Why do you prefer a derailleur vs IGH (Internally Geared Hub)?

AlexZ

New Member
After watching more than 100 of your videos and reading many reviews, I have come to the conclusion that you seem to prefer Ebikes with a derailleur gearing system, instead of an IGH (Internally Geared Hub). If so, why is that?

Correct me if I'm wrong, besides price, you mention that it's because of the extra unsprung weight a Nuvinci N380 or Rohloff E-14 hub adds to the rear wheel. I get that. However, wouldn't that mostly not matter on non-suspended rear wheels? Most E-bikes don't have suspended rear wheels, unless you pay premium prices. Although, even if the rear wheel is suspended with shocks, wouldn't an IGH be more reliable (maybe add a Gates Carbon Belt Drive while you're at it)? Wouldn't this be better for E-bike commuter applications because of the extra reliability? Non-E-bike enthusiasts don't want to have to become a mechanic to commute on an E-bike. Most people, when they wake up late for work, don't want to have to perform maintenance before they leave. They just want it to work, and go. Lastly, if you fall off the bike or tip it over, you want it to continue to function properly, not have to worry about if the derailer becomes bent and you can't fix it; now you're stranded. These mechanical issues don't happen to motorcycles or cars nearly as often, shouldn't E-bikes be the same way? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Your new fan,

-Alex
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
IGHs and Gates Carbon Belt Drive break too; there are reports on such occurrences from trusted members of these Forums. That kind of drive-train is expensive and requires qualified personnel to maintain and repair it.

The derailleur system is far more inexpensive, any mechanic or the user can maintain and repair it, the parts are readily available.
 

sc00ter

Active Member
I know 2 people with analog pedal bikes with a Gates belt and internal geared hub that have had issues. These are commuter bicycles that are looked after. One had the drive gear come loose on the hub (had to wait forever for parts) and the other person had the belt slowly slide off the pulleys. Both of them went back to good old reliable derailleurs. Now I've had several analog bikes with Nexus hubs and they've been bullet proof. Both chain drive. But like mentioned above, pretty much anyone can work on derailleurs.
 

smorgasbord

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Except for the very expensive Rohloff, IGH's are noticeably less efficient. That means less range.
Except for the very expensive Rohloff, IGH's don't have the same gear ratio spread that you can get in external 11-speed and 12-speed gearing from Shimano and Sram.

When something does go wrong mechanically, a home mechanic can fix an external setup - all IGH's require specialized tools and knowledge.

Finally, external setups are less expensive.
 

AlanDB

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Iowa
I am sure all of that is correct ... but ... I love my Nexus 8 IGH on my Gazelle and it seems to be tuned very nicely with the Bosch Performance line motor. I wouldn't consider going back to a derailleur. That's just my opinion, ymmv.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
I have a Rohloff IGH. All I can say is that over the last two years the only maintenance I have done on the hub is to replace the hub oil (roughly once a year). I ride on atrocious roads in often heinous conditions. For me at least it has proven an awesome choice.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
After watching more than 100 of your videos and reading many reviews, I have come to the conclusion that you seem to prefer Ebikes with a derailleur gearing system, instead of an IGH (Internally Geared Hub). If so, why is that?

Correct me if I'm wrong, besides price, you mention that it's because of the extra unsprung weight a Nuvinci N380 or Rohloff E-14 hub adds to the rear wheel. I get that. However, wouldn't that mostly not matter on non-suspended rear wheels? Most E-bikes don't have suspended rear wheels, unless you pay premium prices. Although, even if the rear wheel is suspended with shocks, wouldn't an IGH be more reliable (maybe add a Gates Carbon Belt Drive while you're at it)? Wouldn't this be better for E-bike commuter applications because of the extra reliability? Non-E-bike enthusiasts don't want to have to become a mechanic to commute on an E-bike. Most people, when they wake up late for work, don't want to have to perform maintenance before they leave. They just want it to work, and go. Lastly, if you fall off the bike or tip it over, you want it to continue to function properly, not have to worry about if the derailer becomes bent and you can't fix it; now you're stranded. These mechanical issues don't happen to motorcycles or cars nearly as often, shouldn't E-bikes be the same way? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Your new fan,

-Alex
A top quality deraileur like the Deore XT is a pleasure to use. It is quick and responsive and light and simple and efficient and practical and inexpensive and sporty. If you use Squirt or a good wax based lube it need not be messy.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
These break, too.

