Rohloff

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Rohloff AG
Industry Cycling components
Founded 1986
Headquarters Fuldatal, Germany
Products Bicycle related components, internal gear hubs, chains, tools, lubrication
Employees 45
Website www.rohloff.de
Internal Schematic of a Rohloff Speedhub 500/14

Rohloff AG is a German company from Fuldatal near Kassel that manufactures hub gears, bicycle chains and tools that are known for their durability and high performance. The company’s logo is a black silhouette of a raven on a yellow background.

History[edit]

Rohloff AG was founded in 1986 and began by producing a high-tech and very expensive bicycle chain, the SLT 99. Sales of this chain generated revenues of €1m in 1991, and approximately €0,5m annually from 1992-1998.[1]

Development of the Rohloff Speedhub 500/14[edit]

While at the Tour de France road race in France in 1994, the Rohloffs went bicycling on the beach in France. The bikes got stuck in the sand, and the primitive derailleur gear systems would not work. This triggered Bernhard Rohloff to develop a new internally geared hub.

On the 1996 IFMA in Cologne, Rohloff announced a 14-speed gear hub with a weight of 1700 grams. At the time, the gear hub with the greatest number of speeds was the fragile 3700 gram 12 speed Sachs Elan (discontinued by 2000), made by the hub-gear manufacturer Sachs (later acquired by SRAM). A year later Rohloff presented a workable prototype at the 1997 IFMA and won a crate of champagne from the employees at Sachs, who had bet against them the year before. The managing director of the dominant cycling component manufacturer Shimano approached Rohloff and asked: "Shimano could release a 14 speed gear hub onto the market tomorrow, but it would weigh double as much as yours" - "How do you manage this?"[1]

The Rohloffs had been granted a DM 1 million bank loan for development of the new product, and for the start of production, guarantees in the amount of several million marks. At this time, the design just existed on paper. The company was not successful in raising financing from investors. However, just 10 days after the IFMA, the loan guarantees were retracted. The granting bank had gone bankrupt, was acquired by another bank, and the restructuring specialist hired had previously been involved with financing development of the competing Sachs Elan hub.[1]

Rohloff searched but was unable to raise a bank loan. The company was in dire straits, if the product could not be launched, it could not repay the loans. The founders had personally guaranteed for the initial million mark loan.[1]

In the end, through local political connections in the Kassel area, Rohloff was able to receive a county loan guarantee, and with this convince a bank to grant the loan required to pay local sub-suppliers for parts, and commence production of the Speedhub. The decision maker at the financial and economic ministry in Hessen was a keen cyclist. When he had first heard of the Rohloff, he had already decided to buy a hub if it became available.[1] Following a test-ride in May 1998, the loan was granted, enabling Rohloff AG to sign production contracts with the local suppliers by the summer. The first Speedhub units were shipped to customers by Christmas of 1998.[1]

Products[edit]

Each year Rohloff produces approximately 20,000 gear hubs. The Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 is the only bicycle hub with 14 gears, which can replace a regular chain derailleur system regarding level of friction and range of transmission.

Rohloff AG also used to make an automatic chain lubrication system called Lubmatic, and cycle tools such as a chain riveting tool and a chain measurement tool.

Speedhub production[edit]

Rohloff Speedhub 500/14[2]
Production year Serial numbers Production
1998 000 000 - 000 300 300
1999 000 301 - 002 415 2 114
2000 002 416 - 005 502 3 086
2001 005 503 - 010 812 5 309
2002 010 813 - 017 603 6 790
2003 017 604 - 027 008 9 404
2004 027 009 - 037 183 10 174
2005 037 184 - 050 000 12 816
2006 050 001 - 065 000 15 000
2007 065 001 - 082 500 17 500(est)
2008 082 501 - 102 500 20 000(est)[3]
2009 102 501 - 122 500 20 000(est)[4]
2010 122 501 - 142 500 20 000(est)[5]
2011 142 501 - 162 500 20 000(est)[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Rohloff, Barbara; Rauch, Marco (2010). Rohloff Stories. Rohloff AG. ISBN 978-3-00-031899-3. 
  2. ^ Rohloff AG: NEWS 50.000 SPEEDHUB 500/14 delivered. 02.02.2006
  3. ^ Serial 100 000 delivered in 2008.
  4. ^ Serial 111 111 delivered 2009
  5. ^ Serial 134 000 delivered in 2010
  6. ^ August 2011: 150.000 Getriebenaben sind gefertigt.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°20′53″N 9°31′00″E / 51.34806°N 9.51667°E / 51.34806; 9.51667