike Setup: Made-to-order Rotor trekking bike, Schmidt generator hub, Shimano disc brakes, fenders, lights, straight handlebars, rack for paniers
a Weekend Warrior
from San Jose, Ca, USA
Date Reviewed: August 6, 2008
Strengths: Where do I start!
After test riding a KHS Solo One hard tail with the Speedhub for a few blocks, I had to buy the Speedhub. In fact, I said no to the Speedhub in the box, and bought the KHS Solo One with the hub installed.
1) NO chain slap
2) No derailers, with all the benefits of therein
3) Withstands the worst mud, rocks, dust, and rain since the unit is COMPLETEY sealed
4) It's like a paddle shifter on a Ferrari. Full speed ridding just dump to the gear of your choice, and it smoothly and instantly puts it there. No more waiting for chains to slide up or down cogs. Bam, it's just there.
5) 100,000km srevice life
6) The Speedhub indexes the twist shifter, no adjustments needed over time.
7) Bike looks and acts like a single speed, except for this fat hub on the rear. Very clean look to the bike.
8) The 14 gear settings are equal to a traditional 27spd
9) Removes nearly all of the comlpexity out of selecting and changing gears. I'm 45 and feel like a kid again with my old 5 spd when I was 10. A person cannot underestimate the fun of a simple linear gear selection set-up.
10) Low maintenace, drain and change the hub's oil annually. Maintenence kit is $20. Chain set-up much easier to clean, kind of like a single speed setup.
Weaknesses: There are a few, but the're minor:
1) Back-off a bit on power while shifting between the top 7 and bottom 7 sets of gears.
2) Slightly heavier than 27 spd set-up.
Others have commented about free wheel friction in the first few km's, noise (I disagree, it's quiter than any 27 spd I've owned),
Bite the bullet and buy one! Sinply amazing manufacturing quality. The fun and simplicity of a single speed, with the flexibility of a 27 speed.
Bike Setup: KHS Solo One with WTB LaserBeam wheels, Kenda Karma 2.0x 26" tires, hard tail, no suspension,
a Cross Country Rider
from Moab Utah USA
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2006
Strengths: Stronger Wheel Perfect Chain Line Instant and not missed shifts Never adjust another cable
A complete steal... Imagine having to buy an XTR set every year for the next ten. Now you don't have to.
Weaknesses: Weakness? Weight maybe but after considering everything it replaces it probably drops the weight of the whole bike. Up front cost? Look at a full xtr componant group and buy the Rohloff.
If you are thinking about this hub you are on the right track.
I am on my bike everyday. In fact two years ago when I bought the hub my bike was my main mode of transportation (driving took longer believe it or not.) I got sick and tired of messing with my derailer cables when I was running late. Bougth the Rohloff Speed Hub and never had to worry about that again. Even now I still don't working as a Mountain Biking Guide in Moab. (treksntrails.com)
Do you like losing the chain, do you like chain suck, missed, slow, or hard shifts, and muddy drailers? It doesn't have to happen...Oh! No more peddling air.
I suggest buying one that is compatable with disk brakes. Whether or not you will use them now. It is probable that in the future (and now as I am finding) more and more bikes frames will be made disk break only.
It may feel strange now but soon you won't want to ride any bike that uses a derailer. It happened to me. I had to buy another one for my other bike. Yes, it is that good.
