5. Anyone know what the gears in the 8H are equivalent to in a cassette?
The Sturmey Archer 8sp has a gear range exactly the same as an 11-34T cassette. The lowest gear is direct drive, all the others are step-up. I did a loaded tour with my Raleigh 20 with such a hub - see the Tassie link in my sig.
Follow the link to the Sheldon Brown site previously provided, that brings you to a gearing calculator.
This might help alittle....
My NS9 has and 80", 9th gear. The first is so ridiculously low, I didnt even measure it.
I ride mine to and from work everyday and the pack, tools and battery unit add about
15lbs to the stock rack. Some of the roads here dont really qualify as beat up but
the NS model rides a little harsh. despite harsh ride and medium weight the back
rack on mine is holding up fine. You might want fuller fenders to keep muck off the
back stuff. The 3/4 one do Ok, but thats all.