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If you’re not that enthusiastic about the additional weight of most gearbox drivetrains, perhaps the new Kindernay VII internal gear hub will pique your interest.
This new 7-speed version of the Kindernay gearbox is within a few hundred grams of a 1X drivetrain, it’s more efficient than ever, and it has fewer internal components.
In this article, I’ll first bring you up to speed on the original Kindernay 14-speed hub. We’ll then compare the 7-speed at 14-speed versions, and later, we’ll discuss some of the practical implications of using a hub with fewer gears.
What Is The Kindernay Hub?
Kindernay burst onto the 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.
There were a few defining features of the Kindernay XIV:
The gearbox was separate from the hub shell.
As you can see in the image above, the gearbox slides into a separate hub shell. A big advantage of this modular design is that you can have one expensive gearbox that swaps between multiple bikes. For example, you could have a mountain bike that houses your Kindernay year-round, but another hub shell built into a fat bike wheel that you only use in winter. The time it takes to switch the gearbox between bikes is about the same as fitting a new tyre – so it’s not quite ideal for swapping between bikes you use regularly.
It was using a hydraulic gear shifter.
By using hydraulic shift lines, shifting speeds were quicker, and debris could not work its way into the cables, affecting shifting performance. It also allowed a simple way for Kindernay to use thumb shifters instead of a twist shifter found on other gearbox systems.
It was designed for 12mm thru-axles.
Most gear hubs are quick release (or bolt-up) and are not compatible with modern thru-axle bike frames (the Rohloff A12 is the exception). The Kindernay was designed specifically for 12mm axles and can be stepped down for quick release too.
It was lighter than the competition.
The 14-speed Kindernay hub fitted to a bike was 365 grams (0.8lb) lighter than a 14-speed Rohloff hub.
It had a higher torque rating than other internal gear hubs.
The Kindernay was rated up to 160Nm, which is 30Nm higher than a Rohloff hub.
It had a wider gear range than other internal gear hubs.
The 14-speed Kindernay had the widest gear range of any hub available (it still does) at 543%, which is a touch wider than the Rohloff (526%).
After a few more years in development, production units of the Kindernay XIV began shipping in 2019.
Kindernay 7-Speed vs. Kindernay 14-Speed
Kindernay VII 7-Speed:
+ 250 grams lighter
+ 250 euros cheaper
+ Even more efficient (there’s no ‘reduction gear’, it’s the equivalent efficiency of gear 8-14 on the XIV)
+ Optional hub housing for 6-bolt brake rotors (not pictured)
+ Available in black
Kindernay XIV 14-speed:
+ More gears (obviously)
+ Wider overall gear range
+ Smaller steps between each gear
+ Available in silver
The New Onesie Shifter
Kindernay has also released a second shifter called the Onesie, which importantly, can be used with both the 7-speed and 14-speed hubs.
You can change one gear at a time, or multiple gears by pushing the lever a little further (see the Onesie in action HERE).
While some will prefer the more compact form factor of the dual-sided shifters (Twosie), mountain bikers often need space on the left-hand side of their handlebars for dropper post levers or suspension lockout switches. The Onesie keeps that space free.
Kindernay VII Actual Weights
I’m using my Nukeproof Mega’s drivetrain to determine the weight difference between the Kindernay VII and a 1X drivetrain. This is because I may or may not be planning to upgrade to a Kindernay VII and am curious about the weight difference!
|Shimano Deore 12-speed Rear Derailleur||319 grams|
|Shimano Deore 12-speed Shifter (With Cable)||195 grams|
|Shimano Deore 12-speed Cassette||595 grams|
|Sun Ringle SRC Rear Hub (12×148)||340 grams|
|Total Drivetrain Actual Weight||1449g / 3.2lb|
|Kindernay VII Gearbox||1193 grams|
|Kindernay 32H Hub Shell (28H is 101g, 36H is 130g)||127 grams|
|Kindernay Brake Adapter, Torque Arm, Lockring||49, 35, 5 grams|
|Kindernay Onesie Shifter (With Cables, Oil)||302 grams|
|Kindernay 20T Sprocket||69 grams|
|Kindernay Chain Tensioner (necessary for full suspension bikes)||121 grams|
|Total Drivetrain Actual Weight||1896g / 4.2lb|
This weight comparison isn’t entirely fair due to the price discrepancy between a Shimano Deore 1×12 drivetrain (€244) and the Kindernay drivetrain (€1065), although when you factor in the running costs over time, the price difference will be less significant compared to any derailleur drivetrain.
