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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm posting a review of my Black Sheep 29er equipped with a Rohloff based upon somewhat over 500 miles of riding under a variety of conditions. Some of it is a rehash of previous reports and it certainly is long. As I planned the bike and got up the courage to go custom, I found reviews on this site to be very helpful so I'm trying to pay back to the system. Furthermore, I've broken the review into two parts, a review of the frame/fork and a review of the Rohloff.

Part 1: A Black Sheep Ti 29er Frame and Fork

I have been cycling for 25 years, both on and off road, and finally decided it was time to go for a custom bike; I ride enough and I deserved something that was not just “off the shelf”. Luckily, I had a friend that had more-or-less interviewed builders the year before so I had a short list. James at Black Sheep had been my friends choice and after James had made me a custom steel fork and fixed a cracked Moots YBB frame that Moots had not been able to and others had either refused to or wanted hundreds of dollars for just trying to, I too ended up using James. He was thorough in his measurements of me and my bikes, interested in my riding style and intent, respectful of my knowledge and ideas, and clearly articulated his opinions regarding the right frame for me. I imagine there are many other builders out there who fit that description. And it all happened at a price point well below the big name Ti builders. What more could I ask?

I had some clear ideas of what I wanted when I decided to get a new bike: a non-suspended (fully firm), quick handling, 29er. To get that I had to go custom. My premise is that all mountain bikes have too large a trail measurement, and that appropriate trail is best generated by a fork with a relatively large rake. Consequently, I spec’d a bike with a 72 degree head angle and 50 mm of rake. I was also committed to avoiding suspension so I didn’t bother to have the fork made accounting for front suspension. Additionally, I demand a low Q-factor crank and the bike needed to be built with clearance for the crank. Perhaps this squeezed in the chainstays enough to limit a large rear tire, but there’s plenty of clearance for a Nanoraptor and that serves me just fine. James at Black Sheep has a method for cutting away some of the tubing where the chainstays meet the bottom bracket shell to increase tire clearance, so it is an option for me in the future.

Specs
Frame: Ti Black Sheep with EBB
Fork: Ti Black Sheep, 425 mm from dropout to headset race
Important numbers: HTA 72 deg, STA 74 deg, fork rake 50 mm, trail with 50 mm tires is 65 mm, effective TT length 24.25”, chain stays 17.45”, ~12” bb height, 61 mm of bb drop
Rear Wheel: Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 OEM2, built 2X on IRD Cadence Rim (32 spokes)
Front Wheel: King SS in black, built 3X on IRD Cadence Rim (32 spokes)
BB: Bushnell EBB, Phil Wood Ti bb
Crank: Ritchey Logic Compact, 154 mm Q-factor, 34 tooth ring
Pedals: Bebop Stainless Steel
Seatpost: Easton EA70
Seat: Serfas Moots Cordura
Brakes and Levers: Avid Single Digit 7
Stem: Moots Ti 120 mm 0 deg rise
Bars: Moots Ti riser
Tires: Nanoraptor rear, Ignitor (or Mythos) front, Stan’s tubeless (with rim strips)
Weight: 24 lbs., 0 oz (on a WalMart fish scale)

The seat tube angle is steeper than I have ridden in the past, but it seems to place me in a better position on the bike from front to back than I have experienced before. I feel as if I am far enough forward to have quick steering response but I also never fear the dreaded endo, something that was a weekly occurrence on my old Moots YBB. I suspect the big wheels have something to do with that, but James’ design also deserves credit. The Ti fork is extremely compliant but also precise when it comes to steering. I could not keep up with my fully-suspended riding buddy as he bombed down the Porcupine Rim trail at Moab, but then I never have and this bike was built for the majority of my riding, not the once every other year weekend fling. I also love Ti for its durability and ability to take a beating and keep on looking good. I fell over against a boulder at some point last weekend and ground my frame and fork against a rock as I struggled to extricate myself. A steel bike’s paint job would have been trashed, but the few scratches in the Ti were easily buffed out.

The IRD Cadence road rims are light and sturdy, standing up well to the rigors of Moab rocks and Fruita single track. I do not hesitate to recommend them for anyone’s build and they sure set up nicely with Stan’s tubeless. I have yet to feel I need more brake, so the V-brakes work well for me and I like their simplicity and relatively light weight. Finally, I am a fan of Ti bars and stems as the last thing I want is failure of the controls. Furthermore, stiff stems and bars are not needed to improve steering precision when you are not dealing with a suspension fork.

