One of the concerns some people have with using a Rohloff for touring is that if the hub breaks there are no easily sourced spares. Many Rohloff specific bikes won’t take a derailleur even if you felt like going to the trouble of swapping in a whole new wheel/drivetrain.
In reality my research regarding Rohloff problems suggests that a tour ending/delaying Rohloff problem is very unlikely once you have properly broken in your hub and assuming you take care of the very minimal maintenance it requires. In the few instances that there have been problems that forced a rider to stop touring Rohloff has resolved the issue for them very quickly to get them back on the road ASAP.
However for those folks that want to be prepared for any eventuality I came across this emergency fixed gear setup for a Rohloff that will allow you to keep moving even in the very unlikely event of a total hub failure:
- get a steel 22T 4 bolt “granny” chainring
- file underneath the bolt holes to fit over the disc brake lip on the Rohloff
- when you want to go “fixed” remove the EX gear box and disc rotor
- install the steel 22T chainring – you’ll need some appropriately long bolts [the bolt pattern of the Rohloff disc rotor and 4 bolt ring is the same]
- install the Rohloff with the right side of the hub now on the left side of the bike – ie. backwards
- add a few links to your chain using the spare links you are carrying and an extra powerlink quick connector
- you now have a fixed gear bike
- this will only work on a Rohloff specific frame without the use of any chain tensioners
- you’ll have a fairly high gear to work with [most likely a 22T x 38T ratio] so you won’t be climbing the alps on a loaded touring bike, but you will be able to ride flat sections of the route as well as the downhills
- you could of course carry a second small chainring and replace the 38T up front for a more manageable ratio
I have enough confidence that my Rohloff won’t leave me stranded that I won’t bother carrying the parts for this emergency setup under normal circumstances, but it is good to know about if I ever do something suitably extreme with my Rohloff.
You can read the discussion about this Rohloff hack on the Thorn Rohloff Forums here.