Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Halifax
I have been reading more about Rohloff to get myself better educated and came across this review of RM Homage with Rohloff from ebike-mtb, which was less than flattering.

However, the relatively slow shifting interrupts power transfer, which makes the motor cut out. Because of this, you quickly lose momentum on steep climbs and annoyingly, often have to shift down even further. The shifting also feels rough and loud and there is no haptic feedback from the shifter. The ability to shift several gears at once is great but doing so takes even more time. For better shifting performance we’d actually recommend the more affordable touring version with a Shimano SLX derailleur, even if it means having to do without the belt drive.

Thanks for this note. I do have a few comments.

The review website/magazine is specifically dedicated to E-MTB's and as a result, the editors/testers are very experienced riders who can identify the smallest nuances and are attuned to a certain level of riding dynamics that most common people are not. The bike - Homage is a great fire trail bike but not a mountain bike. It is too heavy for that.

1617046009079.png


MTB's do require swift shifting and that is why most MTB's still come with XT or XTR derailleurs but the riding characteristics are different for the urban environment.

Secondly, Rohloff, whether it is manual or electronic, does require you to pause for a split second and most riders get used to this. I have ridden my R-M Delite Rohloff for several thousand miles and I am sure @PDB415 is used to regular bike with Rohloff as well.

There is another thing you may not be aware of. The magazine rated Specialized Levo as their top choice /Editor's choice. There is no doubt it handles fantastic but the fact that Specialized has a strong marketing department helps mask the fact that Brose motors do not have shift detection and the shifts are far clunkier than Bosch systems which do have a decent level of shift detection (Actually, it was really good on the Gen 2 systems).

So, if you ride a bike with motors like Shimano or Brose or Yamaha and with a derailleur, and you do serious mountain biking, you will see the shifts are still clunky. Here is a real-world experience.

"Derailleurs on eMtbs take a real beating... noisy impact gear changes, excessive wear to chains and rings. The extra power from the electric motor (70-100Nm torque) does cause wear and damage at a much higher rate than you would hope or expect on your eMtb (eBike). I converted my new 2019 Specialized Turbo Levo eMtb from a derailleur drivetrain to an A12 Thru-axle Rohloff Speedhub (geared hub), and what started out as a personal project simply to make my bike much more enjoyable to ride (and minimise repairs and maintenance), I also found an unexpected amount of interest to do the same conversion from other eBikers who are having serious derailleur issues and breakages. The immediate interest was unexpected, the reasons why were not. Very happy with my new Specialized Levo-Rohloff eBike!"

The owner has documented his build extensively. In short, I would recommend you rent a Shimano or Brose (specialized E-bike) for a day or two and see how the shifts are.
You will come to appreciate the shifting mechanism on Bosch and even more so with Rohloff E-14.


I recommend anyone to checkout the comments on that YT video. Here is an example:

1617047328788.png
 
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Marrduk24

Active Member
Thanks Ravi. Very helpful to hear your thoughts.

Largely in line with my hypothesis. Which is that all of these magazines are assessing with a certain audience, and therefore a specific use case, in mind. I am sure if a touring cycling magazine or a road cycling magazine or a commuting cycling magazine reviewed the same bike, results would be different.

I continue to believe that this would be a good fit for me and hope to be able to test a RM bike with E14 on it soon.
 

PDB415

Member
I have been reading more about Rohloff to get myself better educated and came across this review of RM Homage with Rohloff from ebike-mtb, which was less than flattering.

Ravi and @PDB415 what’s your experience been like?



However, the relatively slow shifting interrupts power transfer, which makes the motor cut out. Because of this, you quickly lose momentum on steep climbs and annoyingly, often have to shift down even further. The shifting also feels rough and loud and there is no haptic feedback from the shifter. The ability to shift several gears at once is great but doing so takes even more time. For better shifting performance we’d actually recommend the more affordable touring version with a Shimano SLX derailleur, even if it means having to do without the belt drive.
I see what they are saying based on what you quoted. On a mountain bike going up some technical trail you really do not want to have to shift to an easier gear when you are bogged down. Just because the bosch motor cuts out momentarily does not mean the force you are applying to the pedal trying to get up a steep trail cuts out. I have a twist shift Rohloff on my hard tail mountain bike and the same rule as the E14 applies; be in the easier gear before you need it. This is especially true if you are low on momentum and really pushing the pedals.

