Rohloff vs. deraileur

Posted by: thelazycyclist

Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/09/07 10:49 PM


I'm considering getting a steel frame tourer from Thorn in the UK (the Raven Tour - see here: What I'm interested about are people's experiences with the Rohloff speed hub. I've read all the reports on Thorn as well as several detailed travelogues of long trips where the rohloff appears to perform very well. The only issue I came across was where a spoke had broken off part of the flange (?) on the outside of the hub.

Of course, its not a cheap option but my main concern is durability. A common complaint appears to be regarding the noise when in lower gears (1-7). Such issues are personal, however, and difficult to judge without having ridden on a bike with a rohloff before but I'd like to hear from comments from others before taking the plunge!

The bike is for an African trip so the bike will be loaded fairly heavily, with some off-road.


Posted by: MaikHH

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/10/07 12:22 AM

Hi Jules,

1st you should answer the following question:

* Why do you want to have a Rohloff Speedhub instead of a high quality chain shifter? What advantage do you want to have from the Rholoff? Is it really worth it?

Posted by: thelazycyclist

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/10/07 01:00 AM

Thanks for your reply Maik,

Yes you have a point indeed, ordinarily the cost difference between the two is rather large.

The principal advantage is lack of maintenance including less things to go wrong and a long life expectancy, which is attractive on long distance trips. Other important advantages that I see include the fact that there is less chance of the hub getting damaged than a derailleur.

I think if I was going out to buy the individual parts, it could be a different story, given the price difference between the rohloff and say an xt setup. But on this particular bike with Thorn, there isn't too much between the two setups.

Bottom line, however, is the lack of maintenance.

Posted by: Zebrarider

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 03:56 PM

I just bought a Velotraum Tourer, and i decided NOT to choose the speedhub, even though i`m planning a trip round the world.

Simply because of Murphy`s law: Everything that CAN break down WILL break down. And i find a derailleur very easy to maintain. If it breaks down completely, just unmount it at put the chain on the cog wheel directly. And a Shimano XT is unlikely to break down. I`ts almost as reliable as the Rohloff. What are you going to to when your Rohloff breaks down somehow? And don`t forget: You will find Shimano Spare Parts all over the Globe, like Bearings or complete derailleurs. You can use a 36-Spoke wheel instead of a 32-Spoke Rohloff wheel, so that makes the wheel itself more reliable (Flat tires and broken spokes are the damages wou will have to deal with mostly!)

And the main reason i chose the XT: The cost of the Rohloff. The Difference is two more months of travelling to me (Priceless!).
Posted by: thelazycyclist

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 04:13 PM

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, they seem to be the two motivations (cost and the event of a complete failure) that make the rohloff less appealing.

That said, and I sound now like I'm rather advocating the Rohloff:

1) While you will certainly have a better chance of finding shimano parts in some parts of the world, you still have may have to rely on shipping parts in a lot sections of Asia, Africa, S.America. Although, as you say, a crucial point is that you can just not use a derailleur in an emergency.

2) Thorn in the UK have said that the 32 spoke wheel with a rohloff is as strong, if not stronger, than a 36-spoke with derailleur, because it is dishless (i.e. no need to compensate for the extra cogs)

Enjoy your new bike!
Posted by: Deul

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 04:36 PM

Hi Jules,

Disclaimer: I am absolutely convinced about the Rohloff.

I am riding roughly 10000 km per year and my last Rohloff was damaged in a car accident after 70000 km. I took it from one bike to the next, but now I have the second Rohloff, my wife has one also.

If you are lazy you can shift u to 14 gears whn your standing, I change my chain after 10000 km, change the oil every year and that's it. You must accept that it is more noisy as an xt setup. My experience is that it is more quiet in steel habs than in aluminium hubs.

My weight is 105 kg, and I load my bike with additional 35kg approximately. in road an dirt paths.

My advice would be to take the Rohloff. Take it and forget about maintenance, you probably won't get something more durable by less maintenance.

Posted by: thelazycyclist

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 04:51 PM

Thanks Detlef, that's encouraging.

