Replacing Rohloff Hub Oil Seals…

9 05 2013
Leaky Rohloff...

Leaky Rohloff…

The Rohloff IGH in my Surly Big Dummy has been leaking oil for a while. This doesn’t really matter a whole lot as the Rohloff continued to work just fine, but I knew it was something I should sort out. So I collected the parts I needed and specialized Rohloff tools last year and finally got around to making it happen last week.

Most of what I needed...

Most of what I needed…

Here is what you need:

  • Hub oil seals x 2 = #8244
  • Tools for mounting hub seals = #8503
  • Paper gaskets = #8710
  • Loctite = #8347
  • Oil change kit = #8410
  • Sprocket removal tool = #8510
  • Rohloff instruction manual
  • Torx 20 driver
  • 3mm, 5mm & 8mm allen keys
  • large adjustable wrench
  • chain whip
  • paper towel
  • q-tips
  • rubbing alcohol
  • beer x 6
  • music

Before getting started wash your hub/rim/tire and let dry. You don’t want to have chunks of dirt fall into the open hub and it will be nicer to work with a clean wheel.

Axle side oil seal removed...

Axle side oil seal removed…

Like all Rohloff projects I’ve embarked on it was much easier than I had feared, but complicated enough that I ran into a couple glitches. Here are some instructions on how to replace the hub oil seals.

You will also need to read up on:

  • removing/installing the disc brake [assuming you have one]
  • removing/installing the shifting mechanism
  • removing/installing the drive sprocket
  • how to do an oil change

It’s worth reading all the way through so you can be sure you have all the parts and tools you need.

Staying organized...

Staying organized…

I started on the axle side where the shift box attaches. Pulling off the disc brake rotor and the shifting mechanism was easy. The hub oil seal was in pretty tight so it took me a few tries to get it out. It helps that you can destroy it in the process since it’s headed for the bin anyways.

New hub seal...

New hub seal…

With the Rohloff tool installing the new hub seal is dead easy. Just make sure you clean out the old seal mating surface before installing and don’t get crazy with the Loctite around the new seal. You don’t want to contaminate the hub.

Seal installed...

Seal installed…

Once the hub seal is installed just reassemble the axle side of the hub. It’s a bit fiddly so read the instructions first and then tackle it.

Paper gaskets...

Paper gaskets…

It was about this point that I realized I was missing 2 small paper gaskets I needed to reinstall my shift mechanism. I was a bit bummed because I didn’t think I’d be able to source them locally and figured I might be waiting 2 weeks for mail order parts to arrive. Happily I went down to the Fairfield Bicycle Shop and they had exactly what I needed in stock. Awesome! 🙂

It’s really nice to have a LBS who services Rohloffs in town. If I ever have questions I can talk to them and they carry the parts I need for any projects.

The video above shows how to remove the sprocket from a Rohloff hub. These sprockets are threaded onto the hub and continuously tightened by your pedalling action. So they are a bitch to get off.

I tried....

I tried….

I tried to loosen the sprocket at home, but failed. So I carried the hub down to the kind folks at Cycles West my neighbourhood LBS. They used their bench vice to hold the hub and spin off the sprocket with a chain whip. Thanks guys – you rock! 🙂

The video above shows how to replace the hub oil seal on the drive side of the hub.

SLX brake parts...

SLX brake parts…

I cleaned the brake rotor with rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of hub oil that may have gotten on to it. I sanded down the pads and then set them ablaze for a while in a pool of rubbing alcohol to clean them up as well. I probably need new pads, but I’m a bit lazy so I’ll use these for now until I get some freshies.

My Big Dummy repair stand... ;)

My Big Dummy repair stand… 😉

With the hub back together I pumped some cleaning solution into it as the first part of an oil change.

The video above explains how to do an oil change.

Time to haul...

Time to haul…

I needed to work the cleaning solution all through the hub so I figured I might as well go get some groceries.

Checking everything out...

Checking everything out…

The ride let me check that the hub was working correctly in case I had goofed something during reassembly. As it turns out the IGH was purring like a kitten! 🙂

My buddy Steve...

My buddy Steve…

I ran into my buddy Steve so we talked cargo bikes and he checked out the passenger deck.

Fresh oil...

