We got a sneak peek at the Norwegian Kindernay internal gear hub a few years back with its unique modular SWAP hub shell & hydraulic shifting. But it’s probably the thru-axle that makes it a likely upgrade for your modern trail or fat bike to the hassle-free, low maintenance of an internal gear hub, not to mention that super-wide and evenly spaced 543% gearing range.

Now the XIV is available, as is the newer fat bike version, plus new & improved shifters & eMTB e-bike compatibility since we last caught up with Kindernay…

Kindernay XIV thru-axle mountain bike internal gear hub

In a time where the big mountain bike drivetrain makers are fighting over 1x 12-speed gear ranges, starting with Eagle’s original 500% four years ago, then XTR’s 510%, now Eagle going up to 520% (not to mention Rotor’s 13sp 520% or even e13 taking it to 556% along the way) – there’s a lot to be said for the closed-system simplicity of an internally geared hub. Three straight-cut planetary gears inside the Kindernay XIV deliver 14 speeds with equal 13.9% steps across the range for a total 543% gear spread. Plus, of course there is the promise of almost maintenance-free operation.

So how is a Kindernay XIV different than a Rohloff Speedhub?

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

c. Kindernay

First off, both are EU-made 14-speed planetary gear, internal gear hubs. The Kindernay XIV claims to be about 325g lighter than the Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 , and has a wider gear range (543% vs. 526%). The most obvious outer difference is the Kindernay SWAP concept, with a separate open web hubshell that you actually lace into a wheelset and the removable inner hubshell that houses the internal gearing & brake attachment. The idea is the ability to swap different wheelsets, transferring one expensive hub gear into multiple wheels with differing diameter or rim width for varying applications.

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

Another big difference is its 10mm thru-axle, which means that you keep a similar axle to that of your modern bike for a light, stiff & secure setup. The Speedhub can be modified to fit many bikes, with adapters that bolt onto the hub from either side, adding a bit more weight and complexity, likely without full thru-axle stiffness.

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

Kindernay says this dramatically boosts the durability of their fast-engaging clutches inside, so the XIV is rated for freeride, DH & eMTB use as well.

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

Lastly, the Kindernay features two-way HYSEQ hydraulic thumb shifters. One shifter on each side of your cockpit, one shifts up, the other down, which Kindernay says are as low-maintenance as their hub. (A single-sided shifter is apparently also in development, and will be backwards compatible. No drop bar shifters are in the pipeline, but Kindernay does suggest that some Paul mounts can be modified to fit their shifters on the 31.8mm tops, next to the stem.)

What about a weight penalty?

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

You are likely going to pay about a half kilogram penalty versus a modern 1x setup like the new GX Eagle grouspet where derailleur + cassette + say a nice DT 240 rear hub would be ~990g vs. the Kindernay XIV hub+shell of 1500g. Add in another 365g for the entire  shifting mechanism, with oil & hoses, then some other mounting hardware usually adds up to a normal total weight claim of 1960g. But with that you do get the slightly bigger gear range and the promise of low-maintenance – just give it a home oil change once a year.

So how much does the Kindernay XIV cost?

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

The Kindernay XIV is essentially available in two versions – standard MTB & Fatbike. The standard mountain bike setup will work with old 135 spacing, but is optimized for pre-Boost 142 or Boost 148 x 12mm thru-axles. A standard hub kit sells for 1250€ (without VAT) including the Kindernay XIV hub, the HYSEQ shift set, a standard width SWAP hubshell to lace into your own wheel, and a mounting kit with a brake rotor. (Of note: the hub attaches to your rear brake post mount to counter rotation.)

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

The newer, wider Fatbike hub kit sells for 1400€ (without VAT) including the Kindernay XIV hub with drive extension for 190×10 or 197x12mm axles, the same HYSEQ shift set, the extra wide fatbike SWAP hubshell to lace into your own wheel, and the mounting kit with rotor.

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

Either width SWAP hubshell is also available separately to build up your second wheel. The kits do NOT include a rear sprocket (but a standard Shimano DX/DXR single speed cog will work, up to 2.3mm wide at the base, even a Gates setup is possible). And most modern frames will also need a chain tensioner which is also not included.

