Author Topic: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?  (Read 107672 times)

Andre Jute

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #360 on: September 07, 2021, 11:15:35 AM »
lack of balance (the front wheel rises from the floor, and I never was good on a unicycle).
I used to struggle a bit with this, a tip I picked up (Possibly from this forum) is to bend your elbows 90 degrees, really it is that simple! I was sceptical, but haven't lifted a front wheel since.

Hope I'm not deviating too much from the script but I saw the reference to unicycling and as a retired semi professional juggler thought I could contribute a constructive comment re balance.

Unicycling and indeed balancing a stick on your hand is best achieved by purposefully creating off balance and 'on ' balance.
Whatever you do, dont try to remain upright without movement fore and aft. Or side to side.

Re bike balance; I suggest the same principle.

Using the earth's attraction as your counterbalance -- it sounds better than "throwing your weight around to stay upright" -- is another very good reason for motorists to give cyclists at least a meter of free space on steep uphills, and more on narrow roads where the ditch may be right next to the tarmac. Or for motorists to stay behind the cyclist if they cannot give him at least a meter and a half more than his over-elbow width on any particular road.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 11:23:52 AM by Andre Jute »

Matt2matt2002

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #361 on: September 07, 2021, 12:32:24 PM »
lack of balance (the front wheel rises from the floor, and I never was good on a unicycle).
I used to struggle a bit with this, a tip I picked up (Possibly from this forum) is to bend your elbows 90 degrees, really it is that simple! I was sceptical, but haven't lifted a front wheel since.

Hope I'm not deviating too much from the script but I saw the reference to unicycling and as a retired semi professional juggler thought I could contribute a constructive comment re balance.

Unicycling and indeed balancing a stick on your hand is best achieved by purposefully creating off balance and 'on ' balance.
Whatever you do, dont try to remain upright without movement fore and aft. Or side to side.

Re bike balance; I suggest the same principle.

Using the earth's attraction as your counterbalance -- it sounds better than "throwing your weight around to stay upright" -- is another very good reason for motorists to give cyclists at least a meter of free space on steep uphills, and more on narrow roads where the ditch may be right next to the tarmac. Or for motorists to stay behind the cyclist if they cannot give him at least a meter and a half more than his over-elbow width on any particular road.

Quite agree. Earth beats throwing around.
Certainly when teaching my juggling classes I began with the ' throw around' technique.

However, with Percy Vearance (😜) over a short period, the amount of movement required to maintain a balanced stick ( not on your head as has been referred to above ) is remarkably small.
So much so that it can be imperceptible to the untrained eye. An illusion in fact.

Horses for courses. Whatever floats ones boat as my charming granddaughter told me last week.

Stay safe folks

Best

Matt
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink

Dunroving

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #362 on: September 07, 2021, 12:35:08 PM »
One thing I found helpful to slow-speed uphill climbing in very low gears was to learn to do trackstands back in the day.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFtS4KYxz9k

Learning to balance at rest had the happy dividend of making it easier to ride and balance at nearly stationary speeds. It has the effect of "buying" me more time before I need to worry about the pedals coming 'round.. I find it easiest on my Fixie (fixed-gear bike that doesn't coast...the cranks are always in motion if the bike is moving) but it translated well to my bikes with freewheels so now I sometimes start from rest and then hold a track position till I get the second cleat into my other pedal before going on. In fact, it is easiest to learn how to do a trackstand if there is a hill.

A useful skill at traffic signals, but once earned me a ticket for running a stop sign though I was effectively stationary. It was issued by a newly minted police officer who firmly believed a single-track vehicle could not remain stationary or nearly so unless the rider put a foot down -- this despite acknowledging I had not moved even half a foot in the full minute he'd observed me. Ah, well.  ;)

Best,

Dan.

Trackstands, wheelies, riding no hands .... I've never mastered any of these. It's a wonder I manage to stay on my bike sometimes. ;-)

Dunroving

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #363 on: September 07, 2021, 01:03:59 PM »
Assuming balance is my limiting factor, and I can't balance below 3.1 mph, would a lower gear really help me? (thinking aloud here)? Is it that, with a lower gear, I'd be able to maintain 3.1 mph with a higher cadence (bearing in mind that, as you said, shorter cranks usually mean higher cadence)?