In any case, let’s instead use a SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain with a DT Swiss 350 hub (€1011, 1107 grams) to better match the pricing. The weight difference is now 750 grams (1.65lb).
A fairer comparison might even be to match the gear range, number of gears, and price. This would require the 14-speed version of the Kindernay hub, which jumps up to 2096 grams. In this comparison, the weight difference is closer to 1 kilogram (2.2lb).
The shorter chain and spoke length on the Kindernay bike will pull a little weight back. But depending on your current drivetrain and whether you need to fit a chain tensioner, expect the Kindernay VII to add between 200 and 1000 grams to your bike.
Kindernay VII Gear Range
The gear range of the Kindernay VII is 427%. This simply means that the biggest gear ratio is 4.27 times bigger than the smallest.
With a bigger gear range, we get gear ratios that allow us to pedal across a broader range of cycling speeds.
Here’s how the VII compares to other drivetrains:
Kindernay 7-speed – 427%
1X XT drivetrain – 510%
Rohloff 14-speed hub – 526%
Kindernay 14-speed hub – 543%
2X XT drivetrain – 623%
Pinion 18-speed gearbox – 626%
The Kindernay VII clearly has a smaller gear range than most off-road drivetrains. Whether this is a problem or not will depend on your typical cycling speeds.
If we set the lowest gear ratio on the Kindernay VII so that you’re pedalling at 5kph up a hill (60RPM), the highest gear will have you ‘spinning out’ at 43kph (120rpm). In comparison, the top gear of a Shimano Deore 1X drivetrain would have you spinning out at 51kph (120rpm).
Kindernay VII Gear Steps
Gear steps are the percentage difference in gear ratio when you change your gears.
A bike with smaller gear steps is particularly nice at higher speeds, as you can better fine-tune your gears to achieve the cadence (crank revolutions per minute) you’re most comfortable riding.
Most 1X drivetrains for mountain bikes have an average gear step of around 16%. The Kindernay VII? It has very large 28% gear steps due to its relatively wide gear range for a 7-speed hub.
Gear steps are a bit abstract, so I will now use cadence differences to illustrate what 28% gear steps mean for you.
The graph above shows the range of speed for each gear between two selected RPMs. In the case of the Rohloff hub, whenever you shift gears, your cadence will change by 11RPM. If you’re in the 6th gear and pedalling at 90RPM, by switching to the 7th gear, you will now be pedalling at 79RPM.
In comparison, the Kindernay VII will require a cadence change of 20RPM per shift. Whether this suits you will depend entirely on the terrain you ride.
As you can see in the graph above, the speed range between two cadences gets wider as you go faster. This means that maintaining your preferred cadence will be harder to achieve at higher speeds, and easier to achieve at lower speeds.
To illustrate this, let’s say you were riding at 30kph (90RPM) using the Kindernay VII. If you switched up a gear, it wouldn’t be until 38kph when you’d hit 90RPM again. You essentially have to ride at 30 or 38kph if you want to maintain your preferred cadence.
The differences aren’t as dramatic at low speeds. At 8kph (90RPM) in the first gear, you’d hit 90RPM in the second gear by 10kph.
In short, the 28% gear steps will be totally fine for steep mountain bike trails where you spend a lot of time climbing slowly or descending fast. However, they might be frustrating on long flat roads. If you ride the latter, you’ll be better off with the Kindernay XIV hub, which uses 13.9% gear steps instead.
Kindernay VII and eBikes
It’s worth noting that big gear steps work particularly well on eBikes.
This is because electric bikes accelerate much faster than regular bikes, so riders will often find themselves shifting two or more gears at a time. SRAM has recognised this as a problem on eBikes and makes a cassette called the EX1 with 24% average gear steps.
Due to the higher overall bike weights and power assistance, the added weight of a Kindernay hub works out to be less significant on an eBike too.
The Kindernay VII looks like a great addition to the range.
Due to the larger gear steps, I suspect it will prove popular on gravity-focussed mountain bikes and eBikes. For those who need the bigger gear range, or simply prefer smaller gear steps, the Kindernay XIV will better fulfil your needs.
I can’t wait to fit a Kindernay VII to my enduro bike! I’m interested to find out how the extra 300 grams of unsprung mass affects the suspension performance, whether I notice a suspension performance gain from the lack of derailleur clutch, and how the 28% gear steps will work on my local trails.
The Kindernay VII is available in Q3 2021 and if you’re heading to Eurobike, you can meet the Kindernay crew at Hall B1, Stand 505. The Kindernay website is HERE.