Tech Note: How to Rohloff a Salsa Deadwood

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By definition, Salsa’s new 2016 Deadwood is designed specifically for long-distance dirt road bikepacking trips. This might leave some folks wondering how to pair it with world’s best expedition drivetrain. Here’s the scoop.

First a little background. If you are unfamiliar with the Salsa Deadwood, read Christophe’s Noel’s review here. We opted to put Gin on one for our Trans-Uganda trip. It seemed perfect: a lightweight steel frame with all the proper mounts, 29+ tires for added floatation and suspension, and an upright geometry modeled after the Fargo. Perhaps the ideal bike for a route made up of endless gnarly dirt roads.

Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit

  • Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit
  • Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit

There was one hitch. Our choice drivetrain for such an endeavor is Rohloff’s internally geared Speedhub; it’s virtually maintenance free, keeps the chain straight to avoid wear, and has proven itself almost bulletproof. Some riders have even reported over 200k miles of use without issue. However, the Deadwood was designed around the new BOOST 148mm dropout spacing standard. A 142mm, through axle Rohloff is due out soon, and we were hoping it could be ‘boosted’ with expansion plates. Unfortunately, this is not to be – we’ve been told by Rohloff that there’s no way of making it externally BOOST compatible, as it’s width would require a special hub shell, shifting shaft extender and axle extension. And until this latest standard becomes popular, there’s no plans to offer a Speedhub with this spacing.

Even though this is a relatively short trip, we didn’t want to risk the loss of a derailleur in a country where modern bike parts are few and far between. So the big question was, could we marry the Rohloff with Salsa’s new Deadwood?

Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking

  • Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking
  • Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking

The basic structure is there. Like many of Salsa’s other adventure bikes, the rear end of the Deadwood uses their interchangeable dropout system which allows Alternator plates to be swapped. There are several sets of plates available including the thru-axle version shipped with the Deadwood, standard QR plates, and a Rohloff version which has a vertical sliding dropout. The Rohloff plate is designed to work with Rohloff’s OEM axle plate (#8235) to lock the hub with the axle plate tab slid into the vertical slot. Most importantly, the Alternator plate system is based on a swing arm design, which allows for chain tensioning via two adjustable screws that move the effective dropout fore and aft.


That said, spacing was still an issue. 13mm to be exact. As with most fixes and mods, there are many ways to skin a cat. Initially we considered the new 142mm Speedhubs, squeezing down the remaining 6mm to force the fit. Although it’s not “recommended”, it would probably have worked with the flexible chromoly frame. But a Rohloff is an expensive investment. So rather than selling a perfectly good 135mm hub, it was better that we find a solution with the hub we already had. Fortunately, Salsa had already thought through the issue.

Salsa Deadwood, Bikepacking, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit

  • Salsa Deadwood, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit
  • Salsa Deadwood, Rohloff 135mm, Spacer Kit
  • File_002

Enter Salsa’s Alternator Reduction Kit. The kit provides two spacers which are placed between the dropouts and the Alternator plates to make up 6m millimeters of the deficit. The kit also includes oversized bolts. The full solution is completed by pairing the spacer kit with the Rohloff-specific Alternator plates, and the SpeedHub OEM axle plate. The Alternator plates are designed to convert the BOOST spacing to 142mm, so when coupled with the reduction kit, the 135mm Rohloff fits. We also replaced the 2x crankset with a Shimano Vee crank to come close to the proper 54mm chain line. We’re now a few weeks into our trip and can report that this setup works like a charm.

  • alternator-reduction
  • Salsa Alternator Reduction Kit Spacers, Rohloff


Salsa’s Rohloff non-drive side Alternator plate.

However, there is one remaining issue if you are looking for a quick fix. This solution is not an immediate one. You’ll have to wait until Salsa finishes production and takes the Alternator Reduction Kit to market. Right now there is no set date, but we’ll update this post as soon as we find out.


  • Paul

    Thank you very much! How did you fit the shifter on the handle bars? Did you use an extension? Or does the Rolloff shifter simply fit over these handle bars? If the latter, what model handle bars are these?

  • Evan Baird

    The Soma Gator bars are made for the Rohloff twist shifter. It looks like they probably used a Hub Bub adapter.

