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Old 07-11-12, 06:05 PM   #1
Scooby214
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Made Significant Changes To My 3 Speed Commuter

As a school teacher, this is my off season for commuting to work. I have taken advantage of the off time by making some changes to my commuter bike. The bike is a Windsor Oxford 3 Speed, purchased from Bikes Direct. I've put a little over 1,300 miles on the bike since I bought it in February. I liked the bike as it was, but found that some changes were needed to make it a better fit for my frequently windy commute.

Here is a shot of the bike from last February:


Here is a new shot, which reflects my changes:






The two biggest changes include the Nitto Noodle drop handlebar and the new rear wheel with a Sram Automatix 2 speed hub. I also changed the crankset so I could get the gearing where I wanted it. I would've kept the Nexus 3, but there are no Nexus 3 shifters available for drop bars. The bike came with dual pivot caliper brakes, so road bike brake levers were a simple addition. I installed a basic Specialized Riva road saddle, as I like firm saddles.

I really like the fit of the bike now, and the gearing is great for my needs. The two gears of the new hub are between the three gears of my old Nexus 3 hub. This is actually better for me, as I frequently wished for my cruising gear to be between gears 2 and 3 on my old Nexus 3.

The bike looks even better in person, and I've already had compliments on the bike's appearance. It's pretty sweet how it shifts up while I'm sprinting through an intersection. I end up at 18mph pretty quickly.

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Old 07-11-12, 06:21 PM   #2
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The title says 3 speeds, was it a internal 3 speed hub? Why did you go to a 2 speed?
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Old 07-11-12, 06:42 PM   #3
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The title says 3 speeds, was it a internal 3 speed hub? Why did you go to a 2 speed?
It originally came with a Shimano Nexus 3. There are no shifters for the Nexus 3 that will work with drop bars. I needed to change the gear ratios anyway, as with the 3 speed, 2nd gear was too easy and 3rd gear was too difficult on windier days. The Nexus 3 wheel will go on another bike, so it won't go to waste.

I had considered going with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed or 5 speed hub, so I could use a bar end shifter, but decided instead to go with the 2 speed for its simplicity. The two gears are about halfway between where the gears were on my Nexus 3. The shifting is quite predictable, and fits my riding style well enough. The bike isn't fast, though my cruising speed is 18mph, which works well enough for my commute. When I want to go faster, I ride my road bike.

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Old 07-11-12, 07:47 PM   #4
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I, myself am looking into a 8 internal hub bike. I am also looking into a 2 speed internal hub bike for my gf. Your 2 speed shifts on it's own at a certain velocity? Was it easy to get use to and is it enough for uphill battles?
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Old 07-11-12, 08:03 PM   #5
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I, myself am looking into a 8 internal hub bike. I am also looking into a 2 speed internal hub bike for my gf. Your 2 speed shifts on it's own at a certain velocity? Was it easy to get use to and is it enough for uphill battles?
My 2 speed shifts predictably at 11.5mph. This is with 700c wheels. If used with smaller wheels, the shift point will happen at a lower speed. It was pretty easy to get used to, as I geared it to match my two most commonly used gear ratios when riding my road bike to commute(48" low and 66" high). The 66" high gear makes for an easy ride on flats, while being low enough to allow me to ride minor inclines with ease. As far as it being enough for uphill battles, I don't have any major hills in my area. The 66 gear inch high gear works on my hills, and I can slow down to just below the shift point if I need to tackle a steep hill. I wouldn't recommend the 2 speed hub if one has lots of hills to contend with.

My bigger problem is with wind, as Okla. City is one of the windiest cities in the nation. The drop bar conversion was so I could get out of the wind.

If I had gone with an 8 speed version of my bike, the Windsor Kensington, I could've done the drop bar conversion and used a bar end shifter with the 8 speed hub. I'm happy with my current setup, as it has a clean appearance with very few visible cables.
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Old 07-13-12, 08:59 AM   #6
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Very nice! I picked up my Oxford after reading about your experiences, and I really enjoy it. Thanks!



As you can see, I followed your lead on the pedals, love the MKS Sylvans! Can I ask what the dropout spacing is on our bikes? I've been thinking about eventually upgrading from the Nexus 3 to a Nexus 8. As you reference above, BD do sell a Nexus 8 version of this bike, but I'm wondering which 8 I would need to get so as not to have to worry about spreading the dropouts.

