Critical Mass attacked by Car driver Brazil

Our thoughts are with the cyclists who participated in Critical Mass in Brazil.

Warning: This video is not for the faint of heart.

Is this the worst case of Road Rage you have heard about?

Video footage has captured the moments a peaceful critical mass ride in the city of Porto Alegre in south eastern Brazil on Friday evening turned into something much nastier when a motorist accelerated through a group of 130 riders, hitting 20 of them and putting 9 in hospital. The footage is not for the faint hearted.

Incredibly despite the shocking nature of the scenes captured in both films local media reports say that all of the injured cyclists were discharged from hospital after treatment.

Two films of the incident show a relaxed and peaceful Critical Mass ride suddenly turn in to something much more sinister and frightening when a black VW Golf, which according to some witnesses had been follow the ride for some time suddenly accelerates through the middle of the group of over 100 riders with predictably horrible results. The shorter video above contains subtitles and witness accounts, the longer film at the end of this piece is unsubtitled – predictably both films have attracted some hateful comments on Youtube.

Although police found the badly damaged car on Friday night they have not yet been able to locate it’s driver thought to be the 47-year old owner of the vehicle, Ricardo José Neis. While local cyclists have called for the driver to be charged with attempted murder, according to Porto Alegre’s Police Chief, Gilberto Montenegro it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists, maybe he hasn’t seen the videos. However, Chief Montenegro has said that If intent is proven the driver may wel face a charge of attempted murder.

One cyclist who was on the ride Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied “Yes but I’m in a hurry” before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.

The authorities recovered the car shortly after the incident and identified its owner, but Neif has so far proved more elusive having reportedly gone in to hiding. According to local reports a lawyer claiming to be acting for the driver has contacted police telling them that is client will surrender voluntarily on Monday – there has been no indication as yet whether that man will prove to be Ricardo Neis.

What offence he will be charged with remains to be seen, but many of those who were the victims of his actions or who witnessed them will not it seems be satisfied with anything less than attempted murder a possibility that has not been ruled out.



Ricardo Neis, the 47 year-old driver of a car that drove through a group of cyclists on a Critical Mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre last Friday has been charged with attempted murder, tomorrow the central banker will also find out whether he will be remanded in prison until he faces trial. In the meantime, according to his defence team Neis has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic “He’s very shaken by the whole situation, stressed and not able to work” one of his defence lawyers told Ultimo Segundo.

Porto Alegre’s police chief, Gilberto Montenegro said that Neis had “used the car as a weapon” he also appeared to pour scorn on Neis’s story that he felt scared by some cyclists banging on the roof of his car. The police now have 30 days in which to complete their enquiries and the prosecution in the case will be in court tomorrow to apply for Neis to be remanded in custody. Commenting on the charges and the move to put Neis behind bars now the state prosecutor in the case Eugenio Armorim said “It’s time to change the culture of impunity, especially in matters of transit. The prosecution has adopted an attitude that was expected by society”.

Meanwhile It has also emerged that Neis has a string of previous convictions for both traffic and offences of violence including attacking his ex-partner, driving on the sidewalk, driving the wrong way down a street and speeding, a gun owned by Neis also went missing from his house and was found in somebody else’s possession. In one piece of good news for Mr Neis, if our shaky grasp of Portuguese is correct, his employers the Brazilian central bank confirmed to local media that Neis would not be facing any disciplinary action from them

The incident, in which Neis ploughed his black VW Golf  through 130 cyclists on a Critical Mass ride hitting 20 of them and injuring 8 was caught on film from by both participants in the ride and onlookers – none of those videos shows any evidence of aggression on the part of those taking part, in fact Neis’s black VW Golf appears to come almost from nowhere as it speeds through the group of cyclists containing women, children and senior citizens. (You can view one of the videos at the top of this story).


Yesterday speaking to reporters after three hours spent giving evidence at Porto Alegre’s police headquarters Neis said that he was “terribly upset” about what had happened but that the cyclists had left him with no alternative “I was being attacked, they broke the mirror”. The police confirmed that the only damage to his car mentioned by Neis was to the wing mirrors – something which would appear to contradict an earlier statement from his lawyers that the car windows had been smashed by the cyclists prior to Neis driving through them. In his comments to the media Neis also seemed to depart from the defence line that he had acted as he did out of fears for the safety of his 15 year old son, Neis seeming to put more emphasis on his own safety and on fears of damage to his car.

According to the Brazilian newspaper O Jornal Neis told reporters on exiting the police station on Monday that he had been travelling with his son when he was attacked by the cyclists taking part in the Critical Mass ride:

“I am terribly upset with everything that happened. I very much regret what happened to them (cyclists) all, but I had no other alternative. I was being attacked, they broke the mirror,” he said.


Another Day another race – 13hrs later


6am is too early for the start of a race – especially when it is only 8km and it is dark when you finish too.


After surviving yesterday and my calf not pulling too much I felt I was up for the race this morning despite the stupid start time.

speed - gps fluctuations

Speed tracks are always annoying on gps – one of the reasons I have the Suunto (reviewed HERE)  show average speed as the mad gps fluctuations annoy me – there is no way I run 3m/km followed by 4m40/km.

Heart rate Movescount

The lap times below show the 1km splits so and you can see the consistency there – I generally just keep the Suunto t6 showing my Heart Rate (to keep below lactic threshold) and then when it beeps every km on autolap I check my progress.

lap times

The run as I said was in the dark – at the start someone tripped and fell and the race was spent looking for potholes (of which there are a few) although luckily I know the roads of the route quite well.

