Sanny reviews the Kindernay 14 speed internal gear hub, which promises shifting under load and a 543% range.
- £1,350 including hydraulic trigger shifters and SWAP cage
- £140 for SWAP cage on its own.
- Available from: ghyllside.co.uk
It’s not every day that you are offered the opportunity to test a product that is so different from what is considered the norm that you are not quite sure where to start with it. Enter stage left Kevin from Ghyllside Cycles in Ambleside, purveyors of products that are just that little bit different and dare I say unusual from what you find in most bike shops these days. “Sanny. Fancy testing a Kindernay Internal Geared Hub? It’s one of the first in the country and we’ve just built it up into a test bike.” Having seen the hub in the flesh back in December, I was more than a little intrigued. Internally geared hubs are an established albeit slightly niche segment of the drivetrain market but in their XIV hub, Kindernay has packed in more design innovation than you can shake a stick at.
Different? Different how?
For starters, the hub body can be removed from the accompanying lattice work cage. Want to move between different wheels? The XIV allows you to do this so you are no longer locked into a single size of rim without a complete wheel rebuild. The axle is a true bolt thru design – there are no adapters to mess about with. It is claimed that it can shift under load up and down the full range of gears. The disc mounting bolts are spaced further apart than a normal disc which in theory should make for less disc flex. Instead of Gripshift style shifting, the XIV features a fully hydraulic trigger system with one lever for shifting up and one lever for shifting down. Last but not least, Kindernay claims their design to be the lightest on the market! Phew! It’s fair to say that there is a lot going on.
The techy bit
The XIV name comes from the hub having 14 speeds with a 13.9% step between each. In gear ratio terms, this means that it offers a total range of 543% which is still greater than SRAM’s 520% range on offer from their newly released 10 – 52 cassettes.
The hub employs a planetary gear design. In basic terms, this is a series of cogged wheels which run within each other. The Kindernay web
ite has a really interesting explanation of how the design works and explains it in terms of planets orbiting round a sun. I could repeat this verbatim for you but when it comes to explaining how things work from a mechanical engineering perspective, I’m an accountant! Rather, I will keep it super simple. The hub uses straight cut gears which as a design is basically the same as you will find in a racing car. The reasoning for this is that enables the gear system to handle higher torque loads and operate at a higher level of efficiency. Simples!
So why an internal hub design? Well, compared to traditional derailleurs, the fully enclosed system which sits in a sealed oil bath is nowhere near as vulnerable to damage from rock and ground strikes. Smack a rear mech in a crash and snap it and you are walking home. The same crash on a hub geared bike is far less likely to cause damage. Add to this a maintenance schedule that only calls for an oil change every 5000 kilometres, gear shifting even at a standstill and the ability to use pretty much any chain on the market and you have a system that promises to outlast traditional drivetrains by a considerable margin.
Is this the future?
So far, so good but if the advantages are so obvious, why aren’t we all riding them already? First and foremost is the issue of weight. This has always been the Achilles Heel of the various internally geared hubs that I have swung a leg over (Rolhoff, Pinion and Shimano Alfine 8 and 11 speed). Jumping on a bike where the weight is concentrated at the back can feel a bit strange and can take some getting used to. Then there is the shifting design. Coming from trigger shifters, the twist grip style of shifter used by Rolhoff and Pinion can prove a step too far for some. However, probably the biggest barrier is an inability to shift under load. Panic shifts aren’t an option. You have to back off the power which is fine in theory but requires a fair bit of relearning and practice in order to perfect the technique. For some riders, the trade-offs just aren’t worth it. Collectively, these three main areas of concern have conspired to limit the appeal of internally geared hub designs. However, Kindernay reckons they have cracked the problem. (Ten points if you spotted that Kinder Egg pun! No? Just me? Auch, please yourselves! Tough crowd in tonight…)
So how does the Kindernay XIV shape up in the real world?
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|Product:||XIV internal gear hub|
|Tested:||by Sanny for One month|