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  1. #1
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    Single Speed to Internal Geared Hub

    Hello,

    I have a single speed bike I purchased as a utility cycle for occasional commuting, going to the store, chores and various other car free stuff. I also ride this on 5-10+ mile rides through my neighborhood when the mood takes me. I do have other bicycles I use for longer rides, but I just really love riding this one.

    Sometimes I think about getting how this would be much better for me if I could have some gearing. The bike has horizontal drop outs for the single speed wheel. In my newbie mind if I have a wheel builder make me a new wheel with a 3 or 7 speed hub, I should be able to have a shifter and wires installed. Is this all there is, or is their more to it?

    The only reason I think about the gears is sometimes I have knee pain after doing a some of the taller local hills with this bike. I am pleased I can climb all the local hills (and some are pretty nasty) with the single speed, but some days (like today) it does hurt a bit afterwards. I get torn between pulling out my MTB or riding the Single Speed when I do hills, but since my utility bike is always sitting there, it may just be nicer to have that one set up for gears.


    Thank you,

    Ted

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jacque Lucque's Avatar
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    Pretty much correct, yes. The only problem, that isn't really a problem at all, is there may not be any bosses for gear cables brazed to your frame. Simply means you'll have to use zip ties or cable clamps. I'd go for it!

    What hub we're you thinking of? I can vouch for he Alfine's as being beautifully made and hard wearing hubs.
    Compromise breeds adventure.

  3. #3
    dbg
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    Most single speeds use a 120mm rear drop. Most IGH's need bigger.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA (Trek 5900 Superlight), (Lemond BA), (Peugeot UO8 (SS)), (Dozen other muts)

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    Most single speeds use a 120mm rear drop. Most IGH's need bigger.
    So use a Sturmey-Archer hub. They are available as 2-speed kick-shift hubs (with or without coaster brakes), 3-speeds, 5-speeds and 8-speeds. All of them are available in 120mm OLN (the distance between the outside faces of the two axle locknuts, which should be the same as the distance between your rear dropouts.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    yea and then adjust your cog and chainring selection.. to get the range right.
    on my AW3 the middle gear is about a 57".

  6. #6
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I have one of those SA 2-speeds. I'm happy enough with it, but mostly because I got it cheap. If I'd paid full price for it I would be disappointed; the shifting isn't exactly reliable, and a lot of the time it starts out in high gear, even when I try to get it into low as I stop.

    If I were looking to build up a wheel with new stuff, I'd be inclined to look at the SRAM Automatix hub. Rather than shifting by backpedaling, it shifts based on the wheel speed (centrifugal force). So when you're spinning quick, it upshifts. When you stop, it downshifts. It does what you want it to do reliably.

    I had an old bike, maybe '60s or early '70s, one of those Sears Made In Austria things. It had a 5-speed freewheel and a 2 speed IG built into the rear hub. So when you got through all your low gears and were into your highest gear, it would give you one more multiplier to give you an even higher gear at the top end, without having a front derailleur. I ended up getting rid of the bike, but now that I understand what that thing had, I wish I would have kept it. I loved the shifting action. The SRAM Automatix design descended from the Sachs internal hub (which I think was used on that old Sears bike).

    The Automatix costs roughly the same as the S2C; if I were building up a new wheel with an internal hub and didn't want any shift or brake cables, I'd definitely try it.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    3 speeds traditionally have a housing stop on the front of the top tube.

    a Roller at the right top side of the seat tube re directs the bare wire
    down to the rear hub.. clamp on pieces are available.

    seen others used rear derailleur routing cable run less successful
    heel plucking cable as you pedal, etc..

  8. #8
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    I think new SA 3 speeds have hardware available for installation on bikes that do not have the housing stops.

    Another option is a Shimano Nexus 3, is it is well suited to using full cable housing from shifter to the hub.