Bike Setup: Marin Wolf Ridge Gary Fisher Big Sur all with the hub of course Both with a 38 tooth chain ring with 16 teeth at the back
from Tuscon Az
Date Reviewed: March 4, 2005
Strengths: ALWAYS works, mud, snow, dust storms, submerged Low maintenance, chains last twice as long idiotproof shifting, 10 gear change standing still no problem lasts forever You can convert between a single speed and a 14 speed in 10 minutes if you use the external shift box
Weaknesses: takes 1000 to get buttery smooth 500 grams heavier than conventional setup
The hub grows on you and you get really spoiled fast. A great invention for hardcore riders who are tired of spending 500 dollars every couple years on their drivetrains. I have never ridden a more reliable setup
Similar Products Used: Shimano ST, XTR , suntour pro
Bike Setup: Ti single speed frame, carbon bars,SID in front, AVID single digit brakes 26.5 lbs
from Santa Fe
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2005
Strengths: Super product; an engineering marvel. The speedhub delivers everything the makers claim. The hub shifts like a dream, shifts at a standstill, shifts in thick mud, chains last >6000 miles is super reliable and needs almost no maintainence.
Weaknesses: Takes 300 miles to start smoothing out, by 1000 miles it runs like butter, expensive
This hub may be the future of mountain biking if price reductions can be made through mass production.
Bike Setup: Custom Ti singlespeed hardtail frame with horizontal drops, Shimano XTR brakes mavic rims
a Cross Country Rider
from North Vancouver
Date Reviewed: January 16, 2004
Strengths: No more derailleur - use you imagination! Taking this technology to the mainstream loooong overdue. There are minor issues (price & weight) that can easily be resolved by getting this product to the masses. Higher volume manufacturing will bring the price down and enable the use of lighter materials. The basic derailleur design is not the future of bicycle drivetrains - how old is that design anyway? This completely internalized beauty utilizes some technically creative ideas and presents us with a better mousetrap. If we're lucky, this is the basis for future designs we'll all be using. Thanks to Mountain Bike Action for their one page feature that exposed many of us to this for the first time.
Weaknesses: Weight Price
SRAM needs to buy the design, manufacture it using TI, price it around $500, and ramp up meet the massive demand that will follow. Solve the weight and the price issues and there isn't a XC rider I know who won't upgrade or demand new bikes with this beautiful piece of engineering.
Similar Products Used: There's nothing out there like this.
Bike Setup: '03 Rocky Mountain Instinct, with Fox RLC 100 fork.
Date Reviewed: December 19, 2003
Strengths: -Maintenance-free -Always smooth running drivetrain -Can shift any time, even at stand-still -Long-life chainring, chain and cog (chainring and cog can be reversed) -Bomb-proof, will survive any bad treatment. Tensioner (if you have one, I don't) is the only 'vulnerable' component. -Simple operation -Equal spacing between gears -Makes a stronger wheel (shorter spokes) -Less likely to break spokes (pressure on the entire wheel, not mainly on the drivetrain side) -May save money depending on your mileage and driving conditions (and resulting consumption of sprockets, chains and chainrings) -Can use a wider, stronger chain -Never a miss, chain does not come off (stays on a single chainring/cog) -Very fast shifting -Makes a simpler and stronger drivetrain on a TANDEM (entire drivetrain on one side)
Weaknesses: -It's a big investment -Requires several thousands of kilometers to fully 'wear in' before it operates silent and totally smooth -Additional weight of around 1.5 pounds -Increased resistance (2% in lower gears, negligeable in higher gears) -Slight grinding sound in some of the lower gears -Can't shift between 7/8th gear under full load -Need to change oil every year or 5.000 km
I have fallen in love with this beautiful piece of engineering. Ride it in any conditions and other than occasionally wiping off dirt and lubricating your chain, forget about it. It will never let you down and it will always work increadibly smooth and fast. Given my riding conditions: 10.000 - 12.000 km/year, irrespective of wheather, and no time to clean a bike, this is a 'present' from heaven.
Buy it if : - you make a high mileage or frequently ride in rough conditions - you find trouble-free riding important - you can appreciate high-quality engineering - you don't want to follow the crowd
Consider it if: - you buy a TANDEM. Stronger wheel and shifting at any time are even more important than on a solo bike. And a simple drivetrain, all on one side is so neat!
