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Thread: Need IGH Advice

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    Senior Member agg1337's Avatar
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    Need IGH Advice

    I'm going to be picking up an old lugged Schwinn soon as a project and is like to turn it into a cool commuter. I know I want an internally geared hub but I'm not sure which one. From what I've read the Rohloffs are way out of my price range and the Sturmey Archers seem to have a bad reputation. The Shimano hubs seem to have a pretty good approval rating.

    My question to you all is which is best base on your experiences?

    I'll be using this build as an all around commuter. Bar hopping, going to work, light errands, etc.

    I'm 26, weigh just under 200lbs, live in an urban area that has some hills and gravel roads/trails. This build is going to be slow so I'll have time to save money if need be but I think $300ish is a good starting point for price.

    I'd like to know more details on owning one of these hubs. Things like removing the rear wheel in case of a flat, maintenance, associated costs, compatibility, etc.

    Any detail or tip or little known fact would be great to know before I commit.
    Super clever.

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    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agg1337 View Post
    Sturmey Archers seem to have a bad reputation.

    My Sturmey AW is a 1956 40 hole alloy shell that I've had in service for decades, works a treat.
    Put another 10 miles on it this AM, seems OK to me.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agg1337 View Post
    I'm going to be picking up an old lugged Schwinn
    First,this is going to be the deciding factor. Unless you're going to have someone who knows what they're doing cold set the frame(ie,bend the rear triangle open),then you're not going to be using any of the 7+ speed hubs,which usually need 130-135mm spacing. If your area is very hilly,you may want to consider adapting the frame to a higher speed hub,or adding a chain tensioner and front derailleur setup. Here's a calculator for figuring out your gearing;plug in the numbers of a bike you own now(or can borrow/test ride) and use them to determine what your project's gearing should be.

    Nothing wrong with most SA hubs;the only neg reviews I've seen are for the 2spd auto and 3spd fixed models. The 3spds are pretty much bomb-proof. Shimano hubs are pretty good to top quality;avoid the 4spds and older 7spds. I like my SRAM i-Motion 3 and my former 9,but lots of people complained about them being noisy and not shifting smoothly.

    For removal,Shimano's newer 3spds,SRAM's i-Motions,and SA's are the easiest to disconnect. The Shimano uses a shift box that attaches with just a 3mm screw,the i-M3 uses a V brake style bullet-and-gate connector and the i-M9 uses a dovetail-and-sleeve,and the SA's use a screw-in linkage deal. Shimano's other hubs suck;they use a nutted cable that has to be routed around the hub and slid into a slot. Depending on your setup,this can be a real PITA. It gets worse if you use the integrated roller brake.

    If you can,try to find a built wheel. Having one built for you can get pricey. Scour eBay and CL for the best deals. It might even be worth it to buy a beat-up or wrecked bike that has a good wheel. IGH's are pretty reliable,so even if the rest of the bike is a junker,the hub could still be good. Another budget tip is to use a friction shifter;not as slick as indexed shifters,but way cheaper,and can usually be adapted to any bar.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes/Novato,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Brompton S6L,Dahon Speed Pro TT

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    and the Sturmey Archers seem to have a bad reputation.
    Do quote the sources of those opinions , name and date.

    admittedly somebody in the 80+ years that the Sturmey Archer AW3 hub
    has been produced may Nit Pick on something about them...

    But, NB: the Nederlanders have named a streets after Sturmey, and Archer ..


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmey-Archer
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-16-13 at 03:50 PM.

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    SA hubs need correct adjustment otherwise you slip between the gears but otherwise are reliable and durable.
    Shimano are good value if you want more gears. The attachment of the cable to the cassette arm is really easier than it sounds, it takes a second or 2 of fiddling to release/attach and it doesn't need adjustment on reassembly.
    You may need the correct anti-rotation washer suitable for the angle of your dropouts.

