Author Topic: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways  (Read 44880 times)

Danneaux

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Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« on: March 15, 2012, 10:59:40 AM »
Hi All,

For those of you preferring a drop-bar Rohloff setup who would like to go a different route than the usual Thorn T-bar mount, rotary bar-end, or Gilles Berthoud approach, "AlleyKat's" Cycling About website has a nice little photo-essay on those and various other means to get there:
http://cyclingabout.com/index.php/2011/11/rohloff-hubs-with-drop-handlebars/

Basically, these are alternative placements and mounts for the traditional Rohloff rotary shifter. Many could be used with straight 'bars as well, should one prefer placement elsewhere. There's some innovative thinking here.

Alex did a nice job on this roundup!

Best,

Dan.

jags

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 11:55:44 AM »
excellent  site dan some great ideas ;)

triaesthete

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 01:44:09 PM »
Good find Dan, thanks for sharing.

I can't help thinking that the Berthoud shifter is almost the right answer to the Rohloff and drops conundrum ,but it needs refinement. For example the exposed cable grooves on the barrel look as though they will guide water straight down the cables unless the unit is installed with them exiting upwards. The alloy twistgrip will also provide a heatsink for fingers.

If this element of the design was sorted out properly for 31.8mm drop bars a Thorn Mercury all weather Audax type bike-also with carbon/disc front fork and proper mudguard!- would force me to sell my granny. (Bars that are 31.8mm all the way across the top give me lovely large fat cushiony handrest area and great rigidity when climbing on the hoods).

It still amazes me how good and well thought out the original Rohloff hub and shifter designs are and how little development has been required in 13 or so years. It also amazes me no one has reverse engineered and upscaled the shifter.

Rohlon the Rohloff future!
Ian


Danneaux

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 03:18:00 PM »
Hi Ian,

A Rohloff as currently offered doesn't quite fit my needs (or perhaps I'm not quite "ready" to fully embrace it as-is), but (caveat follows) given I haven't ridden/owned one,  ;) a "Danneaux's Dream Roadie-Rohloff" might have:

- Some means to be shifted from drop handlebars...yet leave the entire gripping surface of the handlebars (tops 'n' drops) free for hands. This implies some sort of brifter, push-push, or lever-actuated bar-end mount. Or a true Di2-type actuation, though I'd like to stay with cables for ultimate reliability.

- This implies something other than the current rotary-grip shifter; perhaps something like the present rotary, slimmed down and snugged firm against the side of the stem or the rotary grip with a thumbable fin extension to actuate the dial? Or maybe anchoring one cable with a spring/demultiplicator a la the old Simplex gear cable leverage adapter, while the other end is lever-operated? Or a double-geared actuator like the dial on a shortwave radio, so one could grab a whole handful of change in a small movement or select more finely as desired. Better yet: Put a travel multiplier inside a modified EX shift box, so smaller movement of the actuator lever would still result in the proper amount of cable travel at the shifter.

- Right-angle exit from shifter for a better cable run, yet still have low friction if it was configured this way.

- The ability to be readily fitted to 31.8mm 'bar diameter.

- All of the above with really good weather-sealing of the controls, compact size and light weight.

- Duplex or coaxial routing of cables within a single housing to eliminate one entire cable run between 'bars and rear hub. Given the relative lack of tension in the cable runs compared to derailleurs-and-return springs, the housing could be thinner, allowing for a greater internal diameter for the same size; coating the exterior of the cable loop might well the cable halves to slide past each other in a shared housing with little more friction than at present.

- More than 14 gears /and/or/ having the current gears arranged logarithmically so there is a great difference in steps at lower gears, with finer spacing as they progress upward, to better match (my) rider output.

- Hub flanges that are angled inward toward the hub center, and with threaded,replaceable hub flanges, a la the early modular Phil Wood hub designs (those had stainless-tube centers and alu flanges held together with high-strength LocTite /or/ or spline-locked flanges and hub centers. The angled flanges would ease oblique-lateral forces on the hub and allow for full spoke support of each spoke as it left the large-diameter hub. Would also allow a single shell to be configured with any drilling or even mixed drilling. And, yes, I'd make 'em with 36 holes to better spread stress across the flange and allow use of more tangential 3x spoke patterns.

