15 January 2019

Independent Fabrication Independence Touring Bike w/ Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14

This beautiful Independent Fabrication touring bike went to a customer in Toronto, Canada. The rider had a solid vision for his bike, and came to us with very specific requests for the frame, custom paint, and components. Rohloff's SPEEDHUB 500/14 internal gear hub was the starting point for the build. As a previous SPEEDHUB owner who'd completed an extended tour with the hub, the rider was familiar with Rohloff's unparalleled reliability and wide gear range.

The rider's fondness for Independent Fabrication made them the obvious choice for the frame. Looking for a utilitarian and comfortable setup, he requested a dynamo front hub (which contains a small generator that powers the bike's lights and an on-board USB charger), upright seating position, and striking silver components to complement frame's unique paint job, which features sun-kissed orange crystallance with cream highlights. Cycle Monkey coordinated with IF to get the details worked out, and we couldn't wait to assemble the bike once the frame and fork arrived.

Independent Fabrication builds a variety of frames (steel, titanium, carbon, and titanium mixed with carbon) and forks (steel only) in-house at their facility in Newmarket, New Hampshire. They have built a reputation for both top quality frames and the extraordinary abilities of their in-house paint shop. IF builds frames on an exclusively custom basis, and they are no strangers to building bikes around the Rohloff SPEEDHUB. We have showcased several on our blog over the years, and have worked with shops and IF directly on many more.

IF's extensive custom frame program made it easy to accommodate the rider's requests and ensure compatibility with the SPEEDHUB and Schmidt SON SL dynamo hub. The fork required a special conducting plate inside the dropout to enable the use of the SL (connector-less) version of Schmidt's hub, which passes the current generated by the hub through the dropout up to the headlight and USB charger through wires hidden in the fork leg. The electrical connection between the fork and hub is automatic, eliminating the need for the manually-connected wires typically required with dynamo hubs. The fork also received mounts for a Pass and Stow front rack (not shown in photos) for future installation.

No wires needed here.
Cycle Monkey generally completes builds around custom frames that employ adjustable dropouts or an eccentric bottom bracket to tension the chain or belt. In this case, the rider was more comfortable with a chain and opted to keep the frame as simple as possible by using a Rohloff chain tensioner. While we generally prefers the use of adjustable frames with the Rohloff hub, the tensioner option does offer two distinct advantages when running a chain on long-distance self-supported adventures:

1) The spring loaded jockey wheels automatically adjust for wear in the chain and maintain consistent tension.

2) The tensioner holds the chain in place when the wheel is removed,  just like with a rear derailleur, instead of having it fall to the ground.

Without a rear disc brake mount or a dedicated Rohloff dropout, this bike required an alternate method to secure the hub axle to the frame. One option would have been to to use the Rohloff torque arm, but that was not the preferred method.  Adding an eyelet to the left dropout to accept a bolt compatible with the Rohloff OEM2 axle plate was a cleaner solution that was fitting for a custom frame.

This customer opted for the use of a chain tensioner for this particular build to keep the frame as simple as possible
Cable routing was set up to run the Rohloff shift cables along the down tube and left chainstay to feed into the cable box of the external shift mech on the SPEEDHUB. Taillight wires run piggybacked onto the shifter cables, then up the rear rack to the light. The rear brake cable runs under the top tube in a standard cantilever setup, and rack and fender mounts are included for additional utility.

The custom paint job was the finishing touch on this beauty. At a distance, it looks fairly straightforward, with just a bit of masking to create the panels and stripes. However, crystallance paint requires three layers, one of which includes glass flake that can be difficult to top with an additional layer. Naturally, the expert painter at IF worked enough magic to apply the cream color over the orange base layer and make everything come out looking top notch.

This paint job shines nearly as bright as the dynamo headlight

With the one-off frame shining in all its glory, our Wheel House got to work prepping a shiny silver set of wheels. Silver anodized Rohloff and Schmidt hubs were laced into polished Velocity Cliffhanger rims with Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples. The Cliffhanger is Velocity's burliest touring rim, making it well suited for this aggressive touring build. Cream-colored Schwalbe Big Apple tires wrapped around the hoops to complement the frame's unique colorway while adding comfort to the ride thanks to their large air volume.