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    The OP needs to find out what gear he likes in the old bike. This way he can desgn the hub with the correct sprocket/chainring combination that he'll enjoy. Otherwise, he end up with a set of gears that are either too high/low for his liking.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    SA hubs need correct adjustment otherwise you slip between the gears
    Those are older.. the slip is from not quite engaging the middle gear.. High, is slack cable..
    break the cable , default is high gear.

    But I managed fine with a friction Lever in the Early 60's.. as a kid..

    Buying the New NIG hubs even Eliminates That ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-16-13 at 09:33 PM.

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    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Unless you're going to have someone who knows what they're doing cold set the frame(ie,bend the rear triangle open),then you're not going to be using any of the 7+ speed hubs,which usually need 130-135mm spacing.
    The Sturmey-Archer XRF8(W) comes in a 120mm OLD from the factory and can be narrowed to ~116mm with thin jam nuts.
    "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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    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    SA hubs need correct adjustment otherwise you slip between the gears but otherwise are reliable and durable.
    All IGHs need correct adjustment.

    If you're referring to the 'neutral' between 2nd & 3rd in the Sturmey AW, be advised the company debuted an improved internal mechanism, the AW-NIG, that eliminates the neutral in 1984.
    "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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    Senior Member agg1337's Avatar
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    dynaryder - isnt cold setting fairly straight forward? the 2 shops i have available dont do things like that, theyre actually pretty useless unless youre buying a new bike from them or need some standard maintenance done. Im thinking about attempting it myself if i need to. As far as getting the hub laced into a wheel, ive got a couple friends who know how to do it pretty well. Theyll do it over a couple beers with me...and ill learn something along the way.

    MichaelW - so lets say im out on a ride doing something and i get a flat. Provided i have the correct tools in the saddle bag, will it be a huge deal to remove the wheel and replace a tube?

    fietsbob - what?

    tcs - thats good to know. Maybe i should give SA another look. edit: isnt that hub direct drive in 1st and everything above that higher gearing? im going to need something with some easier gears for the hills sometimes.
    Last edited by agg1337; 06-17-13 at 08:02 AM.
    Super clever.

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    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Shimano's other hubs suck;they use a nutted cable that has to be routed around the hub and slid into a slot. Depending on your setup,this can be a real PITA. It gets worse if you use the integrated roller brake.
    i don't have experience with other IGH's, but i have an Alfine 8 w/ disc brake on one of my bikes and i've never found the removal/reinsertion of the nutted shift cable to be anything close to a PITA. it really doesn't take much mechanical aptitude to accomplish. if you can remove a rear wheel from a derailleur bike, you should be able to easily remove and reinsert the rear wheel on my IGH bike with 2 necessary tools (15mm wrench and small hex wrench) and a practice run or two to familiarize yourself with the process.

    i know rear wheel removal seems to be a big intimidating factor for a lot of folks who are only used to quick-release derailleur bikes, but for many IGH set-ups it's honestly only a couple extra steps that add maybe minute or so to the process.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    might be the language between a 26yo, and a 65 yo needs a translator.

    let's use Numbers , what is the Dropout spacing on the frame as is ? 120mm ?

    Note if you look on the SA website they offer the hubs in some pretty narrow widths .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-17-13 at 05:46 PM.

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    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agg1337 View Post
    Maybe i should give SA another look. edit: isnt that hub direct drive in 1st and everything above that higher gearing?

    No, the gearing is expressed as: 1.0 in 2nd, a .75 low in 1st and a 1.33 high in 3rd for the AW wide range hub which is most common.

    Sheldon Brown gives all the info here: http://sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer.html

    Use Saint Sheldon's gear calculator to choose chainring/cog sizing: http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    -Bandera

    Edit: Duh, 8 speed referenced. As Gilda Radner said: "Never mind."
    Last edited by Bandera; 06-17-13 at 04:12 PM.
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    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
    No, the gearing is expressed as: 1.0 in 2nd, a .75 low in 1st and a 1.33 high in 3rd for the AW wide range hub which is most common.

