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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 08-04-08, 06:47 AM   #1
Scholasticny
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Downtube bike question - Noob

Hi everyone, thinking about getting a folding bike and came here for some education. Every post has been extremely helpful and fun to read...

I have decided to get a downtube due to the great price and excellent reviews.

Now decision time, I noticed that bikes with Sturmey-Archer Hubs are a bit more expensive than the ones without. Can anyone shed some light on if this is a component worth investing in?

I'm about 5.8, 175lbs. Novice rider that is trying to start riding around the park...so mostly paved roads. I'm afraid I'm not handy around the bike at all (but am willing to learn)

Any advice or explanation would be great...thanks in advance.
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Old 08-04-08, 07:37 AM   #2
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Hi. Downtubes are great. One reason Sturmey Archer (aka SA) are seen as good is that they are not as close to the ground, and therefore less liable to damage. Less of an issue with bikes with big wheels....
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Old 08-04-08, 07:42 AM   #3
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I recently bought a Downtube Mini with the internal hub. I'm personally very happy with it, but I intend to do most of the repairs myself: the maintenance aspect seems well worth it to me. I also commute on it, and it would not be much fun to have a deraileur problem and need to hop on the subway with a big package at rush hour. That's the best part about the hub gears. It's not without its drawbacks, though: as you mentioned, cost is one. Part of that is because Sturmey-Archer is the top brand in internal hub gears, while the drivetrains on most other Downtubes have mid-to-low-quality deraileur gears. The deraileur Mini has a Shimano drivetrain and brakes, and actually costs more than the hub gear one.

The other drawbacks are efficiency (good, well-maintained deraileur gears will have less friction than a hub gear -- though poorly maintained deraileur gears will have more), inability to shift when pedaling (this isn't actually that bad -- you just need to get into the habit of coasting while you shift, but some people don't like it), and weight (they are heavier). The benefits are maintainance (as above), the fact that you're probably getting a higher quality component (as above), a more enclosed system (no deraileur to poke you while you carry it around, etc), and the ability to shift when stopped (this isn't actually that useful to me, but some people like it).
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Old 08-04-08, 08:22 AM   #4
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Actually, Sturmey Archer is not really considered better than Shimano or SRAM in terms of hub gears, it's just that there are no low end 8 speed hubs. The Shimano hubs shift marginally better, but due to certain technical gearing issues, it's hard to get high enough gears on a 16" bike with anything other than the Sturmey Archer. The Shimano Capreo gears that the derailleur Mini uses are a proprietary Shimano design, which means you can't use any other cassette, and if they give up on it (I suspect this is quite likely) you won't be able to get parts for it, ever. Basically, the last couple of cogs, instead of keying onto the freehub, key on to the other cogs, meaning they can get down to a 9t cog. This is still pretty marginal, in my view.

The main reasons for an internal hub are that it's virtually maintenance free, shifts nice and smoothly, is easier (in my view) to adjust, and doesn't suffer from chain derailment.
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Old 08-04-08, 02:42 PM   #5
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On the other hand, dérailleurs provide hours of fun for new riders trying to adjust them, and for off-roaders trying to scrape them off against trees on downhill runs.

They are lighter than hub gears (but maybe not with all those silly cogs on the back axle) and make it relatively easy to adjust rear gear ratios. They are easily replaced when worn, and easy to service (clean and lube).

If you want to keep a spare rear wheel with different gears, or maybe an offroad tyre, dérailleurs make it easy to swap a wheel .

They tend to stick out a bit on folders, or get knocked and bent by hoofy owners...

Dérailleurs seem to be preferred by people who see tinkering with bicycles as the way to a Better Tommorow.
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Old 08-04-08, 02:59 PM   #6
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Thanks all for your responses...

I've decided to go with the DT Mini as my first folding bike. Figures that internal hub will be less hassel free for a novice like me...

I'm sure that I'll be moving on to all the mods as it seems to feed the addictive personality in me.
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Old 08-04-08, 10:41 PM   #7
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Less hassle free?

Snafu is right though, derailleurs are lighter, even with the weight of the cassette taken into account, and would provide you literally hours of fun......

You'll love the Mini
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