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The Speedhub has become so popular that Shimano has been working on a competing product, and last year announced their version called the Alfine 11-sp hub.
Most people that choose Rohloff equipped bikes have researched the product thoroughly before ordering their bike. The reasons that these people chose the Rohloff hub include ease of shifting, lower maintenance, and perceived 'ease of use'. The reason I use the word perceived is because a Rohloff bicycle frame can be designed in such a way as to make changing the rear tire much more difficult.
One frequently asked question is "What's the difference between the Alfine and the Rohloff?"
WARNING! Not all manufacturers treat Rohloff bikes the same. The Rohloff hub presents some specific design challenges when building the frame to keep things 'user friendly'. The crew here at Rodriguez Cycles has developed some unique exclusive features that distinguish our Rodriguez Rohloff bikes from the other brands. To read about these differences, click here.
- Cost: Many people assume that the price will be lower than traditional set-up because there are fewer components to buy. Actually, the price of the hub added to the additional amount of customization required on the frame makes the total price higher than a derailleur set-up. Look at it like a Swiss watch.
- Versatility: Since the gear ratio is pre-set, you cannot change the range of gearing between high and low. You can change the front chain ring or rear cog but it will affect the whole range. In short, if you want a 'lower' low gear, then all your gears have to be lower and visa versa.
- Noise: Some of the gears can be a little bit 'rumbly' or 'noisy'. Not really bad, but if you are kind of 'obsessive' about such things, and you've already resigned yourself to the noise of a derailleur set-up, you should try one out before investing in it.
- Weight: Regardless of what anyone tells you (or puts on a blog or website), any bike with an internally geared hub is substantially heavier than a comparably priced derailleur equipped bike. This is true with the Shimano Alfine hubs as well.
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