    Sheldon Brown gives all the info here: http://sheldonbrown.com/sturmey-archer.html

    Use Saint Sheldon's gear calculator to choose chainring/cog sizing: http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    -Bandera
    No. The OP was responding to tcs who specifically referenced the 8 speed. The 8 speed, as I remember it, has direct drive in the first gear. I don't know what the lowest gear is that you can get out of the 8 speed hub, but I do know that they're more popular with smaller wheeled bikes because of their gearing.

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    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    You do need to figure out what you can get away with in terms of dropout spacing.

    I have a bike with a SA three speed and one with a Nuvinci hub. Neither are great for changing a flat, but the newer model of Nuvinci has, I believe, addressed the issue and made it better. My SA is also a coaster brake, so that adds to the challenge.

    Ultimately, though, my solution is to not get so many flats. I made that choice even on my derailler, quick-release-wheeled bike. The solution for me was to consider flat-resistance when choosing my tires. The amount of time I spend addressing flats is trivial compared the overall amount of time I spend riding, and the amount of time when addressing a flat that is dedicated to dealing with axle bolts and shifting mechanisms is also less than half the amount of time spent actually finding and repairing a leaky tube. I think it's important to be prepared to fix a flat, or to have a backup plan should a flat occur, but I don't think it should weigh heavily on your hub choices.

    For what it's worth, I love the Nuvinci, and hope to upgrade the the newer version. It has some limitations to be aware of, such as a higher low gear than some people are comfortable with, but find it works for my moderately hilly commute, and I don't even run it at the lowest possible gear when I'm just commuting. It's pricier than most of the 8 speed and lower options, but less than any hub above 8 speeds, I think. Someone should figure out a cost per gear range calculation. I bet the Nuvinci would come out pretty well. It's got some heft, so if you like to keep things lite, it might not be for you, but if you're riding an old, steel bike, maybe that's not an issue. I ride a steel touring bike, and the only time I think about the weight of the hub is when I have to pick up the bike.

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    To remove a wheel on a Shimano hub with a nutted cable, you need a wheel nut wrench, a thin allen key or section of spoke about 3" long. Needle-nosed pliers are useful but not essential.
    Set the gear to slackest cable. The cassette arm has a small hole to fit a thin rod so you can relieve tension on the cable. Grab nut at end of cable, apply a little rotation and pop it out of the cassette arm bracket.
    The wheel is now free to remove just using the wrench.
    Reversing the process , you rotate the cassette arm using your thin rod, grab the nut, apply a little rotation and slot into its bracket. No further adjustment needed.

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    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agg1337 View Post
    dynaryder - isnt cold setting fairly straight forward?
    No,you're not just bending the frame in one direction,you're bending it in two directions the same amount. Otherwise the wheel will be off to one side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    i don't have experience with other IGH's, but i have an Alfine 8 w/ disc brake on one of my bikes and i've never found the removal/reinsertion of the nutted shift cable to be anything close to a PITA.
    It is compared to SRAM's systems. It's not super hard,but it really needs improvement.

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    I have a Nexus 8 red band from the pre-Alfine IGH days and like it a lot.

    Here's the stuff to look at when figuring if you can make it work with your target frame and price point. Lots of specifics at Chez Sheldon and manufacturer specs on websites.

    - Frame width vs. hub OLD (over locknut distance?). Will the hub fit? Sure, you can bend steel, but it is not a slam dunk.

    - How are you going to manage chain tension? Do you have horizontal dropouts or track ends, will you add on a chain tensioner, or put in an eccentric BB?

    - Is the bottom bracket spindle the right length for the chain line?

    - What shifter will you use, and will it mount to your handlebars? When I put mine together, I used the Nexus twist shifter and had to spend ~$50 to get a bar end adapter to put it on my drop bars. Later the j-tek bar end shifter came out. There are more. Different standard bar dimension for road and MTB handlebars, you can shim in one direction but not the other, etc.

