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  1. #1
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    I want to build a light-weight 3 speed

    I've been riding a reasonably light weight Fuji that I rebuilt last summer, it's light enough to get on and off the bus racks - I commute to school in another city and combine bussing and biking - but it has derailluers. I hate derailluers, and skinny tires. With the weight of my textbooks I'd just feel a little more secure with a fat tire.
    My idea of heaven is an old Raliegh three speed, but at this age there's no way I can lift one on and off the bus every day. This leads me to wondering: Can I somehow build a lighter three speed?

    I have a spare Sturmey Archer hub, but what kind of frame do I need to find to accomodate the larger wheel? I would prefer something older, I really like lugged frames and no-one seems to be doing *that* anymore.

    Has anyone done this? Any input would be helpful at this point.

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    Lots of british club bikes 531 tubed came with 3 speed hubs.Any of the greats---Claud Butler/MacLean/etc.

  3. #3
    \,,/(^_^)\,,/ new_dharma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    I've been riding a reasonably light weight Fuji that I rebuilt last summer, it's light enough to get on and off the bus racks - I commute to school in another city and combine bussing and biking - but it has derailluers. I hate derailluers, and skinny tires. With the weight of my textbooks I'd just feel a little more secure with a fat tire.
    My idea of heaven is an old Raliegh three speed, but at this age there's no way I can lift one on and off the bus every day. This leads me to wondering: Can I somehow build a lighter three speed?

    I have a spare Sturmey Archer hub, but what kind of frame do I need to find to accomodate the larger wheel? I would prefer something older, I really like lugged frames and no-one seems to be doing *that* anymore.

    Has anyone done this? Any input would be helpful at this point.
    you're still going use a S-A three speed hub and you're worried about the weight? the "old" frames don't weigh that much (compared to other steel frames)...you just need to use lighter components (wheels, tires, cranks, handlebars, stem)...
    Just my $.02 worth

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    The frames and rims are, in my opinion, most of the weight. I'm wondering if I can't take a hybrid frame and alloy rims and just build in the bloody hub. I'm very unfamiliar with modern bikes, my background is firmly rooted in vintage english three and five speeds which is why I'm asking here and not in the vintage thread.

    It seems to me that the biggest concern would be the width of the drop outs, and whether a larger wheel would fit into the frame. From looking at my 80's Fuji frame, it seems that the hub might be too small and the wheel width definitly too large.

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    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Light-weight 3-speed?

    What a novel idea!!

    A nice balance of what could be a mix of the lightness of a single-speed bicycle with an internal hub providing two extra gears to make better pace on a high grade incline or decline.

    You are probably not the first to think of this but this concept is not spoken of that much. I think it has great potential. Keep us posted on the results.

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    You could get some advice from the Single-speed users. Basically you are building a light-weight single-speed except the rear hub will have a 3-speed internal gear.

    Find a quality frame. Examine each component you add to determine if essential and if it is light-weight. Install the least amount of hardware as possible. Install the lightest hardware as possible.

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    the anti-rotation washer on the S/A hub may be a bit small for a modern drop---a new washer might have to be made.I'd check with Sheldon Brown(www.sheldonbrown.com)---sam

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    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    You should be able to do it with your Fuji. Fint yourself a 700c rim/tire combo that is a good balance of width & frame clearance. Lace those rims to your S/A hub and your front hub as well. Cable up the shifter and your good to go. If you have the parts it's doable in a weekend.

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    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    The frames and rims are, in my opinion, most of the weight. I'm wondering if I can't take a hybrid frame and alloy rims and just build in the bloody hub. I'm very unfamiliar with modern bikes, my background is firmly rooted in vintage english three and five speeds which is why I'm asking here and not in the vintage thread.

    It seems to me that the biggest concern would be the width of the drop outs, and whether a larger wheel would fit into the frame. From looking at my 80's Fuji frame, it seems that the hub might be too small and the wheel width definitly too large.

    Just squish in the rear drop-outs to fit the hub width.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey
    You should be able to do it with your Fuji. Fint yourself a 700c rim/tire combo that is a good balance of width & frame clearance. Lace those rims to your S/A hub and your front hub as well. Cable up the shifter and your good to go. If you have the parts it's doable in a weekend.
    What is a 700c rim? I'm sure I could find it since my city has many alternative bike shops. In fact I plan to go to one of them this week and bug them with this question. It would eliminate a few problems if I could just convert this bike. Being quick would be the best.

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    And a post 72 sturmey archer hubs have 36 spoke holes--which makes rims easer to find.

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    Shimano makes some modern internally geared hubs now if that helps.
    I just say something about fixies being sooo trendy right now. That is hipster kryptonite. -Anon

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrchristian
    Shimano makes some modern internally geared hubs now if that helps.
    Yeah, I saw those last spring when I was looking at new bikes. Some of the shops I went to even let me look at the exploded diagrams in the repair manuals. I still have a hard time believing that Shimano could make a dependable three (or any other) speed internally geared hub. I overhauled a few back in the day and I'm telling you they were nothing more than a bunch of springs and bearings crammed into a can. Long story short, we didn't exactly pronounce it "shimano".