Like many other custom builders, James apparently uses a different calendar than many of us. None-the-less, the frame and miscellaneous parts showed up pretty close to when promised and at a price that should shame Moots, Seven, and IF. I own a Moots and a Seven and can state with confidence that James’ craftsmanship is as good. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why anyone would pay the prices demanded by Moots, Seven, or IF when there are any number of highly-skilled custom builders capable of dealing with you one-on-one at almost half the price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Rohloff review

Part 2: The Rohloff Hub
First, I have ridden thousands of miles off-road for each of the past 20 years � consequently I am well acquainted with derailleurs (but then aren�t we all). I have got just over 500 legitimate off-road miles on a custom, fully firm (rigid in the old terminology), Ti-29er equipped with a Rohloff hub. While within 50 miles of riding the system I was use to the general characteristics of the shifting, I remained leery of the Rohloff�s efficacy for my intended uses � general riding in the backcountry of Wyoming and 100 mile endurance races in the Rockies (i.e. � long climbs at altitude). During the next 300 miles I became convinced that the Rohloff hub was the best thing since sliced bread when I was doing general riding. However, until this past weekend I have not had a chance to ride the bike and hub on longer, epic-like rides with real climbing. This past weekend I got enough of a taste to know that the hub will not slow me down in my 100 mile races: it is at least the equivalent of a derailleur system in ideal conditions and vastly superior when it gets mucky, dusty or technical. Frankly, I have not finished a 100-mile race where my shifting had not gone to hell, so I expect the Rohloff to be a significant positive when I toe-the-line in Park City for The Endurance 100 in August. On Saturday, I rode 30 miles at the Kokopelli trail system at Fruita and on Sunday I rode Porcupine Rim at Moab clockwise. There was enough climbing to determine that the hub is efficient grinding out long steep climbs, and stunningly precise in technical terrain (for me, dealing with Porcupine Rim is as technical as I care to get at present). My riding buddies mis-shifted several times a mile, while I never did.

I have my gears set up with a 34-tooth chain ring and a 16-tooth rear cog, and consequently the gear inches range from 17 to 90 on my 29er. I needed 17 inches (1 st gear) several times this past weekend and I never spun out in 14 th (90 inches). This is not the gearing recommended by Rohloff, but only the 1 st gear is out of allows recommended range and I seldom use that. This 34-tooth chain ring also puts the majority of my miles to be spent in the exceedingly quiet and efficient 8 through 11 gears. Furthermore, the conditions under which I really desire closer gear spacing in terms of gear inches (the 20 to 35 inch range) has 6 gears, all accessible without shifting chain rings (read as "chain-suck") or inefficient cross-chaining. And do not forget, I can access those gears at any moment, no matter how steep or technical, whether pedaling or coasting.

Theoretically I was frightened by the Rohloff�s weight and possible loss of efficiency. In the real world, I'm delighted by the performance: my theoretical fears didn't materialize. The "heavier" rear-end of the bike has not been a problem and I never even feel it anymore, and the bike bunny-hops as well as any bike I have ever ridden. Similarly, a knock against suspension forks when they first came out was that they imbalanced the bike, but we were all able to adapt. The rear wheel spins up to speed just as fast as any rear wheel, and you can figure that out for yourself the first time you get on a Rohloff-equipped bike. The cost was never such a big issue with me because I was building for longevity and in the overall cost of the new bike the extra expense was just not that significant. I also knew I could recoup most of the cost of the hub on resale if I did not like it � it was a relatively cheap experiment in the grand scheme.
 

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www.badgercycles.com
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Maxxis ?'s

Thanks for the great post. I also have good things to say about James. He did a great job with my cross bike. I noticed a few months back that you were running the Maxxis tubeless. How has that worked out? What pressure and what is the max pressure you have ever taken the tire to?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Maxxis tubeless...

robpennell said:
I noticed a few months back that you were running the Maxxis tubeless. How has that worked out? What pressure and what is the max pressure you have ever taken the tire to?
The Maxxis Ignitor has worked fine -- mounting and riding. I typically run it at 35 PSI, and I don't think I have ever taken it over 40 PSI. It seems pretty firm at 40 and rolls quite well on pavement at that PSI.
 