    I applaud your plan to build a wheel over beer. I'm glad I did that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    ...It is compared to SRAM's systems. It's not super hard,but it really needs improvement.
    Removal of the Alfine 8-speed-equipped rear wheel on my commuter is exceptionally simple/easy--I really don't understand comments like this. They serve to scare-off potential IGH buyers. There is no super complicated procedure. It really is as simple as listed by MichaelW.
    "I had this baby hand made in Tuscany, from titanium blessed by the pope. It weighs less than a fart, and costs more than a divorce..."

  20. #20
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erwin8r View Post
    Removal of the Alfine 8-speed-equipped rear wheel on my commuter is exceptionally simple/easy--I really don't understand comments like this. They serve to scare-off potential IGH buyers. There is no super complicated procedure. It really is as simple as listed by MichaelW.
    i couldn't agree more. just because there may exist a simpler method of shift cable removal from another IGH manufacturer, it does not mean that the process to remove the shift cable on shimano's nexus/alfine IGH's is a "PITA" or difficult in any real way. you stick a small allen key in the shift cable holder and pull back on it to relieve tension, then you grab the nutted cable and pull it out of its socket. voila! shift cable disengaged!

    my lord, what a supreme PITA!!! how could anyone ever hope to wrap their head around such a convoluted and difficult process. i mean, it took me like an entire 10 minutes practicing rear wheel removal with my IGH bike at home before i was able to master the process. that's completely unreasonable. how does shimano expect anyone to realistically accomplish this most impossible of tasks?
    Last edited by Steely Dan; 06-18-13 at 08:42 AM.
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    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by agg1337 View Post
    Maybe i should give SA another look. edit: isnt that hub direct drive in 1st and everything above that higher gearing? im going to need something with some easier gears for the hills sometimes.
    Maybe; I don't know you or your hills. My SA8 'big wheel' bike has a primary of 30T/25T and eight well spaced, useful gears from 31 to 101 gear inches.
    "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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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    This one starts out as a 22 or 24t .. http://www.sram.com/truvativ/product...dt-am-crankset
    and has a cable shifted planetary 1.6X overdrive

    this one has a 28t ..http://metropoliscomponents.com/patterson.htm same 1.6X so a 44.8't'


    I Have a double planetary shift of a Schlumpf Mountain Drive, and a S-A AW3.
    Simultaneous double shifts work well with just a moments pause in pedaling .

    by the way substituting a Sachs indicator chain gripper, on a Sturmey hub,
    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/brompton-...ram-prod13630/
    you leave the nut on the indicator chain, and the gripper is using a spring ..
    essentially a QR. rather than unscrewing the barrel adjuster,
    when you mend a puncture it's one less thing to fuss with..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-18-13 at 09:37 AM.

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    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    i don't have experience with other IGH's,
    I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    but i have an Alfine 8 w/ disc brake on one of my bikes and i've never found the removal/reinsertion of the nutted shift cable to be anything close to a PITA.
    Quote Originally Posted by Erwin8r View Post
    Removal of the Alfine 8-speed-equipped rear wheel on my commuter is exceptionally simple/easy--I really don't understand comments like this.
    The Alfine is a little better,but it could still be improved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    i couldn't agree more. just because there may exist a simpler method of shift cable removal from another IGH manufacturer, it does not mean that the process to remove the shift cable on shimano's nexus/alfine IGH's is a "PITA" or difficult in any real way. you stick a small allen key in the shift cable holder and pull back on it to relieve tension, then you grab the nutted cable and pull it out of its socket. voila! shift cable disengaged!
    Why wouldn't you want anything you do on your bike to be the easiest way to do it? Esp something you may wind up doing at the side of the road,at night,in bad weather?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    my lord, what a supreme PITA!!! how could anyone ever hope to wrap their head around such a convoluted and difficult process. i mean, it took me like an entire 10 minutes practicing rear wheel removal with my IGH bike at home before i was able to master the process. that's completely unreasonable. how does shimano expect anyone to realistically accomplish this most impossible of tasks?
    Was that necessary? I don't share your opinion,but I'm not going to talk down to you because of it. IGH's offer advantages such as easy shifting and low maintenance. Making them easy to remove/install would make them even better. As I said,I have experience with Shimano's older hubs. The old 7spd Nexus hubs required you to remove a lock ring(which you then had to keep track of),then remove a ring that had the shift cable in it. On installation,you had to line up the gears in the ring with the hub(which could really be a PITA),and reinstall the lock ring. They changed it to where the gear ring was affixed,and just the cable was removed. If I ran the zoo,I would've used the original setup with a quick release upstream on the cable. This would make things much easier. How could that be a bad thing?

