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How Reliable over long distance rides?
#1
The following post is an entire topic copied from the discontinued NuVinci Forum. The majority is written by members of the old forum and not by me.

by joggerdude on Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:19 am

I am considering a NuVinci hub for my Catrike recumbent trike.
However, having had friends cast doubt on the reliability of a Nuvinci versus derailleur, I was wondering what sort of longevity tests have been done on the hub, and how many miles one of your hubs has been tested to.
I sometimes do long rides, and the NuVinci is not the sort of hub you can repair out on a ride 50 miles from home. If it failed you would be in trouble.

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by joggerdude on Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:23 am

NuVinci, do you have any data on this?
Surely some tests have been carried out to verify the durability of the product?
joggerdude

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by NuVinciSupport on Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:10 am

Here is a link to the durability sheet on our website: http://www.fallbrooktech.com/docs/N360_durability.pdf

We have customers in Europe who have been riding our previous generation hub (the N171) for well over 20,000 miles with no service whatsoever. Our testing of the N360 does meet these types of levels, but the real world use is really what speaks volumes about how well the hubs hold up. As for the N360, since it has not been commercially available for as long, we do not have that type of specific real world data as of yet. However, you can be assured that we have manufactured the N360 to a higher standard then the N171, so that will mean it will meet and exceed those real world instances from the N171.

If you are looking for a service interval, there is not one.
Keep On Smooth Cruising
NuVinci Support

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by joggerdude on Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:35 am

Does anyone else have any comments regarding reliability and mileage they have done ??

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by trike on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:38 am

Try bikeforums.net or something, maybe the commuter or utility sections.

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by Rob_E on Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:53 pm

I've been using mine (not the N360) for 2+ years of commuting. My guess is at least 6,000 miles, but it's been a while since I took an odometer reading. There has been one issue early on with some fluid leaking. It never affected handling/function, and Fallsbrook addressed it quickly. A year ago a screw worked itself loose and fell out. Again, this didn't affect hub function and again Fallsbrook shot a new part right out to me right away. In an extended ride, don't think either issue would have inconvenienced me. I suppose on a multi-week tour, I would have wanted the screw replaced before the tour was over, but as responsive as customer support was, I doubt it would have been difficult to arrange.

In addition to daily commuting and other, general riding, the bike has been on a few overnight trips and a three day mini-tour. I have never been concerned about the reliability of the hub. Next week I plan to take a four day mini-tour as well. I'll have the usual spare tires and general tools, but I'm not worried about the hub.

Obviously if the hub fails 50 miles out, that can be a problem, but that's just one of several "show stopping" failures that could occur, and not a very likely one in my experience. I would guess that the most vulnerable aspect of the hub would be the shifting. When I broke a cable on a ride, I lost the ability to shift, but not the ability to get home (or to get to the shop for some new cables). I just manually put the bike into a comfortable gear and went single-speed style until I fixed it. You could do a roadside cable swap if you had to, but unless I was on long trip, I would probably save that repair for home, which is the same as how I'd handle a derailleur cable failure. Except sometimes with a broken derailleur it's tricky to get the bike into the gear you want, which is a problem the Nuvinci doesn't seem to have.

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by Oran on Mon May 07, 2012 3:47 pm

I have just carried out an experiment on an N360 hub and the result might be of interest to anyone reading this topic. If you have wondered what would happen in the very unlikely event that all the traction fluid leaked out of your hub the answer is that you should still be able to get home.

I opened up a hub and emptied out all the traction fluid until I got bored of waiting for it to stop dripping. This is more then I think could escape through the seals and left only a coating of fluid over the internals. I put it all back together and rode the bike up a 50m high steep hill. The hub continued to perform normally even when I dropped the sprocket ratio to 1.22:1.