Based on my experience with the electronic and non electronic Rohloff hubs you are not going shift to an easier gear while bogged down with torque on the pedals. It is a terrible feeling. The key is to not get in to them which takes practice and experience with the hub.

On my first ride I had a steep hill over a mile long on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was inexperienced with the Zen Diamond and I bogged down in a low assist level. The E14 could not shift as I was standing on the pedals. I had to stop and do an old school "S" turn on the street to gain speed. Now I would have cranked the assist up and been in a medium gear and NEVER LOSE MOMENTUM as that is the enemy in my opinion.

I have been nothing but extremely satisfied with the E14 on the Diamond. IT has been great. People say the Rohloff's gear ratio makes for a great hill climber which is true but it also decimates the flat stretches of your ride. I did a 25 mile loop on Saturday in San Francisco and the bike competently handles hills but it slays the straight aways.

One of the big questions Ravi made me answer was what kind of riding do I do and in what conditions. Answer that before you decide what bike to get.

PS, Under the torque conditions of real mountain biking, I bet the Rohloff/gates belt combo lasts way longer and with less maintenance than whatever the bike reviewer preferred.
Edit: spelling
 

PDB415

Member
One more thing to add here. A few people have reached out to me regarding the Zen Diamond and I will reiterate what I have been saying privately. This is a very stable and smooth bike. I do most of my riding in an urban environment and there are some streets where my ability to get the Zen Diamond up to speed is a matter of life and death. Anyone who bikes in San Francisco or NYC (or any large American city) knows what I am talking about. There are parts of the city where I have walked my bike up a hill on the sidewalk because I had no hope of getting up to speed and being safe. The Diamond does not have that problem.
There is a learning curve on the Rohloff hub, but there is a learning curve on everything.

When I first started riding the Diamond I kept it in the lowest assist mode until I was more comfortable. There are four assist levels and I had to learn to use them as appropriate which I am still dialing in. Overall the Zen Diamond compares very favorably to an $11k offering from a larger company.

The bike is a blast to ride and I highly recommend it to any city rider or commuter.
 

Marrduk24

Active Member
@PDB415 fantastic feedback.

climbing a technical trail is certainly not my use case. I am interested in E14 primarily because I think in start-stop NYC it could be a game changer. So often I find that I have to stop abruptly at a light (Eg someone jumped in front of me) and I didn’t have the opportunity to downshift.

If I understood the limitation, here is the scenario (this I believe applies not just to Rohloff but all hub gears)
- one is going up a steep hill and doesn’t have enough momentum
- one is pressing hard on the pedal just to be able to crawl
- if in that situation if you try and downshift, you won’t be able to because there is pressure on the pedal
- so only way to let the pressure off the pedal would be to either dismount or as you described, do a “S” turn

Does that sound right?

while not an ebike, I have alifine hub drive on my non electric bike and I don’t recall this. But then my use case is very different.
 
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PDB415

Member
One more thing to add here. A few people have reached out to me regarding the Zen Diamond and I will reiterate what I have been saying privately. This is a very stable and smooth bike. I do most of my riding in an urban environment and there are some streets where my ability to get the Zen Diamond up to speed is a matter of life and death. Anyone who bikes in San Francisco or NYC (or any large American city) knows what I am talking about. There are parts of the city where I have walked my bike up a hill on the sidewalk because I had no hope of getting up to speed and being safe. The Diamond does not have that problem.
There is a learning curve on the Rohloff hub, but there is a learning curve on everything.

When I first started riding the Diamond I kept it in the lowest assist mode until I was more comfortable. There are four assist levels and I had to learn to use them as appropriate which I am still dialing in. Overall the Zen Diamond compares very favorably to an $11k offering from a larger company.

The bike is a blast to ride and I highly recommend it to any city rider or commuter.
@PDB415 fantastic feedback.

climbing a technical trail is certainly not my use case. I am interested in E14 primarily because I think in start-stop NYC it could be a game changer. So often I find that I have to stop abruptly at a light (Eg someone jumped in front of me) and I didn’t have the opportunity to downshift.

