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Derailleurless
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9,122 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Your overview of gearbox drivetrains (BIKE, May 2005,
Gearbox Bikes) was comprehensive and informative, but
presented some misleading information about the
Rohloff Speedhub.

While true that a disc-brake compatible Speedhub setup
weighs 4.4 pounds, subtract 3.1 pounds for the weight
of the XT drivetrain parts it replaces to realize only
a 1.3 pound (~600g) weight gain. A sound trade for a
straight chainline, shifting reliability, and reduced
drivetrain wear.

Speedhub efficiency is dependent on the planataries in
use, and varies from gear to gear. This ranges from
from 0 to 2% less efficiency the lower seven gears,
and 1% less to 1% greater efficiency in the higher
seven. Throw a normal amount of trail dust, mud and
water crossings at both drivetrains and see how the
Speedhub shines.

Retail cost of a disc-compatible Speedhub is commonly
found in the neighborhood of $900. Online/mailorder
cost of the XT drivetrain parts it replaces is $300.
This "savings" of $600 is slowly eaten away by more
frequent chain, chainring & cassette replacement --
plus the occasional tweaked derailleur. Meanwhile,
adjustments and maintenance to the Speedhub are nil
due to the internal indexing and oil bath
lubrication. The only regular maintenance is an
annual oil change.
 

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Derailleurless
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9,122 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
(continued)

Big gaps between gear ratios? An 11-34 XT cassette
averages 15% gearing jumps from low to high, varying
wildly from 13% to 18%. The Speedhub is a consistent
13.6% from gear 1 to gear 14, covering the same range
as a typical 24-speed drivetrain without repeating any
gears.

It took me two years of contemplation before buying my
first Speedhub in fall 2001. I now own two for
myself, one for my wife, and feel as though I've "seen
the light." Derailleurs have no place in my future.

(Replaced XT M760 Drivetrain Parts: FD:165g/$20;
RD:265g/$55; Cassette:292g/$65; 22T chainring:20g; 44T
chainring:81g; Rear Hub:372g/$50; 750 Rapidfire or
SRAM X.9 shifters:250g/$110; TOTAL: 1445g/$300)

(Actual Speedhub weights: Disc-compatible hub & 16T
cog:1776g; Rohloff shifter:120g; Rohloff
tensioner:106g TOTAL: 2002g)

(Attached is a Speedhub vs. XT efficiency comparison
from German BIKE magazine from approximately 2 years
ago. Note the Speedhub efficiency (red plot) varies
but is well within 1% of the XT derailleur setup in
all but two gears.)

(XT 11-34 cassette gearing jumps:
11,13,15,17,20,23,26,30,34 cogs with corresponding
18.2%-15.4%-13.3%-17.6%-15.0%-13.0%-15.4%-13.3% jumps.
Average jump: 15.1%)

Nate E.
Hayward, CA

 

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Start slow and taper off
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790 Posts
How do we know that chart has anything to do with speedhubs?

Just kidding! :D
You tell 'em! I'm sure its just that the Big S has spent a whole lot more in advertising than Speedhub.

Long live the Speedhub!
 

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I ride a Swarf
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1,314 Posts
Hub gears (or sealed gear box)are the way ahead imo.

A too expensive for me to try at the moment and I would still like it to be lighter.

But I am starting to hate derailers the more I ride.

Any piccies of your setup speedhub.nate?

Stu
 

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College
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1,198 Posts
I too agree that the next good thing to do is a gearbox that holds everything by the cranks. A gearing system in this location would allow the use of butter engagement hubs such as kings or hadleys and still have the same benefits of the internal hub gearing. Another benefit is the centered weight. Instead of weighing the bike on the edges the weight is concentrated in the center and would make maneuverability easier. Hope to see something like this inn the future.
 

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Registered
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4,199 Posts
Speedhub and bike application

Speedhub Nate,
I've never ridden a speedhub but I've found your posts to be very interesting. I would imagine that useing one is simple and trouble free. What type of bikes are you riding? Do they work efficiently on a long travel trail/enduro type bike? I'm on an Intense 5.5 which as you may know has slight elongation of the chain as the suspension compresses. Would it be feasible to use a Speedhub?

Ronnie.
 