Cushy tires, sparklin' rims
At Cycle Monkey, we constantly promote the durability of the Rohloff drivetrain for a variety builds, including touring setups like this rig. With a 526% gear range and long-term reliability that's been proven with over 20 years on the market, SPEEDHUB is the drivetrain of choice for long distance touring.

Gebla's Rohbox is a ratcheting shift box that allows for the use of SRAM or Campagnolo shifters with the SPEEDHUB
Despite the SPEEDHUB's many benefits, some riders don't mesh with the feel of Rohloff's twist shifter. Luckily, we have an alternate option for these riders. Gebla's Rohbox allows the use of SRAM MTB shifters (among other options) to shift the hub instead of the traditional grip shifter. The Rohbox was just one of many high end parts included on this build to provide ultimate comfort and durability.

This rider approached us with a very specific vision of his ideal bike, and we worked with him to source the components and build up the bike of his dreams. But you don't need to have it all figured out to get started on your dream build. Whether you have a detailed plan or a rough outline for your next bike, get in touch and we'll figure out the best way to make it happen.

Build details

• Frame: Independent Fabrication Independence custom steel
• Fork: Independent Fabrication custom steel with Schmidt SL dropout
• Headset: Chris King Steelset NoThreadset
• Stem: Velo Orange
• Handlebar: Nitto Bosco
• Shifter: SRAM X9 triggers, modified with Gebla Rohbox
• Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork
• Seat post: Kalloy Pillar
• Saddle: Brooks B66
• Front Hub: Schhmidt SON28 SL
• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
• Spokes: Sapim Race
• Nipples: Sapim Brass
• Rims: Velocity Cliffhanger
• Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple
• Cranks: White Industries VBC
• Pedals: Velo Orange Sabot
• Bottom Bracket: SKS
• Chainring: White Industries Direct Mount
• Rear Sprocket: Rohloff
• Chain: Wippermann 8sX
• Chain Tensioner: Rohloff
• Brakes & Levers: Velo Orange Crand Cru
• Skewers: Pitlock anti-theft
• Headlight: Busch & Müller Lumotec Classic T Senso Plus
• Taillight: Busch & Müller Toplight Line Brake Plu
• USB Charger: Sinewave Reactor
• Fenders: Velo Orange stainless steel
• Rear Rack: Tubus Cosmo stainless steel

11 January 2019

Soma Wolverine Adventure Bike with Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14, Gates Carbon Drive Belt, and Schmidt Dynamo Hub

This decked-out Soma Wolverine was built for a customer in San Jose, CA. The rider was looking for a rugged commuter bike that would be efficient on his daily trips to work, but would also offer the versatility to enjoy longer tours on the weekend and even a few cycling-oriented vacations. Soma’s Wolverine frame fit the bill as a sturdy option that is affordable, works well with a Rohloff hub, and is belt-ready.

Like many of our customers, the rider was drawn to the simplicity and hassle-free nature of the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 internal gear hub and Gates Carbon Drive belt drivetrain. Shifting duties are handled by a set of Campagnolo Veloce shifters driving a Gebla Rohbox. A dynamo hub and lights from Schmidt, which are self-powered, were also high on the list of requirements for daily utilitarian use. From there, Cycle Monkey rounded out the build with a variety of high end parts to create a top quality commuter that isn’t afraid to stray off the beaten path.

Soma Fabrications, whose South San Francisco headquarters are located a stone’s throw from Cycle Monkey, offers affordable steel frames that are often considered an alternative to Surly. Price, intended use, and many features are similar, but the sliding dropouts and belt drive compatibility of certain Soma models, like the Wolverine, easily check the boxes for many of the build requests we see at Cycle Monkey.

Compared to the horizontal dropouts used by Surly, sliding vertical dropouts allow you to swap wheels more easily. The Wolverine also features a handy split in the right seatstay, which allows a belt to be installed without the frame modifications required with Surly frames.

Look closely, and you'll see a split in the right seatstay, which allows for easy installation of the Gates Carbon Drive belt. 
Soma says the original intention for the Wolverine was to build a monster cross bike—basically a drop bar bike with cyclocross geometry and cross country mountain bike wheels. The idea was to create a fully-capable off-road touring rig that would also be sporty enough for commuting through the city and all-around adventure riding.

