We were pretty stoked to receive a NuVinci hub from our friends from Seattle Bicycle Supply to test. We met the guys from NuVinci at Sea Otter and we were very impressed with the hub.
The NuVinci continuously variable planetary (CVP) is the first viable CVT drivetrain for bicycles and a revolutionary, new alternative to conventional derailleur and fixed-gear internal hubs delivering a totally unique riding experience. The ride is incredibly smooth, allowing the rider to shift â€œgearsâ€? while pedaling, coasting, or at a standstill. Its elegant, simple design delivers all the advantages of planetary gear sets without the limitation of fixed speed ratios, without wide gaps between gears, and without jolts or jerks to the riderâ€™s legs and lower back.
How does it work?
Check out the Video:
We received a wheel with the hub already installed, cables, controller and other needed hardware. I decided to install the Hub on an Ibex B27-R, the Ibex B27-r is Mountain Bike frame with 135mm rear spacing and 26â€³ wheels with a derailleur hanger.
The instructions of the installation manual are well written and the illustrations helped a lot with the installation. Although my level of mechanical expertise is not vast, I was able to install the NuVinci Hub on my own.
Installation was basically seamless, except for the chain length, I had to use a â€˜half-linkâ€™ so the chain could be properly tensioned.
Hits:The strongest point of this hub is how easy it is to use. The controller doesnâ€™t not feature â€˜number of gearsâ€™ but an intuitive display of a road incline. A flat line means you are riding a flat road and you can really ride fast, a â€˜hillâ€™ means that you are ready to climb. As you turn the controller to adjust the gear ratio, you will notice a smooth change on pedal tension, there is no clunk or that annoying sensation of a tug on your legs.
Flat line = Go Fast !
Hill = Get ready to climb!
Since my commute is mostly flat, I did experiment riding uphills with the Hub. Hereâ€™s were the hub excelled. When you climb on a geared bike, you can be stuck on a higher gear that makes it difficult to climb because you are â€˜mashingâ€™ on the pedals or a lower gear that makes you spin too fast. The NuVinci Hub allows you to find that â€™sweet spotâ€™ where you feel comfortable not mashing the pedals or spinning too fast.
Another huge plus is the reliability of the hub. Weather in So Cal is not as extreme as in other parts of the country, but the people at Fallbrook (designers of the hub) have tested it extensively at -20 C, or -4 F, with no problems. Since the hub is fully enclosed, rain nor mud are an issue.
Drawbacks:The biggest drawback of this hub is itâ€™s weight. At a reported weight of 11 lbs for the entire system, weight weenies need not apply. The cost of the hub is also another drawback, expect to pay over $400 bucks for the hub.
Where can you buy it?
Your Local Bike Shop (LBS) should be able to order either the hub or a prebuilt wheel from Seattle Bike Supply or you can buy a bike like the Batavus Adagio-Nuvinci or the Ellsworth The Ride that have come with the NuVinci system installed.
Recommendation: The BIG question is: Does the reliability and easiness of use counter the weight and price of hub? From a Bike commuter point of view, the answer would be yes. As far as weight go, most bike commuters are not really concerned with a commuter bikeâ€™s weight (see our poll), reliability is top priority. Price? The hub is currently installed on a $99 Ibex B27-R frame, so even with a price of $400, the bike is about $550. Again, most of you would pay more than $500 bucks for a reliable commuter bike. For those â€˜extremeâ€™ commuters out there that ride snow/rain/mud or shine, the hub is worth the investment. For those of us that donâ€™t ride extreme climates but want a wide range of gear ratios, value the reliability of a bike and have a little extra on our wallets, the NuVinci hub is worth considering.
We would like to thank Seattle Bike Suppy for giving us the chance to test the hub, and to Val Kleitz for answering questions about the hub. You can also read Valâ€™s review of the hub by clicking here.