Don't buy it if : - the last grams of bike weight are critical - you want to use it in serious racing (Lance Armstrong would probably not win the tour the France with it) - you love bike maintenance - you own $himano shares - you can't afford it (consider waiting until you can afford it)
In spite of the stiff price it gets max value for money from me. Overall, just under max. score, it's not perfect, but in my case the advantages by far outweigh the disadvatages.
Bike Setup: custom-made bike with special quick-release Rohloff dropouts, Magura hydraulic rim brakes, high-end rims and spokes resulting in low-maintenance, trouble-free cycling. so
Jens Jacob Iversen
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: August 26, 2003
Strengths: No need to think about shifting any more. It shifts in all situations. All shifting takes place in one hand. You can build a very strong wheel. Much stronger than conventional wheels.
I have only driven it for 1000km so this review is for the first impression.
The speedhub is a great product. Everything is thought through. The details are amazing. Not many companies in the bike industry makes so consistent products.
There are three major complains from other rohloff owners.
1. Noise: By some earplugs.
2. Efficiency: In the gears 1-7 (some worse than others) there are a noticeable drop in efficiency and if the only purpose here in life is to make fast lap times you should at least try a speedhub before buying it. For me it does not matter at all. I have made 2000 height meter climbs in the Alps this summer and it did not bother me at all.
3. Weight: Yes - it is heavier (on my bike less than 1 kg) than a normal set-up and the weight distribution is different. The weight penalty is ridiculously low compared with how many kilos most mtb'ers could loose in two weeks. The weight distribution takes about a week to get used to! no problem.
Don't worry about only having 14 gears. It is more than enough and they jump between the gears are perfect.
Weather to by a quick release version or a TS is not difficult to decide: Do you need to take your wheel off all the time or do you need a stronger rear triangle on your hardtail?
Read all the documentation on the rohloff page. It is great reading and everything is true.
Bike Setup: cube alu crap frame, rohloff speedhub, mavic x3.1/x517, SRAM 9.0sl front hub, magura louise and HS 33, ritchey stuff, schwalbe fast fred or continental explorer/escaper.
Date Reviewed: December 19, 2002
Strengths: switch anytime cool and funky smooth low maintainence
Weaknesses: weight, cobled together attachments
for 2 extra pounds you can have shifting omnipotance I put a bolt through the r. disk mount of my superlight that stops the speedhub spinning in the dropoutsl as well as the ugly speedbone. works like a charm, probably would work on other designs as well. if you're going to winge about the weight, take the u lock off your bike, loose a few pounds or ride with no change and keys in your pockets.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: December 2, 2001
Strengths: unique, compact, low maint.
Weaknesses: price, weight, chain falls off on rough downhills
my local bike shop just installed one on a Santacruz Heckler, so the owner asked me to take it out for a ride. I got 15 miles on some up-downhills/singletack. Very responsive, apply force to the pedals and its instantly trasmitted to the wheel. can change gear at any moment. initial feel of too much friction disappear shortly after few miles. No bobbing of the rear shock whatsoever! (and hecklers are known for major bobbing under load, I have one myself) the system bring most of the weight to the rear, so on steep climbs the handlebar tends to lighten up a bit. I went to my Sram9.0sl right after and now it feels so much cumbersome to use! less refined, with all those clickin'clackin' going on every time you change gears.... If the price goes down some and Rolhoff start using lighter materials instead of stainless steel, creating nicer components to look and touch (shimano-like) it may become a winner. Can be taken into consideration by those who need to build a new bike from scratch. otherwise as an upgrade you end up dumping too much valueable stuff.
a Weekend Warrior
from manheim pa
Date Reviewed: June 27, 2001
Strengths: ability to convert your single speed to a geared bike
this is the best product in the world. simply because one day if i feel like killing myself i can just change my wheel it isnt much hasle just brake the chain. and schitch it easy as pie. but when i feel like being easy on mysellf i can just swith to the rohloff wheel and ride along with my multie geared buddies. i love this thing