By 2km I was pretty much in the position I stayed in apart from 2 Ugandans who started late and came flying past at a good 3:20/km pace. Caught a couple of soldiers and got passed by a brit I have raced with and beaten a few times. Was a bit annoying as my legs were tired and I couldn’t quite get the muster to pass him again.

28m44s which was fine and I think around 20th or 21st of about 400-500 runners.

So got another t-Shirt (as did the first 300)

T-shirt BACK

Brompton Bike in the snow

Another one on the Brompton from NYCE wheels

Peter rides his Brompton folding bike around New York City’s snow bound streets. The Brompton gives you the flexibility to stop in where ever you go.

Caribbean 600 – Phaedo streaking through

Caribbean 600

Footage of PHAEDO in the race

Here is some bumph – but look at the Polars they see the boat can hit +30knots on broad reach …. amazing for a cruising boat.

Polars for the 66

The 66-foot Phaedo is a fine example of the performance cruising catamarans from the leading yard Gunboat: Luxurious, built using the very latest materials and, above all else, exceptionally fast. Her length of over 20 metres and beam of 8.60 metres ensures a high level of stability, and the yacht’s impressive sail plan ensures high speeds in safety and comfort.

Metric Imperial
LOA 20.11 66.0
LWL 18.92 62.0
BOA 8.6 28.2″
Beam On Centerline 6.6 21.7
Draft Bd Down 2.6 8.5
Draft Bd Up 0.7 2.2
Mast Clearance 26.6 87.0
Mast Length 24.1 78.8
Displacement Lightship 15,454 kg 34,000 lbs
Displacement Max Load 18,236 kg 40,120 lbs
Headroom – Salon 1.98 6.50
Headroom – Hulls 1.98 6.50
Hull Width 2.03 6.66
Fuel Capacity 2 X 492 L 2 X 100 Gal
Water Capacity 2 X 492 L 2 X 100 Gal

MAIN – Quantum Carbon/Vectran Fushion Membrane MAIN
SOLENT – Quantum Carbon/Vectran Fushion Membrane (self tacking)
STORM JIB – Quantum 12 oz Dacron
AP SCREECHER – Quantum Cuban Fiber
High Tech MARLOW cordage spectra, stirpped race-boat style halyard & sheets

Sail Area Upwind 207 sq m 2,232 sq ft
Sail Area Downwind 433 sq m 4,667 sq ft

Composite construction of vacuum-bagged, epoxy foam sandwich and Aramid Honey-comb Nomex with carbon fiber inner skins & Kevlar outer skins for impact resistance
All Carbon Spars from Marstrom
Unidirectional Aramid fiber shrouds
Aramid forestays (x 2) with custom Facnor furlers
Custom Carbon Fiber 42″ sculptured race boat steering wheel
Carbon fiber retractable rudders and dagger boards
African Sapele Cabinetry and Brazilian Mahogany Floors

Volvo Penta D2-55 Hp Diesel (x2)
Spectra Ultra Whisper 600 with Z-Brane Water Makers (x1)
Sharp 80W Solar Panels (x14)
Lewmar Electric Winches (x4)
Isotherm Instant Hot Water Heater (x2)
Sundanzer 8 cubic ft. top loading refrigerator
Waeco 4 cubic ft. front loading freezer
Force 10 four burner stove
Iridium Phone with data kit & mast atennae
Auto-Pilots (x2)
Owner’s Choice Navigation/Electronics Package
Owners’ Choice Entertainment Package

Main Salon features Galley, generous lounge, and folding dining area
Four Queen Size cabins
Ensuite head with dedicated shower in each cabin
Techma electric toilet system
Ample storage in each cabin
Independent crew quarters with ensuite head and shower
Walk in engine room with all round access
Spacious “back porch” aft cockpit with caulked teak deck dedicated to lounging and outdoor dining
Forward working cockpit for sail handling with caulked teak deck

5km Race (Race for the Wounded Soldier)

After pulling my calf muscle 3 days ago I wasn’t so sure about the 8km race I am supposed to do tomorrow morning and if my leg would hold up. Then found out about a smaller 5km race today (a live link to US Race for The Wounded Soldier). Small race about 180 people.

Went in for the race not intending to go very quickly but 1st km was a bit twingy then it seemed alright staying at that pace so kept going. Reeled in a few places until I was in 5th by 2.5km mark and stayed there until finish.


yellow line probably better average pace band


Average Pace – not really taking into account the 20knot wind – think I was more consistent than this


lap time with a rogue HR

T-Shirt for first 100 coming – will put up photo then.


A way to a better future in cities – Bikes

In the second chapter of Streetfilms’ Moving Beyond the Automobile series, we’re taking a look at bicycling.

The benefits of cycling are simple: It helps reduce congestion, meet sustainability goals, and improve public health. With Portland leading the way, many American cities have seen the share of people biking to work rise substantially in recent years [PDF]. For this video we spent some time with leading thinkers in New York, San Francisco and Portland to discuss how safer cycling infrastructure is helping more people make the choice to bike.

This series is made possible by funding from The Oram Foundation’s Fund for The Environment & Urban Life.

Charge Bikes – ti Cyclocross

Charge Bikes team rider Jon Watson has been busy racing and testing our latest creation over the winter. The Freezer Cyclocross frame. Check out the video of Jon’s first few steps on the brand new titanium machine.