    I'm also hoping to use the hub I have on hand. The shell is for a 40 hole rim but I can probably find a different hub shell without having to shell out too much for it. I'm intrigued by the idea of being able to use the frame on the Fuji I bought last summer though, but I really don't see how I'm going to get a wider wheel in there. I did email Sheldon, but I don't have high hopes that he'll respond.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're trying to do this the hard way. Our Electra cruisers came with Shimano 3 speed hubs. I thought the bikes were slow and heavy, until I checked the tire pressure. Seems the shop delivered them with about 25psi. I bumped that up to 60psi, and the bikes took on another life. Any steel frame, a 3 speed hub, some light hoops and a high pressure, fast-rolling tire would serve your purpose.

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    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    What is a 700c rim? I'm sure I could find it since my city has many alternative bike shops. In fact I plan to go to one of them this week and bug them with this question. It would eliminate a few problems if I could just convert this bike. Being quick would be the best.
    700c is the 'NEW' standard big kids bike rim size. It's taken the place of the 27" wheel. You'll find a great variety of rim widths and tire styles to suit just about any ideas & limitations you might have.

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    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expatriate
    Sounds like you're trying to do this the hard way. Our Electra cruisers came with Shimano 3 speed hubs. I thought the bikes were slow and heavy, until I checked the tire pressure. Seems the shop delivered them with about 25psi. I bumped that up to 60psi, and the bikes took on another life. Any steel frame, a 3 speed hub, some light hoops and a high pressure, fast-rolling tire would serve your purpose.
    Now wouldn't that take all the fun out of it?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    No, that would put the fun in it quicker. I'm still weighing the idea of a Nexus 7 on my 24" BMX race bike. What could be more fun than passing roadie snobs on a BMX?

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    I looked at Electras last spring. They're expensive fashion accessories. Then there's my previously mentioned Shi_mano bias.

    Yesterday I emailed Sheldon. Today he replied that as a previous poster stated, most of the weight in an old english three speed isn't in the frame. It's in the rims and crank. I apologize to the original poster for not believing it when he said it. Mr Brown suggests changing out the heavy parts for lighter weigh aluminum one. He also said that the brakes would work better after this adjustment was made. So I guess that's it. No need to make a frankenbike after all. Thanks to everyone who had any input, I really learned some stuff.

  19. #19
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    It can be done with an old steel frame and some decent aluminum rims.

    I had kind of the same idea as you, but I wanted a few more gears. I took my mid 80s Trek road bike (old 12 speed) and had my LBS re-build the rear wheel with a 7 speed Nexus hub. I removed the derailleurs and moved the 42 tooth chainring to the spot previously occupied by the 52 tooth ring (yeah, I'm a weakling, but at least I'm comfortable!). I initially was going for the full-on upright posture of a 3 speed, but I've since realized that I like the more efficient posture of the drop bars and that my frame geometry is a little steeper than those slack angles of the classic 3 speeds.

    The biggest improvement that I've made over the old 3 speeds is the higher quality and lighter frame and the lighter aluminum wheels.

    The 7 speed hub is a little tighter fit between the chainstays, but it works. The back of the bike feels a little heavier than it used to when I lift it, but riding it's fine. Best of all, no missed shifts, no downshifting at lights.

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    To me the charm of the old 3 speeds is the riding position and handling that you get with the slack angles you won't find on a newer frame.

    I recommend finding a garage sale 3 speed and replacing the steel fenders with plastic ones. Steel bars, stem, cranks and rims are all heavy and can be replaced with alloy components.

    Dimension makes a "Cruiser" bar that if you cut about 2.5" off the ends, and use a stem with about an inch more extension than the stock one, will exactly duplicate the ergonomics of the original North Road bars. Your local bike shop can order the bars and alloy rims from QBP. They carry Sun CR18 rims rolled to the 3 speed size (ETRTO 590) in 32, 36 and 40 holes. If you get a 3 speed made in the Nottingham plant, BB threads will be 26 tpi instead of the standard 24tpi. A framebuilder, or a very well equipped shop, can run a 24tpi tap through to allow a modern BB spindle to be installed. You may need a spindle for a 73mm BB shell instead of the more common 68mm. The Kenda 26 x 1-3/8" tires roll quite nicely without high pressures.

    There is a gent here in Minnesota who intends to put a bike into production using alloy componentsts, Planet Bike fenders, a 3 speed Sturmey Archer and a chrome moly frame. It will have 26 x 1-3/8" tires and classic 3 speed geometry. I rode the prototype, and if feels just like a really light Raleigh 3 speed.
    http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/05Thistle.jpg

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MnHPVA Guy
    There is a gent here in Minnesota who intends to put a bike into production using alloy componentsts, Planet Bike fenders, a 3 speed Sturmey Archer and a chrome moly frame. It will have 26 x 1-3/8" tires and classic 3 speed geometry. I rode the prototype, and if feels just like a really light Raleigh 3 speed.
    http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/05Thistle.jpg
    That would really rock! I think my winter break project will be putting together an old/new three speed, I'm sure I can find what I need locally.