Unfortunately I needed the spokes for my new hub so I couldn’t test how far it will go but if there was even a ¼ of the fluid left the distance will be greatly increased. The point is that it worked without the 100ml of fluid sloshing around in it. I don’t think it would do the hub much good long term if ridden in this state but if you were 50 miles from home I think you’d make it back.
........__o
........\<,
......()/()

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by FransM on Tue May 08, 2012 7:38 am

Oran wrote:... The hub continued to perform normally even when I dropped the sprocket ratio to 1.22:1. ...

@Oran: Interesting experiment. I wouldn't be surprised if you'd manage to round Scotland without the fluid.
I'm also very interested in your low sprocket ratio as I've just built a two times infinite gears bike (double chainset) with the smallest chainwheel/rear sprocket ratio being 1.33:1. Yes, I know that NuVinci doesn't guarantee this setup, I take the risk.
What is your experience? And what do you think?
Cheers, Frans

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by Oran on Wed May 09, 2012 6:22 pm

A tour of Scotland with an empty hub sounds like a great experiment to try, mostly because I’m bored of the roads on the tiny island where I live.

I don’t normally use such a low sprocket ratio it was because I temporarily installed the hub on a bike with a triple chainset. Also the hub I used for the experiment is one of the leakers I have had replaced but they don’t want back. I normally use 48t and 38t chainwheels with an 18t on the hub giving 27 – 125 gear inches.

When I said it performed normally what I meant was that it continued to do what it is supposed to, that is to transmit power. However the riding experience starts to alter.

The hub felt rather odd a bit like it was slipping but I’m pity sure it wasn’t. It was like having an oval chainwheel although I have never tried Biopace chainwheels. It got me thinking about what I had read in the topic “inner gear ratios of the Nuvinci 360” which you were involved in exactly a year ago.

NuVinciSupport wrote:
The nature of the N360 shift mechanism is that ratio under actual riding torque will be slightly lower than when under extremely low torque (like when doing “wheel counts” by hand).


It seems that as torque increases the ratio decreases which results in a sensation like the hub is slipping. This affect becomes much more noticeable when the sprocket ratio is lower than the recommended minimum of 1.8:1.

The other issue with using a low sprocket ratio is efficiency. The efficiency is inversely proportional to the clamping pressure and the clamping pressure is proportional to torque. With a low sprocket ratio you are not only putting more torque into the hub but because in low ratios the bike tends to be going slower, torque is also higher on the output side as well.

I believe the minimum sprocket ratio rule is there not so much to avoid damage to the hub but has more to do with.
1) Avoiding the slipping like sensation.
2) Avoiding an unacceptably low efficiency.

Although having said that, the life of the hub may be shortened by using a very low sprocket ratio.

I would be interested to know how you get on using a low sprocket ratio over a longer period of time. I only used it in the 1.22:1 ratio for a couple of minutes at the most.
If I get some more spokes I would like to try riding more in the 1.22:1 ratio. I would also like to find out what happens when all traces of the traction fluid are removed. I suspect it really will go wrong at that point.
........__o
........\<,
......()/()

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by FransM on Fri May 11, 2012 4:30 am

Thanks, Oran, for your answer.
For my holiday trips with a fully loaded bike in the mountains I would like something like 20 gear inches, hence this setup.
I've done a little test run with the low gear ratio on a brand new 2012 hub, unfortunately there aren't any serious hills around here, so I tried a steepish bridge with the highest gear on the small chainring: I felt nothing strange whatsoever, perfectly normal and smooth.

I'm not sure whether I understand the efficiency issue. Again, I didn't notice anything, and I wonder whether it is very important when climbing 10% hills, gravity is the enemy then.

I'll be testing this setup in my summer holiday in the mountains and I'll let you know how it performs.
However, with this setup I'll be using the big chainring most of the time, up to 6 or 7% hills, therefore the small chainring will be used only about 10% of the time, or even less.

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by trike on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:09 am

Oran, that was a very insightful post (about the minimum sprocket ratio and "squish effect").