This might be a less general question than it seems. As in, it could depend on your likely use of the bike. Will it be a mountain bike and mainly ridden off-road? Will you be just doing day rides or loading it up for multi-day bikepacking trips? For example.

Whether you want a lower first gear isn't necessarily just about whether you could use it to pedal steadily up an extremely steep hill. For example, one reason why I like the extremely low first gear that I have (15-in) is that it allows me to negotiate very steep, very tight turns with more comfort. I might be travelling so slowly mid-turn that balancing requires a fair bit of skill and attention, but that is just for a few seconds and it's helpful that I can adjust that very low speed very easily even on a steep gradient.

That's just one example. And against gearing lower in first than your Litespeed is that the narrower Rohloff range means your top will be markedly lower even with the same first.

BTW, have you ordered a Thorn, or are you speccing a custom build from elsewhere? You might get better information if we knew more about its application. (Apologies if you explained and I missed it.)

All good questions. I didn't want to overload information in my first post, so didn't address these questions.

Your scenario of other circumstances where lower gear would help adds to my library of "if ... then" questions. (The central question being Why do I want low gears?)

In terms of how the bike will be used, it might help to give a bit of background:

Currently 64 years old, former athlete and PE teacher, didn't have a "real" bike until I was 40 years old, when I bought a second-hand classic Colnago Super Mexico. Absolutely loved riding 100's of miles each week on the roads of middle Tennessee with a wonderful cycle club. I continued to ride the same bike on roads of the southern States for 10 years, driving my bike to various challenges, mostly centuries of the Imperial kind (miles).

After those 10 years, I returned to the UK and realised I had no desire to replicate that mileage on British roads, for many reasons (safety being foremost). Thus the purchase of a second-hand Litespeed hardtail, and riding a mix of "off-road" (I wouldn't call it mountain biking - nothing really technical) and a bit of "on-road". Thus, I suppose my style would be what's now called "gravel riding". I've only ever done day rides, with some brief holidays that would involve multiple day rides from a fixed base. But the plan is for this to change.

I recently retired and want to make the most of having much more free time to ride. During lockdown, I bit the bullet and booked three cycling "package holidays" of various kinds, to figure out what kind of cyclist I want to be in retirement.

My main motivation for cycling is maintaining fitness - I love a decent hard ride. The other benefits (being outdoors, meeting people, etc.) are icing on the cake.

To get to the point of your question, (1) Although I might occasionally use it for mountain biking, I know from a recent MTB weekend that I don't want to do anything technical - life is too short to sit with a broken elbow in a cast for weeks on end (actual experience, 2 years ago), (2) would definitely continue to use it for day rides on quiet roads, canal towpaths, off-road tracks, etc., (3) hills will always be part of my rides - I get a kick out of getting up them, even though at the time I question my sanity), and (4) I want to do more multi-day rides, either fully supported ("package holidays") or self-planned. A typical day ride for me would be between 25 and 60 miles.

As two examples of my new direction of travel, I plan to do the Trans Cambrian Way next spring, and am seriously thinking of riding LEJOG next September, though it will be supported (won't be carrying all my gear).

I decided to buy my first "brand new" bike during lockdown, as a retirement present. I looked at various options, from off-the-shelf (Van Nicholas) to "semi off-the shelf" (Koga Signature), to "semi-bespoke" (Shand, Thorn), to "fully bespoke" (Quirk, Beaumont). In the end, I decided to go for fully bespoke, from Smithy Frameworks. Chris is a lifetime blacksmith who now builds a restricted range of frame types, all flat-bar types - so, Enduro, bikepacking, etc. My bike will be based on The Mule, which is a bikepacking/touring bike that can take racks and panniers or, of course, bikepacking bags. I don't see myself doing any of the ultra-distance exotic touring trips some people do, but I love to plan, and would enjoy longer, multi-day trips taking in various places on the way.

Maybe too much information, but hope that helps to clarify things!

[Last point: I take on board your caveat about "lower bottom end gear also means lower top end gear". I'm off for a 4-day trip on the Litespeed next week, and intend to really take nore of what speeds I do at bottom and top end!

Dunroving

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #364 on: September 07, 2021, 01:22:14 PM »
...
Assuming balance is my limiting factor, and I can't balance below 3.1 mph, would a lower gear really help me? (thinking aloud here)? Is it that, with a lower gear, I'd be able to maintain 3.1 mph with a higher cadence (bearing in mind that, as you said, shorter cranks usually mean higher cadence)?

