I have been a fan of the internal drivetrain for a while. This started quite a few years ago with the purchase of a Surly Orge built up with a Rohloff 14 speed hub. I then bought an expedition/touring bike from Pilot. The titanium Vamos. This was equipped with the Pinion P.18 gearbox and Gates belt drive. It was an amazing bike and an amazing drivetrain. But it was the wrong type of bike for me at that time. I have built up many bikes and love the simplicity of cycling. I wanted to keep it that way so the bikes I built up utilised friction shifters. They are amazing and so simple, so easy to fix and just so reliable in general. I am a firm believer that a lot of tech especially in the cycling arena gets made and marketed and is of no proper use for the real cyclist. Lightweight, throwaway tech is something I steer clear of. I will not be buying electronic shifting even if the price comes right down. For one if it breaks it can’t be fixed and two I don’t want another gadget that needs charging! It just adds another thing to think about on top of everything else you have going on in life.
Video of the bike here: https://youtu.be/wAuaOn15joI
So anyway, I then built up a Tout Terrain Silkroad with Rohloff and I was after a MTB bike too. But I wanted complete reliability. Although Rohloff were originally made for MTB bikes the weight is in the rear wheel so it is not ideal. After my experience with Pinion I knew this was where I wanted to go for the MTB bike. So I went for the Tout Terrain Outback, this is a hardtail 29er.
I live in a house that is short of outdoor space and as I ride everyday my bikes take a lot of hammer and need to be maintained regularly. This is where the beauty of the Rohloff or Pinion shines, especially if it is paired with the Gates belt drive. You just need to hose it down and forget about it. You don’t need to oil a chain, there is no messing around with cables, quarter turn this way, quarter turn that way. The gearboxes just work.
People that have a go on a twist shift claim that you need to stop pedalling to shift gear, a bit of an exaggeration. You do have to lift the pressure off slightly but you soon get the hang of it and quick shifts ate no problem. One big advantage is if you stop on a big off road hill either by obstacle or gradient you can change gear stationary and the bike is then just in that gear, no turning pedals for it to move gear is required. This is also useful if you had to stop unexpectedly at a junction with a loaded touring bike.
A simple oil change is required every year or 5000km for the Rohloff and every 10000km for the Pinion! These gearboxes have been running on peoples bikes around the world for hundreds of thousands of miles! They just last, and apparently I have heard people state that they get slicker and smoother with age.
If you really do want to replace the twist shift there are many different shifters and adapters that can be used. Pilot and Co-Motion have created twist shifters for drop handlebars. Cinq have created brifters in conjunction with TRP for drop bars and they have also make trigger shifters for flatbars.
The ease of maintenance and the gear range are just amazing features that any cyclist that just wants to ride their bike with minimum fuss would really appreciate. It is just a shame that we get bombarded with advertisements of products that are inferior for a lot or people and purposes, and probably even worse, we fall for it!!
You can see some videos of the Rohloff and Pinion below.