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?
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.
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 says this dramatically boosts the durability of their fast-engaging clutches inside, so the XIV is rated for freeride, DH & eMTB use as well.
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?
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?
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.)
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.
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.
Both kits are available now, and ship worldwide with a two-year warranty.