That is exactly what I was thinking, I decided that 3.5 mph was my lowest speed without excessive over-steering to maintain directional and vertical stability, and I wanted to have a cadence of about 72 at my lowest speed of 3.5 mph.  So I spent some time with a calculator to figure out what chainring size I needed to match the 16T sprocket that came on the hub in first gear.

My thinking was a lower gear would not do me any good.  When hills get steep enough that I can't keep my heart rate in a desired range at that minimum speed needed for balance, I get off the bike and walk.

When you are trying to assess gearing, this website may be of assistance to you:
https://gear-calculator.com/

Here is my gearing with a 44T chainring for riding unladen near home:
https://gear-calculator.com/?GR=RLSH&KB=44&RZ=16&UF=2120&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=MPH&DV=teeth

With that you could do trial and error options to play with different sprockets and chainrings to see how that compares to your Litespeed gearing.

Brilliant - thanks for the links! I have been using Gates' Sanity Check modeller and Sheldon Brown's gearing modeller, but both of these are missing some options - for example, the Gates modeller doesn't go below a 19T sprocket.

Even with these helpful automatic modellers, my head is often spinning afterwards and I need to lie down for a bit.

Currently, if I replicate bottom gear from my Litespeed (which gives me 3.1 mph at 60 rpm), my top speed is 27.4 mph at 100 rpm (48/20 combination). If I drop below 3 mph at the bottom, say to  2.7 mph (48/23 combination), then at the top, spinning at 100 rpm, I'd be at 24 mph ... so I need to think carefully about this.

I'm off for 4 days of cycling next week, so will be paying very careful attention to my pedalling speeds!
« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 01:24:48 PM by Dunroving »

Moronic

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #365 on: September 07, 2021, 02:37:36 PM »

Maybe too much information, but hope that helps to clarify things!

[Last point: I take on board your caveat about "lower bottom end gear also means lower top end gear". I'm off for a 4-day trip on the Litespeed next week, and intend to really take nore of what speeds I do at bottom and top end!

Definitely not too much information. That's really helpful. And likely even more helpful for people who might advise you and actually live in the UK.  ;D

Yes, attending to how much gearing you want at the top will be helpful. When I was assessing that for my Mercury, I was worried I might spin out too soon if I had my wished-for great-granny gear at the bottom. So I worked out the top gear that would give me, and then what that would correspond to on the derailleur bike I was riding at the time. Then when riding the derailleur bike I tried restricting myself to that gear as a maximum, so I could get a feel for it. It was about three steps down from what was available from the derailleurs, and I was surprised to notice how rarely I needed those upper three gears and how gently I used them.


Moronic

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #366 on: September 07, 2021, 02:59:12 PM »
The bike you have ordered looks very special.

https://www.smithyframeworks.com/mule

To my eye the bike on the web page is about getting off the beaten track with a bit of a load on, but of course the tyres specced make a huge difference and if you fit lighter carcasses with less aggressive tread that bike would likely be nice for tarmac touring as well.

The thing about Rohloff is that you could easily purchase two chains and two sets of sprockets, so that you could have something like my 37-19 for exploring steep gravel tracks with a load on, and whatever you like for supported tours on good tarmac.

I'm sure a link to Andy B's Rohloff diary has been posted in this thread somewhere, and formconvenience here's another. There are some very helpful gear tables near the bottom that make comparisons easy.

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/ThornLivingWithARohloff.pdf

Dunroving

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #367 on: September 07, 2021, 03:27:38 PM »
The bike you have ordered looks very special.

https://www.smithyframeworks.com/mule

To my eye the bike on the web page is about getting off the beaten track with a bit of a load on, but of course the tyres specced make a huge difference and if you fit lighter carcasses with less aggressive tread that bike would likely be nice for tarmac touring as well.

The thing about Rohloff is that you could easily purchase two chains and two sets of sprockets, so that you could have something like my 37-19 for exploring steep gravel tracks with a load on, and whatever you like for supported tours on good tarmac.

I'm sure a link to Andy B's Rohloff diary has been posted in this thread somewhere, and formconvenience here's another. There are some very helpful gear tables near the bottom that make comparisons easy.

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/ThornLivingWithARohloff.pdf

Thanks for your last two comments.