So you change the oil every 10,000km? Do you change more frequently on dirt surfaces or does it matter?
Posted by: Deul

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 04:55 PM

It does not matter, not at all, it is a close system.

Posted by: HyS

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 09:01 PM

lots of information: web page Rohloff Speedhub

You can trust this information.
I use two Speedhubs. The first was taken for a 25000km world trip. The second one, i need for my second bicycle. Both with no problems.

In most parts of the world, you do not get quality Shimano parts (if you get). Another problem with Shimano: they change the construktion of the parts many times. You always get the wrong.

wheel stability

Serious Problems with the Speedhubs exist. But they are really rare.
Posted by: stephan_7171

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 10:41 PM

Hello Jules!

If you have the chance to test the Speedhub, you will quickly find out if you like it or not.

I am using Shimano LX on one bike and Rohloff on the other. The only disadvantage of Rohloff is in my opinion the noise it makes in gear 1 to 7. If you prefer an absolutely quiet bike in small gears, a derailleur will be better.

In my opinion the noise is not bad, it is something characteristic - that is something you should test, as some people do not like that.

The shifting with Rohloff is great in my view, it is very reliable precise and requires only little maintenance - I have been using the Rohloff for many years without problems. Chain life and wear on the sprocket wheel is definitely improved.

But I have to say, also LX derailleur does a good job, the shifter itself did not fail so far, too, but needs more cleaning and sprocket wheels need to be replaced more often.

Considering wheel stability you need not worry, the 32 spoke Rohloff wheel will be even more stable (if well built), as it is possible to have same spoke tension left and right due to the hub geometry. This definitely is an advantage of the Rohloff.

Problems with Rohloff also exist, but are rare, to my experience the stability and reliability is really good.

Is a Rohloff version of the Thorn-frame really same price as for a XT version?

Have a nice day!

Posted by: thelazycyclist

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/20/07 11:00 PM

Thanks for your posts guys.

Stephan: I've also been using an LX setup on my current bike and I have found it good. You're right though, I need to test ride a bike with a rohloff hub to see about the noise, although I don't think that it would bother me.

And just to make a correction - the Thorn Raven Tour (Thorn Bikes )only comes equipped with the Rohloff. If I wanted a similar or lesser priced model from them with an XT setup then I'd be looking at their Sherpa model, but once I calculated the prices with the setup that I want on both of them there was something like 200-300 pounds difference. So there is a difference in price.
Posted by: Velomade

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/23/07 04:58 PM

Hello Jules,

it is not a question of Rohloff or derailleur. Both systems are reliable. Instead of that you should ask the question: do I have the ability to repair my gear shift system in the worst case? Remember that in the african bush you may be far away from any bike-stores and telecommunication lines to get replacement. Maybe you have to do an emergency (temporary) repairs just to continue your travel until you get new parts. No matter what your decision will be it is the right decision for you.

Posted by: Gijo

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 10/31/07 03:53 PM

My experience with Rohloff I can say to you that to been very good I do not have it a lot of time, but still(yet) not and had(taken) any problem.

In Iceland three years ago I was travelling with XT the diverter of the plate broke and I had to travel with medium plate the whole trip.

My opinion is favorable the system Rohloff

Posted by: sothach

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 11/06/07 03:23 PM

Hi Jules, I've a Thorn Raven, I got is as a commuter, cuz I was fed-up with the maintenance overhead of the deraileur, especially in the winter, and I was living in a hilly place, towing a child trailer (otherwise, I'd have got a SRAM or Shimano hub-geared bike). I love it, it's strong, reliable and fairly heavy. Now I'm back in the flatlands, I commute on a fixed-wheel (feste Ritzel, lads) - even lower maintenance!

If you are interested, you are welcome to have a go on it (Maynooth).

- Roy
Posted by: thelazycyclist

Re: Rohloff vs. deraileur - 11/09/07 01:50 PM

Hi, thanks for your posts.

Roy, I've PM'd you - thanks.