Once again, nice work!
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Last edited by Sean_G; 07-13-12 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Make mention of the MKS pedals
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Old 07-13-12, 11:35 AM   #7
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I'm starting to really covet the Automatix.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-13-12, 11:43 AM   #8
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Nice job!
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Old 07-13-12, 11:46 AM   #9
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I'm starting to really covet the Automatix.
I've been thinking of a S2C hub for a while now, but the Automatix appeals to me as well (even though I never heard of it until this thread).
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Old 07-13-12, 12:27 PM   #10
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I have an S2 (no coaster brake) and it's.... meh. Shifts are not really crisp or reliable. Shifts on its own sometimes; sometimes doesn't shift when I want it to.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:14 PM   #11
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Nice! I have the Kensington 8, I got it so I could have a dedicated commuter bike and a dedicated fast-weekend-fun bike, instead of trying to make my road bike fit both of those roles. I love it, but yeah, the upright position can make me wish for my drops some days.

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Old 07-13-12, 04:33 PM   #12
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Nice! I have the Kensington 8, I got it so I could have a dedicated commuter bike and a dedicated fast-weekend-fun bike, instead of trying to make my road bike fit both of those roles. I love it, but yeah, the upright position can make me wish for my drops some days.

Nice bike! That forest green looks sharp! By any chance can you tell which version of the Nexus 8 is on it?
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Old 07-13-12, 04:55 PM   #13
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Tell me more about this Automatix hub you guys speak of. Is that the backpedal to shift one?
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Old 07-13-12, 05:02 PM   #14
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It automatically shifts at a certain speed... verrrrry interesting.

I was contemplating a S-A 5-speed for my SSCX bike (as is in the Kilo WT), but this would involve less surgery and presumably less expense for just a little more gear ratio.
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Old 07-13-12, 05:23 PM   #15
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I have an S2 (no coaster brake) and it's.... meh. Shifts are not really crisp or reliable. Shifts on its own sometimes; sometimes doesn't shift when I want it to.

I have an S2, took me a few hundred miles to get my shifting down. It works well enough for me now

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Old 07-13-12, 06:29 PM   #16
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Can I ask what the dropout spacing is on our bikes? I've been thinking about eventually upgrading from the Nexus 3 to a Nexus 8. As you reference above, BD do sell a Nexus 8 version of this bike, but I'm wondering which 8 I would need to get so as not to have to worry about spreading the dropouts.
Dropout spacing on the Oxford is 120mm. Being a chromoly frame, the rear triangle should be fairly easy to cold set. If you want to get more gears without respacing the frame, you can get a Soma Iggy 5 speed wheel. It comes with the Sturmey Archer S-RF5, spaced to 119mm. I almost went this route when I decided for the drop bar conversion, but opted to make the setup as simple as possible by using the Automatix hub. I like the result.
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Old 07-13-12, 06:41 PM   #17
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Tell me more about this Automatix hub you guys speak of. Is that the backpedal to shift one?
The Sram Automatix is an automatic shifting 2 speed hub. It uses centrifugal force to shift. Mine consistently shifts at 11.5mph. Works great for me for riding in traffic, as I can sprint from a stop and it shifts for me at just the right time. I end up at my 17-18mph cruising speed quite quickly. If I need to climb a hill in low, I simply keep my speed at about 10 mph and spin up the hill in low.

My new setup has a slightly lower top gear, at 66 gear inches, than my old 3 speed setup did, at 74 gear inches. The new setup puts the gears in better ranges for my easy, high cadence spinning preferences, so my average speeds are faster now than they were with the old setup. I used to find that gear 2 was too easy and gear 3 was too hard to spin with.
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Old 07-13-12, 06:48 PM   #18
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I keep thinking back to the "Autobike" or whatever it was on those Sunday-night TV commercials.
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Old 07-13-12, 06:50 PM   #19
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Nice! I have the Kensington 8, I got it so I could have a dedicated commuter bike and a dedicated fast-weekend-fun bike, instead of trying to make my road bike fit both of those roles. I love it, but yeah, the upright position can make me wish for my drops some days.

