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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 10-08-08, 04:04 PM   #1
timo888
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informal poll: SA8

I am considering getting a bike with an SA8 hub as a gift for someone, but the ones I tried kept slipping gears even after the wrench at the store adjusted them -- several times-- and the people ahead of me in the store also had had problems with theirs.

Just how "trouble free" are the SA8 hubs? Can you weigh in with a vote, yea or nay:

Have you had RECURRENT troubles with SA8? Has yours been finicky? Required a lot of tweaking?

The Sheldon Harris site characterizes the 8 speed hubs in general as bleeding edge rather than tried-and-true.

Regards
T
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Old 10-08-08, 04:52 PM   #2
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I can let you know in a couple of days- I just finished building a wheel with an SA 8 hub, and I still need to install the cable/shifter. Then I need to ride it a little.

I read somewhere that the new hubs are better.
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Old 10-08-08, 05:54 PM   #3
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There's a lot of debate about the SA 8 - some people swear by them, others have had problems of quality. I believe there is to be a new version out soon, but this too will not be 'tried and true' as you put it.

If it's putting you off you might want to consider the excellent alternatives - SRAM's Spectro range of planetary hubs, or Shimano's Nexus or Alfine lines.
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Old 10-08-08, 07:12 PM   #4
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I think there has been a thread about this a few months ago?
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Old 10-08-08, 07:39 PM   #5
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The Sturmey 8 is the best choice for small wheel folders, but is far from perfect.

Shifter ergonomics are not great with the bubble window, but that is not its greatest fault. The hub is INCREDIBLY sensitive to adjustment, but shifts well once adjusted. It is rumored that the new wide range hub makes it less sensitive, which should solve this issue, but it won't be shipping until Nov/Dec at the earliest.

Once adjusted, the hub is pretty efficient and shifts rather well, with even gear steps in the whole range (except 1-2 and 7-8, which are wider range, but that's what you want)
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Old 10-08-08, 09:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jur View Post
I think there has been a thread about this a few months ago?
I've seen quite a few threads, jur, but was hoping to collect not a series of opinions but a simple tally of "mine has had recurrent problems" versus "mine has been a rock-solid performer". [However, I'm certainly open to any information.]

I've seen the pics of your failed SA8 hub, but you were pushing it beyond normal rated use, taking it on mountains, off-road, right?

Regards
T

Last edited by timo888; 10-09-08 at 05:38 AM.
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Old 10-08-08, 09:23 PM   #7
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The hub is INCREDIBLY sensitive to adjustment, but shifts well once adjusted. It is rumored that the new wide range hub makes it less sensitive, which should solve this issue, but it won't be shipping until Nov/Dec at the earliest.

Once adjusted, the hub is pretty efficient and shifts rather well, with even gear steps in the whole range (except 1-2 and 7-8, which are wider range, but that's what you want)

For this particular bike (gift for a college student getting around a large campus with rolling hills but nothing very steep) I'd actually prefer the most rock-solid most forgiving hub to the amenities of evenly spaced gearing. If you're going to be folding the bike very often, won't the cables always be needing adjustment? The 3-speed hubs are less sensitive, right?

Regards
T
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Old 10-09-08, 02:33 AM   #8
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Mine has not given me any shifting problems. It shifted fine out of the box, and when I had to change the cable, I was able to adjust it to shifting perfectly in about 5 minutes. I know, however, that a number of the people who HAVE had trouble are just as capable of adjusting a hub as I am, so I can only conclude that some of them do give trouble.
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Old 10-09-08, 04:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
For this particular bike (gift for a college student getting around a large campus with rolling hills but nothing very steep) I'd actually prefer the most rock-solid most forgiving hub to the amenities of evenly spaced gearing. If you're going to be folding the bike very often, won't the cables always be needing adjustment? The 3-speed hubs are less sensitive, right?

Regards
T
If you're looking for minimal adjustment and guaranteed performance, any of the 3-speed hubs are indeed a better choice, particularly if you aren't there to make adjustments, at least with the current state of the Sturmey8.

