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  1. #1
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    Sturmey Archer 5 speed or 8 speed hub for hilly area?

    Hi, I've been dreaming of building a winter/commuter bike for a few years now with an internal geared hub with drum brakes. I have a front SA drum brake hub hiding in a closet waiting for it's day. I am thinking of Sturmey Archer because they are less expensive and I have read in many sources that the drum brakes are very good and better than the roller brakes.
    My concern with the new 8 speed internal hub is that from what I have read it has some issues that make it best suited for small wheeled bikes like folders etc.. But, I have also read reviews of people using the hub on regular bikes with no problem.
    The 5 speed hub would have less gears to deal with, but concerned there would not be enough range for hills. I do have a vintage 5 speed raleigh with a derailleur and I put a mega range cog on the back. I can get up most hills unless they are extra steep, or I am too tired.
    I live in the Pacific Northwest near Vancouver on the coast mid way up a mountain so have hills to deal with although mostly commute on the highway which is at a similar level. Not as steep as West and North Vancouver, but I do live up a long hill.
    Pros? Cons?

    thanks.

    A few years ago I had been interested in a sram 7 speed hub with drum brakes but was discontinued(?)

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    Well, there's the hub internals, and then there's the size of the sprocket and which chainring you choose. Room for some customization there.
    If you have a geared bike already, make note of what gears you use. Then spend some time with one of the gear calculators available on the 'net. I like Sheldon Brown's
    A bit of fiddling there will let you compare a known and working setup with the one that you are contemplating.

    What I like to do is to set the calculator to "speed@cadence". I know my speed range, and I know my pedalling range, then I tweak the values for cassette/sprocket and chainring(s) until I find an combo that looks suitable.

    If people prefer the 8-speed on small-wheeled bikes b/c it gets the gear ratio "right", then that can be tuned by going to a bigger sprocket(assuming they're not maxed out already).
    If people prefer the 8-speed on small wheeled bike b/c it can't handle the bigger torque available at a bigger wheel, then that's a bit off-putting.

    But I'd think twice about drum brakes. I was initially very pleased with my commuter, built with (old) Sachs drums. But I'm growing tired of its rather modest braking force - or rather the ratio between hand effort and braking power. Wheel lock is certainly doable, no doubt about that. But you have to haul like crazy on the levers to make it happen.
    Now, obviously it'd be silly to assume that all drums are equal, but the diameter and design is certainly very, very similar.
    These days discs seems to do well even in adverse climates, so that reason to avoid them isn't as strong any more.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    i'd Go with, the 5 speed, and set up the external gears chain ring and hub cog,
    for the 3 middle gears,which are the same as an AW3, with 4of5 as your cruising gear,
    still have 5of5 as the stiff tailwind dancing with cars at traffic speed, as the top gear.

    SA 8,the gear ratio set starts out in low, the 1:1 ...
    the 8 speed,It is 7 overdrive gears.
    For the hub I see 3 cog sizes, 19, 21, 23t, so a 23:24t gear ratio on the crank
    is about as low as you can get. 0.9583:1 multiply that by your wheel diameter,
    and that is your low..

    Their 5 speed hubs, the 1:1 is in the middle, with 2 reduction gears, 2 overdrive gears..

    and the hub cogs are the 3 speed type , so a range from 13 to 21 teeth can be selected
    to match with the crank chainring size, to get the range the hub provides
    where you want it to be..


    Alternatives to extend the range>
    a 5 speed [3/32"thk cog] , chain tensioner, front derailleur and 2 chainrings, perhaps?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-29-12 at 10:21 AM.

  4. #4
    Member brokencase's Avatar
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    Heatherbikes - I had a similar dream and ended up with what you see in the attachment.

    I went with the Nexus 7 speed hub. The frame is a Dawes SST AL from bikesdirect.

    I selected the chain sprocket on the hub so I can manage the worst hills that I expect to encounter (Bucks County, PA) and just live with the less than optimal range on the top end. In my case that is a 21 tooth. If I want to ride the flat lands (like NJ) I can put the 19 tooth on. I am fortunate in that the horizontal dropouts will accommodate this change without me having to alter the chain length.

    The sprocket is not too hard to change but I would not want to do it on the road.

    I opted for the coaster brake and a single caliper brake on the front.
    I find this is very versatile and comfortable. It's nice to brake with your feet only when riding no hands. During descents I use both, and the rest of the time I just use the front.

    It's a fun bike, so don't hold off on the dream. This is a good way to learn how to lace a wheel if you feel so inclined. Alternatively, you can have someone lace the hub/wheel for you.

    Go for it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    tcs
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    Here's my Sturmey 8 speed bike. 31-100 gear inches.