If I understood the limitation, here is the scenario (this I believe applies not just to Rohloff but all hub gears)
- one is going up a steep hill and doesn’t have enough momentum
- one is pressing hard on the pedal just to be able to crawl
- if in that situation if you try and downshift, you won’t be able to because there is pressure on the pedal
- so only way to let the pressure off the pedal would be to either dismount or as you described, do a “S” turn

Does that sound right?

while not an ebike, I have alifine hub drive on my non electric bike and I don’t recall this. But then my use case is very different.
That sounds about right. Based on how the rohloff shifts it really does not like to shift under torque.
My last road bike had a lower end Shimano gear set and I couldn’t shift it under torque either (without grinding) so I don’t think it’s 100% fair to single out rohloff for an issue that is uniform across the industry. Even in a car you have to engage the clutch which disengages the torque coming from the car’s engine. Imagine being in a heavy vehicle in fifth gear and trying to accelerate from a stop going uphill then trying to put it in third while doing half a mile an hour. If you were in an older car you are going to back in to the car behind you due to gravity if you don’t press the brake. You only have two feet so now there is no gas. This is not rohloff’s fault either.
I go out with coworkers who are much better and stronger mountain bike riders. On some of the terrain I end up pushing my mountain bike up the last third of the trail. In every case it is user error. I was in the wrong gear or I waited too long to shift or I “ran out of gas”. Either way it was not my hub’s fault.
In the case of the review you posted that might be a case of a specialized mountain bike rider making some new different technology look bad. He is a skilled enough rider that he can take any system and shred it to pieces. He could make a Specialized eBike look bad or a high end Shimano look bad. He could make me look terrible trying to keep up with him.

None of this means the Rohloff is inferior or flawed. It means that person with his use case found it wanting. in your case, like mine, you might be flying down the street and have to emergency brake due to a car driver not seeing you, then the light turns red. With the E14 the hub waits a second or three and shifts to 5th gear and you are ready to go when the light changes. It does all of this with no input from you.
If you wanted to get in to hard core mountain biking I guarantee with practice you could get a rohloff eBike and tear the mountain to pieces. There is a small learning curve but not a hard one.
When you do your test ride please come back and let us know what you liked and disliked. Best of luck.
 

Marrduk24

Active Member
n your case, like mine, you might be flying down the street and have to emergency brake due to a car driver not seeing you, then the light turns red. With the E14 the hub waits a second or three and shifts to 5th gear and you are ready to go when the light changes. It does all of this with no input from you.
If you wanted to get in to hard core mountain biking I guarantee with practice you could get a rohloff eBike and tear the mountain to pieces. There is a small learning curve but not a hard one.
When you do your test ride please come back and let us know what you liked and disliked. Best of luck.
Agree. And this is the thing that gets me excited.

Your car analogy is a really interesting & relevant one. I learnt driving on a 2000 lbs/ 50 bhp/ 1100 cc stick shift car. If you ever lost momentum on a steep hill, sometimes it got pretty dangerous. You actually had to let the car roll back to somewhat of a flat spot, then start the car, press brake hard with your right foot while keeping clutch pressed with your left, do a quick dance between brake and accelerator with your right foot until the car got going 😂
 

Marrduk24

Active Member
Ravi,
Every time I speak to you, I learn something new and after every conversation I realize how much thought has gone into the design decisions. Not just the big decisions (Eg motor, battery, drivetrain) but small decisions as well (e.g stem).
Whenever you think the design is finalized, it would be great to both see the final component list as well as hear some sort of narrative around what decisions did you make and why. Maybe you could do a video review :)
 

Johnny

Well-Known Member
@Ravi Kempaiah

You brought a very nice high quality Rohloff/mid drive combo at a very good price point and weight. Imo Rohloff + belt makes these bikes very versatile especially for harsher climates. They are almost maintenance free.

I am very happy to see that with this model , you are getting the attention you deserve.

As a side note, rohloff may not be the best choice for technical climbs or serious mtb. However I don't think people are buying this system for that purpose anyways. Right now I don't think there is a "one does it all" system out there.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Halifax
Early adopters and evangelists continue to support the Zen venture and we were fortunate enough to meet with another gentleman who picked up his personal Samurai and he was very impressed by the ride quality.
Thanks to Paul and everyone on the team for making this happen.

Zen_Samurai_Doc.PNG
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
I do most of my riding in an urban environment and there are some streets where my ability to get the Zen Diamond up to speed is a matter of life and death. Anyone who bikes in San Francisco or NYC (or any large American city) knows what I am talking about. There are parts of the city where I have walked my bike up a hill on the sidewalk because I had no hope of getting up to speed and being safe.
The number of people who throw themselves in the middle of the bike line on Market drives me crazy. Quick reaction is essential.