    That's a pretty cool picture there^ my very first three speed looked just like that black Raliegh in the background, minus the dyna hub. I do still have a 54 Rudge, with a dyna hub and 40 hole rims. Great machine but I'm a little classic mustang about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    That would really rock! I think my winter break project will be putting together an old/new three speed, I'm sure I can find what I need locally.
    If you go with a more modern frame you may have a problem with the thickness of the rear dropouts. Thin, plate droputs work better due to axel length. Unless you find an old frame, these are only found on heavier bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    That's a pretty cool picture there^ my very first three speed looked just like that black Raliegh in the background, minus the dyna hub. I do still have a 54 Rudge, with a dyna hub and 40 hole rims. Great machine but I'm a little classic mustang about it.
    That photo was taken at the start of the 3 speed Tour of Lake Pepin http://3speedtour.com Though we had less than 35 riders, they were from all over the country and Canada. You might want to try it some year. My wife is an overweight, asthmatic great-grandmother and she rides it.

    At the All British Cycle Event this year there were 3 frames built (from Reynolds 531 of course) by their owners (or in Jane's case by the owner's spouse), and outfitted with 3 speed hubs. One had all 1930s components.
    http://photos.imageevent.com/abce/20...ch%20Mixte.jpg shows Jane's 531 mixte I built in 1979. All of her bikes have Sturmey 3 or 5 speed hubs, even her recumbent.

  23. #23
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    [/QUOTE]
    At the All British Cycle Event this year there were 3 frames built (from Reynolds 531 of course) by their owners (or in Jane's case by the owner's spouse), and outfitted with 3 speed hubs. One had all 1930s components.
    http://photos.imageevent.com/abce/20...ch%20Mixte.jpg shows Jane's 531 mixte I built in 1979. All of her bikes have Sturmey 3 or 5 speed hubs, even her recumbent.[/QUOTE]


    That's a cool looking bike. Did you say that you built the frame too? That's just levels of constructions I'm not going to get to. Why does the bike still have a derailluer on the back? And it looks like the tires are skinny, if I wanted to learn to live with skinny tires it looks like I could lace the 3-speed hub into the wheel on the Fuji I have. I suppose I could have a six speed if I kept the front derailluer and didn't change out the crank. Something to think about, would it work? Is there something I'm not thinking about?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    That's a cool looking bike. Did you say that you built the frame too? That's just levels of constructions I'm not going to get to. Why does the bike still have a derailluer on the back? And it looks like the tires are skinny, if I wanted to learn to live with skinny tires it looks like I could lace the 3-speed hub into the wheel on the Fuji I have.
    It was my first frame, back in '79 when there were no good, fatter tires. Would definitely go with 37mm or 40mm skins today. We were younger then and still liked the drop bar position, so the angles are steeper than I'd use now. Skinny tires are OK on the 3 Speed Tour, as the roads around Lake Pepin are smoother than a politicians lies.

    BTW if you use 700 rims, you can get tires in any width from 19mm to 60mm. Most English 3 speeds were 37mm.

    The chain tensioner is gone now, moved to her recumbent where it is needed to keep the chain from fouling the rear brake. I'd installed it for the 3 speed tour, so I could manually move her chain to a smaller chainring for the 2.5 mile Bay City hill. Turns out that on the larger ring she was never using 3rd gear, so when we got home I removed the big ring and the tensioner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigane
    I suppose I could have a six speed if I kept the front derailluer and didn't change out the crank. Something to think about, would it work? Is there something I'm not thinking about?
    A better way to get 6 speeds is to put 2 cogs on the hub. The standard setup is one 1/8" cog, and two 1/16" spacers. Larger cogs are dished so if you put them back to back you can use two of them. Use a 22t Shimano cog (The 22t Sturmey cog will skip if used with a derailleur) and a 19t Shimano or Sturmey cog and you will exactly split the gears in the hub, giving 6 evenly spaced ratios. You will need an older rear derailleur in order to adjust the travel short enough for only 2 cogs.

    Because of nearly flush rivets and thinner sideplates, SRAM 1/8" chain is actually narrower than older 3/32" derailleur chains, so should work OK with a derailleur. (I haven't actually tried this. Back when I ran this type of setup I used older 3 speed chain and put thin washers on either side of the derailleur pulleys to allow for the extra chain width.)

  25. #25
    hateful little monkey jim-bob's Avatar
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    This isn't exactly what you meant, but this thing has a 3-sp hub in back and a double up front. If I need to shift chainrings, though, it's a manual kind of thing..


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