Rohloff E-14, Gear Freewheeling

Dionigi

Well-Known Member
#1
I’m not sure if I have ever felt as unsafe on a bicycle as I do on my Bosch Performance CX/Rohloff E-14 ebike.

A little history: For the first 400 miles the E-14 powertrain worked well, although stiff. Since then there had been a series of malfunctions that has brought to the surface the warts of a first generation electronic control system partnered with a 25 year old gearbox design. A gearbox that was originally designed for an unassisted pedal powered touring bicycle.

The major issue is gear freewheeling. By freewheeling I mean when engaged in any gear then shifting down one gear the pedals spin with no power and no gear engagement. An incredible feeling of helplessness on the road.

There are other minor issues that add to an insecurity in the system, like if you roll the bike backward unpowered the system will power up. But only in the lower 7 gears and not in the top 7 gears.

From what I can see this is Rohloff’s first venture into electronics and it looks like they hired a freshly minted EE out of Strasbourg State Polytechnic to design the control system. This type of electromechanical interface failure was common in the 1970s but unacceptable today.

Bosch and Reise and Müller should have known better. The bottom line is the Rohloff E-14 and Bosch Performance motor is a stopgap for future electric bicycle power and control systems. And I should have known better.

On the positive side I have a very proactive and responsive bike shop dealer and 8 months to have these issues resolved. Hopefully it is just a mechanical failed Rohloff Speed Hub and the electronics can be stabilized by firmware.
 
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PBVideo

New Member
#2
I experienced some of these same issues, and firmware updates have addressed many of my problems with the E-14 over the last 6 months. My biggest obstacle when I took delivery of my Delite E-14 was learning how to adapt to the E-14's limitations when trying to shift along with the very weak firmware that wasn't quite ready for primetime. For me, I find that my aggressive shifting often times fails (frustrating for me) due to applying too much power to the pedals and not being patient. I have to remind myself often that the system isn't "automatic" shifting system, but rather a simple motor that replaces the manual crank. That said, I understand about the "unsafe" feeling as it took quite some time for R&M to figure out how to work with the CX to "cut power" to the motor so the system can smoothly shift (and for me to get comfortable with the system). I'm feeling much better about the E-14 after some of the latest updates and practice over the past 1200 miles. After having a Nuvinci system, I can honestly say the Rohloff E-14 works much better for my riding.

Let's hope Rohloff and R&M keep working on making the system even better!
 

Dionigi

Well-Known Member
#3
Agree it is a learning process and I understand the system limitations and felt comfortable with gear shifting at appropriate times. But this hub has failed. I recalibrated the hub a few times with some success but the problem continues to grow. I have both the latest firmware for the hub and motor. One possible source of the hub issue is belt tension. I took the bike in for a tuneup at an authorized Riese and Müller dealer and they thighten the belt and changed the eMTB power mode to Sport. After this the problems started. Everyone talks about this hub lasting 300,000km but this is a marketing bullet point, if you look at touring bike forums there are numerous issues with the Rohloff not staying in gear.
 

GregTR

New Member
#4
The only two issues I have experienced in my first 1,000 miles so far was:
1) non-shift due to pedal pressure. Even though the motor assist is cut back automatically I can put enough manual power on the powertrain to not allow the shift to occur. This is a learning curve thing coming from conventional derailleurs, however it would not be any different with a manual shifter either. I'm starting to get better at it.
2) getting stuck in a high/wrong gear at stops if the stop is not long enough for the auto reset to kick in. This has happened quite often where I'd be stuck in mid-shift due to stopping just long enough to initiate the auto down shift sequence but not long enough for it to complete. I am more active about shifting down on my own and rely less on the auto downshift feature in traffic where I could start moving at a moment's notice.

Overall I find the E-14 to be a really solid and fantastic system, I have not experienced any freewheeling or other issues with it.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
#5
No issues here but I was riding a manually shifted Rohloff before riding the E14. As such I already had well developed muscle memory doing a momentary pause in my pedal effort between shifts. I noticed the first ride on the e14 that the engineered 180 ms pause in motor power did not do the full job needed to create a smooth and near silent shift from gear to gear. I immediately brought my experience to bear and resumed a momentary slacking of effort at the high/low pedal position when shifting. After that the E14 has been smooth as silk and without issue. Any excess noise or skipping has been caused by being over eager on the pedals and pushing before the shift has been completed. It is a subtle timing thing that Rohloffs need whether shifted manually or with the e14. I have also experienced what GregTR indicated with not waiting long enough at a stop for the auto-downshift to complete. No freewheel issues to date.