The Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 is an internally geared rear hub that meets and exceeds the demands of bike travellers. It’s 14 speeds are equally spaced over a wide gear range, safely housed inside a sealed shell. Amazingly, the hub and shifters weight works out very similarly to a typical mountain bike derailleur drivetrain.
Shifting is completed via an easy-to-use twist shifter. As the chain does not have to move between sprockets, shifting is more consistent than a regular drivetrain.
I’m pretty much in love with Rohloff hubs for bike travel. I now have a number in my possession because they work great when the riding conditions are good and even better when they are not.
Here are 15 Reasons Why you too Should Tour with a Rohloff
01. Rohloff gears are inside the hub shell
02. Rohloff hubs are sturdy
03. Rohloff hubs have a wide gear range
04. Rohloff hubs are virtually maintenance free
05. Rohloff drivetrains require minimal cleaning
06. Rohloff hubs allow you to shift gears without pedalling
07. Rohloff hubs allow you to drop many gears at once
08. Rohloff hubs have equally spaced gear ratios
09. Rohloff hubs instantly change gears
10. Rohloff hubs allow for a straight chain line
11. Rohloff hubs are a zero-dish wheel build
12. Rohloff hubs are just as efficient as derailleur drivetrains
13. Rohloff hubs have less dependance on a shifter than derailleur drivetrains
14. Rohloff hubs build with shorter spokes
15. Rohloff hubs are belt drive compatible
1. Rohloff Gears are Inside the Hub Shell
Rohloff gears hidden away, protected by the safe confines of a sealed aluminium hub shell. That makes Rohloff hubs extremely resilient against mud, grit, dust, snow and sand, and as a result quite hard wearing. Without derailleurs, you won’t ever experience dropped chains, random gear skips or seized drivetrains.
This bike received a fairly extensive mud bath resulting only in seized cables – Rohloff fine.
2. Rohloffs are Sturdy
Rohloff drivetrains have less parts susceptible to external damage. There’s no exposed derailleurs, delicate hangers, brittle cassettes or spring-loaded shifters that can fail.
3. Rohloffs have a Wide Gear Range
The 526% gear range provides plenty of gears to get up and over all kinds of terrain. On a touring bike that will carry heavy loads I recommend setting the external ratio on your chainring and cog to something pretty low, perhaps 2.5 : 1. The minimum ratio that Rohloff allow is 1.9 : 1 (or 32/17, 30,16, 28/15, 26/13) – these ratios equate to a lower gear than almost any conventional drivetrains; you may be better off walking!
4. Rohloffs are Virtually Maintenance Free
Rohloff hubs should get you through a minimum of 100,000km riding before failure (some people have been known to have covered far more). The only maintenance that you need to complete is an oil change every 5000km. If something more serious happens to your hub, you will have to send it to your nearest service centre – there’s many around the world. Rohloff are normally very pleasurable to deal with.
5. Rohloff Drivetrains Require Minimal Cleaning
Getting the brushes between your cassette teeth, derailleur pulleys and chainrings is time consuming and annoying. Avoid all this nuisance with a Rohloff drivetrain. 🙂
6. Rohloffs Allow You to Shift Gears Without Pedalling
You can change gears without pedalling – a very handy feature for a loaded touring bike. Choose your gear before you take off at the traffic lights, select a gear before you pedal on a climb. It’s that easy.
Rohloff not expensive enough? Try a gold plated one…
7. Rohloff Hubs Allow you to Change Many Gears at Once
You are able to change multiple gears in one go: the limitation is the amount of movement you have in your wrist. I can change about seven gears at once, of which I’ve had to do before under rapid deceleration! Ahh short, sandy climbs…
8. Rohloff Hubs have Equally Spaced Gear Ratios
There is a constant 13.6% ratio change between every gear, making gear changes predictable. Other internally geared hubs offer inconsistent ratio changes to compensate for their lack of gear range.
9. Rohloffs Hubs Instantly Change Gears
As soon as you change the gear at the shifter, the hub is instantly engaged and ready to go – there’s no dilly-dallying around here. The hub is wonderfully predictable compared to that split-second wait on a shifting derailleur.
10. Rohloff Hubs Allow for a Straight Chain Line
The chain line on a Rohloff drivetrain is perfectly straight, resulting in less chain wear. This equates to a longer chain life and a reduced chance of broken components. Other advantages of a singlespeed drivetrain include no chain slap on the frame and zero chance of chain drop. All the benefits of singlespeed life but with 14 gears!
11. Rohloff Hubs are a Zero-Dish Wheel Build
Rohloff hub flanges are both the same height and are spaced equally from the frame on both sides. This results in even spoke tension across every spoke to build a stronger wheel.
12. Rohloff Hubs are Just as Efficient as Derailleur Drivetrains
According to Rohloff their hubs are just as efficient at transferring power as conventional drivetrains, and even more efficient when riding in the mud. From my experience, if there is a difference, it’s very negligible.
13. Rohloff Hubs Rely Less on a Shifter than Derailleurs
Rohloff hubs use a dual cable system which requires both cables to either be pushing or pulling. Unlike a conventional gear shifter there are no springs or moving parts, eliminating it of potential failure. Once a Rohloff is set up, the cables never have to be adjusted: gear indexing occurs inside the hub.
14. Rohloff Wheels Build with Shorter Spokes
Rohloff hubs use a bigger shell than conventional wheels, resulting in shorter spokes and a stronger overall wheel build. Wheel strength is key for touring, as the rear wheel takes such a heavy load. Check out how to build a really strong Rohloff wheel in the links below.
15. Rohloff Hubs are Belt Drive Compatible
As Rohloff hubs have singlespeed drivetrains, Gates Carbon belts can be used. Belt drivetrains are fantastic, I’ve completed over 30,000km on the Centertrack kit without replacing parts – try getting that out of a chain. For more info head to my resource, Carbon Belt Drive: Everything You Ever Need To Know.
Other Useful Rohloff Resources
How to Build a Strong Rohloff Wheel
The New 2016 Rohloff thru axle rear hub and upgrades
Understanding the Different Types of Rohloff Hub
21 Ways to Run Rohloff Shifters on Road Handlebars
Rohloff Hub Oil Change Instructions and Service How-to