All internal gear hub fans know the simple promise of reduced maintenance compared to a conventional derailleur drivetrain, but the 3X3 Nine hub promises literally NO internal maintenance. No gear adjustments, not even an oil change. This sucker is built to run for life, trouble free and even under exceptionally high ebike loads!
3X3 Nine internal geared hub needs NO maintenance
There’s a new derailleur killer in town.
On the outside it looks a lot like the several-decade-running, made-in-Germany benchmark internally geared hub from Rohloff (although it opens on the driveside for service instead.)
Inside things get a bit different.
Tech Details – What’s New? What’s Different?
The 3X3 Nine hub is stuffed full of planetary gears that give it a wider 554% gear ratio – even wider than SRAM Eagle – but across much fewer gears.
With just 9 gears, that’s almost a 25% jump with each shift, more than double the gearing steps you might get from a tightly spaced gearbox or road or gravel cassette. For a frame of reference, an original Pinion P.18 has 11.5% steps, Campagnolo Ekar generally has 7-17% steps.
And the 3X3 Nine hub is actually about 10-15% heavier than a Rohloff, at 2000g total.
But what you get in return is the promise of a no-maintenance set of internals that are lubricated by longer-lasting grease and do not need regular oil changes.
3X3 even claims that it is possible to “shift gears at any time, even at standstill or under load”. That under load is an interesting one, as without a clutch mechanism… planetary gear hubs do generally require at least some reduction in load to allow a shift. But the extremely high allowable torque inputs of the 3X3 Nine hub could allow for more shifting under some continuous load.
You do get a maximum allowable input torque of 250Nm, making it well-suited for ebike and even e-cargo bike applications, as well. That’s much more than the 130Nm max of a Rohloff or even the 160Nm max of the latest Kindernay VII.
3X3’s Nine hub can be set up for mechanical or electronic shifting, with various bolt-on torque-transferring endplates to suit many OEM or aftermarket installations. 3X3 says the Nine hub is compatible with QR or thru-axles, 160+mm disc brakes with rotors made for them by Magura, and with either chain drive or Gates-made belt drive cogs.
They even work with each OEM bike company to develop clean customized dropout solutions for each type of application.
The mechanical setup features a R9.S twist grip shifter, which also appears to split so that it can be also installed on the top of a dropbar.
At the hub it uses a conventional 2-cable pull-only R.SB shift setup for proven simplicity and easy install.
The electronic setup uses a wireless 2-button E.TR remote trigger shifter that can tie in with modular mountain bike cockpits.
The E9.XP electronic shifter itself is wirelessly controlled, but wired to an internal battery in the frame, and can also be connected to an ebike’s power supply and will display your current gear via the drive system’s display.
In fact, electronic Nine systems also include an automatic shifting feature that downshifts when you are standing for an easier, smoother restart from a dead stop.
- 9 gears
- 554% gear ratio
- 23.76% gear steps
- 250Nm max. input torque
- 2kg hub weight
- chain or belt drive
- 160/180/203/220mm brake rotor compatibility
- 32 or 36-hole J-bend spoke lacing
- 135QR/142×12/148x12mm axle compatibility
- mechanical rotary shift or electronic shift control
- 100% made in Germany, with automated manufacturing
3X3 Nine gear hub availability
In the end 3X3 isn’t actually a start-up, but a new bike drive brand offshoot of specialized metalworking company H+B Hightech, who in one way or another have been in industrial metal manufacturing since 1901. And all of the 3X3 components are manufactured and assembled in their Adelmannsfelden, Germany factory.
We’ve been told that OEM bikes are the first place consumers will get their hands on a new Nine hub gear system. Only after that will they likely be available for aftermarket conversions. The first production manufacturer to use the new gear hub is Nicolai, on this bike we saw in our Gates Carbon belt-drive roundup.
For model year 2023, Nicolai will launch their alloy cross/gravel/touring bike as the Argon GX Slide built around a 3X3 Nine hub and the mechanical rotary shifter (GripShift-style) that can be fit on the tops of a drop bar.
3X3 said the Bosch-powered e-enduro Nicolai G1 EBOXX ebike we saw fitted out with their Nine hub was something they would love to see in the near future, but likely not for at least another model year.
Reminds me of the Nuvinci 360 hub from years ago. It was a CVT though. 12 pound rear wheel. Which in this day and age of ebikes, guess doesn’t matter, but back then was a bit too much to deal with for anything other than commuting.
The Nuvinci is still made. It’s changed names to Enviolo and they are popular for e-bikes and cargo bikes.
That 250nm of torque is a big deal for ebikes. With mid drives like the CYC X1 Pro Gen 2, you could upgrade the controller, run a 72v battery and still be confident you’re not going to destroy your drivetrain. Very interesting.
Is that 250Nm of static torque or dynamic? Big difference in my experience. I tested a hub with 400Nm+ of static torque capability on the workbench but failed under less than 100Nm or dynamic torque.
Don’t know, but I’m keeping an eye on this one to see how it develops!
I see no mention of price. I also see no mention of Alfine hubs, though Alfine hubs have a much narrower range.