I know, this might be viewed as heresy if for no other reason than the present setup has worked and continues to work so well and reliably as-is for so many users. I'm also guessing my wish list is hovering in my mind precisely because I'm not a user/owner, and frankly am not familiar with the unit having never ridden one. Still, the whole idea of a Rohloff hub would have more initial appeal if it had some version of some of these ideas in place.

To owners: Are there things you would wish for on your hub/shifter if you had exclusive access to Rohloff's design team for a single hour?

To non-owners (especially those who prefer drop-handlebars): Price aside, what would it take for you to switch to a Rohloff?

Best,

Dan (Rohloff admirer and "what might be" Rohloff dreamer)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 06:43:44 AM by Danneaux »

Danneaux

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2012, 06:33:10 AM »
A dozen and one (and probably many more)!

A clever approach, using the base clamp from a Cinelli Spinaci mini-aero-bar to hold a stub-'bar to place the Rohloff in plane with but just ahead of the tops of a drop-handlebar: See: http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12836

Interesting related thread here: http://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=51775.0

Best,

Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2012, 07:40:00 AM »
- This implies something other than the current rotary-grip shifter; perhaps something like the present rotary, slimmed down and snugged firm against the side of the stem or the rotary grip with a thumbable fin extension to actuate the dial?

Quite a bit of misguided cleverness here, solutions to the wrong problem.

Tick off the great truths of derailleur gear chances: you change to the right gear before you need to, and you change one gear at a time because that is the efficient way to keep up speed,  and you need to be moving to change gear.

None of this is true on a Rohloff gearbox. If you're lazy, you can change into the right gear after it becomes obvious you need it. You can change several gears at once without any penalty. And you can change gears at a perfect standstill.

Forget the ratios; they turn out to suit 99.99 of people once they get a little experience with them; the important thing is to get the right starter ratio (gear 11 is direct drive) for your sort of riding and roads and loads, from the illegal 36x16 that Andy Blance likes for heavily laden touring in muddy, mountainous places, through the warrantied 38x16 I find enough even on my steep but short home hill, all the way to the common 42 and 44 and even 46 chain wheels with 16 or 17 tooth sprockets liked by the fast tourers.

If you get this right, the Rohloff box will invite you to change gears all the time, and if you get it wrong, you will have to change gears all the time. Whichever it is, you will not only change gears differently from on derailleur bike, but more often. After the Rohloff box is worn a little past its first awkwardness (several of us have written on this board about the agricultural aspects of the best bicycle gearbox in the world), you won't even notice that you're changing gears all the time.

We hear a lot about efficiency from the derailleur crowd, and I imagine you could write enticingly about it too, but it is always under the assumption that you choose your gear at the bottom of the hill, because once you start the hill, you're stuck with it. That is clearly a compromise solution, efficiency bartered for a mechanical necessity.

Neither the assumption of one gear, nor the place of its choice, holds true for a Rohloff. You just change gears all the way up the hill to give you the most efficient ratio at any point, not some notional average efficiency for the whole hill, chosen at the bottom, as with derailleurs.

I trust you can now see why the Rohloff box's control must be permanently under your hand (I could never understand the stupidity of making it triangular -- that's leftover roadie influence and thinking, quite irrelevant) or only a finger and thumb movement away.

In my non-roadie opinion a roadie who puts the control of Rohloff gearbox more than millimetres from his handhold has misunderstood its capabilities and purpose, and will never realise its full potential.

My ideal Rohloff gearshift grip is just plain round, the full length of the straight part of your handlebar (sawable to length like a steerer tube), minimum length the full width of your handgrip, meant to be dressed up in whatever you have on the other side (leather, foam, cork, anything) like a motorcycle accelerator grip.

Andre Jute

Danneaux

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2012, 08:15:05 AM »
Andre, I do love your writing and essays, and I always learn from our exchanges and value your thoughts and views.