The Wolverine is capable of running a wide variety of drivetrains, including the ultra low maintenance setup included with this build. Rohloff’s SPEEDHUB 500/14 is an internal gearing system with 14 evenly-indexed speeds entirely encased in the rear hub. In addition to the benefits of such a wide gear range, the internal nature of the gearing makes it virtually impervious to the elements, making it an ideal option for both off-road use and year-round riding. Even for daily commuters like this rider, the only service required is an annual oil change, which can be completed at home or by Cycle Monkey.

Rohloff's SPEEDHUB and the Gates Carbon Drive belt system are an easy fit with the Wolverine's sliding vertical dropouts.
Looking for the ultimate in reliability and lack of maintenance, this rider paired the Gates Carbon Drive belt system with his Rohloff hub. Belt drive systems don’t rust in inclement weather and they don’t require lubrication. Simply wipe ‘em down after a particularly dirty ride, and you’re good to go again. We also see Gates Carbon Drive belts lasting 5-10x longer than your average chain and they do not stretch—meaning you won’t have to readjust the dropouts to maintain belt tension.

Rohloff SPEEDHUBs are typically activated with a twist shifter, which can be mounted to the end of drop bars with an adapter. Many riders, like the owner of this Wolverine, prefer the feel of traditional road bike brake lever shifters (brifters) on their drop bar bikes. Gebla’s Rohbox allows you to run the SPEEDHUB in tandem with brifters from SRAM or Campagnolo, making it an easy choice for this build.

The Gebla Rohbox ratchet box pairs with modified Campagnolo or SRAM shifters, making it a great choice for drop bar riders who find the Rohloff twist shifter unappealing.
Naturally, we took full advantage of the included braze-ons for this utilitarian machine, with front and rear racks from Tubus capable of hauling the groceries as well as bikepacking gear. Front and rear lights on this build are courtesy of Schmidt, and are powered by a SON dynamo front hub. Dynamo hubs contain a small electric generator that self-powers lights and other electronics as you ride. They’re an ideal solution for commuters and bikepackers, because they keep your lights running both day and night with no need to charge.

Dynamo lights from Schmidt can be mounted at the fork crown or to the front rack, as on this Wolverine
Wolverines are known to be vicious, but we wanted to ensure the bike provided a friendly ride with all the mileage it’d be getting. High volume Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires provide a cushy ride without sacrificing efficiency, while hydraulic disc brakes provide ample stopping power with lots of modulation.

Comfort at the most important touchpoint comes thanks to an all-leather Brooks Saddle mounted to Cane Creek’s Thudbuster seatpost. As the name implies, the Thudbuster mitigates the jarring effects of rough roads by isolating the rider’s seating position from the frame with 76mm of travel right in the seatpost. Paired with a high-end saddle like those from Brooks, the Thudbuster adds a significant amount of comfort to any bike with a rigid rear end, and it might just save yours.

Isolation at its finest
With a low-maintenance, belt-driven internal drivetrain from Rohloff and Gates, an always-on lighting system from Schmidt, and ergonomic touchpoints for comfort over the long haul, this Soma Wolverine is just one example of how these versatile steel frames can be built up. They’re a perfect building block for the worry-free bike we love to put together at Cycle Monkey. Order yours today, and drop us a line so that we can bring it to life with a custom build kit perfect for the way you ride.

Frame: Soma Wolverine
Fork: Soma Wolverine
Headset: Chris King NoThreadset
Stem: Thomson X4
Bar: Salsa Cowchipper
Shifter: Campagnolo Veloce with Gebla Rohbox
Bar Tape: Lizard Skins
Seatpost: Cane Creek Thudbuster LT
Saddle: Brooks B17
Front Hub: Schmidt SON28
Rear Hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
Spokes: Sapim Race
Nipples: Sapim Brass
Rims: Velocity Dyad
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Plus
Cranks: Shimano XT
Pedals: Shimano XT Trail
Bottom Bracket: Chris King
Sprockets: Gates Carbon Drive
Belt: Gates Carbon Drive
Front Light: Schmidt Edelux
Rear Light: Schmidt SON Taillight
Front Rack: Tubus Tara
Rear Rack: Tubus Logo EVO
Bottle Cages: King Cage Stainless