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  • What do unicyclists want from a geared hub?

    I’m starting this thread as a result of some pms I received concerning this thread-

    http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?t=95521

    “The 'schlumpf' experience- to a non user”

    The person who sent the pm was giving some general advice concerning geared unicycles, but also mentioned that they were reluctant to post the opinions on the public thread as they felt that they may get ‘jumped on’.

    I think the gist was that they felt that expressing some, what they considered to be, valid criticisms of the schlumpf geared hub, would be met by responses implying that the fault lay not with the hub, but would instead suggest that the sole fault lay with the rider, for not sticking out the learning curve.

    And, somewhat worse than that, they felt that previous attempts to discuss geared unicycle variations, such as a non-shiftable geared hub e.g. tended to be met with ridicule.

    And, most surprising of all, to me, was a claim that many purchasers of schlumpf hubs just never got to the point where they could use them properly, and, put them up for sale, also, that many schlumpf owners simply used them in one mode, having given up on mastering foot shifting.

    That last one, in particular, came as a surprise to me, as I was not aware of it, despite many years of reading this board.

    The picture painted was that of the geared hub being the province of an elite group of riders, with those who had tried, and failed, to master the hub, tending to be somewhat quiet, fearing criticism by the one’s who’d succeeded in taming the hub, or, perhaps themselves taking on the notion that they had somehow ‘failed’.

    The reason I started the above thread is because, firstly, I’m interested in riders experiences of geared hubs, and, because I was quite fascinated by the ‘Huni-rex” different approach i.e. a one geared (geared up) chain drive.

    It soon became apparent that the Huni-rex was not for me, but, I felt that if a different design came out that eliminated the hunis faults (such as it’s crank length restrictions) I would actually be interested in getting one, even though it’s a non-shiftable single gear.

    I also think there might be a place for a shiftable hub that’s not foot shiftable (‘on the fly’).

    So I’m just floating these ideas and wondering what other unicyclists would like to see in a hub.

    For example, how high a priority are things like simplicity, ease of maintenance etc.

    What portion of unicyclists would sacrifice shiftability if it meant a hub that could be maintained and repaired by the user?

    Would some welcome a 2 gear hub that wasn’t shiftable ‘on the fly’, but required a dismount to shift?

    And, most important of all, are there unicyclists who don’t aspire to be numbered amongst the ‘elite’ i.e. are unwilling to put in the many, many hours necessary to become competent on a schlumpf, but would still like some kind of geared hub to be commercially available.
    "You can't outrun Death forever.
    But you can make the Bastard work for it."

    --MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
    "Last of The Lancers"
    AFC 32

  • #2
    I don't own a geared hub, I haven't even mounted one, but I do have interest. What I want:
    • Affordability - well duh, who wants to spend more money?
    • Availability - what if I do want one? Wait 6 months or more for the opportunity or hope a used one becomes available.
    • Reliability - I've read enough comments (really only takes one, two anecdotal experiences seals it, the guard is now perpetually up) where a geared hub has broken and going back to the availability bullet, 6 months to a year to get the $texas investment fixed. The possibility of waiting a whole year to fix a broken hub is incredibly off-putting.


    Sacrificing the ability to change gears might kindle more interest if it translated into addressing those 3 items mentioned above. Even more interested should it retain the ability to shift, just not on the fly.

    Another factor, again tied to those three things. I've never ridden a geared uni. There's always the fear that I'll invest the $2K, wait the 9 months, and end up not liking it. Sure, I need to go to one of these meetups and hope that someone 1) has one and 2) lets people test it out, just saying that by and large it's a big investment in both time and money on something that may or may not suit people's needs; the simple act of attaining a geared hub seems to carry lots of risk.
    Last edited by jbtilley; 2012-09-25, 09:11 PM.
    I'm different, yeah I'm different. I'm different, yeah I'm different. Pull up to the scene and my wheel is missing. Pull up to the scene and my wheel is missing.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jbtilley View Post
      I don't own a geared hub, I haven't even mounted one, but I do have interest. What I want:
      • Affordability - well duh, who wants to spend more money?
      • Availability - what if I do want one? Wait 6 months or more for the opportunity or hope a used one becomes available.
      • Reliability - I've read enough comments (really only takes one, two anecdotal experiences seals it, the guard is now perpetually up) where a geared hub has broken and going back to the availability bullet, 6 months to a year to get the $texas investment fixed.