I surely do wish I had the opportunity to actually try a Rohloff, even for a brief test ride. I am certain you are correct that actual use would more fully flesh out all I have read and heard of these wonderful devices, and -- yes! -- it is even likely I might develop views similar to your own. I'm not at all resistant to the allures of Rohloff's siren song; it is mostly a problem of access and funds for yet another bike. If I won the lottery, I know a Rohloff-hubbed Thorn would magically appear in my stable mere seconds later. Until I can ride one, it is all conjecture and imagination, try as I might to fully understand the ethos of it all. To put yourself in that position, imagine a cyclist who had only ridden a coaster-brake bike suddenly exposed to the idea of a fully-realized 27-sp derailleur drivetrain with freehub and hand-operated brakes. Though it might sound wonderful, there really is no frame of reference to fully comprehend the entire riding experience short of a test ride. I think that's precisely why I am so intrigued by your eloquent endorsements and explanations, and why I so appreciate them.

Ah, me.

The nearest personal experience I have with internally-geared hubs is in several Sturmey-Anciens er, Archer hubs in 3- and 5-speed flavors. The most recent is on the 1970 Motobecane/Astra U-frame folder I fully restored and gave to my father. Before that, back in childhood, I owned a Schwinn Sting-Ray with the Eunuch Shifter option (it looked much like the Hurst floor shifter from a '60s muscle car and was wonderful except for it's castrato side effects that came into play with every deliberate and inadvertent dismount -- one simply could not get off the bike without one's delicate parts becoming painfully impaled. Thankfully, I outgrew it before incurring any permanent damage).

Still, I think Rohloff-equipped bikes might be more relatable for derailleur-roadies if they had controls that were somewhat familiar in position if not function. As with those who prefer straight 'bars, it is helpful to have familiar controls fall readily to hand on drop-handlebars. That more than a dozen ways have been developed or bodged by users is mute testimony to this need, and it is fun to see the creativity and ingenuity that has been put into making it possible to adapt the existing rotary control to better suit riders of drop-'bar bikes. At the same time, it is heartening to hear just how well the Rohloff rotary control meets the majority of rider needs and it certainly is a paragon of reliability and does indeed have many virtues.

So, thank you Andre, for being patient with those of us who do not yet own Rohloff-equipped bikes, and for sharing your passion for them. I always come away richer for it.

All the best,

Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2012, 11:07:02 AM »
Still, I think Rohloff-equipped bikes might be more relatable for derailleur-roadies if they had controls that were somewhat familiar in position if not function.

I think it probably works the other way round. The apparent relationship to rotary derailleur controls can mislead someone who hasn't used a hub gearbox long enough to grasp the difference in outlook and riding practice that comes with a hub gearbox.

A Rohloff has a downside. It is a Catholic bike transmission. It lasts so long, you have to marry it for life, and forswear further techie interests in the transmission area.

Andre Jute

wheezy

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2012, 06:07:50 PM »
But it's also true that the derailleur can swap gears under load, the more refined the version, the more easily it will do so. The Rohloff can't.

Also one of the new electric derailleur offerings (Campag?) can fly through their gears just by holding your finger down on the lever.

Andre Jute

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 12:51:16 AM »
Mmm. Rohloff, once you get the hang of it, requires only a very small slowing on the pedals rather than a complete liftoff to change smoothly under load.

I have a bike with full-electronic hub gearbox switching, the Nexus Di2 for comfort/commuter bikes that Shimano called "Smover" or Cybernexus. 
http://coolmainpress.com/BICYCLINGsmover.html
Generally speaking, I prefer my Rohloff, but if I lived in less hilly country perhaps it would be the other way round. I don't think I would go back to derailleurs even with full autoswitching, as in my Smover, never mind the cut-down "electronically assisted manual switching" of the Dura-Ace Di2 or the Italian version you mention. Frankly, I regard those as functionally irrelevant, for poseurs. But then I'm not a roadie.

It would be interesting to know whether Thorn, a sort of Bauhaus of bicycles where function is everything and the customers presumably not easily taken in with pointless bling, sell many of those electronically assisted gear change setups.

