In 2008 we bought our VSF T400 Rohloff touring bikes. After a couple of years struggling with cheap bikes with cheap components we were fairly sure we knew what we wanted. Hub gears, hub dynamo with good lighting, wider tyres and a steel frame. For a while we considered upgrading the Moose and the Troll with Rohloffs and hub dynamos. This would have been around EUR 700 cheaper than buying the VSFs. Damae liked the idea of new bikes so we ended up getting the VSFs. It turned out to be a very good idea and we spent a long summer touring round souther Norway on our new steeds.
After the summer holiday Damae started a new job and started cycling to work on her old touring bike. I bought and fitted a new front wheel with a Shimano hub dynamo and upgraded her lights. It served her well for two years pootling between Utrecht and Nieuwegein. I ended up adding a Shimano hub dynamo to the Troll and it carried on working too, just as well as it ever had.
The problem was that the summer cycling round Norway with a Rohloff had made us realise how much we disliked derailleur gears. Over the next couple of years we kept revisiting the idea of ugrading the Moose and Troll to hub gears. I investigated SRAM S7s, Shimano Nexus 8s, the fragile Sturmey Archer 8 speed, Dual Drives, SRAM iMotion 9 speed hubs and so on. All of them had disadvantages and all of them weighed as much as a Rohloff. None of them had the range of gears we needed without using double chainwheels. Plus none of them would give us the low gears we wanted unless we ignored the manufacturers recommendations for chainwheel to sprocket ratios.
The issue came to a head when we realised that Damae’s rear wheel had a soon to be terminal case of rim wear. The Moose made it through to the end of her last year working in Holland, and without any resolution to the problem we took the bikes with us to Norway.
Here, we carried on wondering if we should splurge out on some Rohloffs for our old bikes. Most people would say that this was madness. There’s no point upgrading a EUR 330 bike with a Rohloff. But then again, the VSF T400 Rohloff is based on a EUR 700 derailleur bike, yet that is a great bike. Also we still like the way the Moose and the Troll handle and they are comfortable.
It was time to bite the bullet. The choice was either we upgrade the Moose and the Troll or just chuck them away. Without a pair of Rohloffs in their back wheels we’d never use them again. They could be useful as town bikes or winter bikes with studded tyres on all the time or as spare bikes when we have visitors. We decided to go for it. So tonight I ordered some built wheels from Roseversand. Maybe to celebrate our first year in Norway, maybe to reward the old bikes that gave us a love of cycle touring.
It will make an interesting comparison: the Moose and Troll upgraded as I first suggested vs our VSF T400 bikes.