And now Charge has added the Freezer to its range, a fine looking titanium cyclo-cross release. The Freezer is available as a frameset only, is made from Tange Ultimate titanium and comes with a matching Tange carbon fibre fork.

While the Freezer is perfect for someone wanting a race-ready ‘cross bike

Frame: Charge Freezer, Tange Ultimate, seamless, butted, 3al 2.5v titanium
Fork: Easton EC90X
Bars: Easton EC90 SLX3
Stem: Easton EA90
Seatpost: EC90 Zero
Wheels: Hope Hoops Pro3 RS-SP Carbon
Pedals: Crank Bros. Egg Beater 4Ti
Tyres: Dugast tubular
Brakes: TRP EuroX Magnesium Cantilever
Groupset: Full SRAM Red groupset
Saddle: Charge Spoon Ti
Bar Tape: Charge U-bend

Excellent review of the Rohloff Speedhub (from 29inches)

Great article from twentynineinches on the rohloff speed hub.

Read their article here.

Lovely anodised red

I have taken the liberty to put it all together below for easier reading:

Part 1 – INTRO: Who of you has heard about the Rohloff Speedhub 500/14? For those of you who have – it probably holds the image of German engineering par excellence – and of high pricing probably.

For those of you who haven’t I will give you a very brief wrap-up of the thing:

The Speedhub is an all German made, internally geared hub with 14 gears spaced evenly at 13.6 % resulting in exactly the same range as a standard MTB 27-speed drive train. By following extremely low tolerances and keeping the system completely encapsulated Rohloff claims to have comparable power loss by friction to an externally geared system (aka derailleur driven) and will run virtually forever with minimal servicing (only an annual oil change recommended). The hub has been in production for over 10 years And yes, it is costly, even here in its homeland.

(Before you readers start raining a myriad of technical questions, I herewith redirect your enquiries of such kind to the Rohloff website: There is tons of technical info to be read about the working, on Rohloff´s – including compatibility charts, gearing ratios, exploded drawings. They even have done a book covering the Rohloff story)


fig. 1 The ROHLOFF Speedhub 500/14 in the test – condition like it should be: spotted with dirt. The labeling is laser etched into the black anodized hub shell. Each hub is individually numbered.

What motivated Bernd Rohloff, the man behind the hub to build this? – Before the Speedhub Rohloff has been producing (and still is for that matter) premium bicycle chains including several precision tools in that area.

There is a neat anecdote about it (rephrased to keep it short): “He was doing a vacation on the French Atlantic coast, riding along the sandy beach … or at least trying to as it only took two breakers to completely foul the drive train. It was there and then that the idea for a ever-running system was born. Two years and countless hours with technical drawings and engineering later, Bernd was pedaling it away happily without a second thought to the drive train-hostile environment. That was 1998 and by now there are over 100.000 Speedhub units in use on all kinds of bikes.

Here comes a bit more tech talk though:

The Rohloff 500/14 Speedhub basically consists of three units:

1, The 14-speed internal geared hub (available in a disc- or v-brake specific, and a QR or through axle version). Consisting of a hugely oversized hub shell housing the transmission unit (32 and 36 holes available in the colors silver, black and red anodized with laser etched logos), interchangeable side-plates on both sides and a screw on cog (standard is 16 teeth, 13, 15 and 17 teeth are available separately)

2, The mounting hardware: It takes special attachment systems to compensate the rotational forces induced by the internal gearing. Depending on the drop-out and frame design these can be simply a plate (if the frame is Rohloff-specific like in fig. 2), or varying torque arms (depending if the frame has disc brake bosses or not, one version shown in fig. 3)


fig. 2 This set up shows Rohloff specific dropouts, where the torque is taken up by the long slotted dropout and a special plate (only visible by the “in the know” near the lower end of the slot). Chain tensioning here is done by the sliding dropouts. The shifting commands are transferred by dual cables and the external gearbox.


fig. 3 Here a version with the long torque arm is shown. This version is needed when the frame is not suitable for disc brakes or when the disc brake tabs are not on the seat stays of the frame like on this frame. Why? -Think about which direction rotational forces will work.

3, The twist shifter proprietary to the system. This shifter is driving dual cables to the hub – usually in full length housing. The attachment to the hub can be by an external gearbox, like shown, which is recommended when running disc brakes or by an internal system which is about 100 g lighter. The shifter is not indexed like all other bike gearing systems but the indexing is happening directly at the place of shifting, inside the hub.

(Bikes with no built-in chain tensioning option or suspension bikes will need a chain tensioner) The rest of the modifications is like converting into a single chainring crankset and a specific 4-bolt disc rotor, as the standard systems don´t work with 6-bolt rotors.


Fig. 4 The shifters are like any twist shifter – only these actuate two cables. Yes, they are a bit clumsy looking.

So much for the marketing talk.

What is the Speedhub really all about? Does it work fine? How does the planetary gearing react when put through its paces? What about the total weight or weight distribution on the bike, compared to a standard derailleur system or SS? Is the system really bomb-proof and maintenance free – regardless of riding and climate?

Rohloff Speedhub part II

(First of all thanks for the patience on this follow up of the first article concerning the ROHLOFF Speedhub 500/14 and the great input by so many of you.)

So let´s get started. This winter is slowly passing for the spring (at least that´s what the
weatherman said before the recent blizzard turned all into a late winter wonderland) and I have been riding the Speedhub 500/14 in 29er set up for a fair amount of time – that is every time I had the derailleur gearing on any of my other rigs frozen or mucked up, I simply turned to my Rohloff build and rode away.

