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Old 02-15-12, 02:24 PM   #1
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English 3 speed shifter cable routing

I noticed on some English 3 speed bikes the shifter cable is routed a long the upper horizontal bar and over a pulley. Other models are routed along the down-tube. Both ending up at the Sturmey Archer hub.

Does anyone know if routing the shifter cable works better one way verses the other?
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Old 02-15-12, 02:35 PM   #2
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Yes, the top tube and pulley method is better, for two reasons.

First of all, there is less friction with less housing; so you get a cleaner shift.

Second, with the top tube routing the cable approaches the hub at approx a right angle to the dropout, which means moving the wheel in the dropout doesn't throw the hub adjustment off. If the cable approaches from the BB, even a tiny movement of the axle is enough to throw the hub out of adjustment.

The above is true of older hubs by Sturmey Archer, as well as Shimano, F&S, Bendix, &c. It does not apply to modern IGHs on which the fulcrum is attached to a plate attached to the axle.
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Old 02-15-12, 04:02 PM   #3
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I have had 3 speeds with both setups. The top tube pulley routing does work better it seems easier to get the cable adjustment right and tends to stay adjusted better and work smother in general.
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Old 02-15-12, 04:45 PM   #4
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I'll second what rhm stated. On my DL-1 and Sports (recently sold) the cable uses the pulley mechanism and works very nicely. On the R20 folder and Trent Sports, both use a fully enclosed cable system with a stop on the chainstay tube. Adjustment is fiddly when removing and replacing the rear wheel as in fixing a flat tire. Not a big deal after a while but in the beginning it's a pain. PG.
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Old 02-15-12, 07:11 PM   #5
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Prefer the upper routing. It was changed around 1980 on the diamond framed bike.

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Old 02-15-12, 08:42 PM   #6
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I haven't had to readjust after removing the wheel because I can see exactly where the wheel was by the marks in the paint. It's a good thing because my S5/2 has two cables.



The cable routing is non-traditional, but it works well. The housing is non-compressable and I think that helps. I treated it as just another index system because that's what it is.




This one is completely traditional. The pulley is an old steel one and the fulcrum clip is reliable stainless. It works great, but three speeds is just not enough. I may switch to a new 5 speed.



My bikes are conversions. I wish I would have found the real thing while they were still cheap.
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Old 02-15-12, 09:40 PM   #7
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Another issue with the BB routing is that the cable can easily be pinched by a thrown chain or forgetting to put the cable back on the hub after a wheel change/tire repair. The second thing is really easy to do when you are in a hurry and late and a bit flustered by having a flat.

A kinked cable will shift poorly with a greater chance of neutrals in 2nd gear as well as be much harder to get into that sweet spot as far as adjustment. That's because it will not be straight and will be springy at the kink and not want to slack into 3rd as easily so it has to be adjusted looser -creating potential problems with 2nd. Once a cable is kinked it is pretty much shot and can't be easily straightened.
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Old 02-16-12, 08:35 PM   #8
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I agree with most of these posts about the shifting, but I'd like to add that it can be annoying when loading the bike on a traditional car rack for transport. With my pulley setup, I have to remove the cable from the wheel every time I put the bike on the back of the car (which is relatively frequent since I bring the thing with me almost any time I have free time at a destination.)

Not a huge deal, but I am sure I will break the brittle plastic pulley wheel soon.
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Old 02-16-12, 08:40 PM   #9
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I agree with most of these posts about the shifting, but I'd like to add that it can be annoying when loading the bike on a traditional car rack for transport. With my pulley setup, I have to remove the cable from the wheel every time I put the bike on the back of the car (which is relatively frequent since I bring the thing with me almost any time I have free time at a destination.)

Not a huge deal, but I am sure I will break the brittle plastic pulley wheel soon.

Get a metal one.
You will need to scroll about 2/3 down the page to see it.
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Old 02-16-12, 10:41 PM   #10
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Bookmarked!

Get a steel fulcrum sleeve while you are at it. I replace the plastic one on every bike I service -sometimes on my bikes that I restore to sell if it has a metal one I replace that with a plastic one too! Now that I know I can get metal ones I probably won't be doing that any more
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Old 02-17-12, 04:46 AM   #11
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I agree with most of these posts about the shifting, but I'd like to add that it can be annoying when loading the bike on a traditional car rack for transport. With my pulley setup, I have to remove the cable from the wheel every time I put the bike on the back of the car (which is relatively frequent since I bring the thing with me almost any time I have free time at a destination.)