    If it were me, I'd go with the SRAM Automatix 2 speed, and use a larger rear cog so that you have a lower low gear than your current single gear, and a higher high gear than your current single gear. With this setup, you have no cables to worry about, and the Automatix seems to get consistently good reviews.

  9. #9
    Senior Member megalowmatt's Avatar
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    I converted a Bianchi San Jose single speed using a Shimano Alfine 8 a few years back. In addition to the new rim the hub was built into, I needed to add full length cabling/housing and a shifter.

    If I knew that Sram automatix was available I would have taken a good look at that thing. Looks really nice and I like the idea.

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    I built a single speed mtb from ebay parts - the intention was that it would be a commuter and a winter mtb (never bothered putting it in the shed or washing it). Went OK - rode it for a couple of winters before eventually realising my knees objected to it - biggest problem was spinning out chasing the rest of the group on the road sections. Changed to a Sturmey 3spd for a while - then a Shimano 7 speed - finally buying a completely different and lighter bike with a Shimano 8 speed. For commuting I would recommend the Sturmey 3 speed - they are steam age engineering inside, very solid, simple and easily rebuilt - you should be able to pick one up dirt cheap. The Shimanos work better - but are not as robust. For example a chain derailed once and borked the little plastic lockrings that hold the cable onto the hub. (Yes - I know if I kept the chain adjusted carefully then it wouldn't have happened)

    My tandem has a Rohloff which is a completely different league - but they cost sooo much. I would not be happy leaving the bike out of my sight. No good for a shopper.

  11. #11
    Half way there gmt13's Avatar
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    I converted my SS to a 2 speed using a Sturmey Archer non-coaster hub. I like it a lot. Best of all, it does not need all of the cabling (and this is the main reason why I opted for it). As mentioned by Doohickie, reliable shifting takes a while to learn. See if you can find someone who can let you try it.

    -G

  12. #12
    Gammal cyklist Reynolds's Avatar
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    I put an old Nexus 4sp on an older MTB frame to use it as a commuter. No problem using a full length cable housing. Works OK, but I feel there's too much of a gap between gears, as my other bicycles have close range sprockets. Maybe I'll try a 7 or 8sp.

  13. #13
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    I have done this using cable clips and jagwire housing to a 3-speed hub. No problems. It works very well. Check out the Mercier in my sig. That was a single speed / fixed gear bike with 120mm horizontal track ends. The Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub fit well. Go for it.
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  14. #14
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    Most single speeds use a 120mm rear drop. Most IGH's need bigger.
    That shouldn't be a real problem. The frame can be cold set to accept a wider hub, or a Sturmey-Archer hub can be used. Vintage used AW 3-speed hubs are abundant, inexpensive, and durable.

  15. #15
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Given how many SS bikes are being sold these days, I predict IGH conversions will one day be almost as big as fixie conversions are today.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Converting to a SA hub is simple and you don't have to resort to full length housing and zip ties. You can use the traditional fulcrum clip and pulley or you can rout your cables like derailer cables as on my Raleigh Competition conversion. It's a 2 cable 5 speed from 1982.



  17. #17
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    Thank you for the input. This is a very nice forum. Some of the most polite people I have ever seen on an internet forum exist on this one. That is saying something as I am on a lot of various forums.

    I put about 15 miles on my bike yesterday. about 14 of those miles was me saying "I am happy with 1 speed, I shouldn't upgrade", even though there were a few nasty hills. . The last mile home was me wiped out, thinking about how nice it would be to pedal home in a granny gear. Even though my bike is essentially a beach cruiser, I drove it 3 miles to the Heinz wildlife refuge, drove 10 miles or so on the trails ( I got lost for a mile or so), then 3 or so miles home to my house. I was pretty tired when I came home but I loved my ride.

    Here is my bike: http://www.sunbicycles.com/product_d...cl1=INDUSTRIAL It has a shimano 1 speed coaster brake hub. Even tough I have a few geared bikes, I do love my Sun bike. It is just so comfortable to ride on and even tough it is a 1 speed, I can make good time (by my standards of course) on it.