My story with the Speedhub: The last sentence pretty much states my story why I (and so many others) had turned to the Rohloff Speedhub in the first place: Because I was spending simply too much time cleaning and adjusting the external shifting, time that I wanted to ride instead. I could have turned to SS but some reluctance to self-induced suffering, and the desire to ride everything (that is everything I had been riding on my standard geared bike) made me turn my attention to internally geared systems.
The offerings of trail worthy internally geared systems are few and the Rohloff was and still is by far the one with the largest gearing range. I had been riding my Speedhub for more than 2 years in a 26” wheel but as I was turning more and more towards exclusive 29er riding, and the Speedhub was getting less and less use. Not because of the hub, but because of the wheel size it was built into … eventually, after a considerable time of neglect, I felt it was time to rebuild the Speedhub into a 29er wheel – and so I did.

One more word on compatibility: Initially I was using the Speedhub in a standard frame with vertical disc mounts and without disc brake tabs, which required me to run a chain tensioner and the external torque arm – which both worked flawlessly but looked dead ugly. Later I had the frame retrofitted with Rohloff specific sliding dropouts (incl. disc brake tabs) and I was able to use the much more elegant OE1 torque plate and leave tensioning duties to the sliders. Like I stated before almost any frame can be converted to Speedhub with one of the multiple mounting options. (again: turn to the Rohloff website and their step-by-step Speedhub finder.

II_1The build
Building a Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 is nothing spectacular but can be a bit peculiar -only two things need to be considered:
1, Spoke length: The large diameter of the Speedhub´s shell requires considerably shorter spokes than with other hubs. In a 26” configuration getting the right length spokes can be difficult at times but running the larger diameter 29er hoops puts you in the range of your standard 26” spoke lengths. For finding out your required spoke length have a lookhere (

2, Lacing pattern: The other issue is that lacing is recommended to be different. This is because the spokes can interfere with the hub shell. When doing a 26” wheel it is only possible to execute a 2-crossed, lacing. With 29er wheels and their common ERD of 600 to 605 mm Rohloff clearly recommends doing the same but there is more flexibility.
On my rebuild I had done a 3-crossed lacing with good results. (This was primarily because I wanted to use some high end Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes that I had laying in my shop.)

Adapting the bike and gearing limitations: The changes to the bike are analogue to the steps of converting your bike to single speeding; meaning you only need a single chain ring, do away with the front and rear derailleur plus shifters, shorten the chain, ….One thing is worth mentioning and that is the ratio between the chain ring and the cog is recommended to be no lower than 2.35 / 1, which basically means in order to not exceed the maximum input torque you should not run a combination lower than 40/17, 38/16, 36/15 or 32/13. By design this also represents the same gearing range of a 9-speed 11-34 configuration. I kept to these recommendations with my 26” wheel but decided to neglect them in my 29er build to compensate for the larger wheels. During the last 7 months I was running my bike most of the time with a 36/16 configuration (yes, this is lower than recommended) and on some specifically grueling alpine trips was even doing a 34/16 combination – (you can see the double ring configuration in the front on the next picture). And this much needs to be said at this point: All without any adverse effects. (Note that this was my personal choice and is not encouraged here.)

fig 21

When confronting the Rohloff people with this they sure enough told me that this was not covered under warranty but in the same breath assured me not to worry as the hub was built to last. First of all it is built plenty strong (it is designed to handle Pro racing and tandem usage!), secondly there are several safety features built in the hub that would fail when overloaded before serious damage occurred to the hub. For example the internals of the hub are fixed to the shell by 9 small nylon pins that will shear when overloaded prior to any gearing damage. Then there are the bolts that hold the torque plate in place and the list continues …. All things that are easy to fix. GERMAN ENGINEERING at its best.

altprev_8026Weight and mounting:
The weight of a fitted Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 including twist shifter, shifter cables and cable guide is 1700 to 1825 g. This variation is mostly attributed to the way the shifting action reaches the hub. The different mounting options can vary by up to 100 g as well with the OE1 version being the lightest.

The external gear box (picture with the red hub, courtesy of Rohloff AG, also showing n OE1 torque plate and disc brake hub shell) is generally recommended when running disc brakes. It requires full length cable housing running from the shifters right up to the to the box and acts as a transmitting device to the hub. The two screws at the intake act as the cable tensioning devices. The box part can be easily detached by loosening a single tool-free screw for easy wheel removal, while the longer arm remains fixed to the hub. The fixture of the gear box can be rotated by 30° steps all around the hubs axis, independently of the torque arm setup – to allow for maximum flexibility. In the unlikely event of any failure of the shifter or cables this configuration allows to set any gear by a simple 8 mm open wrench.

altprev_8007z_lThe internal gearbox (shown on black hub with OE2 plate and non-disc hub shell) is about 100 g lighter by having the shifter cables run directly into the hub but requires some kind of frame mounted stop for the cable housing. In addition the cables need to have a splitting device for wheel removal. (no worry, all these parts are readily available through Rohloff or your dealer). These cables may interfere with the disc rotors, which is why it is not recommended for use with disc brakes. The proprietary twist shifter weighs in at roughly 140 g (with a very small number of tuning shifters available (e. g. by Tune called the “Rolff” or REWEL, Italy) and can be mounted on either side of the bars.

speedhub50014_bild1[1]The Rohloff specific rotors (with a 4-bolt attachment by standard chain ring bolts) weigh roughly the same as standard rotors and are available in 160 and 180 mm diameters. There are several aftermarket versions available to get the rear rotors match your front rotors if you are worried about your bikes appearance. All in all my rear wheel with Speedhub and all mounting hardware weighed roughly 2530 g (sans tires that is). This sounds like much (and it is) especially when the comparable wheel with XTR hubs (incl. cassette and rotor), comparable spokes and rims weighs at a seemingly featherweight 1380g. But keep in mind there are about 700 g of other components you get to take off when running the Speedhub (like granny and big chain ring, front and rear mech, and part of the shifters weight). So when you do the math, your bike running on a Speedhub will gain between 500 g (when compared to a SLX/XT level drive train) and ~1100 g (when compared to other high end componentry) – It can be more when considering ultralight components but these riders don´t usually look at the ROHLOFF Speedhub anyway.

