Rohloff Hub Spring Maintenance.

The silver oil drain screw in the hub shell facilitates the changing of the hub oil.

Rohloff Internally Geared Hubs run in an oil bath. The only regular maintenance that needs to be done is to change the hub oil every 3,000 miles or once a year. If you ride in harsh and/or wet conditions you should stick to that schedule, or you can change it more frequently. Since our winters last almost 7 months, I make a point to change the oil in the Spring time regardless of the number of miles since the last change.

The first step is to remove the oil drain screw and add cleaning oil to the hub with a syringe.

Cleaning oil on left, SPEEDHUB oil on right. Syringe, and oil change tube with threaded nipple.

Then you need to circulate the cleaning oil in the hub to loosen old oil. You can do this by turning the cranks with the bike in a bike stand for 5 minutes. Or you can simply take it for a ride. Given we were having one of the most glorious Spring days of the year so far, it was a no brainer. I took it for a ride.

I like this kind of maintenance work.
A tour boat on calm waters passing beneath Duluth’s iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.

After circulating the cleaning oil, you need to drain all of the old SPEEDHUB oil and cleaning oil you added. You achieve this by threading in the oil change tube and letting it drain overnight.

Oil change tube on the underside of the hub. Cup will catch drained oil.

The oil is black in color. This means it was definitely time to change the hub oil. Grey colored oil is good. Black is not so good. The hub is so tightly sealed it is quite difficult to get the oil to drain since air needs to displace the draining oil. Air needs to get in through the oil change tube. I think it would be good to have two drain holes. One to drain the oil and the other one on the opposite side of the hub to let air in. Then you wouldn’t have to let it drain all night. It would come out all at once.

Tomorrow I’ll add new SPEEDHUB oil with the syringe and oil change tube, replace the oil drain screw and the job will be done. This is so much easier than doing maintenance on Shimano Nexus or Alfine hubs. I’ve done both. It requires totally dismantling the hub and pulling all the “guts” out of the hub shell. It’s not bad once you’ve done it a few times. But simply changing the hub oil on a Rohloff is incredibly easy in comparison. You don’t even need to remove the wheel from the bike. I don’t miss the Shimano IGH days.

What a difference a week makes.

One week ago today I was riding my Pugsley in the snow. Today there was little sign of winter and temperatures were 30 degrees above normal. It was 62degF at my house today. This was the unusual March view of Lake Superior and the Duluth Shipping Canal:


Here’s a more typical view of the Shipping Canal and Lake Superior (from the hillside) in March. This is from March 16, 2007:


There should be ice. The ice will stay as late as Memorial Day some years. It’s a weird year for weather. Although I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my ride in the sun today. But I do feel like I’m being cheated out of a month’s worth of fatbiking.


Another unusual sight is my winter commuting bike in mid-March with no studded tires on it. I took them off this morning. The earliest I’ve taken off my studded tires since moving to Duluth in 2001.

My route today: // I rode out onto the sand spit. The temperature was only 49degF out there. A thirteen degree temperature change on a 20 mile ride. It required adding and removing layers as I went.

When I got back from my ride today I noticed my neighbor working on his bike in his garage across the street. He was a three season commuter when I moved into the neighborhood. Thanks to my bad influence he’s pushed into four season’s riding his bike to work. He rides a nice Surly Long Haul Trucker. I didn’t know this until today, but he bought a second set of wheels so he could easily move back and forth between studded tires and summer tires. He just swaps out wheels. Not a bad idea in the shoulder season like we’re having now. He had switched the wheels sets out yesterday and was having shifting problems. I suggested to him it was his chain and the cassette on the swapped out wheel not cooperating. He doesn’t clean his drivetrain often enough. I helped him swap out the cassettes so he would be using the same one on the swapped out wheelset. I think it’s still easier to move the cassettes then have one wheelset and change the tires every time the weather changes.

Removing Labels

Brewers Park 012

Earlier this month I wrote about a cracked rim and having to replace both rims. The new rims I chose came with some awful graphics. Two rims and twelve large stickers, four small ones. How many stickers does it take. I prefer to be understated in all manners of attire and accessories.

I was off from work today. So I decided today was the day to rid my rims of the unsightly stickers. All it took was some heat from a heat gun, applied conservatively, and some finger nails. I took off all twelve large stickers, but decided to leave the four small stickers. Mainly for my own use. Two years down the road I won’t be able to remember what rims these are if someone where to ask.


Ahhhh, back to the clean aesthetics of this fine bike. It looks much better, to me at least, with all that visual noise from the stickers gone. I realize it is merely personal preference.

For the record, I don’t wear clothing with logos all over them either. It never made sense to me that you pay more to be a walking billboard. I always thought you should get a discount for providing free advertising for a brand. Or they should pay you.

Happy Riding