It has always seemed odd to me that internal-geared hubs seem never to have been popular with racers, or even with most owners of high-end lightweight touring bikes. The early racers seem to have distained derailleurs because of perceived friction losses in the tortuous chain path, but no such objection exists to internal gear hubs. I suppose the objection may have been the weight of a geared hub, although as discussed here before, the weight of rotating components close to the axis of rotation is relatively insignificant compared to those far from the axis, i.e. hub weight is much less important than rim weight. Maybe this is all just a matter of image, as racers, and even most of us on this list, have an image of quality lightweigt bikes as having derailleurs, while we associate geared hubs with roadsters or utility bikes.
This may be like the prejudice against automatic transmissions in sports car and auto racing circles. Way back in the 70's I think, a Texas millionaire named Jim Hall, with some assistance from GM, compaigned a prototype called the Chapparrel in major US and international sports car races. He was highly successful, almost dominant, for several years. This car had a highly modified Chevrolet automatic transmission. Yet when Hall left auto racing to pursue whatever other interests caught his fancy, the idea of automatic transmissions seemed to instantally die, despite his considerable success. Somehow, I guess automatic transmissions just aren't "cool", even though current F1 cars are edging that way, having eliminated a clutch pedal and I think some may even be capable of automatic upshifts. I have to admit, I would probaly never have considered an automatic transmission for my 6-speed Mazda Miata, no matter how advanced that unit might be. It just wouldn't be "cool". Maybe racers and lightweight bicycle enthusiats ignore geared hubs as "uncool" in the same manner.
> On Saturday, March 8, 2003, at 06:48 PM, Wayne Davidson wrote:
> > Hi, regarding "INDEX" equipment, I always remember reading why the
> > italians were so slow in developing this system, "why change what is so
> > easy to do"
> Index shifting existed for 30-40 years before the deraileur even hit
> the scene in the 30s in the form of internally geared hubs. Since the
> first multi-geared FW came as a group with the gear changer they were
> set-ups similar to today's groups. I can't see it would have been hard
> to make a shifter with indents or teeth similar to the internal hub
> shifters. I can't figure out why they didn't do it. I'm sure the same
> reasons that racers embraced index shifting 15 years ago would have
> made it popular 70 years ago had the makers provided it. Any thoughts?
> SB, CA