    S-A XRK8(W).jpg
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  6. #6
    Member brokencase's Avatar
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    tcs - I like your taste in bikes!

    Interesting how that hub requires such a small chain ring.

    You got me curious so i went to Sheldon's calculator.
    It looks like I'm in a 38-93 gear inch range with the 21 tooth on the Nexus 7.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    That is one sweet looking ride!

    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    Here's my Sturmey 8 speed bike. 31-100 gear inches.

    S-A XRK8(W).jpg
    Yep, THAT Ira

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    Thanks! Brokencase, your bike is sweet. What are those handlebars? I see them on photos of rando bikes alot and think ooh I like those.... but do not know what they are.
    I like the streamlined bike tcs has. How do you find the 8 speed sturmey archer hub? That is what I really would like to know. I was advised a few years ago that if I were to use the SA 8 speed hub, I would need a very small front chainring. Your bike also looks like a fast little road bike, curious how it goes with the 8 gears.
    I still do not understand all those gear ratios or what the numbers mean.
    The bike I am thinking of using is an old french bike and has horizontal drop outs. I sort of rescued the bike, but the parts are not mechanically sound, so thought it would be a good candidate.

  9. #9
    Member brokencase's Avatar
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    The handlebars are like the old track bars seen on bikes around the 1900's - eigthinch.com sells them.

    The old French bike sounds ideal. What you might want to do to kick start the project is to order a track wheel set with a freewheel and get the bike going as a single speed first. Get the brakes, seat and everything else sorted and get the bike ridable.

    Later on (after you have decided upon and have acquired the geared hub) you could take the rear wheel and hub to a shop and get it laced. Just make sure the rims you initially get have 36 spokes (which is what most geared hubs have). From there you just have to work out the shifter.

    Plenty of expertise available here to assist you through this. No reason not to get started.
    Post a picture of the frame when you get a chance.

    I also would like to hear more about tcs' bike. I hope he posts again...
    Last edited by brokencase; 08-20-11 at 11:32 PM.

  10. #10
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    I have two internal gear hub projects waiting to go. One is a raleigh sport which will get a sturmey 5 speed hub with front and rear drum brakes. I also got an 8 speed sturmey archer freewheel hub on ebay, but still trying to decide which bike to put it on. The gitane is toast, but I have a vintage trek 420 frame I was hoping to build up as a fasty bike. So, as of yet unsure of which frame to use or if I will find the 'right' one asap.
    I recently got the chance to finally try internal geared hubs. The 3 speed on the old neglected raleigh sports I was given still worked and was so smooth. The 5 speed sturmey archer hub was great and was able to get up a fairly big hill without too much effort. I also tried a bike with a shimano 8speed nexus hub and it was pretty good but didn't like the gearing on it. So, I was really impressed with internal geared hubs and convinced me further to go this route for a couple of bikes. The random and prolific use of magnesium chloride on roads and mucky wet, rainy muddy pacific northwest monsoon season is destroying my derailleur set ups. I see a tough raleigh sports for less hilly distances and another faster bike with a bit more range for the big hills. I still do not know if the 8 speed hub will have enough range, or if I should go the derailleur route. I am still unsure of the optimal rear cog and chainring combo to combat hills and still have some power for straightaways. I recently read a review for the Soma buena vista built up with the sturmey archer 8 speed hub and they put a 34 chainring on it.

    Any suggestions?

  11. #11
    Member brokencase's Avatar
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    "Hilly" is subjective. Your range of gearing is smaller with the geared hub, but you can set you overall ratio by playing with the chain ring and sprocket. So you can set the hub up for hill climbing at the expense of top speed on the flats. I have a nexus 7 speed hub with a 48T chain ring and a 21T sprocket. First gear is very close to the lowest gear on my normal non-gear hub bike. It lets me handle all the hills around me. I can still hit 26mph on the flats but it's a higher cadence.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heatherbikes View Post
    Thanks! Brokencase, your bike is sweet. What are those handlebars? I see them on photos of rando bikes alot and think ooh I like those.... but do not know what they are.
    I like the streamlined bike tcs has. How do you find the 8 speed sturmey archer hub? That is what I really would like to know. I was advised a few years ago that if I were to use the SA 8 speed hub, I would need a very small front chainring. Your bike also looks like a fast little road bike, curious how it goes with the 8 gears.
    I still do not understand all those gear ratios or what the numbers mean.
    The bike I am thinking of using is an old french bike and has horizontal drop outs. I sort of rescued the bike, but the parts are not mechanically sound, so thought it would be a good candidate.
    There is no reason not to use the Sturmey 8 speed hub. My Peugeot PX-8 has one installed and I like it a lot.