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I ride a Swarf
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1,314 Posts
There are reviews on MTBR of DH guys using these. They use a chain tensioner to cope with the chainlength change.

It also occured to me that becasue the chain line doesn't change (you don't have a chain running from different size cogs all the time), so suspension designs could be optimised further too, minimising bob.

The nice thing about the gearbox being in the hub is that it can be used on pretty much any frame ( I think the only exception I have spotted is a frame with a chain stay pivot near the rear axle (4 Bar) that doesn't have a disk brake mount....no torque bar facility that is required for speedhubs, but pretty much all frames have an ISO disk mount these days).

I think a crank positioned gearbox would probalky be best placed on the bottom bracket. This would require a new frame design. Unless it could be designed in a drive side package, but it would need to no wider than 3 chain rings so that pedal q factor is not harmed.

Stu
 

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Trail rider and racer
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4,691 Posts
Very well articulated Nate. I, being a person who is not too familiar with the speedhub system found your comments particularly informative and the claims you provided were obviously well considered.

I hope the entire article with graphs is printed, notwithstanding the fact it will make the editorial of Bike look somewhat ignorant.

I think your comments should be converted to a sticky on the "Everything drivetrain" forum for a little while to inform any other curious onlookers.

Nice job!
 

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Registered
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4,199 Posts
Ratio comparison question.

I have another question. The Speedhub obviously has 14 different ratios. I also understand that a conventional drive train has ratio duplications. How many actual significantly different ratios does the typical 27 gear drive train have? Also are the lowest and highest gears on a Speedhub similier to a conventional system?

Ronnie.
 

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Some Assembly Required
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4,063 Posts
Czech this out Nate

The speedhub has always piced my intrest. I have an older friend that rides cruisers w/Shimano Nexus internal geared hubs & asked him about a mtb application. He said he didn't think they would hold up to the abuse. I think GT may be ready to change that w/the GT IT1.

Czech out this link, ( http://www.nsmb.com/gear/seaotter1_04_05.php ). Getting it away from the rear hub & using it as a "transmission" might be the elusive factor everyone has ignored or dismissed due to "funky Canfeild type" drivetrains. Catching the public at the right time is critical for drastic change. Look how long it took carmakers to worm round cornered-aero-slope-nose cars into the publics good graces.

Let a few racers podium w/any kind bike, component, pad, helmet, etc. & watch it take off....with the right advertising, this is the critical part.
 

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Registered
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Great writeup, Nate. Thanks!

I've been considering the speedhub, but I can't get past 2 items....cost and weight.

OK...maybe I can get past the weight (I easily justify the additional weight of my Z1FR :D ), but not the cost.

I like to run multiple wheelsets....switching between bikes. I'd have to have a speedhub for each wheelset....way too expensive...at least for me.

They sure are tempting, though.
 

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Derailleurless
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9,122 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks, everyone, for the positive feedback.

Trevor, I'm expecting I wrote too much for BIKE to print in the Letters to the Editor section, but it'll be interesting to see if they can do some creative editing to make it fit.

Mw/OH, that Nexus application is cool. BIKE mentioned it in their article. I've got a Nexus on a street bike, and it ain't the greatest thing spinning on an axle, but it does the job well enough that I stick with it. Additionally, the narrow gear range is a big hit against it for an XC use. What is it about bright orange wigs that... oh, nevermind! ;^p

b12, I most definitely notice the shifted weight distribution when I heft the bike in one hand, but it really hasn't been noticable on the trails. A rough calc shows the XT drivetrain is responsible for 2 pounds of weight at the rear axle (cassette, hub & derailleur), so the Speedhub tosses another 2 pounds back there. But maybe consider it as ballast for the 3+ pounds a suspension fork adds to the front end of a bike that has never been corrected for since we changed from rigid? I still have trouble keeping my front wheel up on landings.

Ronnie & Stu, you guys seemed to have answered some of the questions you asked. The .pdf that Stu linked to is pretty cool, and contains a graphic that identifies the overlap derailleur gears.

Also check out the bottom plot in the graph I posted. The red line is the Speedhub gear inches, plotted against the derailleur in granny (yellow), middle (green) and outer (blue) chainrings.

Here are pictures of the bikes I've installed Speedhubs onto. I retired the NRS two years ago when I replaced it with the Iron Horse Hollowpoint, and the Hollowpoint will be replaced in the next few weeks with my new Hollowpoint MkIII.

