Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
geocycle
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby geocycle » 2 Sep 2010, 10:37am

Thanks for posting your views. I am not at all surprised you had to change the cables, chain and sprockets on a journey like this, and indeed several of us posted about this when you initially asked for mechanical advice before your trip. So I think the advice you had from SJS was wrong on this count (which as TC points is out of character for them IME). As you say, you could have been more prepared had they alerted you to this likelihood, just as if you had to learn about changing derailleur chains, freewheels and blocks.

The wobbly bearings are really the only thing you could not have anticipated and I am glad rohloff have been helpful in sorting this out.

Anyway, the journey is the main thing and the bike only the means. You sound to be having a great time so what the hell!

takeonafrica
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby takeonafrica » 2 Sep 2010, 1:25pm

I remember well the advice I had here before I left and it was with this info and from other web sources that I then went to SJS for a final check (and to order the parts). For spares I went through everything that has been mentioned and when SJS didn't say anything about needing a spare chain (and sprocket removal tool), I queried them specifically. The response on knowing I was touring from the UK to Cape Town (first long tour) was that I shouldn't need a new chain or need to reverse the sprocket. Yes, if I wanted I could carry the weight of a whole new chain but that really wasn't necessary. They just said, as long as you have a few spare links of chain in case of a breakage then that would be fine and the sprocket should be ok to get to Cape Town. I remember being rather surprised by this answer (given the advice here etc) but assuming they knew what they were talking about (and not wanting to carry more than necessary) I just took a short piece of extra chain.

I'm actually an engineer and although not done much bike maintenance am familiar with the concepts of material life, wear, stress and fatigue etc, so would not expect a bike chain to be any different. The impression I had been given was that this tour would be within the life of the chain. I think probably the climate and road conditions are significantly more extreme and the effects on the bike exaggerated than even SJS suspected.

Anyway, it's all fine now. And getting the sprocket, chain and tool sent out was easy and once the sprocket was loose, changing it was easy too.

I sympathise that it is difficult for SJS/LBS etc to judge customer knowledge and not want to offend by being patronizing etc. This is why I always do as much research myself first and go armed with a number of questions. However, if I imply I know very little, the advice will then be comprehensive and if the information I receive differs from my research I will then query it in more detail. I may be getting the same information twice or perhaps not learn anything new, but only then can I be sure I have been given all the information. I wouldn't be offended by someone trying to offer advice but can appreciate that not everyone's the same. (I don't think being a woman should have anything to do with it though!).
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geocycle
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby geocycle » 2 Sep 2010, 2:01pm

takeonafrica wrote:Anyway, it's all fine now. And getting the sprocket, chain and tool sent out was easy and once the sprocket was loose, changing it was easy too.



Great stuff, it must be difficult for anyone to advise on such a journey as only a handful of people will have done what you have.

Good luck in the DRC. I've not been and heard it can be 'challenging' but your experience to date will stand you in good stead. Tim Butcher's book 'Blood River' was quite evocative of the region. Are you planning to cross to East Africa for the remainder of the journey?

thirdcrank
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby thirdcrank » 4 Sep 2010, 8:23pm

takeonafrica

If we accept that one of the important functions of the forum is to store and share everybody's knowledge and experience, then I hope that you will be available in future to advise anybody thinking of a similar trip to yours. You are now one of the experts.

With hindsight, one of the things that has gone wrong for you is that there was nobody who could really give you the advice you needed, or at least you didn't find them. SJSC have a depth of experience but I wonder how many of them have been on a long trip to Africa.

I can understand how a Rohloff specialist being asked for advice on what to take would consider the small, vital, impossible to buy in shops widgets and dismiss the idea of spare chains. After all, a single-speed chain must be the easiest thing to source the world over and pretty heavy.

Again with hindsight, it seems clear that chainwear, and not appreciating its effect till late in the day, has caused your problems. I tend to think that among cyclists, there is not much real knowledge of what mileage can be expected from components. I know there are some who log the mileage of every brake shoe and cable (JohnW comes to mind) but I think they are rare. I'd measure the mileage of an extra long ride just for interest, but I don't bother otherwise. When I was working I would have known that I was commuting say a hundred miles a week, with at least one long ride on a day off each week, but no exact figures. Also, many keen cyclists have several bikes. My own long rides have generally been done on a cossetted 'best bike' with bits and pieces replaced quite frequently, with part-worn stuff going down the hierarchy of bikes to the winter hacks.

