When I was young, my family had this great Schwinn with a 2-speed kick-back rear hub. It was a black, racer style bike. The convenience of two gears, with no derailleur or shifter, made it a joy to ride. Simple and fast, it still has a great place in my bike memories.
I have ridden many bikes with 3-speed hubs, and more recently, 4 and 7 speed geared hubs. But this Rohloff 14-speed hub was a new experience for me. On the market since 1998, this product has proven its worth in many cycling venues. From a basic riders street bike, to a full-blown competition machine, this hub has given many riders the edge they need to excel.
Made in Germany by Rohloff, this company started its reign with race chains that were unmatched. With the development of this geared hub, they are known worldwide for the quality and performance it offers. They stand behind their product, and test them and all upgrades untill they are satisfied it will stand up to the harshest critics. I understand they have sold upward of 70,000 of these hubs. That is a good testament of their commitment to the bikers they supply.
I was introduced to this great piece by Xavier at Q-Bikes in Clairemont, San Diego. With little prodding, he allowed me to spend a couple of hours with his personal bike, outfitted with this 14-speed wonder. He is a dealer of this hub, and will be glad to tell you of its features and do a complete install on your bike. The bike I tested is a Haro Mary SS. Very well equipped with a Rockshox lock-out fork and hydraulic disc brakes. It has some other nice pieces as well. This was my first time on a 29er, more on that down the road.
With a simple twist-shifter, all 14 gears are easily selected, whether pedaling or stopped. You do need to take the torque off the chain, like any other multi-geared shifting system. From an ultra low granny gear, to a very high top gear, the range is impressive. This is all from one front chain ring and one rear free wheel. Unlike a 21-30 speed derailleur system, all gears are selectable. The range between ratios is a constant, allowing a good feel for the gear needed. Quiet and solid, this is one fantastic upgrade.
Although this is a heavy item, the total weight of the bike is virtually unchanged due to all the parts it doesn’t use. Those include two derailleurs, lots of extra gears, and cables with shifters. The balance is more centered towards the rear of the bike, but it is not that noticeable or heavily undesirable. More benefits include less chain wear, no worry of mud build-up on the chain or derailleurs affecting their operation, and less complexity in the shifter adjustments.
Even though there are frictional losses in this geared hub, they are similar to, or less that a conventional multi-speed arrangement. It is way less that the inexpensive geared hubs. Precise machining, exceptional design, and a full complement of internal needle bearings work together for nearly drag-free operation. With my testing, I could feel no resistance what so ever.
It uses a two cable, grip shifter, that is well-marked. The detent operation is all in the hub, to allow the shifter to be less complex. It makes for an easy to operate system. I loved the way it felt and shifted. This is one very desirable piece for any bike. And it can be installed on just about any bike. You name it, and it will probably fit, and add to the fun and reliability. It is a little (lot) pricey. But you need to expect that from a top-notch piece of machinery like this. You will find this hub installed on the new M55 Hybrid Bike. It is one of best of the new breeds of E-bikes on the market right now.
Rohloff offers different models of this hub. It also comes in three different colors, (Polished silver, anodized red, and anodized black). They also have some other exceptional products. Top quality chains, chain tools, chain oilers, and chain oil. A couple of cool wear testers, one for chains, and one for sprockets, are in their catalog. They are proud to produce only the best bike parts money can buy. Check out their website for more detailed information on all the items they offer.
After my ride, Xavier showed me some of the fine details and discussed the advantages of the Rohloff hub. He explained that a great way to go, is to buy a upper-end single speed bike, and have the hub installed on it. This will save you money by not getting a lot of extra pieces you won’t need on your new Rohloff hub equipped machine. Makes total sense to me. Being a distributor of this hub, he can do the full job, and warranty it as well. If I was in the market for one of these superb geared hubs, he would be my first choice for the purchase.
I want to thank Xavier and Q-bikes for allowing me the opportunity to try out such an outstanding product. He has promised to let me give some other of his offerings a try in the future. He is a great guy, full of bike knowledge, with a super group of people at his shop. Try them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Enjoy your biking, I do. Thanks, Turbo Bob.
“The moment a man bestrides a bicycle he becomes a horse with all the whims and mad prancings of that creature.”—Octave Mirbeau, Sketches of a Journey.
Get your new Rohloff hub from Q-bikes