Will chains and oil and messy cleaning become a thing of the past? Also check out several photos of this belt driven, internally geared system found on Flickr:
Left: The author’s own commuting bike, a Cannondale Scalpel, new in 2003. The derailleur system was removed (whew!) and replaced with a 14 speed, internally geared system known as the “Rohloff Speedhub“, and is now closing in on 43,000 trouble free miles. Advantages include 14 discrete gears in a single twist grip, all ratios split evenly by 13%, shifting at any time (under load or at a standstill), a much stronger straight laced wheel, very low maintenance, easy adjustment, and outstanding reliability. Only real disadvantage is net weight gained – about 1.5 lbs – in a swap with an average derailleur system.The goal is to convert this system to a belt drive someday, if the upgrade becomes available. It should be noted that the Speedhub is the only multi-gear hub available with a quick release axle.
Check out this really neat web page showing the internal workings of a Sturmey Archer 3 speed, the original foundation for all multi-gear hubs. Then, check out this You Tube Video of a cut away Speedhub in action!