Ultimately my personal bike gained ~700 g compared to my XT/XTR drive train I was running before. Was it worth it? Wait and see the riding report. This weight difference will always be there (until ROHLOFF releases a light version of the hub that has been rumored for years now) and it is one of the strongest arguments among weight weenies and XC racers against the Speedhub 500/14, but when you take a look at the internals (shown in this cut away picture, courtesy of Rohloff AG) you begin to appreciate that it is only this much.

Speedhub in Action – Riding experiences on the ROHLOFF Speedhub 500/14:

OK so now that the bike is set up with Rohloff – let´s get it out and dirty!! Like I have mentioned I had owned the ROHLOFF Speedhub 500/14 for some time now, originally in 26” but now for more than 7 months in a 29er wheel so this review is based on some serious mileage. In the 29er configuration I have been on the bike on and off – mostly in the worst of conditions.


Add-ons to the last post: The original Rohloff shifters are not recommended for Carbon bars: For that combination you will have to turn to one of the few aftermarket shifter alternatives like Tune´s Rolff.

And one more thing for those running one of those modern Post-Mount disc brake equipped frames – no adapters existing! (The only option for you is to refer to the long torque arms – not too aesthetically pleasing, but possible)


Shifting impressions: So how is the Speedhub on the trail? The first thing you will realize when coming from your standard external shifting is that you can change gears whenever you choose to – no pedaling, wheel rotation or other motion required. You can change gear with your bike standing – cool.

The downside is that shifting becomes increasingly harder under pedaling loads. It has been mentioned here in some comments that when pedaling hard it becomes near impossible to shift and you are right – it is. This might be a bummer for some but I learned to live with this very quickly and never felt like it was taking away from my performance. You simply learn to take off the pressure for this moment of shifting and then go on. This takes quite some discipline when standing in the starter block but is possible nonetheless. Not being a racer primarily I have come to love the “anytime shifting” of the Rohloff – just think of how often you needed to lift up your bike and do a pedal stroke to air shift into the desired gear when starting out or on the first steep pitch after a downhill, in technical riding, or after a crash. With the Speedhub you just shift, wherever, whenever – simple as that. Besides, Rohloff claims that you just can´t harm the hubs internals by forcing a shift, no matter how hard you pedal – good to know.

With the above mentioned case – there can be some ghost shifting, when shifting under pedal load – I have been able to force them on the hub. But they can happen only between the gears 7 and 8 and it really took me several deliberate attempts to ever make that happen. In all my time on the Speedhub I never experienced this to happen unintentionally so to me the shifting has been 100 % spot on (at any condition).

The shifting action at the shifter can feel a bit undefined, though, especially when coming from the latest crispy SRAM and SHIMANO shifters. Keep in mind that the Rohloff shifter does nothing but pull cables – all the indexing is done inside the Speedhub itself. So cable tension and cable friction do play a role in this but the shifting feel will always be less precise to high end conventional shifters. Theoretically you can shift all 14 gears in one stroke. The 21° twist per gear (273° for all 14 gears) limits this capacity though. Unless you can twist your wrist in very strange ways, it will take 2-3 strokes to cover the full range – but here again, anytime and anywhere. Additionally the large diameter barrel at the shifters make for a considerable cable throw in the hub. If I were to ask for a shifter redesign it would be to make gearing steps smaller, reduce the shifter in overall size and make it carbon bar compatible. The shifters have some strongly triangulated grip area, that has been receiving some “semi-positive” comments – to me it felt fine and despite being a bit oversize I felt OK with it.

Shifting action in respect of finding the correct gear is as simple as it can get – no dual shifters, cross chaining or double gears to consider just equal transmission steps by 13,6 % with each shift. A real no-brainer.


Riding impressions: The first thing that struck me on my bike equipped with ROHLOFF´s Speedhub was the clean looks. I like that and there are way less possibilities to get caught on rocks or branches. (I ride much in wooded or rocky terrain and so I usually have several fatalities with my rear derailleurs every year.) Just like a SS bike, pure, clean and simple but without the limitations (and, yes – more weight).

Gearing range: Like stated many times before, the gearing range is equivalent to a standard 27-spd external system. With the Speedhub it is a very easy task to modify this range in either direction. Going faster is no issue at all (just mount a bigger chain ring) – fine for those running smaller wheels. But us big wheelers are prone to peek in the other direction – choosing even lower gears. The introduction of ever more 11-36 cassettes and other 29er specific gearing are signs for that. And unfortunately here we run into manufacturer recommendations (see prior report). I am glad to say that my neglect of these recommendations and decision for running smaller chain rings (36 and sometimes 34 instead of the recommended 38 teeth) has never ever caused any issues riding (apart from voiding my warranty) but has granted me the option of riding through some climbs where with a normal 34 to 22 gearing I would have been walking.