    P1010510 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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  13. #13
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heatherbikes View Post
    I am still unsure of the optimal rear cog and chainring combo to combat hills and still have some power for straightaways. I recently read a review for the Soma buena vista built up with the sturmey archer 8 speed hub and they put a 34 chainring on it.

    Any suggestions?
    I'd suggest with a Sturmey 8 and standard size wheels that a 34T will be on the large side for "combating" hills for most riders. My bike is 30x25 using Sturmey-Archer's FCS80 crank that was developed for use with the XR*8(W) hubs, and I derive the very useful 31-100 gear inch range that's served cyclists well for over half a century. That's pretty much as wide a gear range as you can achieve with an IGH without spending a lot more money.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  14. #14
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    I'd suggest with a Sturmey 8 and standard size wheels that a 34T will be on the large side for "combating" hills for most riders. My bike is 30x25 using Sturmey-Archer's FCS80 crank that was developed for use with the XR*8(W) hubs, and I derive the very useful 31-100 gear inch range that's served cyclists well for over half a century. That's pretty much as wide a gear range as you can achieve with an IGH without spending a lot more money.
    +1. Same gearing I have on mine. Sometimes, I'd like a lower bottom end, but it mostly serves me well.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


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  15. #15
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by brokencase View Post
    I also would like to hear more about tcs' bike. I hope he posts again...
    Opps, somehow lost this thread back in August.

    Anyway, I built the bike in post #5 up about a year and a half ago now from a bare CrMo frame and all new components (except the pedals). It's based on what I like and what's worked for me over the decades. It fits me really well, it's very comfortable for me and it wasn't really a very expensive project. I use it for, well, mostly just riding around and enjoying myself, but I've done a bit of light touring and commuting with it too.

    Anyway, I like the XRK8(W) hub quite a lot. It's smooth, quiet, shifts fine and has a both a great range for my uses and really nice gear steps. It's shifted with a Jtek bar end shifter and that works well, too. It is very unhappy if it is shifted under load (I don't shift any of my bikes under load) so if you're a stomp-through-the-shifts kind of rider you probably won't get along well with a Sturmey 8. Amazingly, I have not had to readjust my hub's shift cable since I first put it in service a year and a half ago.

    Here's a tip: if you're fitting a Sturmey 8 to a frame with a 130~135mm OLD, get the "K" (disc brake mount) version, even if you're not fitting a disc brake. The regular freewheel wide OLD Sturmey 8 has a long axle and the OLD is made out with a bunch of jam nuts! The K hub has a native wide hub shell with more widely spaced bearings.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  16. #16
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    Opps, somehow lost this thread back in August.

    Anyway, I built the bike in post #5 up about a year and a half ago now from a bare CrMo frame and all new components (except the pedals). It's based on what I like and what's worked for me over the decades. It fits me really well, it's very comfortable for me and it wasn't really a very expensive project. I use it for, well, mostly just riding around and enjoying myself, but I've done a bit of light touring and commuting with it too.

    Anyway, I like the XRK8(W) hub quite a lot. It's smooth, quiet, shifts fine and has a both a great range for my uses and really nice gear steps. It's shifted with a Jtek bar end shifter and that works well, too. Amazingly, I have not readjusted the hub's shift cable since I first put it in service a year and a half ago.

    Here's a tip: if you're fitting a Sturmey 8 to a frame with a 130~135mm OLD, get the "K" (disc brake mount) version, even if you're not fitting a disc brake. The regular freewheel wide OLD Sturmey 8 has a long axle and the OLD is made out with a bunch of jam nuts! The K hub has a native wide hub shell with more widely spaced bearings.
    I'd describe mine pretty much the same with the exception of the quiet part. While it's not as noisy as the Sram iMotion 9 speed it replaced in that bike, it's certainly not what I would describe as quiet.
    With the exception of the lone non overdrive gear of course.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