  • Their Only Portrait

    Hola Logan,

    This bike/setup looks AWESOME!!! If I didn’t have the Hayduke I’ll definitively consider riding one for my Little Personal Project :)


  • StaySaneSleepOutside

    what about Alfine 11? for this kind of trip, i’d personally rather have a ti mukluk with 29+ or the ecr.

  • Peter

    Hi thanks I have been looking at the Deadwood frameset as a replacement of my Jones Plus! I have been running Rohloff Speedhub’s for over ten years how and had not find the answer to how to fit my wheelset in :-) thanks

  • Harry Major

    I’ve been wondering between getting a Plus or Deadwood, and was leaning towards the plus. May I ask why you’re headed from Plus to Deadwood?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’ve never had a chance to long term test one, but Shimano IGHs are ruled out for me for backcountry touring due to their limited gear range. I believe the 11 speed Shimanos have a 409% range. Rohloffs are 525%.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s not the most elegant of solutions, but you can run a 135mm Rohloff with a Jones Plus by using the long torque arm, to anchor the hub to the chainstay.

  • Peter

    Hi yes
    The handling and fast turning of my Jones Plus are great and comfortable for hundreds of km’s. But on down hills with the forks being so stiff braking bumps are very painful at the speed I ride down hills 25 to 4o+ on Singletrack.
    Yes I’m running low tyre pressures.
    Had a Specialized Awol before with a 29 x 2.0 tyre and had a load more comfort on the down hills! But not the comfortable for to long km’s because of the small tyres.
    But of course the Jones Plus looks good

  • Christophe Noel

    Neat-o, burrito, as they say. Pretty cool. Do you feel like you traded one degree of mechanical complexity for another?

  • (Logan)

    I don’t think so. The spacers don’t really interfere with anything, and it just verifies that the Alternator plates are a versatile solution. And this burly ride is verifying their toughness! :)

  • (Logan)

    I am curious to see some long-term testing of the Alfine 11… I have heard mixed results, but they are usually one off impressions and not really long use.

  • (Logan)

    Yep, Hubbub. Sorry, meant to mention that in the text, but it got away from me!

  • Paul

    Thanks for mentioning the Soma Gator! I didn’t know about that one.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Peter, how did you anchor your Rohloff in place? I know the use of a Monkey Bone when the brake tab is between the seat and the chain stay isn’t officially sanctioned. Did you just go that route anyway, and make sure it was clamped down super tight?

  • Peter

    Hi Yes
    But a few things
    1st the Q/R is a Hope and in backwards ie: lever handle on the right on side! So the teeth dig in.
    2nd waiting on the new postmount parts to see if I can get this to work to within Rohloff standard?
    3rd It has not moved so is all ok after 1800kms

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks! Unfortunately, having exchanged several emails with Rohloff, it seems there’s no ‘official way to do it, except with a long torque arm. Though it sounds like with care, it’s work fine with a strong QR.

    I’m surprised to hear you didn’t get on with the Plus on rough descents, and less so even than your ‘skinny tyred’ AWOL. I find it the most comfortable fully rigid bike I’ve ridden! Perhaps fitting the Bend over Loop bars will help – they seem to have a bit more give.

  • Peter

    Hi Yes there is no way to mount a Rohloff to the Plus without going to the Old Longarm setup. But I did work out the a custom longer Monkey Bone (with the pin point 5 mm more to the rear) but with the new Postmount adapters coming out I think I have a way for getting the setup to work within Rohloff rules of safety.

  • Triis

    My frame came with actual 141 mm rear spacing – so no problem to reach 135 mm by a bit of bending the stays using a QR axle. Using standard alternator ends I have installed the Rohloff with that QR axle.

  • Skyler

    Much as 135mm QR and 12×142 are interchangeable with end caps, because the frame spacing and hub spacing are the same, once you swap the thru-axle plates on the Deadwood to QR dropouts, the result will be a 141mm QR. Your frame is not narrower than it’s meant to be, Boost is only 6mm wider than 135/142 spaced frames. On a steel frame, just tightening down on the 135mm Rohloff is probably pretty safe.

  • Leonardo

    the Alfine’s also have issues with chain line coming into contact with the tyre when running plus size tyres.

  • Albert Franqui

    Salsa makes great bikes but who build this bike because the Rohloff cable looks fragile, look at picture build with salsa alternator for Rohloff.

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