I admit that at these speeds walking might have been just as fast but personally I love the sensation of riding all the way, rather than pushing (one more reason I could never get hooked on SS riding).


“Rohloffing”: When riding a Speedhub you will be aware that there is something going on in the rear of the bike under you. In some gears you can hear a whirring sound and sometimes feel minimal vibrations at your cranks. Nothing serious but it can be irritating at first. These noticeable gears are the lower 7 ones with a definite climax in gear 7 (which is where the third planetary gear is kicking in). It certainly feels a bit strange to not feel anything in higher gears (8 to 14) and suddenly with the switch from 8 to 7 have these sensations coming. Once you get accustomed to the hub it kind of fades away in your perception – at least it did with me. When being really sensitive you will notice this sensation increase just so slightly under high torque. To me these sensations are what kept me away from going ROHLOFF all the way and never looking back. More on that further down. While the noises and vibration can be more with a new Speedhub, it usually becomes lesser with time. It is a mere effect of all the precision crafted gear wheels adapting to one another and running smoother. The manual states that it will take between 500 to 1000 km to reach its equilibrium and has not been detected to change anymore after. So far I can fully back up that statement.

Besides these lower gears the hub is running mostly unnoticeable. The gear No. 11 is the direct gear with every rotation in the cog is translated directly to the wheel.

One thing that will get you wondering is the fact that when your take off your feet off the pedal when coasting, you likely will see your cranks starting to rotate. Ever seen that happen on your external shifting system? I have and it always has been a sign of some malfunction in the freewheel. “Friction” is the inevitable thought that will cross your mind, which brings us to the next big issue with the ROHLOFF Speedhub:

Efficiency: Rohloff goes through great effort in explaining why their system is near identical in efficiency to a well kept external gearing system – with a multitude of scientific and semi-scientific explanations which I will spare you (have a look for yourself if you have some extra hours). Basically I concluded that efficiency under pedal load and when riding is a different matter to spinning your wheel in the stand. And you know what: I have come to believe them (even though I haven´t been able to understand everything). I have read of reports by riders, who had abandoned using the Rohloff because of the sensation of resistance and friction some gears had given them (and from the above mentioned sensations I can even understand this mental connection). There is probably truth to both sides and I agree this whirring sensation does make you wonder about friction and can lead to the subjective feeling of slowness. Being a tester I can´t just get away with these thoughts and so I went through the effort of looking at the recorded speeds and lap times on my usual rounds and I came to realize it was merely going on in my head (or too minimal to detect by my simple means).

Ignore that suspicion and chances are you will become a Speedhub fan. Give in to that nagging voice and chances are you will always wonder if you might not be faster with standard shifting systems.

Additionally I just want to throw in that efficiency is one side of the coin but being able to shift freely under any circumstance and trail condition might be the other one. In that respect the Speedhub has never let me down. For me it was: When conditions turned really nasty and my externally geared bikes were quitting on me, the Speehub equipped bike remained completely unimpressed.

One more tangible difference is the distribution of the weight with a Speedhub. Here you have much more weight concentrated in the rear of the bike. Lift up your bike and you will immediately notice. Since I was riding it on a light rigid bike the front was plenty light already and having even more weight shifted to the rear it made some adjustment necessary to succeed on some of the steeper climbs. Again, a bit of body english was all that was needed and maneuvers like wheelies and technical riding became natural again. Only Bunny-Hopping just wouldn´t work out for me like before – blame my lack of bike handling skills for that. I am not too fond of big-jumps and air-time and on those small jumps I have been doing it never became an issue. Through other riders I hear that the Speedhub is actually quite popular with gravity driven riders for so the weight distribution can´t be this much off there either.

Maintenance: That has been a very easy one for me – NONE but the frequent lubing of the chain. I have completely neglected the hub, none of the yearly recommended oil changes (though I will do one after completing the test just because it is cheap, simple and it cannot hurt). It is reassuring that Rohloff recommends the yearly oil change (or after 5000 km, whichever comes first) as the only service for the Speedhub 500/14.

When talking about maintenance it is important to note that your chain will be lasting considerably longer (because it will be stressed evenly) and with the cog being reversible you can get twice the mileage out of them (besides being high grade stainless steel anyway) So practically the cost factor grows smaller over time when compared to standard shifting.


I really love riding the Speedhub on epic adventures, tours, especially in adverse conditions or whenever reliability was key, but whenever I was doing XC-style riding with lots of acceleration it only felt 95 % right. It might have been the additional weight or potentially lower efficiency of the system or my mental inability to separate the whirring sensation from actual performance – my means didn’t allow me to distinguish – but for XC-kind of riding the Speedhub just never “klicked” with me. Like I said my basic measurements don´t back that up and so I must call that a purely subjective sensation.

If you are only riding in decent weather and don’t ride through winters the Speedhub will probably not catch your admiration but if you are the kind, who wants to ride anytime, anywhere the Speedhub might just be the ticket.

So my conclusion for the Speedhub is an ambivalent one; on the plus side you have perfect reliability, low maintenance, reliability and … did I say reliability – which to me means riding without any limitations. The bad side (consisting of added and concentrated weight, less crisp shifting and high cost) is longer but much less significant – at least to me. (Plus the whirring sensation in the lower gears I simply had not been able to ignore 100%.)

For epic rides and touring I give it two thumbs up and I favor it over any other transmission currently out there. For XC-racing, jumping and such I know it does work, it just wouldn´t be my first choice.