Your thinking matches mine - the Mule is beefier than a "gravel" bike, so suitable for off-road, but Chris is making a couple of modifications so it's not a too-heavy off-road tank (e.g., tapered, slightly slimmer forks), for comfortable on-road touring. It will incorporate a lot of new experiences for me - through axle (front), disc brakes, IGH, twist shifter ... it will be a whole new world that I am looking forward to!

The rims will take a 42mm tyre up to a 2.6" tyre, though Chris showed me that even a 2.3" tyre looks pretty beefy on wider rims.

I like your idea about a 2-mode gearing set-up. I was originally leaning very heavily towards a Gates belt, but from discussions with Chris, and lots of online research (including, and especially, this thread!), I very quickly realised the flexibility of a chain set-up, as you have described. I can envisage trips that will be largely on-road for longer distances, and the narrower tyre set-up would go with a higher gear set up for this use.

I also like your idea of deliberately truncating my top gears during this next trip, to see how it feels. I have a converted 1989 Gary Fisher that is now a 1x shopping bike, used for transporting 25kg of groceries every couple of weeks, up a steep hill on the way home. I deliberately low-geared it, and find I run out of top gears even on a long, healthy flat ride, but that doesn't bother me because  the bike is intended for pootling with heavy loads, and the ability to haul groceries uphill. Having said that, I think the gear range on the shopping bike is a lot narrower than the Rohloff would give me.

I hadn't realised the "Living With A Rohloff" guide had gearing tables at the end. I've been reading it in a linear fashion, and am only at about p.10 of 48 pages. Maybe I should have looked at the Table of Contents first!

John Saxby

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #368 on: September 08, 2021, 02:01:14 AM »
Glad that you've found the Forum and this thread to be helpful, Dunroving. Forum members were a great source of information and experience for me when I investigated & then bought my Raven-mit-Rohloff nearly a decade ago.

On the matter of gearing:  I've found after eight seasons with my Rohloff that the core issue is the type of touring (or not) that one does, and then the terrain, thus:  loaded touring (cycle-camping) / credit-card touring / day rides; and across mainly flatlands, or lotsa serious hills.  The presence of one or both of "loaded touring" and "serious hills" dictates lower gearing.  The specific numbers will vary with one's fitness, style, and preferences.

(It bears emphasizing that no shame or wisdom attaches to any particular choice, if for no other reason that what I want to do today, I may not want or be able to do in ten years' time.)

I started with a 17 x 38 on my Rohloff (I wanted to use it for loaded touring, and I wanted a Chainglider.)  After a little less than a year's experience, I changed the chainring to a 36T, lowering the gearing by a little less than 5%. (I live in a neighbourhood with a lot of hills.)  That modest change felt more like double that amount -- it transformed my ability to deal with hills, and markedly increased the time spent in the Rohloff's upper register, whether riding with a full load or not.  I made sure to get a spare 36T ring, a nice alloy item by Origin8, sold by Rivendell Bike Works; and after that wears out, a 34T Sugino item which I'll probably need by then.

The thing is, with a Rohloff one can experiment with a modest outlay of money, time and effort.  Chain rings are not hugely expensive, and changing one is quick'n'easy with the Rohloff, no more than 15 minutes or so -- the most fiddly part is getting the chain length right.

Good luck with it all, and let us know how it plays out for you.


Dunroving

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #369 on: September 08, 2021, 07:58:36 AM »
Glad that you've found the Forum and this thread to be helpful, Dunroving. Forum members were a great source of information and experience for me when I investigated & then bought my Raven-mit-Rohloff nearly a decade ago.

On the matter of gearing:  I've found after eight seasons with my Rohloff that the core issue is the type of touring (or not) that one does, and then the terrain, thus:  loaded touring (cycle-camping) / credit-card touring / day rides; and across mainly flatlands, or lotsa serious hills.  The presence of one or both of "loaded touring" and "serious hills" dictates lower gearing.  The specific numbers will vary with one's fitness, style, and preferences.

(It bears emphasizing that no shame or wisdom attaches to any particular choice, if for no other reason that what I want to do today, I may not want or be able to do in ten years' time.)

I started with a 17 x 38 on my Rohloff (I wanted to use it for loaded touring, and I wanted a Chainglider.)  After a little less than a year's experience, I changed the chainring to a 36T, lowering the gearing by a little less than 5%. (I live in a neighbourhood with a lot of hills.)  That modest change felt more like double that amount -- it transformed my ability to deal with hills, and markedly increased the time spent in the Rohloff's upper register, whether riding with a full load or not.  I made sure to get a spare 36T ring, a nice alloy item by Origin8, sold by Rivendell Bike Works; and after that wears out, a 34T Sugino item which I'll probably need by then.