The cleaning régime for a chain can affect how long it lasts. Anybody could be forgiven for thinking that Mick F is a tad more fastidious about chain hygiene than dental hygienists are about teeth, but his approach or a version of it is probably the best way to protect a chain, especially in challenging conditions. You might have even been better-served with a traditional full chainguard with oilbath, if they are still available.

Finally, I think the use of a Rohloff hub sometimes polarises opinions. There is a bit of the "Rolls Royce axles never break" syndrome among aficionados, while others look for excuses to slag them off. The reality must be in between.

snibgo
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby snibgo » 4 Sep 2010, 9:03pm

Road conditions probably have a huge impact on chain wear. 1km dry dusty road = 20km dust-free ashphalt?

Hindsight is always wonderful, especially from the comfort of my home with handy internet and LBS.

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shane
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby shane » 4 Sep 2010, 9:38pm

thirdcrank wrote:Finally, I think the use of a Rohloff hub sometimes polarises opinions. There is a bit of the "Rolls Royce axles never break" syndrome among aficionados, while others look for excuses to slag them off. The reality must be in between.


Thats about the size of it!!!

My standard hg70 chain managed 8000km with my roholff before it needed changing and the rear cog was getting close to needing reversing. But that was all main roads in america with only 8 days of rain. And I guess I´m closer to the` whiter than white` chain maintenance than `rohloff is maintenance free`movement. So the max I can get out of a rear cog is 15/20k in `ideal `touring conditions to get it looking like Helens, though I think she had the bit one :shock: So England to cape town on one set of transmission in ideal circumstances would still be pushing it, Africa, no chance....

The problem with `maintenance free` is that people just don´t do much preventative maintenance. With a normal system you need to adjust slightly more often so while your busy you see other things and fix them too..

I have the problem of a technical background so I know what can go wrong, so I end up taking way too many spares and tools with me on trips. I have alot of respect for people who through choice or ignorance can travel half way around the world with a pump, puncture repair kit and multitool .I´m not talking about Helen btw, she was well organised but got unlucky.

I´ve learned two things through Helen´s hardship THANKS HELEN, I will be taking my rear cog remover and a spare to Africa, and I´m going to pull the twist grip to bits in the comfort of my own shed at home before I go, just for the practice... 8)

Helen, you mentioned your rims being presta ready and not schrader, you´ve probibly already done it, but if not pop into the next garage and ask them to carefully run a 8mm drill through the valve hole, hey presto your schrader... :wink: Then remove all the jagged bits and you can buy any old innertube at the market :P

Shane cycles Africa, D-600

Ivor Tingting
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby Ivor Tingting » 5 Sep 2010, 2:18pm

LoL! :lol: . A single chain and sprocket to get you and your loaded bike down to Cape Town through some pretty inhospitable terrain and countries ........... I want one of those chains, where can I buy one?

I think the advice from SJS to Helen was been lacking, but equally so was the common sense of Helen. There is no way the journey could be made with one chain. Maybe a single sprocket if the chain was kept spotless and well lubed and changed immediately when it had too much stretch ............ Did Helen not pack a chain wear tool? I would have taken a spare chain or two with replacement sprocket and removal tool or if too heavy would have at the very minimum taken just one spare chain and left the other spares to be sent out asap if I encountered a problem.

I too have been looking at Rohlhof as one option for a RTW cycle touring bike. This story sways me back toward a conventional deraillieur set up although I feel that had the chain and Rohlhof set up been more adequately maintained then perhaps the excessive wear that has caused this premature failure would not have occurred. A deraillieur system similarly neglected would also have much reduced longevity and thus needing replacement.

Btw I thought that the DR of Congo was at war or there was a civil war so very dangerous to travel there?
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willywombat
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby willywombat » 6 Sep 2010, 12:11am

it seems that the " wobbly bearing" problem is more common than rohloff and it's dealers wish to admit. I've had it and have seen more and more cases popping up on internet forums. With some folks it has happened more than once on the same hub, requiring repeat journeys to Germany for repair.
On speaking to rohloff and sjsc about this issue i've been fobbed of with that it's virtually unheard of ...which just isn't the case I'm afraid.

snibgo
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby snibgo » 6 Sep 2010, 6:03am

I have discovered the ideal present for Helen: a 24-Karet gold-plated Rohloff chain, in a presentation case, a snip at £175. SJS have them in stock, apparently.