With the new Sturmey8, this may change.
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Old 10-09-08, 05:22 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by K6-III View Post
If you're looking for minimal adjustment and guaranteed performance, any of the 3-speed hubs are indeed a better choice, particularly if you aren't there to make adjustments, at least with the current state of the Sturmey8.

Is the Sturmey5 less sensitive than the 8?

Regards
T
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Old 10-09-08, 05:34 AM   #11
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In any case, the quality of Taiwanese production from SunRace/Sturmey-Archer so far has been excellent, generally better than the quality of later English production. They have also made design improvements, including eliminating the chronic forward-freewheeling issue that used to arise when the shift cable was misadjusted. [emphasis added]
That comment from the Sheldon Brown site. How to identify the production runs where this forward-freewheeling problem has been eliminated? And does this mean that new bikes with this problem are using hubs produced before the problem was eliminated? Or that the problem has crept back into production?

Regards
T

P.S. According to the WayBackMachine, this statement about the forward-freewheeling issue being eliminated first appeared on the Sheldon-Brown website in late August/early September 2007. It's not there in the August 13th snapshot but is there in the September 13th snapshot.

Last edited by timo888; 10-12-08 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 10-09-08, 07:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
was hoping to collect not a series of opinions but a simple tally of "mine has had recurrent problems" versus "mine has been a rock-solid performer".
You should've made a poll. In any case mine has recurrent problems when folded often, but is a rock solid performer when not folded.
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Old 10-09-08, 07:58 AM   #13
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Mine functions very well when adjusted properly; sometimes I go weeks or even months with no problems. When it gets out of adjustment, problems quickly become chronic.

I cannot connect problems with mine to frequency of fold, but then I fold the thing at least twice every work day, so what do you expect.

In my experience, there is only one way to tell whether it's properly adjusted: ride it in all gears! If the gears won't engage at all, or gears skip chronically, the adjustment is probably so far out that you can probably get it back in the ballpark by lining up the little marks under the back of the rear dropout. But if the problems are subtle, i.e. gears skip occasionally, the adjustment may be so close that proper diagnosis may be somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

Proper gear adjustment depends primarily on correct visual alignment of the little marks mentioned, which is pretty easy; but as has been mentioned somewhere, proper cone adjustment is also critical, and it's not enough to get it close to right, but you have to get it exactly right, as in perfect. You also have to make sure the shift cable housing is properly seated at both ends-- this is what goes wrong when you fold / unfold. Some say it works better if you shift to the highest gear before you fold; but I'm inclined to think it works better if you shift to the lowest gear.

The real problem, in my opinion, is the prevalence of probably's and may be's in the above remarks. The shift tolerances in this hub are so fine that it is just too difficult to figure out what's wrong and how to get it right.

But, you know, aside from all that, it's a great little hub....
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Old 10-09-08, 08:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by timo888 View Post
Is the Sturmey5 less sensitive than the 8?

Regards
T
My 5 speed hub is hopelessly inefficient. Reasonable in the 3rd and 4th gear but quite terrible in the others, which thankfully I don't use much. I'm actually considering switching to a non-gear hub bike. Changing gear is fine, but there's clearly a huge amount of friction being generated and I feel as though I'm wasting energy. I had it serviced about a month ago at the best place I could find in London for Sturmey Archer hubs and I've been told there's nothing wrong with the internals, so I guess it's a rather flawed design.

But, back to the question, it is sensitive, which is a pain in the arse as there's axle creep on my bike.
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Old 10-09-08, 08:04 AM   #15
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You should've made a poll. In any case mine has recurrent problems when folded often, but is a rock solid performer when not folded.
I searched for how to do this but found no clues, so made it "informal".

Regards
T
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Old 10-09-08, 09:43 AM   #16
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Mine has been fine, although it is only 2 months old (250 miles so far, 3x fold per weekday). The adjustment was fiddly for the first week, but has only needed readjusting once since then. I have found the optimal adjustment point is a bit off from where the indicator arrows line up.

The gear range is great for the riding I do. I like the smaller, consistent steps between the middle gears. My main complaint is the cheap and nasty shifter. The ability to shift under load would be nice too.
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