Classic Derailleur vs Internal Hub design
I'm looking to purchase my first foldable bike, but I'm not sure which way to go. Right now I'm leaning toward a Downtube 8FH, but I have never had any experience with the internal hub gear design. It seems like a brilliant piece of engineering.
Is it as good an idea as it seems? Can I manage most terrain with only 8 gears? Is it really easier to maintain?
I am not an intense bicyclist (weekends, pleasure, exercise, exploring) and am looking for a relatively inexpensive, yet immensely transportable, bike. (I drive a MINI cooper). I also am looking for something that won't require a lot of maintenance.
Thanks your your input!
If you decide to go the internal hub route, you are in for a big suprise. I have had both single speed, derailleur equipped, and now exclusively internal hub bikes. I gave away all my derailleur equipped bikes. I am very happy with my 3 speed bikes. They are geared perfectly for the rolling hills surrounding my area. I can go over these hills with ease 99% of the time. I love the clean easy to maintain hubs that just need a little oil or grease (depending on the hub) periodically. I have no derailleur cages that are in danger of being damaged-especially if you bagged it. Some might complain of the weight (I don't feel it) and the so called lack of gears (I don't). I do recommend to try one out before you buy. That way you will get a good idea if these bikes especially with internal hub gears are for you. For more information, see my Websites below:
Originally Posted by boltman69
Aside from maintanance issues, covered above, and inherent fragility of a derailleur, and the convenience of shifting a hub gear, there's the issue of gearing:
A derailleur can be made to work pretty well with 20" wheels, but on smaller wheels it becomes problematic. I customized my Super-Cheap Kent Folder to run with a 52 Tooth cog in front, and the bike was still woefully undergeared. The six gears were marked Slow, Slower, Even Slower, Even Slower than that, Awesomely Slow, and Barely Moving At All. More expensive cassette drives have smaller rear cogs, which offsets that problem but introduces others. You can have a large chain ring custom made; this will probably solve all the problems quite nicely, but not cheaply.
The Sturmey-Archer 8-speed hub is ideally suited to a folder with small wheels; a Shimano 8-speed hub also works pretty well, you just have to have a smaller rear cog and/or bigger chain wheel.