The thing is, with a Rohloff one can experiment with a modest outlay of money, time and effort.  Chain rings are not hugely expensive, and changing one is quick'n'easy with the Rohloff, no more than 15 minutes or so -- the most fiddly part is getting the chain length right.

Good luck with it all, and let us know how it plays out for you.

Thank you - you've described the situation perfectly. I doubt if I will do any loaded touring (cycle camping), though it's possible. (Hope that's not heresy in a Thorn forum!)

I plan to start off with short credit-card touring trips. There's a YHA in Stratford, for example, so my first trip will be there, YHA overnight, and ride back the next day. I have friends within 50-120 miles, too, and would like to plan cycle routes to them, with one or two B&B overnighters on the way. I could do shorter trips on the Litespeed while I wait for the Mule to be born.

I think I have the philosophy right, in terms of not being too bothered about losing a couple of upper end gears (compared to my Litespeed), I just need to get the maths right! As you say, though, it's easy enough to change gearing - in fact it sounds a lot easier than changing derailleur gearing.

Thanks for your help - I hope to post an update on how my gear choices go, but being a bespoke bike, I won't be seeing it until the spring.

John Saxby

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #370 on: September 08, 2021, 10:54:29 PM »
Glad those observations were helpful.

Quote
(Hope that's not heresy in a Thorn forum!)

As for orthodoxy on Wot's Virtuous: No worries. How we go touring is a matter of preference, but also available options.  Cycling through the Rockies & Cascadia in 2016, I spoke with a couple of guys on lightly-loaded bikes at a mid-morning stop on Mt Washington in the States.  I remarked on their bikes & gear.  They said, "We stay in hard accommodation only." "Oh," sez I, "and where do you find that in these parts?"  They said, "Here and there. Right now, we're 160 kms from our next shelter." 

All well and good if you can manage it, I guess.

But, on my mini-tour of the extended neighbourhood ten days ago, I passed no obvious motels, B & Bs, etc., in the back country, over 200kms of riding. (And only one café; tho' there is another that's open 3 days a week, just not when I was there.)

That's in less-populated regions of modest means in Eastern Ontario. In 2018 and 2019 I did two thoroughly enjoyable 5- and 6-day credit-card tours with a cycling buddy from Orillia, N of Toronto.  We rode to and from Lake Erie and Lake Huron in each of those years, staying in a variety of B & Bs, small hotels, and the like.

Moronic

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #371 on: September 09, 2021, 02:24:39 PM »
@dunroving if you are not carrying a camping load and given your athletic history you won't need my great granny gear.

Believe me the Rohloff climbs just as well as derailleurs and there is something exciting about its ability to select bottom gear in a way that is just like any other gear - whereas with derailleurs I was always aware that bottom gear was an extreme for the capability of the mechanism. I'll just leave you with that.

JohnR

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #372 on: September 09, 2021, 03:41:28 PM »
Believe me the Rohloff climbs just as well as derailleurs and there is something exciting about its ability to select bottom gear in a way that is just like any other gear - whereas with derailleurs I was always aware that bottom gear was an extreme for the capability of the mechanism. I'll just leave you with that.
And what's more it's possible to change gear on the Rohloff while going uphill without lots of gnashing of teeth or loss of momentum although it's necessary to do the shift when the chain isn't under load (ie cranks at top and bottom and perhaps do a fractional pause in pedalling).

John Saxby

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #373 on: September 10, 2021, 04:09:18 AM »
Yep, spot-on, John.  Did a lot of just that ten days ago. 👍

hendrich

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Re: What's your Rohloff combo (chainring, cog)?
« Reply #374 on: September 10, 2021, 01:28:26 PM »
The numbers on my Rohloff grip have worn to the point of being barely legible. This is, however, of little concern. I have developed a sort of innate sense of how far to twist the grip based on speed and perceived current and upcoming slopes. I often shift many gears without thought of the count, but instead based on how much "twist" is needed. That is a different thought process than dealing with front and rear derailleurs. I imagine the newer electronic derailleur shifting gadgetry is an attempt to mimic the twist. I also no longer think about what gear I should be in before coming to a stop.