The orange Van Dessel Buzz Bomb is my hardtail with Speedhub-specific sliding dropouts, and is a super fun bike that becomes my primary ride in the winter due to easy clean-up.

The Marin Mount Vision has been my wife's ride for the past two years. She loves the friggin' hub, and she usually gets more question about hers than I do when we're out on rides.







 

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Reviewer/Tester
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6,176 Posts
Oh yeah.. those Rohloffs..love em.. :) I have been going to get one for months, but never seem to actually get around to doing it.

..I definitely will though, as I think they are the future.

R.
 

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Banned
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7,131 Posts
Speedub.Nate said:
Your overview of gearbox drivetrains (BIKE, May 2005,
Gearbox Bikes) was comprehensive and informative, but
presented some misleading information about the
Rohloff Speedhub.

While true that a disc-brake compatible Speedhub setup
weighs 4.4 pounds, subtract 3.1 pounds for the weight
of the XT drivetrain parts it replaces to realize only
a 1.3 pound (~600g) weight gain. A sound trade for a
straight chainline, shifting reliability, and reduced
drivetrain wear.

Speedhub efficiency is dependent on the planataries in
use, and varies from gear to gear. This ranges from
from 0 to 2% less efficiency the lower seven gears,
and 1% less to 1% greater efficiency in the higher
seven. Throw a normal amount of trail dust, mud and
water crossings at both drivetrains and see how the
Speedhub shines.

Retail cost of a disc-compatible Speedhub is commonly
found in the neighborhood of $900. Online/mailorder
cost of the XT drivetrain parts it replaces is $300.
This "savings" of $600 is slowly eaten away by more
frequent chain, chainring & cassette replacement --
plus the occasional tweaked derailleur. Meanwhile,
adjustments and maintenance to the Speedhub are nil
due to the internal indexing and oil bath
lubrication. The only regular maintenance is an
annual oil change.
You've stated your case, and here's what I get from it;

Much heavier, not to mention more concentrated mass in the rear wheel, rotating mass, and unsprung mass.

Less efficiant, even if it's only a bit, it's noticable. Take 1% and look at it over an entire ride, that means you'll be several minutes behind after a few hours.

Just because you only have one gear doesn't mean you won't wear out chains and stretch gears, it can still happen. As long as you have teeth and a chain, you'll have the opportunity to stretch em.

It's ungodly expensive. The QBP wholesale (which I've just looked up) is ungodly expensive. If you get it for $900 then good for you, but let's just say that the margin with that price is a lot less than other items that sell for that much money. In other words, that's a pretty unrealistic price given standard bike shop margins. BTW, I'm talking about the non disc version.

RETAIL COST OF THE DISC VERSION SHOULD BE NOWHERE NEAR $900. The wholesale cost is around $900. I usually don't go into wholesale prices, but this is blatent Nate, you are misrepresenting the information here.

If the only maint. ever required is oil, then why does the several-hundred dollar "rebuild" exist?

I think it's a step in the right direction, and it might be excellent for some uses, but it's no end all, especially at this point and with these definite disadvantages.
 

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College
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1,198 Posts
I think he was trying to say its more efficient then a regular drive train because theres no mud or anything to get in between the shfting devices. What did you think of it when you first tried it ?
 

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Derailleurless
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9,122 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jm, I'm not arguing with your closing remark. My point wasn't to make the case that the Speedhub is perfect. It's not. What it is is a practical -- in some cases superior --alternative for many riders. Yes, there are questions of price, efficiency and weight that will have to be considered by each rider individually.

You're right, my $900 retail comment was incorrect. Suggested retail is as much as $200 higher. Webcyclery asks $1020 for the disc version and $900 for the non-disc. However, I managed to purchase my first one (a disc brake version) for a bit under $650, which the shop later told me was just over wholesale.

Everyone likes to talk about unsprung mass, but lets look at riders (not Speedhub users) who best put their rear suspension to the test: DH riders. A group who's use of 2+ pound tires and rims and overbuilt rear ends somehow don't turn their bikes into mushy piles. On paper, there's going to be a difference. Heck, I recall reading a piece where an author argued increasing unsprung mass helped bike performance. Go figure. My point is, the Speedhub hasn't crippled my rear suspension.

Rotating mass that close to the axle is irrelevent to real-world riding, especially at the speeds we're talking about.

If you want to toss about a 1% loss of efficiency to a racer, I won't argue it. For a recreational trailrider out having fun with his buddies -- even on a 40 or 50 mile adventure -- it's applesauce.

Same goes for weight. 600+g is "much" heavier? To whom? A dedicated weight weenie? Sure. But using this logic, I should be riding the skinniest, lightest tires, rim, fork, brake, etc. that I can afford. Certain attributes, such as shifting reliability, symmetric rear wheel builds, straight chainlines and reduced drivetrain wear are what's up for grab.

What's the answer you're looking for on the rebuild question? I read Speedhub posts with interest here, on other web forums, and on USENET, and while I'm not claiming to have read every post on the subject, I have never read about an outright Speedhub failure. There were some leaky seal reports early on, and the occassional cable failure or stripped shifter box thumb screw (heck, I just stripped the torx head on my shifter's cable port), but the common theme is that these hubs just keep going and going.

Yes, chains still stretch over the miles, and chainrings and cogs wear. I have never tracked maintenance mileage, so this is all seat-of-the-pants estimations, but I'm getting 4x the mileage out of my chains, and I haven't worn out a chainring or cog. Rings and cogs are both reversible to double up their already extended lifespan.
 

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Feeling a little taller
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6,705 Posts
b12yan88 said:
I think he was trying to say its more efficient then a regular drive train because theres no mud or anything to get in between the shfting devices. What did you think of it when you first tried it ?
I have 2. Both of them are on hardtails. The only trail inconvenience I've ever had from either one was a cable failure during SO last weekend. This I contribute to my own laziness as I knew my cables were towards the end of their lifespan before the race.

I replace chain, cables and oil about 1x/yr. Cables cost about $50/set, chain - less than $25 for the oil and flush treatment - also less than $25. I have never NEEDED to replace cogs or chainrings. I replaced the chainring on one bike at the same time as replacing the cranks. The chainring was still good, but didn't fit the new cranks.

I don't experience chain suck ever. I have never broken or dropped a chain during a ride. I don't have ghost shift issues. Cable stretch is addressable without tools. If these potential conventional drivetrain inconveniences don't minimize the impact of slight gearing inefficiencies, I don't know what would.

As for putting them on a FS bike, the fact that the chain would still be in one plane with the chain takeup mechanism still minimizes various mechanical maladies. Kona makes a FS singlespeed frame that has the major pivot point around the EBB and has no apparent chain stretch during pivot. In my mind, this bike would be a potential recipient of a Rohloff in my stable's future.
 

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Derailleurless
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9,122 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Lenz makes a bottom bracket-concentric pivot as well. This MTBR archive photo is of what was reported to be a sub-24 pound Lenz Revelation shown at Interbike 2002.

And don't forget Dan that you can use the cheapie QBP brake cable housing and off-the-shelf derailleur cables to bring the cost of your cable changes down into the $12 range.

BTW, I got around to reading part II of your First Race post. Sux, but nice save!

 

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Banned
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Speedub.Nate said:
However, I managed to purchase my first one (a disc brake version) for a bit under $650, which the shop later told me was just over wholesale..
Maybe a few years ago, but wholesale for the regular speed hub is a good bit more than that, and the wholesale for the disc version is hundreds more. I'm sure it was less a few years ago.

My point is that there are marked disadvantages with it, I haven't even read the article, but your "beefs" with them seem to be extremely one sided and if they felt it was too heavy (600g is a huge weight penalty on a modern bike), or they felt it was too inneficiant (1% adds up over the long haul) then they had valid points.

I'd like nothing better to have a DH bike with either a gear box or a speedhub, but on such a bike ultimate efficiancy isn't a huge deal as there are chain rollers that remove some efficiancy already, weight is not as big a deal as you pointed out, especially when the difference in the weight of your rear wheel is going to be only like 5-10% (in that case of course), and the price isn't horrible (but still pretty steep) considering that there's no derailer to kill and you get a nice chainline. It's the future, but it sounds like the magazine had real and viable beefs with it, not that they were just sitting around making up reasons to not like it.
 
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