Kindernay XIV MTB internal gear hub, 14 speed thru-axle mountain bike internally geared hub

Both kits are available now, and ship worldwide with a two-year warranty.

Kindernay.com

20 comments

  1. David Lewis on

    Seems like a very strange choice not to mount a standard rotor directly on the hubshell, although it looks like the anti-rotation tab precluded it. I’m a Rohloff guy, and even I concede that the design has 1000 flaws and short-sighted workarounds. Kindernay had a blank slate in the modern era, and they still have a lot of headscratchers in this design.

    Reply
    • mud on

      By having their own rotor design bolt directly to the large diameter internals, instead of near the axle, they save weight. You laud Kindernay for having a blank slate and then chide them for using their own design rotor, which has clear advantages, instead of using a standard design.

      Reply
    • Tim on

      What flaws and workarounds does the Rohloff have? This from someone who’s never seen one in person, but is curious about them.

      Reply
    • Daniel M on

      I’m a Rohloff guy too – I’ve bought 4 of them second-hand and built them all into bombproof all-around bikes. I disagree about the flaws and workarounds; I think it’s a nearly perfectly designed and engineered product. The more miles you put on them, the more money you save. No more missed shifts or dropped chains. Shift at a standstill. I could go on.

      Reply
      • David Lewis on

        First, the non-standard rotor mount was a workaround due to designing the hub prior to the wide adoption of disc brakes. Pardon the pun, but I’m frozen out of selecting a Shimano rotor, and I think about it every time I ride my bike. Kindernay entered the market in the modern era with mature rotor standards, and still went with their own. They don’t have the excuse like Rohloff that it could not fit the original geometry of the hub, since it obviously can.

        Second, A12. Facepalm. Again, locked into a workaround because the hub was designed in a different era. I own two Rohloffs, and I wanted to convert one of them, because it is obvious to anyone mechanically inclined that the only notable difference is the drive side 10mm key is removed, the end is tapped for M7 and a different axle cap is screwed on. I haven’t tested the hardness of the axle, but it’s possible a conversion could be done with a file, a drill and a tap – and the drive-side axle cap and non-drive-side axle end. Rohloff wouldn’t even entertain providing me with a list of the changes, and I’m a M-F’in machinist in the bicycle industry (or I was when I cared about even trying. I moved on to the commercial spacecraft industry).

        The external mechanism is ridiculous. A cottage industry has emerged to work around how much it sucks. If you’re in love with how you shift your Rohloff, then good for you! For everybody else (I checked, and it’s just about all of us except for you), I think we can do better. Kindernay went with a superficially different method, but that has a lot of the same drawbacks. Considering that indexing happens at the hub, it is not a huge challenge to build a mechanism that uses a single cable, or can be compatible with electronics – it just takes having someone that wants these things to be involved. Apparently, they don’t hire those people.

        I could go on, but this is already too long.

        Reply
  2. Mr Tucker on

    “…first internal gear hub for 12mm thru-axles”

    really? I’ve been selling Rohloffs with 12mm thru axles for a couple of years now.

    Reply
      • Marc on

        Not a real thru axle, just a bolt on system, and technically very bad done with tons of spacers.
        Not comparable. Even Rohloff is very passive in pushing this solution.

        Reply
    • Ole Blokhus on

      The Rohloff doesn’t take through-axles, but it let you mount it to a through-axle frame using adapter plugs you screw into the qr axle of the hub. Not the same thing, and can’t possibly be as stiff.

      Reply
    • Morten SB on

      The rule of thumb is a 3% loss for every gear set the force is passing through. Can be lower if they use polished surfaces.

      Reply
  3. Ol' Shel' on

    Expect it to have the usual internally-geared friction, but in an electric motorcycle application, that probably matters a lot less. You’re able to run stout rings and chain for longer life vs a derailleur system.

    Reply
    • Daniel M on

      Friction for a Rohloff is comparable to derailers when you include sideways chain flex and the tensioner pulleys. Most other IGHs have more.

