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Kindernay burst onto the bicycle gearbox scene in 2016 when they showed off a prototype 14-speed internal gear hub that could replace the derailleur gears on your bike.
Like other planetary gear hubs, the Kindernay promised a long-lasting drivetrain with less maintenance, zero gear adjustment, instant shifts, and components that are less susceptible to wear and damage.
The Kindernay 7 and 14-speed hubs had a few defining features:
- The gearboxes could be separated from the hub shell and you could move them between multiple wheelsets
- They used hydraulic trigger shifters
- They were designed specifically for 12mm thru-axles
- They were lighter than the competition (and only 400 grams heavier than a Shimano Deore derailleur setup!).
- They had a higher torque rating than other internal gear hubs
- They had a wider gear range than other internal gear hubs
Unfortunately, I’ve just heard some bad news from Kindernay…
The Kindernay Bankruptcy
The company behind Kindernay, CA Technology Systems, recently filed for bankruptcy according to an article on Shifter.no.
The trustee of the company is currently considering selling the assets and rights to the gear hubs. A date for a possible auction has not yet been set.
At this stage, aftersales support for existing Kindernay users is unknown. Hopefully, a large array of spare parts will be made available to a bicycle shop or distributor.
The Kindernay Void
It’s always sad to see a high-quality, niche cycling product disappear from the market. While not perfect, the Kindernay hubs had some appealing advantages over the competition.
Unlike most other internal gear hubs, these hubs were designed for mountain biking. The 7-speed hub added very little weight to a bike compared to a 1X drivetrain (300 grams extra unsprung mass), and the hydraulic trigger shifter was a welcome alternative to the grip shifters found with most internal gear hubs.
A defining feature was the Kindernay system’s modularity. This meant you could own one expensive gearbox that could be transferred between wheels. For example, you could leave the gearbox in your mountain bike year-round, but swap it into your fat bike in winter, or touring bike when you set out for your annual adventure.
These unique features will be missed.
What Are The Kindernay Hub Alternatives?
The closest internal gear hub currently is the Rohloff Speedhub. It has the same number of gears (14), a similar gear range (526% vs 543%), and almost identical gear steps (13.6% vs 13.9%).
After 25+ years of production, Rohloff hubs have an excellent track record for reliability and longevity. One owner has even cycled over 470,000km on one! These hubs have also been tested to have low frictional losses, which means the maximum amount of your pedal power will go toward driving you forward.
There are some other new internal gear hubs worth mentioning too.
The 3X3 Nine is a 9-speed hub that’s made in Germany and offers a choice between an electronic shifter and a regular grip shifter.
This hub has a bigger gear range (554%) and fewer gears than a Kindernay. This results in rather large gear steps of 23.8%, almost twice that of the Kindernay or Rohloff hubs.
Large gear steps like this are indicative that 3×3 is targetting the electric bike market. As e-bikes accelerate faster, it’s not uncommon to find yourself changing two or three gears at once on a typical drivetrain. Larger gear steps ultimately mean less shifting is required on eBikes, however, it also makes the hub less suitable for standard bikes as you might find yourself ‘in between gears’ more frequently.
Another indication that the hub is designed around eBikes is that it will handle 250Nm of input torque from a mid-drive motor. This is significantly more than both Kindernay (160Nm) and Rohloff (130Nm).
Interestingly, the 3×3 hub is lubricated with grease instead of oil. This lubrication choice has allowed 3×3 to reduce the hub maintenance. The grease change interval is a lengthy 25,000km, a figure five times further than the oil-change interval of a Rohloff hub (5000km).
Another fascinating German-made gear hub that’s available for pre-order is the Revolute Hub1.
This six-speed hub has been primarily designed around eBike use, so it too can handle 250Nm input torque. This hub has a narrower gear range (400%) than most gearboxes, and larger gear steps too (30%+).
An interesting feature of the Revolute hub is that it doesn’t spin backward! This means that when you stop on a hill, you do not need to pull your brakes to prevent the bike from rolling backward. This will be especially handy with heavily laden cargo bikes but could be nice on a regular bike too.
Lastly, don’t overlook the Shimano Alfine hubs.
These are notably quiet in operation, well-priced, and generally reliable. I really like the electronic shifting versions, which help to boost the reliability of the hub, and you can pair these hubs with the excellent Shimano Di2 drop bar shifters on a gravel or commuter bike.
The modular design of the Kindernay was nifty, the hubs were lightweight, and the hydraulic trigger shifter was a neat alternative to the usual grip shifter.
It’s sad to see Kindernay file for bankruptcy. I hope a sale of the assets and rights to the hub comes to fruition, and that the hubs can live on through another company.
Luckily for consumers, there are still a handful of other high-quality internal gear hubs available. For alternatives similar to Kindernay, I’d recommend looking into Rohloff, 3X3, Revolute, and Shimano Alfine hubs.