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by Rob_E on Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:55 pm

I will add to my experience to say that eventually my N171 hub failed, but not in a show-stopping kind of way. On my normal commute, it just started to freewheel in low gear, not transferring any power to the wheel. Shifting up the hub would finally "catch" and would operate normally as long as I didn't shift back down into the lowest part of the range. I easily made it home, contacted support, and they replaced the hub. The new hub has been great. I've been riding it almost daily since November. I took the bike on an overnight trip, and then took it on a week-long trip with no bad results.

While I'm not thrilled that I had two warranty issues with my hub, I am very happy with function of the hub overall and the responsiveness of Support. I still don't have any qualms about taking my hub on long distance trips. The old hub went thousands of miles between issues. The new hub has hundreds of miles on it without issue, and there's no reason to think that it would be more likely to fail on a long trip then during the hundreds of commuting miles that it sees.

Basically no part on the bike can be guaranteed free from failure, but the Nuvinci hub has proven to be very robust, and when it has had issues, those issues didn't leave me stranded. They just left me without my full gear range.

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by FransM on Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:44 am

FransM wrote:I'll be testing this setup in my summer holiday in the mountains and I'll let you know how it performs.
However, with this setup I'll be using the big chainring most of the time, up to 6 or 7% hills, therefore the small chainring will be used only about 10% of the time, or even less.

Well, I'm back, done a trip with fully loaded bikes including a 200km sort of mtb-trail with a lot of steep hills.
Two bikes with the N360 with a double chainring amounting to a ratio of 1.83 and 1.33.
Most of the time on the 1.83, only on steep hills using the 1.33 and not stressing it by bashing it out of the saddle.

One of the bikes performed beautifully, no problems, no sounds, still as smooth as ever.
The other had problems right from the start, before even using the low ratio seriously.
The first problem is that when applying very little torque (after reaching the top of the hill) it "hicupped": it felt as if the hub didn't engage on the two low torque parts of the pedalling stroke (cranks vertical), applying a little more torque made it go away.
The second problem was when climbing in low gear (both ratio's): it felt and sounded like bad bearings. When turning to a higher gear this went away. The problem didn't get worse or better during the remainder of the trip.
When spinning the wheels fast (w/o load), you can hear a sort of rattling noise in low gear.

I doubt whether these problems are the result of the low ratio as the symptoms where there right from the start.
Anyone has a clue as to what's wrong?
Would it be an idea to take the hub apart to have a look inside?
Oran: How do you do this and what tools do you need?

Thanks for any feedback.

Frans

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by NuVinciSupport on Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:55 am

I'm glad one of the hubs worked beautifully and this is the way ALL of the hubs should be working. The fact that you experienced something right from the start could mean there is something going on internally that is not operating correctly (I don't know that for certain, just taking a guess). It sounds like you could have a warranty situation on your hands and that is something we are happy to take care of.

Please send an email to our warranty group at: support@fallbrooktech.com and let them know the issues you are having with the 2nd hub. Also, mention that you have the other hub and it is working flawlessly while the defective one felt bad right out of the box. They will get you taken care of and back up and riding as quickly as they can.

Keep On Smooth Cruising
NuVinci Support

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by FransM on Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:06 am

@NuVinciSupport: Thank you, I have sent an email to support in Europe.

It seems to me that my "bad bearings/rattling in low gear" problem could be same as that described in http://nuvinci.informe.com/forum/bicycle...-t826.html

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by NuVinciSupport on Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:08 am

Keep us posted on how things are handled. My initial thought would be to warranty replace the hub. but see what support says as they will guide you to the best solution for your situation.
Keep On Smooth Cruising
NuVinci Support

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by Oran on Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:19 pm

Hi FransM
I would be interested to know what is wrong inside your hub. Taking it apart requires a special tool as I don’t think there is any other way of griping the lid securely enough. The large diameter of the thread means it takes a lot of torque to unscrew it.
This is the tool I made for the purpose.