Sweet looking bike! Your bike, with the Nexus 8, makes for an easier drop bar conversion than my Oxford. You can get a bar-end shifter for the Nexus 8, a set of drop bars, and road brake levers, and be all set. The brakes on these bikes are ideal for use with road bike brake levers. I used a set of Cane Creek SCR-5 levers, a Nitto Noodle bar, and a Nitto Technomic 26.0 stem to match the bar. I got them all at ebikestop.com for pretty good prices. You can save money by getting a set of 25.4 drop bars from Amazon and using the stem that came on your bike. The Nitto Noodle bar is the most comfortable drop bar I've used so far, so it was worth the extra cost for me. I'd love to eventually put one on my road bike, too.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:10 PM   #20
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I found this post about SRAM Automatix quite informative, http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=62320
I have one in Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno, with stock chain ring and 700x25 tires i got 53 and 72 gear inches. It get me quickly across intersection and I can cruise easy at 20-23mph.
I installed second stock spring (from another hub) and now it shifts at ~15mph and 94 cadence. The only downside is that this hub can shift sooner to high gear when You hit some bump in a road.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:49 PM   #21
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I found this post about SRAM Automatix quite informative, http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=62320
I have one in Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno, with stock chain ring and 700x25 tires i got 53 and 72 gear inches. It get me quickly across intersection and I can cruise easy at 20-23mph.
I installed second stock spring (from another hub) and now it shifts at ~15mph and 94 cadence. The only downside is that this hub can shift sooner to high gear when You hit some bump in a road.
I've also noticed the early shift when hitting a bump. For me, it only does it when I'm pretty close to 11mph when I hit the bump.

Clever idea to install the second spring. I like the shift point where it is on my bike, but I can see how this would be very helpful when using the bike with smaller rims on a folding bike.

Another observation I've made about the hub is that high gear seems smoother than high gear on my Nexus 3. The hub seems to have a little less drag overall than the Nexus 3, though I don't think it makes any significant difference in use.

Last edited by Scooby214; 07-13-12 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 07-13-12, 08:33 PM   #22
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Sweet looking bike! Your bike, with the Nexus 8, makes for an easier drop bar conversion than my Oxford. You can get a bar-end shifter for the Nexus 8, a set of drop bars, and road brake levers, and be all set. The brakes on these bikes are ideal for use with road bike brake levers. I used a set of Cane Creek SCR-5 levers, a Nitto Noodle bar, and a Nitto Technomic 26.0 stem to match the bar. I got them all at ebikestop.com for pretty good prices. You can save money by getting a set of 25.4 drop bars from Amazon and using the stem that came on your bike. The Nitto Noodle bar is the most comfortable drop bar I've used so far, so it was worth the extra cost for me. I'd love to eventually put one on my road bike, too.
It's tempting, but one of the main reasons I got it was to have a more upright bike for commuting. My town is very flat, and only about 5 sq miles, so the upright works...except when the wind gets above 25 mph, which is quite often since we're on the coast. But that's why I got the 8-speed - not for the hills, but for the weather.
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Old 07-13-12, 08:35 PM   #23
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Nice bike! That forest green looks sharp! By any chance can you tell which version of the Nexus 8 is on it?
Thanks! It's my favorite color. I don't know how to tell which version it is - here's a photo of the hub if that helps?

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Old 07-14-12, 07:17 AM   #24
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Dropout spacing on the Oxford is 120mm. Being a chromoly frame, the rear triangle should be fairly easy to cold set. If you want to get more gears without respacing the frame, you can get a Soma Iggy 5 speed wheel. It comes with the Sturmey Archer S-RF5, spaced to 119mm. I almost went this route when I decided for the drop bar conversion, but opted to make the setup as simple as possible by using the Automatix hub. I like the result.
Thanks for the advice, Scooby, the Iggy wheel looks great!
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Old 07-14-12, 07:30 AM   #25
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Thanks! It's my favorite color. I don't know how to tell which version it is - here's a photo of the hub if that helps?
Thanks very much! My main concern was with having to cold-set the rear triangles if the over-lock-nut dimension of a new hub were longer, but as Scooby reminded me above, it's fairly easy to do on a chromoly frame. Thanks again!
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