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/product-Rohl ... -16443.htm

Edwards
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby Edwards » 6 Sep 2010, 1:06pm

snibgo wrote:I have discovered the ideal present for Helen:


What a wonderful idea. When are you thinking of buying it.
I think you should wait for her to finish the trip before she receives it.
You could present her with the chain when she arrives back. It might be possible to get some sort of press coverage.
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Mattie
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby Mattie » 6 Sep 2010, 1:26pm

Ivor Tingting wrote:LoL! :lol: . A single chain and sprocket to get you and your loaded bike down to Cape Town through some pretty inhospitable terrain and countries ........... I want one of those chains, where can I buy one?


From the experts at Thorn

iviehoff
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby iviehoff » 6 Sep 2010, 2:58pm

Ivor Tingting wrote:Btw I thought that the DR of Congo was at war or there was a civil war so very dangerous to travel there?

There are wars in certain parts of the DRC, especially the NE/centre east. DRC is a very large country with very poor communications. You are therefore typically not locally impacted by events happening at the other end of the country, to which you are so tenuously connected by surface transport. Many of the former roads have been destroyed (very many bridges and ferries blown up) in the past wars and have not been reinstated, and remain impassible, especially the roads in the NE of the country, and those connecting Kinshasa to the E and N. The main transport from Kinshasa to Kisangani is by riverboat. Just because maps like this http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/ma ... rcongo.pdf or this http://www.ezilon.com/maps/africa/d-r-o ... -maps.html or this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Congo ... p_75pc.PNG appear to indicate the country is all connected up by highway of some description or other, one should not necessarily believe it is actually passable, even by bicycle. So much of it is just recording what used to exist.

There is allegedly a reasonably paved road from Kinshasa to Matadi at the Angolan border a mere 285km away, a substantial fraction of the ca 1200km of paved highways in the country. I suspect that this is what most cyclists transiting DRC use. They used to go to Cabinda (the detached part of northern Angola) and get a ferry to the main part of Angola, but such is Cabinda these days (see below) I suspect people now go to Kinshasa in preference.

I have a recollection of finding a recent and reliable-looking source that suggests that one can reasonably expect to be able to travel from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi by road, if one chooses the season, albeit much of it is unpaved, but I don't seem to be able to relocate that source just now.

DRC is nonetheless a country with considerable security problems even in areas remote from any on-going conflict. Though northern parts of Angola are not necessarily better in this regard, as indicated by the fatal armed bandit attack on the Togo football team travelling overland (against advice) to a match in Cabinda.

thirdcrank
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Sep 2010, 3:20pm

willywombat wrote:... On speaking to rohloff and sjsc about this issue i've been fobbed of with that it's virtually unheard of ...


That's just the sort of thing I had I mind with my comment about Rolls Royce axles.

takeonafrica
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby takeonafrica » 6 Sep 2010, 5:35pm

Greetings from the Republic of Congo! If you can find Okoyo on the map - congratulations. You may then be even more surprised to find out that I've got wi-fi here! Unbelievable! (Thanks to expat Michel).

The DR Congo is certainly a big place - I'll be avoiding the danger zones (NE mostly). I've found three ways to get across to the east. Two of these have been successfully done in the past year - one on foot, the other with motorbike. Having a bicycle should be easier than either as it can pushed on bad roads (based on the last 3 days I just hope there's not too much sand!) and put on a boat/truck/train/plane if I need/want to. Chances are I won't be pedalling much at all so the chain should still be in great nick when I get to East Africa!!

24-karat gold-plated chain?! sounds more like a piece of jewellry!!
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iviehoff
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Re: Wobbling Rohloff rear wheel in Africa

Postby iviehoff » 7 Sep 2010, 3:13pm

takeonafrica wrote:I've found three ways to get across to the east. Two of these have been successfully done in the past year - one on foot, the other with motorbike.

It would be interesting if you would give some details, as there is so little reliable information available. Where in the east are you trying to get to?