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My Rohloff

14 different gear ratios

Rohloff Speedhub 500

The Rohloff Speedhub is a masterpiece. 14 gears each 13% apart give a gear ratio from 1:0.279 to 1:1.467. This gives the hub a larger range than a 3*9 derailleur (see the description on the Rohloff website in german) but there is no need to change both front chainrings and rear sprockets.
Another big advantage is that I can change gears while stopped so no need to think of changing to smaller gear ratio while braking. It is also possible to change gears under full load, giving a big advantage going uphill.
With a derailleur it is not possible to change gears under full load while going uphill while the Rohloff accepts that you pedal on at full power.

29 June 2003: The first experience

We do not have any mountains in the Netherlands and for real hills you should go to the south part of Limburg but in the Nijmegen area there are some nice hills. In between Plasmolen and Bisselt there is the "Zevendalse weg", a dead end street that continues as cycle track.
Immediately after buying the bike I decide to take the new toy out for a spin. Via Heumen, Overasselt, Grave and Cuijk I end up in Plasmolen. This is bad for my weight ... After pancakes with cheese, tomato and onions I'm back on the bike. Relaxed after the first 35 kilometers I start of again, first get my legs back in motion and then uphill.

The road surface is bad and there is a lot of sand and pebbles on the asphalt but this is cycling! Last week I did this same hill (twice) with the same bike but then equipped with 2*9 derailleurs (forgot to make a note of the ratio). At that time I was just able to get to the top but now it is a different story. I lost grip twice due to the amount of power and at the top I discover I am stil in third gear, so it can even go a lot steeper - or a bit slower on a longer track uphill.
And this without any real condition or 'recumbent muscles'.

After a detour in the direction of Groesbeek the road goes downhill after "jachtslot de Mookerhei". Up to 50 km/h I still apply power to my pedals and it is even going faster without doing anything, thanks to the Shimano XT disc brakes a controlled stop ends the fun in a controlled way.

A marvelous experience. I had my doubts for an hour selecting between a brand new recumbent with 2*9 LX or the same model, used, with Rohloff Speedhub for almost the same price. Looking back at my recent experience I do not understand why I seriously thought of the 2*9 LX. The whole set of chainrings and derailleurs is sensitive for dirt and need regular maintenance. The complete enclosed Speedhub is almost maintenance free and never looses its proper adjustment due to the fact that the clicks are defined within the hub and not in the lever.