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Squalor
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Great write up and great report of both the frameset and the hub. I think this is the information that so may of us were looking for.

I am glad you like the setup, and it is a fine looking, well thought out bike.

If I can make one suggestion, it might help some of us if you include the exact setup of your Rohloff and possibly why you went with that setup given you had unlimited choice by going custom. (eg. internal v. external shifting; v-brake over discs; no speedbone)

I think I have read every thread in the MTBR archives on the speedhub and there seem to be so many different setups that can work for so many different applications, it is had to get ones mind around what the best (cleanest, most ideal) setup is.

Thanks again for the report.

LP

some pics of other setups to demonstrate the diversity (not my bikes):









 

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lanpope said:
there seem to be so many different setups that can work for so many different applications, it is had to get ones mind around what the best (cleanest, most ideal) setup is.
I don't want to hijack PeT's thread, but have you used the "Speedhub Finder" on Rohloff's German site? : http://www.rohloff.de/index.php?p=PRODUKTE/SPEEDHUB/speedhubsuche

PeT's use of the internal shifting is preferable for lighter shifting action and lighter weight.

External shifting is required if disc brakes are to be used.

OEM1 axle plates fit in Rohloff-specific dropouts. OEM2 axle plates either:
- (1) engage the Speedbone (which bolts to the disc brake tab) or
- (2) engage a bolt head (which bolts into an unused disc brake tab, as shown in PeT's photo #3)
 

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Squalor
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Speedub.Nate said:
I don't want to hijack PeT's thread, but have you used the "Speedhub Finder" on Rohloff's German site? : http://www.rohloff.de/index.php?p=PRODUKTE/SPEEDHUB/speedhubsuche

PeT's use of the internal shifting is preferable for lighter shifting action and lighter weight.

External shifting is required if disc brakes are to be used.

OEM1 axle plates fit in Rohloff-specific dropouts. OEM2 axle plates either:
- (1) engage the Speedbone (which bolts to the disc brake tab) or
- (2) engage a bolt head (which bolts into an unused disc brake tab, as shown in PeT's photo #3)
Thanks for that link...

Got it on the axle plates.

Three quick questions (surely this is not a hijack as it is about the Speedhub):

1 - Can the axle plates be changed (from OEM1 to OEM2 or visa versa) if necessary?

2 - Do you have a pic of the non-drive side setup on your BuzzBomb?

3 - What, in your opinion, is the cleanest possible setup (custom if necessary) for the Rohloff used with Avid discs? I would assume something like the Stickel above but made for Avid brakes (if that is possible)

Do you ever get sick of answering Speedhub questions?

Thanks

LP
 

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That's four questions! ;)

1- Yes. 5 T-20 Torx head CS machine screws. Very simple to switch.

2-

...and another image HERE.

3- The only clean way to run Avids is with chainstay cable routing to the External Shifter Box. Avids, unfortunately, cannot be mounted between the stays as some hydro units can.

4- No, never. :D
 

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mtbr memeber
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Speedub.Nate said:
PeT's use of the internal shifting is preferable for lighter shifting action and lighter weight.

External shifting is required if disc brakes are to be used.
So Nate, I had no idea there was an internal shifting option with the Speedhub (I've seen pics of the setup but guess I didn't know what I was looking at). If someone is getting a custom frame done, and goes for that option in the pic above with the disc brake mounted inside the frame tubes, and has a tab added on the outside where a typical disc mount would go, what would prevent the two things from working together? Is there a different side cover used with internal shifting, or would there just not be enough room?
 

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There are two hub caps, on disc and one non-disc. I believe the disc cap partly obstructs the port where the cables enter the hub. Again, refer to PeT's third photo of his cables and you'll note that even if they somehow cleared at the hub, they'd either cut across or be very close to the spinning rotor.
 

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Cassoulet forever !
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Nate,
I tryed the hubfinder for a KM frame with disks, and it told me that it was not possible !

I think i would have to go for the external shifter box, the surly special device to regulate the chain lenght, but i don't know how to put a torque arm.


A rigid KM + speedhub + avid mechanicals (in 180) would be my perfect "no maintenance, never broken, always ready to go out even in bad weather" bike. :D
 
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