    If you're happy with the way things are,then fair dinkum. But why do you feel the need to run me down for giving my opinion? FYI,I've e-mailed Shimano with consumer feedback,so it's not like I'm just venting on here,I've tried to effect a change. Maybe if more people complained/gave feedback,Shimano would take note and improve things.

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  24. #24
    Not quite there yet Matariki's Avatar
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    A bit late in the discussion, but I thought I would add my 2 cents.

    My current commuting bike has a newish Sturmey Archer 5 speed with drum brakes. I have about 4000 miles on it so far and it has worked great. It took me a while to dial in the shifter - the indicator rod band is only a starting point, but once you get the cable right it shifts flawlessly. The gear ratio is a bit wide; I'd prefer narrower. I use the middle 3 gears 99% of the time. Unless you live in very hilly terrain, I would recommend a 3 speed. On my last commuter I had a Sturmey Archer S2, the 2 speed kick back hub. This was an upgrade from a single speed. I really liked this hub because it offered me a low for the hills and I didn't have to worry about all the cabling. I'd say, though, that it took me about 500 miles to get used to the shifting and even then gear selection wasn't 100% reliable. Still, I would recommend it for any single speed rider who wants a bit more. With both hubs, I found that they work better the more you ride them.

    Good luck to you.

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    Roadmaster Snobbery Club bhtooefr's Avatar
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    Here are the hubs that I've heard can be problematic, from Sturmey-Archer.

    The 2-speed kickback hubs
    The S3X fixed-gear 3-speed hub
    The original (like 1950s-1960s) 4/5-speed hubs
    The older narrow ratio 8-speed hubs

    The wide ratio 8-speed hubs, especially current production, from what I've heard, are fine as long as you don't shift them under load (which none of Sturmey-Archer's hubs can really handle well). I haven't had a problem with my 2011-production X-RF8(W).

    The current production 5-speeds, from what I've heard, are fine. The normal 3-speeds are bombproof.

    The lowest ratio that Sturmey-Archer offers in their components for the 8-speed is 30/25, but they don't specify a minimum input ratio, IIRC. 30/25 is generally accepted as the lowest safe ratio, though, because of that.

    The 8-speed was originally designed for small-wheel bikes (think folders and recumbents with 406 wheels), where cranksets could be relatively normally sized. Then, with the wide ratio model, they decided to market it for urban applications with 559 and 622 wheels, hence the 30T crank being a standard SA part in the S80 series.

    Also, I've heard that even when the 2-speed SA hubs DON'T blow up, they shift poorly. I've got a vintage Sachs 2-speed hub (which is what SA copied) on my folding bike, and there's none of this "getting the hang of the shift" over 500 miles, it took me like 5 miles maybe to get a hang of it, and it just shifts reliably. If I had to have a new production 2-speed hub, I'd look at the SRAM Automatix, and mess with the spring to get the shift point right.
    2011 TerraTrike Path 8
    2002 Dahon Boardwalk 1 (with 1976 F&S R 2110 2-speed kickback hub)

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