      Sacrificing the ability to change gears might kindle more interest if it translated into addressing those 3 items mentioned above.

      Another factor, again tied to those three things. I've never ridden a geared uni. There's always the fear that I'll invest the $2K, wait the 9 months, and end up not liking it. Sure, I need to go to one of these meetups and hope that someone 1) has one and 2) lets people test it out, just saying that buy and large it's a big investment in both time and money on something that may or may not suit people's needs.
      I think with any internally geared hub, there's unlikely to ever be one that's user-repairable?

      I know with bikes with internal geared hubs (e.g. sturmley-archer) it's not really feasible for the average rider to tinker with it in the way they can with deraillers. The 3 gear sturmley archer is considered as a hub that is less prone to issues than a derailler, but, when it goes, it's usually a case of having to get a new one.

      I've just realised, it would be good from the start to get the terminology straight, to facilitate a discussion free of confusion- presumably the schlumpf hub type would be an internal-geared hub, or just 'geared hub', whereas the Huni-rex type which use an external chain wouldn't be referred to as a 'geared-hub'?
      "You can't outrun Death forever.
      But you can make the Bastard work for it."

      --MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
      "Last of The Lancers"
      AFC 32

      Comment


      • #4
        To clarify... I really wouldn't look for a geared hub I could tinker with and fix myself. At the same time I don't want to have to pack up a geared hub, put in on a boat, and twiddle my thumbs for 9 months while I wait for it to make the return boat trip every time something goes wrong.

        So in short, hopefully I can send it somewhere to be fixed, and hopefully that somewhere is relatively local.
        Last edited by jbtilley; 2012-09-25, 09:22 PM.
        I'm different, yeah I'm different. I'm different, yeah I'm different. Pull up to the scene and my wheel is missing. Pull up to the scene and my wheel is missing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jbtilley View Post
          To clarify... I really wouldn't look for a geared hub I could tinker with and fix myself. At the same time I don't want to have to pack up a geared hub, put in on a boat, and twiddle my thumbs for 9 months, while I wait for it to make the return boat trip every time something goes wrong.

          So in short, hopefully I can send it somewhere to be fixed, and hopefully that somewhere is relatively local.
          Me neither. But the only alternative I can think of, would be a geared hub that's repairable by a bike shop technician? Which I think is pretty unlikely, given that most bike shops won't even attempt to repair bike geared hubs.

          That would suggest that, for you, some form of chain drive hub would be the best option? That would be straightforward to tinker with, and, once established, would also probably be cheaper than an intenally geared hub.

          No current design is shiftable, but, presumably, in theory, could a derailler type mechanism be used?
          "You can't outrun Death forever.
          But you can make the Bastard work for it."

          --MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
          "Last of The Lancers"
          AFC 32

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jbtilley View Post
            What I want: Affordability
            The ubiquitous PM triangle (fast, cheap, good, pick two) comes to mind. You can get a cheap hub, but you'll get what you pay for. There's a reason the Schlumpf costs what it does...

            Originally posted by onewheeldave View Post
            I think with any internally geared hub, there's unlikely to ever be one that's user-repairable?
            Ever looked inside the transmission case of a typical passenger car? It's loads more complicated than our unicycle's transmission, yet there are kids with not much more than a HS diploma working on these things.