    I think that either a shimano 3 speed or 7 speed would do the ticket. I just do not know which. I have been digesting the "english three speed" thread on this forum, but I am only about halfway through it. I am tempted to try a shimano 3 speed with a larger rear sprocket so I can have lower gears, but I do not know yet. In the end, I think I will not rush in to deciding so I can figure out what is right for me.

    I initially bought the bike because I liked the concept of this bike plus I thought I am kind of a masher in my MTB with slicks, so I thought the single speed would make me pedal more. And it did turn me into a spinner. I just love the bike enough that I try to take on hills that my MTB w/slicks handles but my sun makes it a little tougher. I can do the hills, but it seems I am hurting myself out of pride or something.

    Thank you all for your posts. I really do appreciate your posts on this thread and others.

    Ted

  18. #18
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    Firstly, the standard warning that someone is bound to give eventually. If that bike hasn't got a front brake, it would be advisable to fit one, even if it's an awful long-reach BMX caliper or something. The link explains all http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

    Secondly, I don't know if the Shimano 3-speed will fit your frame, I can't remember how wide they are. I also don't know if they're available with coaster brakes, I know the Sturmey-Archer 5-speeds and 3-speeds are both narrow enough for most singlespeed frames and have the option of coaster brakes.

    It might help if you could measure the spacing between the rear dropouts on your frame, so you know which hubs will fit it without respacing the frame. A ruler will probably do for this.

  19. #19
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    You can probably fit a Shimano Nexus 3, though you may need to respace the frame. The Nexus 3 is readily available with a coaster brake, and has an OLD of 120 mm. I've seen listings for 127 mm OLD hubs as well, but the one available at Amazon and Universal Cycles has an OLD of 120 mm.

    I would go with the Nexus 3 over the Nexus 7. While the Nexus 7 does have more gears, with fairly even spacings between gears, the Nexus 3 is smoother operating and more durable.

    Of course, you can't go wrong with a Sturmey hub. They are the standard that the others try to live up to. My nexus 3 works great, and I've also had a vintage Sturmey Archer AW hub that worked great.

  20. #20
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by ted m View Post
    I am tempted to try a shimano 3 speed...
    Great hub; probably 98% of OEM threespeeds in N.A. are currently equipped with the Shimano Nexus 3. The only available shifter is a twist grip.

    Sturmey offers twist grip, classic trigger, modern trigger, thumb, bar end, down tube and dual paddle shifters for their three-speed hubs. FWIW Sturmey-Archer is the only IGH supplier in N.A. to provide extensive parts support for their hubs.

    The SRAM iMotion3 is a wonderful, fast, positive shifting hub with a quick-release shift cable on the inside of the dropouts. Again, only a twist shifter is available for it.
    Last edited by tcs; 05-08-12 at 01:14 PM.
    "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

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airburst View Post
    Firstly, the standard warning that someone is bound to give eventually. If that bike hasn't got a front brake, it would be advisable to fit one, even if it's an awful long-reach BMX caliper or something. The link explains all http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
    My LBS said I can have brakes installed. The bolt where the fender goes is supposed to be able to hold a caliper. I hope to get that squared away shortly.

  22. #22
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    I've never owned an IGH but the thought of building one keeps popping up as I commute. How much more difficult is it to change a flat tire? What are pros and cons for using a belt in lieu of a chain? (and how does that belt get around the rear triangle?).
    Thank you
    Nobody slower, and nobody lovin' it more...

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Belt = new bike, frame has to split, by design, since the belt will not.

  24. #24
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    As far as changing a flat goes, it's not that tough. You need a wrench because there is no quick release skewer. I think the newer Shimano 3-speed hubs have a quick release for the cable, though, so you don't lose that adjustment (someone correct me if I'm wrong).
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  25. #25
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    You need a wrench because there is no quick release skewer.
    There are even ways around that if one just cannot abide the mere thought of carrying a wrench.

    r-srf3 w-qr.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

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