Think of Rohloff and you probably think of people covering thousands of miles around the globe in pursuit of hidden worlds and lost cultures. Wild and sun beaten faces that haven’t seen a bar of soap since the last town 400 miles ago. Or of uber-utility cyclists covering hundreds of miles a week with unfeasible quantities of luggage in all weathers, doing battle with the traffic as they transport home the timber for a new compost heap, one awkward load at a time.
Beloved of those who want their gears to keep turning for mile after mile, Rohloff seems an unlikely bedfellow for the e-bike market, where arguably it’s more about fast fun and convenience rather than epic distances. However, the new E-14 gear mechanism just announced is designed to connect any existing Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 unit with the eShift-function of a Bosch eBike-System.
Rohloff is making some bold claims as to how a Rohloff might be best for e-bikes:
‘Every lost watt of power will translate directly to lost battery power and as every E-bike rider knows, battery range is critical to fully enjoy the ride. As such, use of a highly efficient transmission will in effect, extend the battery range, ensuring every watt of human power produced is used effectively. In doing so, battery charge cycles will be reduced which also drastically extends the life of each battery.’
Somewhat less bold is the suggestion that the gear range offered by a Rohloff could be useful on an e-bike:
‘Rohloff Speedhubs provide the largest overall gear range available for use with mid-motor E-bikes and thus, offers itself perfectly as the most suitable transmission for the fastest growing E-bike market segment – the E-MTB. That said, electric touring bikes, E-Cargo bikes and even the fastest S-Pedelecs will profit from the large transmission ratio. Wherever a large gear range is required which will enable cyclists to traverse great distances fast, both flat and downhill, but also offer enough low gears to climb back uphill gain, then the Speedhub will deliver.’
When we first heard of it there wasn’t much imagery to go with it, however we did spot this video which features a Rohloff on an e-bike:
The Rohloff E-14 gear mechanism communicates and synchronizes the shift process with the Bosch e-Bike-System via standard CAN-Bus connectivity. The shifting process is a combination of the Speedhub gear unit and the new electric E-14 gear mech. The old cable operated twist shifter has been replaced by a 3-button shifter unit. The ergonomic shifter unit includes ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons which, when pressed once, will shift the Speedhub in under 200ms. If these buttons are held, the E-14 unit will switch into ‘Multishift Mode’ and shift 3 gears at a time, in sequence, until released. As such, a complete shift through all available gears, from #1 to #14, is apparently possible in three seconds.
The E-14 shifting system will include an auto-downshift function whereby a complete halt will cause the system to shift to a pre-programmed gear of choice, an especially convenient feature for the modern city cyclist encountering lots of traffic lights. In addition, all eShift compatible Bosch displays (such as Intuvia and Nyon) will indicate which Speedhub gear is selected at any given moment.
There’s a video all about it here, complete with Music From The Future:
The auto-downshift function sounds interesting, but we can’t help but wonder what happens if you run out of batteries? Will it automatically put itself into the easiest gear to give you a fighting chance of getting your heavy ebike home? And will all that electronic gubbins be as durable as a Speedhub itself?
No doubt all will be revealed when this product is launched at Eurobike in early September. Bikes with this technology fitted are expected to land in the shops soon after.