            Of course, it will take an entire supply chain to make user repair even possible... unless Schlumpf uses off-the-shelf parts to make his hubs, he'd have to do even more work to make spares available worldwide. That's a tall order for a hub that doesn't see widespread use.

            Originally posted by onewheeldave View Post
            No current design is shiftable, but, presumably, in theory, could a derailler type mechanism be used?
            This has been discussed many times over on this site. I could be wrong, but no one has yet designed a tensioning mechanism that would work bi-directionally.
            "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

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            • #7
              Well, when I bought mine, I basically wanted a single unicycle that can do it all. However, the expense, added weight, increased complexity and maintenance, lower reliability (i.e. risk of a spa trip to the Alps), and gear ratio that didn't quite fit my needs in either a 26 or 29 wheel, combined with me lacking sufficient time and stamina to do the all-day epic mixed muni rides I had fantasized about, added up to the downs outweighing the ups for me, so I sold it. I don't feel that I sold it because I failed to master it; to the contrary I didn't actually find it that hard to "master" shifting, even on trails. Granted I didn't hold on to it super long (about a year), but that's because once I decided it wasn't for me, I figured I'd be better off selling it sooner rather than later so the resale value didn't slip too much.

              I do feel that the Schlumpf hubs are only for the elite in one sense: you have to have the ability and willingness to put up a big chunk of change just to find out if it will work for your riding style and terrain. Yes, there are those that are lucky enough to try one first, but I don't think you really know whether it's for you until you've ridden one for a while, and certainly not until after you've become pretty comfortable with shifting.

              I suspect there are more people who are quiet about owning one and not loving it, than those who bought one and won't admit they can't ride it. A guni is like any other uni, anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort will be able to learn to ride it. Most people who shell out the cash for a Schlumpf will also put in enough effort to be able to shift.

              The Schlumpf hub is an amazing creation, and they serve some riders very well. But that doesn't mean they're for everyone, just like different riders do better with different wheel and crank sizes. I'm glad I bought one, but for me it was also the right decision to sell it.
              My 29er is my little wheel. Roll it, baby!

              pLs forgve anu typist imak win positing forum my fone.

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              • #8
                Is it too much to ask for a fixed gear hub that doesn't shift? I wish i could go faster when riding street, but a larger wheel just doesn't offer the same options as a smaller trials wheel. I wanna be abe to keep up with Bmx riders while also being able to keep my riding technical. I hear the schlumpf hubs are extremely heavy as well, so a unshiftable hub would simplify the design and lighten the load. This is also something that would make crank-rolling tricks on flat much more smooth and interesting due to the length of the push. Crankflips may be tougher, but a fixed-gear unshiftable hub would open up SO many possibilities.
                Last edited by cyco; 2012-09-25, 11:11 PM.
                "Two hundred years of American technology have unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of eleven-year-olds that could see that potential"
                -Craig Stecyk

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by maestro8 View Post


                  This has been discussed many times over on this site. I could be wrong, but no one has yet designed a tensioning mechanism that would work bi-directionally.
                  Is that the main difficulty then? If someone invented a tension mechanism, is a derailleur 2 gear a possibility?
                  "You can't outrun Death forever.
                  But you can make the Bastard work for it."

                  --MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
                  "Last of The Lancers"
                  AFC 32

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cyco View Post
                    Is it too much to ask for a fixed gear hub that doesn't shift? I wish i could go faster when riding street, but a larger wheel just doesn't offer the same options as a smaller trials wheel. I wanna be abe to keep up with Bmx riders while also being able to keep my riding technical. I hear the schlumpf hubs are extremely heavy as well, so a unshiftable hub would simplify the design and lighten the load. This is also something that would make crank-rolling tricks on flat much more smooth and interesting due to the length of the push. Crankflips may be tougher, but a fixed-gear unshiftable hub would open up SO many possibilities.
                    I think a one geared unicycle would be a good idea too.