Is there anyone at all here who finds changing gears on their Rohloff a hardship or even a nuisance? (Sorry to hijack your thread, Dan, but it's a closely related question to trying to make the Rohloff rotary control more universally useful.)

il padrone

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 12:28:59 PM »
A Rohloff has a downside. It is a Catholic bike transmission. It lasts so long, you have to marry it for life, and forswear further techie interests in the transmission area.
Love it !!  ;D

I must admit my LBS has been lamenting my non-appearance on the door-step. All I've had to do is lube the chain a few times, tension the EBB setting and change the hub oil once in the past 14 months.

il padrone

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 12:38:34 PM »
We hear a lot about efficiency from the derailleur crowd, and I imagine you could write enticingly about it too, but it is always under the assumption that you choose your gear at the bottom of the hill, because once you start the hill, you're stuck with it. That is clearly a compromise solution, efficiency bartered for a mechanical necessity.
It does sound like it has been quite a while since you last rode a derailleur bike there, Andre. I love my Rohloff, however its gear shift responsiveness is only a little bit better than a well-looked after modern derailleur gear shift. On my derailleur bikes I routinely can shift on the climb, and even while standing up (one thing I find awkward with a Rohloff grip-shift). Shimano introduced Hyperglide with all its gates and pins, to enable shifting under load, many years ago catering to the requirements of the MTB racing scene, with its sudden sharp gradient changes.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 12:44:48 PM by il padrone »

Andre Jute

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2012, 12:26:37 AM »
The last time I had a bike with derailleurs, they were made by Hurst-Duret, and the bike itself was a Peugeot so expensive that it was stuck at the distributor for several years, and the managing director made a round trip of 400 miles to come sell it to me in person. It was a beautifully handmade disaster of bad fit and mechanics I didn't get along with; it made my physio and my parts pusher rich, and I nearly gave up cycling. Then I discovered that Shimano was upgrading their shopping Nexus 3sp hub gearboxes to 7, later 8 speeds, and my life changed. I think you can fairly say that I have zero experience of modern derailleurs, and furthermore that I am biased against them.

I'm hardly ever out of the saddle, but it would be easier for me even with a Rohloff because I'm an aficionado of North Road bars. These have the side benefit (conveniently on-topic!) that, if the straight part of the handlebar isn't too short, a Rohloff rotary control is an easy fit.

While we're on the subject of North Road bars, I imagine they are too staid for the hardcore roadies. But flip them over and they're moustache bars. That's what racing bars used to look like into living memory. The Rohloff control still fits easily. Now get a toollessly adjustable stem from Kalloy or, if you want a really good one, get the Gazelle Switch; I love mine. Now you can ride the moustache bars around town like a comfort bike, sitting upright, and with a flip of the lever, a downward rotation of the stem, another rotation of the handlebars to angle the grips somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees to the ground, you have turned a town/comfort/commuting/touring bike into a downhill racer you ride with a horizontal back; the better aerodynamics are worth up to 6mph on the hills around here. It helps to have a quick release seat post, perhaps engraved with some heights, to raise the seat when you lower and angle the bars. In this manner you get all the advantages of drop bars and a Rohloff installation that works conveniently as it is supposed to.

Andre Jute

triaesthete

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2012, 09:09:54 PM »
Dan, Andre, your tact and lightness of touch is an example to us all.

Dan, I was fascinated by Rohloffs for about 5 years and had to put myself out of my misery by buying one for empirical testing. On a rough stuff explorer, all weather, all year bike with flat bars it does everything Andy B claims in the Thorn literature. If I could have one on a drop bar bike with the rotary control slid along the bar, right up to the stem (ie 31.8mm diameter) I would. No other solution would cut it for me. Andre really has summed up the essence of it all above.

Think of a purchase as an investment in scientific research Dan  ;)

Happy days
Ian

Danneaux

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Re: Drop 'bars & Rohloff: A dozen differ'nt ways
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2012, 11:06:44 PM »
Quote
Think of a purchase as an investment in scientific research Dan
Your logic is unassailable and indisputable; I am lost to its siren song, doomed to crash upon the rocks of bicycle desire, a modern-day Odysseus drawn to the inevitable doom of expanding ownership. Tie me to the mast! It is too late to cork my ears with wax.

Or, in a more modern context, "Resistance is futile, assimilation inevitable" in the Thorn Collective.

What hope have I? Ian, you resisted for five whole years, and then....

It is a disease, isn't it?: http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=4061.0

Sighing at the inevitable path my life is taking....

Best,

Dan.
(Thanks for the kind words and gentle encouragement, Ian; this is why this forum is a rare gem to be valued among those online...).