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    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    I'd describe mine pretty much the same with the exception of the quiet part.
    Mine had some dinah-moe-hum (NWS) in fourth ratio from new, more felt that heard, but that's mostly smoothed out.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    One of these cranks may get you the low gear..
    http://www.sram.com/truvativ/family/hammerschmidt
    and The 8 speed IGH
    one version is a 22t, the other 24t, then planetary 2nd gear kicks it up 160%
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-29-12 at 10:25 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    I'd suggest with a Sturmey 8 and standard size wheels that a 34T will be on the large side for "combating" hills for most riders. My bike is 30x25 using Sturmey-Archer's FCS80 crank that was developed for use with the XR*8(W) hubs, and I derive the very useful 31-100 gear inch range that's served cyclists well for over half a century. That's pretty much as wide a gear range as you can achieve with an IGH without spending a lot more money.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    +1. Same gearing I have on mine. Sometimes, I'd like a lower bottom end, but it mostly serves me well.
    I'm with tcs and Dan here. Going any larger than a 30t chainset could be problematic if you plan to ride in hilly areas as you have described. As far as noise, it is the quietest SA hub I have and is considerably quieter than any of my Sachs/SRAM hubs. The hub is not as quiet as that which is on my wife's Linus Mixte which has a Shimano Nexus 8. I must admit that I want to like the Shimano hub, but simply can't get past the bad design which has horribly uneven jumps between gears.
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  20. #20
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Old thread, but I have a Sturmey 8-speed, so I'll throw a little info in.

    Largest cog they offer for it is 25T.
    Mine is very noisy... moreso after I replaced the internals (I had an older one, Sturmey sent me new internals at no cost). I need to pull it out and re-grease it.
    I have the drum version, it's a heavy beast! 5 pounds.
    I am using the smallest ring on a cheap MTB crankset (24T) and for climbing hills with a heavy bike (like a trike or cargo bike) I'd go even smaller.
    You can get BMX 3-piece cranks that have english bottom brackets, where 25 and 23T sprockets are commonplace now.
    MTB cranks with 104/64mm BCD can go down to 22T sprockets.

    All that being said, the hub is very hard to beat for the price, and I'm working on building a recumbent trike with one (with matching drum front hubs!).
    Last edited by FunkyStickman; 02-24-12 at 03:36 PM.

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    Hmm, I was under the impression that going bigger would be better for hills based on the soma buena vista review. But I also did read that a 30t chainring is recommended. I was wondering where I would get a crankset for this other than the sturmey archer one which I do not like the look of. The Jtek shifter is a bit pricy, and costs more than the hub did, but maybe down the road. Thanks, good to know people have had good experiences with the 8 speed sturmey archer hub.

  22. #22
    Senior Member pat5319's Avatar
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    8 best!!!!!!!!!! hills need most gears- period
    Pat5319


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heatherbikes View Post
    Hmm, I was under the impression that going bigger would be better for hills based on the soma buena vista review. But I also did read that a 30t chainring is recommended. I was wondering where I would get a crankset for this other than the sturmey archer one which I do not like the look of. The Jtek shifter is a bit pricy, and costs more than the hub did, but maybe down the road. Thanks, good to know people have had good experiences with the 8 speed sturmey archer hub.
    You could do as I did -- put a double chainset on the bike and use solely the inner ring. This disguises, at least to some eyes, the too small chainring and makes for a more pleasing aesthetic. In order to achieve a proper chainline, you'd need a longer spindle, but that's cheap and easily remedied.


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    Lovely peugeot build. Is that a velo orange polyvant crankset? I had been thinking of getting it(it's on sale too) in case I was going to have to do the rear derailleur set up, but the frame I am going to use instead has horizontal drop outs. Otherwise I am going to have to ask around and scrounge around for the right crankset.

  25. #25
    Hopelessly addicted... photogravity's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
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    My Bikes
    1949 Hercules Kestrel, 1950 Norman Rapide, 1970 Schwinn Collegiate, 1972 Peugeot UE-8, 1976 Raleigh Sports, 1977 Raleigh Sports, 1977 Jack Taylor Tandem, 1984 Davidson Tandem, 2010 Bilenky "BQ" 650B Constructeur Tandem, 2011 Linus Mixte
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    Thanks Heather. Yes that is the Polyvalent chainset and, at least to my eye, it looks the part on this bike. So have you decided whether you're going with the 5-speed or the 8-speed hub? I really don't think you can go wrong with either hub, though the small ring you need to run on the chainset with the 8-speed could be problematic if you want to have a more normal looking bike unless you do as I did and hide the small chainwheel with a larger ring or a chainguard.
    --
    Ridding the world of derailleurs, one bicycle at a time.

    46 Hercules Roadster, 49 Hercules Kestrel, 50 Norman Rapide, 51 Hercules Lion, 52 Hercules Windsor, 56 Hercules Royal Prince, 61 Fiorelli Tandem, 67 Carlton Super Race (IGH), 70 Schwinn Collegiate (IGH), 71 Hercules, 71 STF Hercules, 72 Peugeot PX-8 (IGH), 76 Raleigh Sports, 77 STF Raleigh Sports, 77 Jack Taylor Tandem, Early-80's Mike Appel SC, 84 Davidson Tandem, Late-80's Alpine, 10 Bilenky "BQ" Signature Tandem

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