Yes they do. But everything breaks.

I personally know folks who have 100k+ miles on their Rohloff hubs, and they have outlasted several bikes. Actually I know and have met more people who've had that kind of experience with a Rohloff than I know (through this board) people who've had problems with them. Although I think that says more about how odd my friends are than anything about IGHs.

While the Rohloff+Belt Drive system really shines for long-distance bicycle travel, I don't think it is universally applicable. If you are a mountain biker riding janky technical trails (where you need to shift frequently at low speeds) an IGH will just get in the way (although the fact that there is no chain and sprocket set to foul with mud or snow is nice, and also there is no derailleur hanger to snap off). If you are a recreational rider on mostly paved roads or an urban commuter I don't really see how the added weight and cost of a Rohloff really benefits you. In those contexts derailleur and chain maintenance (and repairs) really aren't that difficult (much easier than along a desolate and muddy road at dusk).

On the other hand, the vast majority of "dutch bikes" and Japanese "mamarachis" seem to use internally geared hubs.
 

lewishill

New Member
I have Nexus on my e-bike and I am happy with it. Sure It has limited range compared to similar priced derailleur but I am using it for commuting and I have a powerful mid-drive motor on my Ariel M-Class so I don't mind having less range. Using IGH is very convenient and I don't worry of bending the derailleur especially this bike has a very low height.
If I was looking for more sporty e-bike or mtb then sure I will go with derailleurs.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
These break, too.
I think I got that message from you the first time....and the second....and the third.

I am not so sure I would refer to any of the problems I have had or read about as "breaking", which implies a catastrophic failure requiring wholesale replacement. I think using the word break is an exaggeration.

Rohloffs have a well deserved reputation for longevity and durability. There are Rohloff groups on FB and on other web forums.

As one who owns two of them and has had an issue with one, and has been paying attention to this and other forums where issues are highlighted, I can say that, yes they have problems, but so much less frequently than derailleur systems.

My issue was a failed oil seal, hardly a catastrophic "break" Granted it had to be shipped out to an authorized service facility for repair as it was still under warranty. However there are several capable mechanics in our town with experience on Rohloffs. After the warranty expires, they can get parts and do the work here in our small city. Work that historically will likely not even materialize.

Derailleurs, chains and cassettes are all wear parts that, if ridden regularly, require regular cleaning and lubrication at least weekly, if not every other ride. On an ebike, you are lucky to get more than 1,000 miles on a chain and 2500 miles on a cassette, almost $250 worth of parts. They have all the benefits detailed by others, they also have their downsides as well.

Stefan, your comments about Rohloffs sound suspiciously like someone trying to justify his decision not to own one.

I suggest people who want to learn more about Rohloff hubs, take some time to read what people, like Mr. Coffee who have owned and ridden with one for years have to say.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Stefan, your comments about Rohloffs sound suspiciously like someone trying to justify his decision not to own one.
You are not the only Forum user who experienced trouble with the Rohloff, Richard. Can remember our friend who was waiting for repair of his Rohloff for two months or so? Remember the broken Gates Carbon Belt, too?
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
The other user with the repair on his Rohloff decided to live with the leak until the summer was over. He simply leans to bike over to the right when he parks it to avoid any more oil drips.

Rohloff says that the gear can survive just fine on about 25% of the oil that is specified, the rest of the oil is there mostly for sound dampening.

As to the broken carbon belt, if you are talking about David Berry, his belt broke after almost 15,000 km. That is the mileage for at least 5 chains, three cassettes and two front chain rings on an ebike. The lesson learned is to change out for a new belt at 10,000 km (6,000 miles). A new belt costs around $75 USD.

This article has some very extensive data about the durability of Gates Carbon Fiber belts on various drive systems:


Here is a fair and objective look at the pros and cons of the Rohloff hub: