My Rohloff thoughts one year on – nearly perfect, but not quite

You’ll never hear me complain about derailleur gear problems as both my bikes are hub gears and I don’t want to go back to derailleurs unless I absolutely have to. The wife’s bike is a derailleur, but she never rides so I don’t have to use or maintain it.

There are lots of sites that say how great the Rohloff is, and it is, but there are issues I come across with my current setup, so I thought I’d make some notes here:

Chain must be tightened using eccentric bottom bracket (or other means) every other month to prevent it popping off. Some setups have small chain tensions, but isn’t that defeating the point of not having a derailleur?

Specialist parts you can’t find in your LBS, for example gear cables, gear ring cable, bayonet connectors and such.

As it’s specialist you pretty much need to do any maintenance yourself unless you are lucky enough to live near a LBS that is experienced with Rohloffs.

Bayonet connector screws (tiny allen bolts) weld into bayonet connector after a winter or two and must be cut off and replaced (at £18 a set they aren’t cheap either).

Getting the rear sprocket off requires a really strong high quality chain whip and a vice, it’s not easy. My original chain whip bent under the force I was using!

Rarely, but occasionally the gear might not engage for half a turn, but this is very rare.

Oil leaks out the seals if bike is laid on its side for longer than a couple of minutes, or in my case when I had the wheel off and I was changing the gear ring cable I had oil drip down onto the beige carpet (missing the dust sheet by millimetres) – oops, still not been forgiven for that!

It’s heavy, there was promise(?) of a lighter model in 2009, but they’re still working on it?

On the flip side if you saw my complaint list for a derailleur setup you’d think this list is nothing.


6 responses to “My Rohloff thoughts one year on – nearly perfect, but not quite

  1. When I first returned to cycling, I started on an ordinary 3-speed, then progressed to a Carrera Subway 8. The latter was purchased from Halfords with a bikecare plan, it had an 8-speed alfine hub. To cut a long story short, I had a year of misery, it was in and out of Halfords on, at least, a monthly basis, it turned out, and the manager admitted this to me, that their mechanics weren’t trained in the maintenance of that type of hub. So they gave me another bike with derailleur gears. I’m surprised that the Rohloff has these setbacks, everyone raves about them, especially round the world cyclists. And I’ve always fancied one.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be swapping or selling my Rohloff anytime soon, I only ride Rohloff now 🙂
      I was just trying to air my thoughts about what is wrong or annoying about the Rohloff. I could write several pages on what is wrong with a derailleur geared bike.
      My other bike is a Shimano Nexus 7 speed, nothing more to say other than that is why I went for a Rohloff in the first place, the Shimano is absolutely rubbish. There is no comparison, the Rohloff is amazing. No LBS I could find would touch the Nexus hub for a service (which they need every 6 to 12 months) and they are a pain to do yourself, I have done it a couple of times, but buying parts and fixing it up was time consuming. Plus the Nexus gear range is tiny, that was the worst part about it.

  2. This is a useful blog. I’ve wondered several times whether a hub gear would be better than derailleur. I haven’t made my mind up but I’m a lot more informed. Thank you! 😀

    • I always recommend the Rohloff Speedhub, I wouldn’t recommend any other brand unless I owned one and liked it.
      The Shimano Nexus 7 speed is rubbish, I own one and definitely do not recommend them.

  3. My friend (and fellow Rohloff owner) wrote an e-mail response on the subject:

    “Why so negative?

    so what about the benefits 1 year on?
    a sprocket that lasts 20,000 + km
    a chainring that lasts 60,000 + km
    bullet proof chain (why do you carry all that chain repair stuff with you?)
    Easy to clean
    Always indexed never needs adjusting
    Huge gear range
    Tiny amount of maintenenace required
    Instant gear changes
    14 equally spaced gear ratios
    Never need to know what gear you are in just change up or down to adjust cadence
    Ability to change gear when stopped
    No “bits” hanging off that can get twisted, ripped off
    Stronger wheel (no dishing)
    It never crashes when you put an extra bit of power into the pedals
    Cheaper to run than derailleur if you own it long enough
    It’s just so cool
    shall I stop now?”

    My intention was to show the negative sides of it, it doesn’t mean it’s a rubbish piece of kit; on the contrary I wouldn’t be without mine. And now my friend has highlighted some of the benefits I don’t need to 🙂

    The chain strength is a very good point, however I still managed to neglect and break one last winter, but i would sure have broken thousands of miles earlier on a derailleur bike.

  4. Pingback: Why Rohloff? #cycling | Tim's cycling blog

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