Sad news came from Germany. Bernhard Rohloff has died. He was the one mainly responsible for popularizing wide-range internal gearboxes among people who like innovative, quality, maintenance-free, and technically perfect products.
It is thanks to his inventive spirit that gear hubs were able to establish themselves in the sporting field of use on bicycles and have since been seen as an innovative and stylish product.
On Friday, May 19, 2023, Bernhard Felix Rohloff, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, passed away peacefully and unexpectedly at the age of 73.
“Bernie” was an inspiration to the bicycle industry, always with a penchant for special details.
Born on February 21, 1950, in Lengenfeld, Thuringia, and raised in Kassel, he began his technical career with an apprenticeship as an office machine mechanic at Olympia. After successfully completing his studies in mechanical engineering, he worked at the Daimler Benz and later as a freelance developer. In 1986, he founded Rohloff GmbH with his wife Barbara and, as technical director and co-owner, developed the Rohloff S-L-T 99 bicycle derailleur chain. In the 1990s, the S-L-T 99 chain achieved downright cult status thanks to the victories of Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain in the Tour de France and Road World Championship. In the following years, the product range was expanded to include various high-quality bicycle tools, which are still available today through specialized dealers.
Since the development and presentation of the legendary Rohloff SPEEDHUB 14-speed gear hub at the IFMA 1996, the name Bernhard Rohloff has been inseparably linked to bicycle drivetrain technology. This innovation significantly pushed the boundaries of what was possible and continues to set new standards today.
But Bernie was far more than just an ingenious inventor. He was an inspiring person who not only impressed with his expertise but also always had an open ear for the ideas and concerns of his employees. His humanity made him a role model who was trusted and willingly followed. He was always willing to share his time and knowledge and encourage his team to go above and beyond.
Bernie leaves a void that cannot be filled. With him, the bicycle industry loses not only a visionary but also a particularly warm and
and approachable person.
If we look at the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 14-speed IGH, as the full name of this famous gearbox goes, from the perspective of the recumbent cycles, we find that it has a strong place here as well.
Virtually all major European brands such as HP Velotechnik, HASE, ICE, AZUB, but also Specbike Technics offer it as an optional drivetrain for their bikes. And we should not forget the iconic Greenmachine, which was equipped only with Rohloff and offered with no other set of components. Then there are plenty of long distance recumbent tourers who can’t get enough of Rohloff, like JaYoe’s Matt Galat. And finally, there’s the still a bit difficult to understand to me, but successful use of the Rohloff in a streamliner that participated in the World Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada, where it was ridden by Dutch racer Ellen van Vugt, who also set several other records.
We bow down Bernie, rest in peace.