I have an IGH + Gates belt and still haven't gotten fully accustomed to doing the most optimal shifting. Because my IGH is limited (Shimano 5 speed), any loss of momentum is critical. There are still hills where I prefer to walk my bike. I'd love to one day try a rohloff equipped bike in the hills of SF :)
 

PDB415

Member
The number of people who throw themselves in the middle of the bike line on Market drives me crazy. Quick reaction is essential.

I have an IGH + Gates belt and still haven't gotten fully accustomed to doing the most optimal shifting. Because my IGH is limited (Shimano 5 speed), any loss of momentum is critical. There are still hills where I prefer to walk my bike. I'd love to one day try a rohloff equipped bike in the hills of SF :)
The Rohloff's huge gear spread makes short work of most hills. I would say that once you lose momentum up a steep hill on a heavy bike you are hosed and the only surefire way out would be a throttle button. 😆
 

Achterbahn

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
The Rohloff's huge gear spread makes short work of most hills. I would say that once you lose momentum up a steep hill on a heavy bike you are hosed and the only surefire way out would be a throttle button. 😆
One of these days I'll cross the bridge and ride to Sausalito (with a full battery of course!) to see how the Current handles it.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Halifax
After our initial run, based on feedback from Paul, me, and expert riders such as yourself, we made some subtle changes to the frame that enhances the overall quality.
The challenge of making bikes in the middle of the pandemic is that factories are overloaded with orders and making small quantities of bikes for testing means the factories have to unload their tooling and equip a few stations with new tools that are specific for just this frame. This is a tremendous challenge for them because other manufacturers are willing to pay top dollar to keep their bikes in continuous production.

We will have very limited bikes this year but about 300 frames are arriving by the beginning of 2022. All these frames are belt compatible, dual battery, Bosch Gen 4 frames!
 

lipjim

New Member
After our initial run, based on feedback from Paul, me, and expert riders such as yourself, we made some subtle changes to the frame that enhances the overall quality.
The challenge of making bikes in the middle of the pandemic is that factories are overloaded with orders and making small quantities of bikes for testing means the factories have to unload their tooling and equip a few stations with new tools that are specific for just this frame. This is a tremendous challenge for them because other manufacturers are willing to pay top dollar to keep their bikes in continuous production.

We will have very limited bikes this year but about 300 frames are arriving by the beginning of 2022. All these frames are belt compatible, dual battery, Bosch Gen 4 frames!
Let me know when we can order!
 

PDB415

Member
After our initial run, based on feedback from Paul, me, and expert riders such as yourself, we made some subtle changes to the frame that enhances the overall quality.
The challenge of making bikes in the middle of the pandemic is that factories are overloaded with orders and making small quantities of bikes for testing means the factories have to unload their tooling and equip a few stations with new tools that are specific for just this frame. This is a tremendous challenge for them because other manufacturers are willing to pay top dollar to keep their bikes in continuous production.

We will have very limited bikes this year but about 300 frames are arriving by the beginning of 2022. All these frames are belt compatible, dual battery, Bosch Gen 4 frames!
Keep us informed. I would love to see how it rides. Since I have bought the Diamond I have transferred closer to home and now ride every day. The bike has been absolutely great.
when do you think you will have one of the new frames in your shop?
 
@lipjim and @PDB415 ,

Many thanks for your support. The last 12 months were tough.
Now, I am actually full-time involved in scaling up Zen E-bikes and our team is dedicated to bringing high-quality bikes to the market.
Moving forward, you will see an updated website, lots of activity, and new innovation in this space.
Ravi, this is exciting news and thanks for the heads up.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Halifax
Thanks, Guys!
As soon as the travel to Asis eased up, I am spending a few weeks visiting China and Taiwan. Right now, because of the Delta variant, there are still some restrictions.
You will see first-hand reports from Asia with pictures and videos.
Please let me know if you would be interested in seeing the factory tour of the following suppliers. It will take some time to arrange the logistics to travel to all these suppliers but if you guys are keen on any suppliers, we can prioritize that.
  1. Bafang
  2. Tektro
  3. King Meter
  4. Shimano
  5. Rockshox/ Sram
  6. Fox
  7. Manitou
  8. Kenda
  9. Dengfu
  10. Tektro
  11. Ergon
  12. A bunch of battery makers in China that supply batteries to a whole host of E-bike companies etc.