What is a Rohloff?

Rohloff Speedhub Cutaway Illustration

Rohloff is a German company that has designed and built the Roholoff Speedhub for several years now. The design is like a really high tech version of your old 3-speed hub. All 14 gears are inside the hub. The reason for the design is to eliminate the use of derailleurs on your bike.

The Speedhub has become so popular that Shimano has been working on a competing product, and last year announced their version called the Alfine 11-sp hub.

Rohloff Custom Bicycles:

"Do I want Rohloff?"
Over the last several years, we've built a large number of bikes using this hub, and the customers love them. In 2011, it was announced that Rodriguez Bicycles became the largest builder of custom Rohloff equipped bikes in the United States.

Most people that choose Rohloff equipped bikes have researched the product thoroughly before ordering their bike. The reasons that these people chose the Rohloff hub include ease of shifting, lower maintenance, and perceived 'ease of use'. The reason I use the word perceived is because a Rohloff bicycle frame can be designed in such a way as to make changing the rear tire much more difficult.

One frequently asked question is "What's the difference between the Alfine and the Rohloff?"

WARNING! Not all manufacturers treat Rohloff bikes the same. The Rohloff hub presents some specific design challenges when building the frame to keep things 'user friendly'. The crew here at Rodriguez Cycles has developed some unique exclusive features that distinguish our Rodriguez Rohloff bikes from the other brands. To read about these differences, click here.

Pros and Cons of a Rohloff Speedhub

- No fuss: The sealed gearbox ensures reliability and durability even under the toughest conditions. The even increments of 13.6% from gear to gear make it possible to always ride at the performance peak. There is no overlap in the gear range, so all 14 gears are usable. In a traditional 27 speed set-up, you've only got about 14 usable gears anyway.

- Cost: Many people assume that the price will be lower than traditional set-up because there are fewer components to buy. Actually, the price of the hub added to the additional amount of customization required on the frame makes the total price higher than a derailleur set-up. Look at it like a Swiss watch.

- Versatility: Since the gear ratio is pre-set, you cannot change the range of gearing between high and low. You can change the front chain ring or rear cog but it will affect the whole range. In short, if you want a 'lower' low gear, then all your gears have to be lower and visa versa.

- Noise: Some of the gears can be a little bit 'rumbly' or 'noisy'. Not really bad, but if you are kind of 'obsessive' about such things, and you've already resigned yourself to the noise of a derailleur set-up, you should try one out before investing in it.

- Weight: Regardless of what anyone tells you (or puts on a blog or website), any bike with an internally geared hub is substantially heavier than a comparably priced derailleur equipped bike. This is true with the Shimano Alfine hubs as well.

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