                    The other thread discussion the Huni-rex chain drive concept-

                    http://www.unicycle.uk.com/26-huni-r...cle-black.html

                    and, though the huni has considerable downsides, especially concerning pedal strikes and crank length restrictions, I can't help feeling that it should be possible to change the design and end up with something practical.

                    For example, have the crank axle level with the hub, either in front or behind, thus eliminating the above issues.

                    The great advantage of the chain approach is that it's mechanically a lot simpler, and easy to repair/modify.
                    "You can't outrun Death forever.
                    But you can make the Bastard work for it."

                    --MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
                    "Last of The Lancers"
                    AFC 32

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What I woud like to see is a jackshaft design combined with a schlumpf-like shifting mechanism. Shift on the fly between direct drive and chain drive.

                      I would design the system to work with tomicogs top and bottom for easy interchangeability and gear ratios from .64 underdrive to 1.56 overdrive with small steps between using various cogs. If you could get cogs larger than 20 tooth made the range would be much larger.

                      It would be cheeper to make, easier to work on, and more flexible in setup, plus you won't get bearing slip.


                      Having said all that I just purchased my second Schlumpf.
                      Last edited by saskatchewanian; 2012-09-26, 12:59 AM.
                      My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cyco View Post
                        Is it too much to ask for a fixed gear hub that doesn't shift? I wish i could go faster when riding street, but a larger wheel just doesn't offer the same options as a smaller trials wheel. I wanna be abe to keep up with Bmx riders while also being able to keep my riding technical. I hear the schlumpf hubs are extremely heavy as well, so a unshiftable hub would simplify the design and lighten the load. This is also something that would make crank-rolling tricks on flat much more smooth and interesting due to the length of the push. Crankflips may be tougher, but a fixed-gear unshiftable hub would open up SO many possibilities.
                        It depends on the gearing you use and what you use it for.

                        On a 29" Schlumpf/125mm cranks, I almost always stick with high gear when riding on the road. It's very fast and light, and probably the closest thing a Schlumpf gets to the 'feel' of a road bike, even if you ride it single speed.

                        On a 36" Schlumpf, you have to shift. It needs to be shifted out of low gear into high gear to accelerate out of a freemount.

                        In terms of shiftability, I've seen people who can barely shift (or stop each time) enjoy their Schlumpf hub just as much. And then there are people who can shift every half revolution.

                        I'm somewhere in between, but even if it is something everybody can shift easily (eg with thumb shifters), it's a big jump between the two gears, and it still rides like a slow heavy bike with two gears. I don't think I would enjoy it just from being able to shift like, say Chuck or Scott.

                        For the record, it wasn't me PM'ing onewheeldave. It's sad that people feel they can't say something on the boards for fear of being 'jumped on'. I put my opinions for all to critique, as you can see in the thread he was referring to
                        Last edited by GizmoDuck; 2012-09-26, 01:28 AM.
                        Adventure Unicyclist

                        Alps 2 Ocean


                        Unistan: The Uzbekistan Unicycle Tour

                        Induni: The India Unicycle Tour

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by onewheeldave View Post
                          Is that the main difficulty then? If someone invented a tension mechanism, is a derailleur 2 gear a possibility?
                          It's a significant difficulty.

                          The forces involved in maneuvers such as mounting and braking can be quite large. This requires a strong tension mechanism, otherwise the backlash in the chain would consume some of the applied force, and the rider would suffer the effects.

                          At the same time, a derailleur mechanism relies on some amount of play in the chain to switch gears without significant effort. With a very strong tensioning mechanism, switching gears will be quite difficult, both in terms of stress on the chain, and on the derailleur mechanism.

                          Between a rock and a hard place, we are.
                          "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." - Bertrand Russell

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                          • #14
                            People shouldn't be afraid of having opinions. Others will jump or not; so what? We are all not supposed to want the same things from our unicycle experience. This gets us a wonderful variety of unicycles, as well as activities to do with them.