A few words on the future:

Rohloff and Gates Carbon Drive:

This combination seems like a very logical one (get away with the last bit of frequent maintenance by replacing the often to be lubed chain by the CARBON Drive) and some have already asked about it.

Since I don´t have any first hand experience with it (and no frame that would work anyway) I addressed Rohloff product manager Marco Rauch about it and believe me, they have spent serious time working on it and doing in-house testing with it. But the Rohloff guys wouldn’t be themselves if they didn’t expect near foolproof perfection (and 200 % reliability).

Technically the specific parts do exist and given the perfect chain line it does work just fine. Did you read my constraint? While our proven system of chain rings, cogs and chain does handle minor misalignment quite well (SS-riders know what I am talking about), the carbon drive belt system is very sensitive to these things.

It seems that one of the major limitations to the systems working perfectly in sync is the frame design and production (perfect alignment and minimal flex, plus very low tolerances). These things are more or less out of the hands of both Rohloff and Gates but when something does not work perfectly in the power transfer sector, these two will be among the first to be asked for explanations. So understandably they are not easily jumping on that horse before the basic requirements have been met and are executed in frame design.

Additionally I have been told that the testing by Rohloff has shown a recommended smallest cog of 20 sprockets, thus requiring a chain ring 50 sprockets or larger. And that is the least thing you want to do place the Carbon Drive belt closer to potentially harmful things like rocks ;-) .

A twinge

Went to do interval run in the gym.

interval session

The normal routine
WARM UP at 6.5mph (5m:46s/km)
THEN RUN @ 10.5mph (3m33s/km)
times 10 repeats …..

On the 9th repeat felt a (sore) twinge in calf so immediately stopped and then went to indoor bike for a cycle – to get rid of any lactic acid I might have built up and to see if my leg started to feel any better.

To make matters far worse the TV in front of me was playing something called Day of Our Lives – possibly the most stupid drivel I have ever seen …. Even with the sound off it was painful.

It didn’t and it hasn’t. Hopefully it will sort itself out before the race on Sunday.

In Chest Sensors – from WIRED MAG


Wearing the E39 shirt

Read this with interest on WIRED – a shirt for footballers (For the Brit readers this is better explained as The HandEgg Game with lots of pads and time delays) – but would also translate well into real football and running, triathlon etc. I could see an Olympic triathlon event with live readings from the athletes as well as telemetry. Could provide amazing analytical insight / techie wetdream material.


For years, the NFL Combine has been vilified as a host for a series of workouts that don’t accurately measure a football player’s impact on the field. Now, one company has potentially changed that with an electronic shirt that tracks everything from heart rate to g force of acceleration.

Somewhere between 10 and 30 prospects, including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton, will wear the Under Armour E39 compression shirt during Combine workouts, which begin this Saturday. It weighs less than 4.5 oz and is made from the same material as the rest of the company’s line of compression-based apparel.

Yet just below the sternum, the shirt also contains a removable sensor pack called a “bug” that holds a triaxial accelerometer, a processor and 2 gigabytes of storage. The information collected can be broadcast via Bluetooth to smartphones, iPads and laptops so that scouts and trainers can view the power and efficiency of each athlete’s movements. Heart-rate and breathing-rate monitors are placed on both sides of the sensor pack, helping to gather even more intel from the body’s core.

“What we have is something very close to the body’s center of mass that’s measuring the accelerometry data from that center of mass,” Under Armour vice president Kevin Haley told

To incorporate the technology into the shirt, Under Armour partnered with Zephyr, a data software company based in Annapolis, Maryland, which typically makes products for the defense and health care industries.

What Zephyr provided was a system that uses that center of mass to measure data. Although it has been reported that the E39 shirt uses electronic touch points to accumulate that information, Haley made clear that the touch points aren’t the sensors people might think of as dotting various parts of a shirt — they’re all located within the sensor pack.


The triaxial accelerometer inside the sensor pack measures acceleration and change of direction. It breaks down an athlete’s movements along a sagittal plane, which is a vertical plane passing from front to rear that divides the body into left and right sections. It provides a glimpse at how each side of the body is moving in sync — or out of sync — with the other during a sprint, for example.

Rather than rely on 10-yard increments as analysis for a football player’s acceleration and explosiveness during a sprint, each player’s stride can be dissected to assess where he excels and where he can improve to maximize effort.

Key to this is measuring a player’s braking force, or the negative movements he makes which slows down his linear speed.

“If you’re looking at acceleration or maintenance of top speed, one of the things that happens in the running mechanics is a period of time when your foot contacts the ground and you’re braking — decelerating — until your foot gets through the hip, at which point you can re-accelerate,” Haley said, adding that 80 percent of acceleration is derived from the time the foot hits the ground until it’s just behind the hip.

That’s why it’s so critical for an athlete not to decelerate during that motion, especially when the foot has contact with the ground. The accelerometer can feed data of these strides to an EKG-like chart on a computer which shows the braking and acceleration forces.

As an example, Haley cited one highly touted running back who was recently working out in Los Angeles in preparation for the NFL Combine. The speedster was running 20-yard sprints in the E39 shirt when his coach detected a deceleration between 10 and 20 yards. The player was taking the longest strides he could, with each foot braking as he attempted to use his other foot to catch up with the one in front of it.

The coach advised him to shorten his strides, so that each foot would hit the ground closer to the last one. “He was able to see a more consistent pattern of acceleration without having a braking force,” Haley said.