Fresh oil…

Once home I let the dirty oil drain out and then I injected 25ml of the clean stuff and buttoned up the Rohloff.

See you in 5000kms...

See you in 5000kms…

Since my Big Dummy doesn’t see big mileage these days and lives inside I won’t be messing with this Rohloff for a few years.

Ready for summer...

Ready for summer…

Now that I have been through it all once I could replace a set of Rohloff hub seals in 1hr – assuming I had the parts and a bench vice at home. Sadly I’ll probably forget everything I just did by the time I need to do it again! 😉



14 responses

9 05 2013

Great to see the Big Dummy again! How many miles/years had you been using the hub before it began leaking? I’ve got one on my Big Dummy and want to know when to start worrying 🙂

9 05 2013

@Henrik – I got the BD in 2008. I don’t run a bike computer so I can’t give you a mileage figure. It’s several thousand kms, but not more than 5000. It’s seen a fair bit of dirt/mud which probably didn’t help the seals and seemed to be missing a paper gasket. It’s possible the gasket was the reason for the oil leak – not the seals themselves. I just replaced all of them while I was at it.

There is no reason to worry about the oil seals. They will degrade slowly and you really don’t have to deal with them for years and/or thousands of KMs once you notice. The Rohloff won’t be damaged and you can deal with it when you feel like it.

9 05 2013

I am surprised you had to open your Rohloff (whatever the mileage); these operations seem not to be standard ones, like oil replacement. Did you try to have this perfromed under warranty ?
That reminds me that I want to perform an oil change to my bike’s Rohloff; I am reaching 3000km, and I’ve read that first oil change should better be performed before the official 5000km step.

9 05 2013

@Blobby – I didn’t open that Rohloff. I pulled off the shifter mechanism on one side and the sprocket on the other side. This is normal maintenance and not a warranty issue.

Regardless my Rohloff is 5yr old and well out of warranty.

The Rohloff oil change interval is once every year or every 5000kms whichever comes first. It doesn’t hurt to do an early oil change.

11 07 2014

Rohlof warranty is 100.000km, not a specific number of years IIRC. Mine has done 12.000km now. Did an oil change @5000km after which the hub started leaking on the shifting box side (non-drive side). There has been a drop of oil hanging from the box every week for over 2 years now. (wiping it dry, would just produce a new drop over a couple of days). Will need to look into changeing the seals in the near future too.
Great writeup btw! Thanks.

Seb, the Netherlands.

11 07 2014

Hmm, checked the Rohloff website and indeed they now mention a 2yr warranty. Seals/simmer rings are excluded.

11 07 2014

@Seb – Rohloff warranty is non-transferable 2yrs to original owner regardless of KMs.

11 07 2014

@Seb – changing the seals is pretty easy. A bit of oil weeping is normal, but if you are seeing drops it’s time.

24 01 2017
Hank Holz

Where can i get the parts and tools? I can’t find them online.

24 01 2017

@Hank – I got my tools & supplies from SJS:

If you are based in the US I would also talk to Cycle Monkey:

11 04 2017

Hi, nice post (4 year-old and still very useful). Just a question: did you really notice a real change in oil leakage after changing hub seals?

My Rohloff is from 2007, I’ve always had oil leaking from it, specially after changing oil or from one season to another … the axle and quick release is always “wet” in oil…

I’ve already done several maintenance operations on it (changing internal gear cables 2 times, paper gaskets, change sprockets) but I would like to be sure that this procedure is worth the job.


11 04 2017

Hi Luis….no I continued to have oil seepage issues. I just decided to live with it until such time as I needed to overhaul the hub itself. Not sure it’s worth it unless you are seeing drops of oil coming out of your hub. I would also recommend not overfilling the hub with oil. If the seepage bothers you put in less oil and you’ll have less coming out. I don’t think this will damage the hub in any way.

4 09 2020
Ed Wheeler

Hi. Great tutorial. It’s time to do the seals on my hub, but it looks like Rohloff is no longer offering the tools for sale and now having the job done by them! Big bummer for shipping etc.! Anyway, do you still have your kit? Could I borrow/rent the tool from you?


4 09 2020

Hi Ed. Sorry I sold my Rohloffs and sold the tools with the last one. That’s unfortunate that won’t sell tools to IGH owners.

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