Author Topic: New Rohloff E-14!  (Read 608 times)


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New Rohloff E-14!
« on: February 08, 2018, 02:50:56 AM »
Well, for those who like E-shifting and don't like to have to twist to change gears - here is your answer.

Andre Jute

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Re: New Rohloff E-14!
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2018, 08:44:23 AM »
The Rohloff electrically-assisted gear change is not useable on non-electric bikes because in its current incarnation it needs both a power source and the programming (and presumably the sensors) of the electric motor. Nor is it currently useable on existing non-Bosch electrified bikes because it needs both the power source and the programming and sensors of the Bosch motor in particular.

Currently it is sold only to OEMs (manufacturers).

However: The Rohloff electrically-assisted and electronically-controlled shifter is retrofitable to older Speedhub 14 if power and programming can be correctly supplied. In this regard, Rohloff is sending a clear signal by building in Bluetooth, so that programming can be sent down, and further talk of a Rohloff App is also encouraging; such signals that they intend to make the unit retrofitable, together with talk of how much time such work will take, clearly implies later retail availability.

More, there is no great problem getting into the programming of the popular Bafang/8FUN BBS centre motor, which several parties here have. It is specifically designed as a universal system to be programmed by OEMs and the more adventurous private owners. For the more common levels of programming you get everything you need in the box, with comms cables (from laptop to motor controller) and programs available for more complicated operating instructions. The same control electronics and programming (often cut down from the version supplied by Bafang) are supplied with most motor kits. So, with the Bafang controller having relevant programming built in for, for instance, power interrupt for braking, with furthermore two hardwired sockets for plugging in interruptors, say a parallel link to Rohloff's handlebar gear-switch (1), and being accessible to more programming via a cable from a laptop, and the Rohloff electrically-assisted shift also being accessible via Bluetooth and later an App, I see very little problem -- and a good deal of entertainment -- in fitting the new Rohloff unit when it becomes available at retail.

All the same, while I will probably fit the Rohloff electrically-assisted shift simply for smoothness and technical interest and reducing the amount of cabling on the bike, I can't help being disappointed. Rohloff talks bravely of this system being the best and the smoothest. That's at best an exaggeration, at worst a porkie. Shimano offered a prima facie superior system of a fully automatic hub gearchange early in this century, called the Di2 or Smover -- no, it's not the DuraAce Di2 which was grotesquely cut down from the full system and is nothing more than an electrically-assisted gearchange, same as the Rohloff, though with less justification than the Rohloff. (See, on a sports bike you want a manual gearbox, while on a grand tourer you want an automatic box.) More information on and pictures and diagrams of the Smover system as fitted on my Trek at
By the way, though fitted to my Trek only at the front, the full Shimano Di2 Smover group also included very advanced active suspension front and rear, controlled by the same electronics as the gear change.

The Rohloff/Bosch system, incidentally, has everything to make a fully automatic Rohloff Speed 14 hub gearbox: a durable system needs electrical switching, torque reduction before the gearchange, speed sensing, all of which is on-board already. All it needs in addition is programming to tell the box to switch up or down at such-and-such a speed. Bosch electric motors have built-in torque sensing, so the change can be made as sophisticated as any tourer -- or even a German engineer -- could possibly want.

Going back for just a moment to a bike without a motor. It appears that the Rohloff electric click box is self-contained, presumably battery-operated, and radio controlled. But, even if it is plugged into the Bosch motor's battery, it is unlikely that the gear change will take much power. The Shimano Di2 Smover gruppo on my Trek has a capacitor in the computer for power storage, and that's a very short-term device. Everything: controller, computer, fascia, fully automatic gearchange, adaptive suspension, sensors, lamps, everything, is operated off the hub dynamo. So the amount of power an automatic gearbox on a bike requires is the 0.6W that the front lamp doesn't require. That's zero point six Watt. Many tourers have hub dynamos on their bikes that are set up to drive the front lamp with 2.4W and the rear lamp with 0.6W, so making do with a battery rear lamp gives even an unmotorized bike the power for a fully  automatic Rohloff.

(1) I think anything as crude as physical link between gearswitch and motor interrupter will be unnecessary: I'm holding in my hand a Bluetooth receiver half an inch to a side and 1/8in thick. I already use Bluetooth on my bike, for comms between my iPhone and my heart rate monitor, so I know it works well.