   

To further disassemble the hub only requires a spanner to loosen the axle lock nut.

From your description of the symptoms it could be that there is something contaminating the traction fluid probably from the manufacturing process.

Opening the hub will void the warranty but if the hub doesn’t get replaced it might be worth sorting out something to get the hub opened up.
Perhaps I could start a tool rental service.

........__o
........\<,
......()/()

Re: How Reliable over long distance rides?
by FransM on Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:04 pm

Thanks Oran,
It looks as if I will get a replacement hub so I cannot take it apart right now.
Although I'm happy getting a new hub this unfortunately means we won't get to know what's going on.
If I do get the chance I will make an effort to make a tool to do the job, wish you were closer.
I also wondered whether it could be too little fluid, it seems to make more noise in normal upright position than in horizontal position.
Frans
- Oran
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#2
I remember reading that thread really carefully at the time!

Oran, what is the maximum distance you went without having issues with a hub? I know you have had several warranty replacements over the time.

I am concerned about my choice of hub... maybe I should have paid a little more to grab a Rohloff unstead! ...Huh
-
Si ça a déjà été fait, je peux le faire
Si ça n'a jamais été fait, donnez-moi juste le temps de trouver comment !


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#3
My current hub which is a 2012 model has done nearly 2000miles (3200km) with no serious issues. The only thing wrong with it was a snapping noise from the freewheel. It had no affect on the operation and I was sent a new freewheel.

Compared to other IGHs I would say that NuVinci hubs have the potential to be more reliable as the internal workings are much simpler. It’s really just a large ball bearing supported by other smaller bearings. The shifting mechanism is also so simple there isn’t much to go wrong.
I can’t think of much that can go seriously wrong internally, faults are likely to develop slowly as things ware out such as the traction fluid or seals.

Having looked through most of the old NuVinci forum I thought I would summarize the faults and failures people encountered.
As far as I’m aware the only reason for a total failure of a hub occurs when the freewheel fails. Wise to carry a spare freewheel if going on a long ride.

Other faults with a hub shouldn’t result in a total failure and won’t prevent you riding home.

Traction fluid leaks, the results of a test I did proved that a hub will function with very little fluid.

Slipping, if not due to the no-turn washers it seems to only occur when the hub is over loaded by a motor with a seriously high power output of 1000W or 2000W. Even then slipping occurred under certain conditions such as at more than 3/4 throttle and after riding for 5 minutes. People with this fault reported that the hub got very warm when in use.

Shifting issues, these tend to be due to incorrect installation or adjustment of the shifter cables.

Hub not running smoothly or increased resistance, these faults were due to manufacturing errors or incorrect tolerances and the hubs were like it straight from the box.
- Oran
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#4
Ok... So appart from traction fluid leak and possible freewheel failure (I heard it is not one of the strongest freewheel), I have nothing to be worried about....

I still find that there is a lot going on with these hubs VS Rohloffs... But at 1/4th to 1/3rd of the price... I think I made a good decision!
-
Si ça a déjà été fait, je peux le faire
Si ça n'a jamais été fait, donnez-moi juste le temps de trouver comment !


Répondre
#5
I thought this video might be of interest to anyone reading this topic. It's about the noise a hub is making because its failed in some way but interestingly it's still working. Apparently shifts fine and transmits power without slipping. The mileage is 13,000 (21,000km) which is not bad and it can obviously be achieved despite my pessimism. I would estimate there should be quite a bit of wear and this has probably caused the failure of one of the planet axle end caps or damaged the stator badly. It sounds as though one of the planets is loose and rattling because they are the only parts inside heavy enough. Also if any other part, such as a traction ring, broke it would be a total failure. I've proved that a hub can transmit power fine with 5 planets although inefficiently.

So are NuVinci hubs reliable over long distance rides? I'd say they are showing signs of being incredibly reliable thanks to their rather simple design.
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