After almost 6 weeks of waiting
, I picked up my newly upgraded West German Made “Jet Star” collapsible/separating frame bike
at a bike shop. The bike looks and rides better than ever-possibly even better than when this bike was new. Here is a quick rundown on the bicycle’s new capabilities.
This time around, I had the rear wheel completely rebuilt. The old rim & spokes were in good condition considering it’s age (estimated at around 40 years old). The old steel single speed hub simply wore out-or at least I was told
it was wore out by the bike shop. So I decided to replace both the old rim & hub completely with a handbuilt wheel using heavier gauge spokes. My first choice was a Velosteel single speed hub
reputed to be bomb proof-perfect for the loading/hauling of groceries that this bike was purchased for. After a couple of months testing the bike on the rolling hills surrounding my residence, I decided that adding another lower gear option was a far better choice for me just like my other 2 bikes have. The final choice was the Sturmey-Archer S2C “Kickback” hub
I just came back from the bike shop and wanted to write my own impressions while they were fresh in my mind after riding it for the very first time since it’s new upgrade. I was expecting some time to pass (like at least a few days) until I became used to the “Kickback” shifting that this hub does instead of using a shifter of any type. I started off on a sloping upwards grade of a slight very long hillish street. I did not know how to judge the gear that I was in. The bike’s hub act kind of “confused” (for the want of a better word/description) and could not decide what gear to shift to. I finally helped it along by gently tapping (that’s all it needs) the crank backwards (not too hard or it will brake) and it shifted right to the lower gear the first time I tried. I had no trouble going up unlike before it’s conversion. The grade was very long and I found out that just as long as I did not pedal too fast, the bike just went along just fine. When the road leveled out, I tapped backwards again and shifted to the higher gear. I moved along just right and at a nice speed-at least for me. It was like this all the way home (and over many equally long hard hillish streets). As I rode this bike, I noticed that the sound of tick tick tick was louder on the higher gear and very soft on the lower gear and helped me decide what gear it is in (if that helps anyone which has or considering this hub).
I think the question that everyone reading this would ask is....is this upgrade worth it? For my own needs and present and future physical condition, a strong yes. With my other bikes (both sporting a Sturmey-Archer AW 3 Speed hub
from different years), I usually choose the middle speed (#2)
and sometimes the lower gear (#1)
for the same hillish streets) The top gear (#3)
not so much. I am happy with my rear hub & heavier spokes choice, but for people who want more (faster speed, more gears, a physical mounted-somewhere-on-the-bike shifter, hard pedaling) perhaps not. I did not miss the thumb shifter at all (!) and that surprised me. The shifting was not hard to learn at all (a very short learning curve) and intuitive. The real test will come in a couple of weeks when I load the heavy groceries on the bike. What an interesting experiment that will prove to be I am sure. I do wish Brompton
offered this 2 speed hub instead of that rather odd 2 speed derailleur system and it's equally odd shifter it has now. I think this is so much nicer & neater-both how clean the bike looks & it's simplified operation.
This will be my last bicycle restoration/upgrading project for a very long time. I have been experimenting with folding & other collapsible bikes for almost 10 years. Next year is the 10 year anniversary of my own discovery and first purchase of one of my former Dahons. I have finally arrived at just the right number and type of bikes-collapsible or otherwise-I wanted and needed.
May you all have an equally eye-opening discoveries of your own.