Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Servicing The Can-O-Gears

The Rohloff Hub Oil Service Kit
Most of you out there probably do not own now, or have ever owned in the past, a Rohloff 14 speed "Speed Hub". Since I have one and had to service it, I thought I'd share the process. This "can-o-gears" is pretty low maintenance, but what maintenance is required is super important.

If you can imagine all the gears, pawls, bearings, bushings, and other moving bits that having 14 internal gears requires, then it doesn't take long to realize that proper lubrication is paramount to the survival of the hub. And at around $1800,00 a pop, this is something you don't just put off. Maintenance is required and doing it makes the hub last a good long time. I don't want to find out what happens if you skip maintaining this hub.

I knew this maintenance was in my future, so I looked up what the servicing interval was, and what the suggestions for maintenance were, from the Rohloff site. Turns out that they recommend servicing the hub once a year, or at least at every 5,000Km intervals. Okay, I had no idea if this maintenance had ever been done, much less the last time it may have happened with my hub. So, I made the call to go ahead and do it now, before Winter comes, and just plan on taking this schedule Rohloff suggests into the future from this point on.

Since this was my first rodeo with servicing the Speedhub, I ordered the Speedhub Oil Change Kit. Then I watched the video on Rohloff's site which shows the procedure. It's fairly simple, but I will document it here. the Oil Change Kit comes with a cleaning oil, regular Rohloff Speedhub oil, a syringe, and a new drain plug. Instructions also come with the kit.

Removing the old drain plug with a 3mm Allen key.
First, you assemble the syringe and draw up the contents of the Cleaning oil. Then you remove the 3mm drain plug and set that aside.

The end of the hose for the syringe already has a thread-able end which connects to the Speedhub.
Then you thread in the end of the syringe hose to the Speedhub and push the plunger steadily and gently as possible, introducing all the Cleaning oil into the hub. Rohloff then recommends that you draw back the plunger to the 25ml mark to relieve the hub of any extra internal pressures. After this, you unscrew the hose, set that aside, and replace the old drain plug, being very careful not to thread it in too far. (See the instructions) Once you have that back in, you pedal the bike, switching back and forth between gears "3" and "5", while alternating in some backward pedaling. This is so that the Cleaning oil gets into all the gearing combinations and parts of the hub. Rohloff suggests doing this for three minutes in a stand, or riding the bike while shifting these combinations for 1K.

Draining the old oil and Cleaning oil from the hub.
Once the cleaning procedure has been done, Rohloff recommends setting the hub so that the drain plug is at a "six o'clock position" (pointing down ward) and letting the hub rest in this position for at least 15 minutes. This allows the oils to drain to the bottom of the hub internally. Then you unscrew that drain plug, screw in the syringe, and draw out the old oil and cleaning oil. You may not get much more than you put in depending upon when the last service was done, or due to "sweating" of the oil through the hub externally by way of seals, etc,  over time. (And yes, Rohloff hubs do this, I can attest to that)

Putting the new oil in.
Then you can turn the hub over 90° so that the drain hole faces up, and then drawing up the new oil into the syringe, screwing the hose end into the hub, and gently introducing the oil into the hub, you can then duplicate the 25ml back-draw of the plunger to relieve excess internal pressures. Put in the new drain plug, and that's it!

You don't have to use the new drain plug, but since it comes with fresh sealing dope, why not?
So, it really isn't too bad of a procedure to undertake, and now that I have the syringe, I can just purchase the oils in the future.

This should get me through the Winter easily and next year I will have to monitor the mileage, but I would imagine that getting slightly over 3,000 miles between now and next September on the Ti Muk 2 will be a big ask. I don't ride it that much! Although, I could if it were my only bicycle. The Ti Muk 2 is that comfortable to ride.

One thing I did note was that I did not see a lot more oil come out than the amount of Cleaning oil I put in. Yikes! Rohloff says that oil will "sweat" out of the hub, and I have noted that you see an oily film which collects dust and dirt on the shifter box at times. I suppose that to keep the hub from having excessive drag that the seals cannot be 100% leak proof. So,by my measure, I was at the minimum for oil in the hub! Good thing I chose to do the maintenance!

I also noted that the hub was much quieter and that it shifted very smoothly after the maintenance was accomplished. So, it's a good thing on many levels to maintain the Speedhub according to recommendations, as far as I can see.

Got any questions? I'm happy to answer them. Hit me up in the comments or send an e-mail to g.ted.productions@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!


Doug G said...

The first time I drained the oil on mine for the 15 min timeframe in the instructions I ended up getting a seal leak. When I got it repaired by cycle monkey they said it really should be left to drain overnight otherwise there is a chance it will be overfilled using recommended amount of fresh oil.

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug G- Sounds reasonable. I'll likely let mine sit longer next time based upon this tip. Thanks!