We first saw the NuVinci CVP continuously variable hub at Interbike back in about 2007 and were impressed by the idea of a hub with no gear steps, just a smooth twist of the grip to change the resistance. The hub worked great albeit with a few notable concessions. It took quite a bit of twisting and the hub had MASS! At that point there were no specific fat-bike applications and we’d initially looked at it for use on Commuter-type bikes and as a way for non-riders to get the benefits of variable gear ratios without the learning curve. Just twist one way to make it easier and the other to go faster. Simple!
By the 2009 Interbike show there was a new version of the NuVinci hub, dubbed the N360, on the horizon promising lighter weight, a greater usable range and far less rotation needed for the twist shifter. As the hub became available in 2010, fatbikers had discovered the N360 makes a suitable hub for fatbike use including manufacturers with OE Spec on the 2012 Origin8 Crawler due to hit our shores soon.
With the proliferation of sand/beach riding and the associated drivetrain wear nightmares that sand create for fatbike riders we are taking a shot at building the ultimate beach bike using the Nuvinci N360 and a Gates CenterTrack Belt system. Sealed hub and maintenance-free drivetrain are the panacea of beach riding!
Some of the highlights of the newer NuVinci N360 over the previous NuVinci hub include:
- Lighter Weight: Over 30% Lighter
- Smaller Size: 17% Smaller Diameter
- Wider Ratio Range: 360% “Gear-Free” Shifting
- Easier Shift Effort: Even Under Load
- Less Shifter Rotation : Only ¾ Turn from Low to High
- New Shifter: More Intuitive; Easier Twist Adjustments
- Hub Interface: The Inboard Mount is Cleaner and More Protected
- Sealed Hub: Maintenance-free; No Adjustments
Initially we’ve set up the bike with a chain drive system to test gear ratios, however, it is a foregone conclusion that to get a useable range for fat-bike use with a belt drive we will need to use the 39/24 combo from Gates that, even as I write this, is on the way to the shop. Note that this gearing will fall outside the recommended range of input to the hub, however, reports have been encouraging about undergearing and, from conversations with Fallbrook, the manufacturer of the N360, catastrophic failure is unlikely but the lower gearing may increase wear. Frankly, I’m not too worried. Beach riding, at least for me, is a fairly laid back affair. To get it up and running quickly though I set the hub up with a chain and the included 18t rear cog and a 32T front cog mated to an e*13 crank.
Initial forays to the beach show that, for me, the 32/18 is a bit over geared. A stronger rider may find this a good ratio but I’d like a little more low end and I doubt that I would wrap the top end out for any meaningful length of time. The 32/18 is fine for the firmer parts of the beach but in the soft sand I’d like it lower. So, the 32/18 gives me something like a 1.77:1 ratio while the proposed 39/24 CenterTrack is a 1.625:1. Hopefully lower enough to make me happy! Other than the input ratio situation the hub is really cool to ride. Micro-adjust to your heart’s content or set it an forget it.
For those of you wondering how the N360 compares to the popular internal hub offerings from Shimano (Nexus 8 and Alfine), the N360 is about 200g heavier (or about 7 ounces) but the Ratio Range is wider at 360% vs 308% with the NuVinci spreading the difference both on the low and the high end though more seems to be on the upper end of the range.
Note that if you have a Nuvinci N360 that is more than a month old or so you will need to retrofit a new freehub body for a nominal fee to work properly with the Gates belt system. They are available now from Fallbrook.
Next time we will have a report when the CenterTrack system is installed! I’m looking forward to it.
If you are interested in the NuVinci N360 hub for your fat-bike one of our sponsors, Bikeman, carries it! Support them because they support us! Help us keep great, FREE content coming your way!
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