                            The Schlumpf is the no-compromises version of a durable, shiftable 2-speed hub. All the things an "elite" rider might lust for, while still being realistic enough to be buildable. Not necessarily cheap, though. Too bad its maker had to live in one of the world's more expensive countries...

                            A non-shifting hub or drivetrain would be cheaper, and probably easier to repair, but also have riding limitations (no low gear).

                            I still suck at shifting, but I don't mind the challenge; it's one of the reasons riding geared appeals to me. If I didn't like things that are hard, I'd be zooming around on a 27-speed 2-wheeler. That said, if I could purchase an add-on lever shift mechanism for my existing uni, I probably would.

                            Also I wouldn't mind too much a design that requires stopping to shift. For casual riding it's fine, but it would be terrible for any kind of racing. Also, the smaller the wheel, the less desirable it would probably be. It's easier to foot-shift on smaller wheels.

                            A cycle like the Huni-Rex would be improved by putting the wheel axle either at the bottom, or behind the crank axle. Bottom would probably make for a stronger and lighter frame, but the other configuration might be interesting to ride.

                            I like Sask's idea of a shiftable jack-shaft system. It would be mechanically much simpler than a Schlumpf, but it might be hard to keep the weight from getting up there.

                            You can also gear up a simple giraffe. Make it low to improve usefulness, and you can even switch out the sprockets to change the gear. But not on a ride, unless you want to carry the tools and parts necessary. I used to do that with my Schwinn Giraffe, but changing the gear involved taking apart the bottom bracket, and changing chain length.

                            What about the 2-way derailleur idea? It might be an idea that just hasn't had much attention paid to it, since bikes don't need such a thing. Seems to me all you would need would be a lockout mechanism on your chain tensioner. It would be fixed in place while riding, and unlocked for the shift. Completing the shift, the tensioner would be locked into a new position; one that applied the same amount of tension, but at the new position. It seems "totally doable", but again may suffer weight penalties if it can't be done elegantly.

                            Originally posted by cyco
                            Is it too much to ask for a fixed gear hub that doesn't shift?
                            ...Or is it too little? You mentioned using one for riding technical. This might work well on a 20" wheel, but you may find it too sluggish to be useful. Got to try it out. I think I've only ridden a geared up 20" once (not counting giraffes), and that one was geared to 40" equivalent. This made it really sluggish.
                            Originally posted by cyco
                            I hear the schlumpf hubs are extremely heavy as well, so a unshiftable hub would simplify the design and lighten the load.
                            The weight of a Shlumpf hub would have a pretty big impact on a small wheel. A non-shifting version, all things being equal, would definitely be simpler (and cheaper), but the weight savings might be a pretty small percentage.

                            Originally posted by GizmoDuck
                            On a 36" Schlumpf, you have to shift. It needs to be shifted out of low gear into high gear to accelerate out of a freemount.
                            No it doesn't.
                            But I suppose you might say you need the low gear to do it quickly. I'm lazy, so I freemount in high gear all the time. I originally learned that skill with my 48:28 giraffe back in the day.

                            Originally posted by maestro8
                            Between a rock and a hard place, we are.
                            I don't know. Unless I'm missing something (I probably am), developing something like I described above sounds like it might be simpler than the complexities of the Schlumpf hub.
                            Last edited by johnfoss; 2012-09-26, 03:59 AM.
                            John Foss
                            www.unicycling.com

                            "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"

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                            • #15
                              Sure the Schlumpf hub is not perfect, but if Florian weren't dedicated to making this product for a very, very niche market, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Face it, this is not a mass market item. Just saying. Geared uni's are an oddball thing that I am glad to have the opportunity to partake of. I am sure there are lots of folks who get a Schlumpf and decide it is not for them, or find it too hard to handle. No shame in that. Probably a smaller percentage than those who buy uni's and never learn to ride them.
                              http://www.tucsonuni.com

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