I have been riding on the Nuvinci hub for a few days now and I have to say that I really really like it. I am using an 18 tooth rear gear and the transmissions range seems to be about perfect for me. Low is really low. Ever had a truck with a bull gear? Bull Gear, Inc. - What is a Bull Gear!?
Low is like that. Its about as low as you can go while still being useful. This is a very good thing. It makes starting the bike very easy. It also makes hill climbing a breeze which is good because where I live is surrounded by some rather intense hills. San Francisco style intense.
The high end seems to be about perfect as well. On flat terrain the engine just starts to bog down when at top speed if I shift the hub all the way to the top end. Back it off just a hair and the motor is fine so I know it would benefit from a little more power.
I wasn't able to order the Nuvinci hub from any of my local bike shops so I ordered it from Fanatik Bikes in Bellingham. When I went to pick it up I opened the box to check that everything was there and discovered that there was no freewheel. Rus at Fanatik checked the dealer catalog and it indicated that a freewheel should have been included so he called his distributor and Fallbrook to find out what was up. The documentation with the hub didn't have a parts list either so there was no way to know what was missing. As it turns out the hub kits are no longer shipping with freewheels so I had what I was supposed to have. Please note that the kit doesn't include the outside part of the cable (sheathing) so you will need to purchase that as well.
The next part of the fun was trying to find someone to build a wheel for me. I learned something valuable from this experience. Most bike shops will build a wheel for you but very few of them actually have a tool to cut threads on spokes. Most just order the size spokes they need and go from there. This works most of the time as most wheel parts are fairly standard. Unfortunately the Nuvinci hub is bigger than most hubs so this method doesnít work. The first shop I took the hub to had it for a week before they gave up. The second shop I went to, Mighty Riders, specialize in building wheels and have all the right tools. They did a great job.
Now that my wheel is built it was time to install it. The instructions with the hub are very good and I had no difficulty at all with the installation. I would strongly suggest reading the part about winding the cables on the cogs carefully and be sure you understand this part. Be certain to take the time to measure the cable carefully when you get to that part and triple check this measurement. There is no need to cut any cables until you are almost complete and you are sure you have done it all correctly.
The hub itself is very heavy. While this is not a good thing the bright side is that it seems very well constructed and it feels meaty so I think it will be durable. The controller/shifter is probably the one part of the setup that I like the least. I donít like plastic parts on my bike but I really donít have much choice with this setup. I have to use their controller. The inch worm display is nifty but it doesnít do me much good as I have to have the shifter mounted on the left side of my handle bars. This makes the display point away from me so I canít see it while riding. Also this shifter didnít fit well with the standard lockout clutch lever we use so I had to switch to a different lever for the clutch.
In operation the hub makes riding the bike a very smooth and pleasurable experience. When under load it wonít let you shift so basically you just let off the throttle and twist the shifter nob about as much as you think you need, then hit the throttle again. There is no clunking or snapping as you can get with derailleur style gearing so the entire drive-line experiences less shock and strain.
Iím having a great time with this bike and I would like to thank Rus at Fanatik, Ed and Matt at Mighty Riders and Paul and Jim at Sick Bike Parts for all their help. Thanks guys!