Not a huge deal, but I am sure I will break the brittle plastic pulley wheel soon.
When I transport mine on the car rack I put it in 3rd gear to slacken the cable before loading up. Haven't damaged anything yet. FWIW I use a Saris Bones.

+1 on the steel pulley and fulcrum. I replaced most of mine on my by bikes.

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Old 02-17-12, 07:46 AM   #12
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When I converted an old Kabuki ten-speed to three-speed, I used the down tube routing because Kabuki already had a pully cable guide screwed into the side of the bottom bracket casting. It seemed a shame not to use it. I never gave a thought to changing the adjustment when you change a tire, I just thought that was part of riding a three-speed.
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Old 02-17-12, 07:53 AM   #13
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rhm, I never thought about that! I will remember that (which is better than bookmarking, if you can manage it).
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Old 02-17-12, 08:00 AM   #14
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When I was converting from a derailleur to an IGH, rhm and others explained, as witnessed above, the benifits of Toptube/Fulcrum and the pitfalls with going under the BB. Throwing caution to the wind, I followed the existing routing, downtube & under the BB, using the brazed on cable stops already on the frame. After 2 years of almost daily riding in all weather, a few flat tires.......It shifts as smooth as my bikes with toptube routing, I stand and pedal on hills and wheel shift/IGH adjustment has not been a problem. I suppose these could all be an issue, but it has not been the case in my experience. Also I noticed Pashley routed the cable under the BB on their new Clubman bikes.

Comp GS with the Downtube cable run
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Old 02-17-12, 08:26 AM   #15
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Wow, you guys are brave! Well, I am sure glad no one got hurt by doing things the less-better way. Nonetheless, let us consider how we got here.

The question was: which is better? The answer is: the top tube is better.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:08 AM   #16
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The question was: which is better? The answer is: the top tube is better.
+1 Besides, it looks more classy atmo!
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Old 02-17-12, 09:42 AM   #17
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My issue with the lower mount is that the heel of my big foot sometimes hit the cable.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:47 AM   #18
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Well, I am sure glad no one got hurt by doing things the less-better way
Sometimes ya gotta just think outside the fulcrum.

Quote:
My issue with the lower mount is that the heel of my big foot sometimes hit the cable.
With enough force and movement to shift the gears?

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Old 02-17-12, 09:50 AM   #19
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My issue with the lower mount is that the heel of my big foot sometimes hit the cable.
OK, yeti, maybe you just need to get a smaller foot!
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Old 02-17-12, 09:52 AM   #20
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My issue with the lower mount is that the heel of my big foot sometimes hit the cable.
I solved this problem by routing the cable on the other side, past my smaller foot.

Edit: Darn you, PG! I never can seem to get to the low-hanging fruit fast enough.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:04 AM   #21
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i solved this problem by routing the cable on the other side, past my smaller foot.

Edit: Darn you, pg! I never can seem to get to the low-hanging fruit fast enough.
Though your post is just as, if not more so, witty atmo!
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Last edited by photogravity; 02-17-12 at 10:06 AM. Reason: too many commas. d'oh!
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Old 02-17-12, 10:56 AM   #22
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Wow, you guys are brave! Well, I am sure glad no one got hurt by doing things the less-better way. Nonetheless, let us consider how we got here.

The question was: which is better? The answer is: the top tube is better.
Top tube is better.
Top tube with braze-on pulley mount: BEST
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Old 02-17-12, 11:11 AM   #23
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I have only one bike with that setup at the moment, my 1951 Raleigh Lenton Tourist.


Lenton Tourist - 25 by Sallad Rialb, on Flickr
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Old 02-17-12, 12:24 PM   #24
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Thanks for the link with the steel pulley wheel! I do actually have maybe one or two amongst the pile of plastic pulley wheels i have hanging around, but I thought they were rare enough to not be wasted on a rider. Or at least my super rusty rider. Now that I know there are others available, I wont worry too much about using them!

And yes, putting the gear in third does help with removal of the cable from the guide!
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Old 05-03-12, 07:45 AM   #25
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Is there anything particularly wrong with the plastic pulley wheel that warrants a steel replacement?
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