      Reply
      • Josh on

        No, it’s not comparable. That’s been their marketing nonsense since day one. But the vast majority of people that I know that have them all have the same complaint: that they put up with the draggy feeling gears for all the other benefits. I was in the same camp. I liked my Rohloff bike but finally ditched it because of the sappy feeling in many of the gears compared to my normal derailleur bikes. And yes, it was properly maintained.

        Reply
  4. satanas on

    Just looked at the FAQ on their site. The standard “cage” is 28° (why?) but apparently there’s 32° in the works – just as well, given rim availability. The other thing I noticed is that the chainline is 48.5mm for the 135/142/148mm hubs, considerably less than for Rohloff. This has its pros and cons, but means tyres much wider than 3.0″/75mm won’t clear the chain, and I imagine it’s worse with a Gates belt. 🙁

    No pricing info on cages visible either, and these are perhaps the most attractive feature of the hub; multiple Rohloff hubs get very expensive. The 32° cages and drop bar shifter mounts need to be available sooner rather than later, but otherwise it all looks good. Of course, we won’t know for several years yet how reliable these might be, whereas Rohloff is proven…

    Reply
  5. carlos on

    Thru-axles don’t provide stiffness, they provide a convenient clamping force and keep the hub from moving in the dropouts. Stiffness is provided by the hub and its axle.

    Reply
  6. Mathias on

    Such hubs are … sorry for saying this… GARBAGE for competetive rider. Ypou get: heavy rear wheel, lots of efficiency LOSSES. No, thanks. City bicycles make proper use of planetary gear hubs but enduro, trail, DH – hell no. I had Rohloff Speedhub for one year, so I speak from personal experience. Planetary hubs will never achieve transmission efficiency 97-98% of old-school derailleur. Freewheelinh is also bad with planetary hubs (big seals contribute to high drag torque).

    Reply
  7. Mathias on

    Planetary gearhubs are poor in terms of efficiency. No one in bicycle industry polishes gear teeth of planetary hubs. Rohloff was lying with efficiency results for long time (Speedhub Gate, lying exactly about results the same way like Diesel Gate). I had Speedhub for one year and it was very slow (not efficient) compared to derailleur. The same thing will happen with Kindernay XIV, lots of drivetrain losses, active rider will not like such hub because it LITERALLY steals Your energy.

    Reply
    • GODsaveTHEcat on

      @Mathias Uhmm there were 3rd party studies on topic of gear hubs, Rohloff was better than the other hubs and comparable to derailleur. I know Cyclingabout did a test, and there is 2014 paper “A Study on the Efficiency of Bicycle Hub Gear” by Casteel and Archibald, although it’s behind a paywall so I only read the abstract. Is Rohloff more efficient than high end modern derailleur system? No. But there is a lot of people like me who do not care about it as long as they are having fun. Rohloff is almost maintenance free, it’s durable and you can shift while stopped. I understand why people who are competitive hate the hub, but for someone who doesn’t give a flying f about times on Strava I prefer to be 2-3% slower or more tired than to clean all the nooks and crannies of derailleur after each muddy puddle, dealing with dropped chains and faffing around with tuning gear shifts each few weeks. Rohloff works, is virtually understandable and it gives me the range that I need. It’s just fit and forget.

      The only thing that I hate about it, is the price and marketing and I think this is the main problem of quality gear hubs. People who just want the thing to work and be maintenance free, aren’t normally the people who drop more than a grand on a group-set. People who drop a grand on gears are competitive people that hate that weight and efficiency penalty as you did, or rich guys who just want a shiny toy, but those types will hate that you need to make couple hundred of miles to break in the hub. That leaves only touring community, electric bicycles, and weirdos like myself who hunt second hand hubs. But again Rohloff is marketed as “premium” product, all accessories are crazy expensive and you cannot even buy the damn thru axle version to fit it yourself into a bike, so it’s not very welcoming to low tech tinkerers like myself.
      Kindernay will have the same problem, it is too expensive for people like me, it’s to uncertain for touring, competitive folks already hate it and e-bike market is already taken (also you do not even need that much gear range on an e-bike).
      I wish them well because I would love to build another trail bike with gear hub and not be limited to 135QR on the rear but it’s hard to see a bright future for Kindernay.

      Reply

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