NFL Network plans to showcase several players who are wearing the E39 shirt. (E stands for Electric and 39 is the code from the first shirt Under Armour produced in the mid-’90s.) During Saturday’s workouts, the network will follow one or two players at a time during various exercises, and viewers will be able to track a player’s heart rate before, during and after a 40-yard dash, as well as go inside other biometric data.

Under Armour doesn’t plan on making the E39 available at this time. After its debut this week at the Combine, the shirt will be made available to Under Armour’s contracted athletes and schools, then elite trainers the company works with, followed by non-contracted teams that want to test the shirt.

Only then will Under Armour roll out a traditional retail introduction, capping a process that can take up to a year, perhaps in time for yet another round of NFL Combine’s workouts.


Should Bikes and Cars have to follow the same rules

Bikes are different than cars: bikes have only two wheels; bikes are smaller and travel at slower speeds; people who ride bikes (cyclists) are not required to be a certain minimum age, pass a test, have a license, or register or insure their bicycles; there are no laws regulating the training of cyclists as there are for motorists. So why should cyclists be held to the same standards on their bikes as motorists in their cars? Why should cyclists be subject to the same traffic laws and fines for violations?


share the road


Part of the answer to the second question can be found by considering the relevant similarity between bikes and cars: it is legal to operate both bikes and cars on many of the same streets. If cyclists did not have to obey traffic laws, whenever a bike and car approached an intersection, the car would have to stop in order to avoid hitting the bike, even if the car had a green light. By stopping at the green light, while (importantly) sparing the cyclist, the motorist contradicts and thereby undermines the system of meaning that traffic signals are intended to convey. So in order to prevent corrosion of the traffic signal system and subsequent chaos, cyclists should follow the same traffic laws as motorists.

Given that cyclists should obey the same traffic laws as motorists, should they be subject to the same fines? This is where things start to get complicated.

Copenhagen - the dream world


On the one hand, there is the idea of proportionality: the more severe the infraction, the more severe the sanction – in this case, the worse the violation, the higher the fine. Are traffic violations worse in a car than on a bike? In terms of the potential harm inflicted on others, yes, they are. Consider driving and biking the wrong way down a one way street: both are dangerous, but intuitively, the motorist is doing something far more dangerous, and therefore worse, than the cyclist. In principle, however, it’s not clear that one is worse than the other. As discussed above, cyclists should follow the same traffic laws as motorists in order to uphold a system that is supposed to enable road users to predict each other’s behaviour. In light of this system, all violations, whether by car or bike, are equally bad and therefore should incur the same fine.

On the other hand, there is the idea of deterrent: the higher the fine for a violation, the greater risk associated with it, the less likely it is to occur. It may be that bike fines are currently so low that they do not sufficiently discourage violations. For example, in Boston, a cyclist may be fined $20 for most traffic offenses; there is a proposal to raise this to $150  in an attempt to reduce bike traffic violations. In order to be an effective deterrent, however, the cyclist’s fine need not be as high as the motorist’s. Presumably, there is some threshold amount, say $50, that would stop most cyclists (and, for that matter, motorists) wantonly flouting traffic regulations. Any amount the over the threshold is not a deterrent, but a punishment. As discussed above, there is at least some reason to think that it is worse to commit traffic offenses in a car than on a bike; so there is some reason for motorists to pay higher fines than cyclists.  Perhaps cyclists should pay higher fines than they currently do for violating traffic laws, but not necessarily the same fines as motorists.

There is a lot more that could be said on this subject.

What do you think about it?

Do you think cyclists and motorists should follow the same laws?

Do you think they should pay the same fines?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Charge Bikes – tunnels and Shaftesbury

Tom LaMarche pays the UK a well timed flying visit, just in time for a trip to the Charge HQ and a day trip to the city of Bath, plus a session in a Tunnel and a party on brick lane, typical fixed day out.

Casio GWM5600 Atomic Solar

The GWM5600 possesses Tough Solar and Multi-band 5 Atomic Timekeeping technology housed within an even slimmer profile square case than the original. Non-Stop Tough Solar Power provides energy via a tiny solar panel combined with a large-capacity rechargeable battery that enables a variety of energy-hungry functions to operate smoothly. Black resin band digital watch with a neutral face.


  • Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping (US, UK, Germany, Japan)
    Receives time calibration radio signals which keep the displayed time accurate
    Auto receive function (6 times per day)
    Manual receive function
    Signal:  US WWVB, UK MSF, Germany DCF77, Japan JJY40/JJY60
    Frequency:  US 60kHz, UK 60kHz, Germany 77.5kHz, Japan 40/60kHz
  • Tough Solar Power
  • Shock Resistant
  • 200M Water Resistant
  • Auto EL Backlight with Afterglow
  • World Time
    29 times zones (48 cities), city code display, daylight saving on/off
  • 5 Daily Alarms (1 with snooze)
  • Countdown Timer
    Measuring unit: 1/10 second
    Countdown range: 1 minute to 60 minutes
  • 1/100 second stopwatch
    Measuring capacity: 999:59’59.99″
    Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times
  • Hourly Time Signal
  • Button Tone Operation On/Off
  • Auto Calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099)
  • 12/24 Hour Formats
  • Accuracy: +/- 15 seconds per month (with no signal calibration)
  • Storage Battery
  • Battery Power Indicator
  • Power Saving Function
  • Approx. battery life: 8 months on full charge (without further exposure to light)
  • Module 3063