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  1. #1
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    Internal Gearing for a Street Bike build

    So on my seemingly never-ending quest for a new street bike setup, I've come across internal gearing hubs, notably, Sturmey-Archer (of course).

    I would like to know on the operating "restrictions... meaning can I use it with pretty much any sort of bike frame (not for off-road riding, of course)? What are the disadvantages?

    Also, what are the differences between the Sturmey Archer S30 and the new Sturmey-Archer S3X (which I'm not sure if it's out in the market yet)? Is it that the S30 is not fixed gear, whereas the S3X is? The Shimano Nexus is also attractive with its 8-speed.

    I'm thinking of possibly getting a steel road/track frame and putting one of these on - I like the simplicity of SS, but I live in a hilly area so having a couple of extra gears really wouldn't hurt at all.

    Is this a viable plan? Any advice?
    Last edited by Dan515; 04-24-09 at 02:48 PM.

  2. #2
    sic transit gloria mundi rfomenko's Avatar
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    I got Raleigh One Way single speed & upgraded the wheelset with SA 3 speed hub hub/CR18 rims. Now I can go a little faster downhill & do not sweat too much going up. However, I live in NY and we do not have major hills. If there where any, I would get a dérailleur bike. With the exception of Rohloff, the internal hubs with more than three speeds are mostly designed for commuter/leasure bikes. They are much more fickle/hard to service. There must be a reason they are not installed on road/track bikes.
    Merlin Titanium Classic / Campagnolo Record 10 Speed
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  3. #3
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    Dynamic Bicycles is doing a road bike with the Shimano Alfine hub and drop bars. It is using a newly introduced Taiwanese designed and made brifter to shift. Supposed to ship in May.

    The S3X is a 3 speed FG hub. Announced but still not available last time checked. It has a slightly narrower overall range than other current SA 3 speed hubs. Al current IGH hubs except the S3x are freewheel designs.

    The big problem with doing a road bike with an IGH has been shifters. Virtually all are intended for flat bars. Jtek now has a bar end shifter for the Shimano Nexus8 and Alfine hubs for use with drop bars and Dynamic Bicycles now has the announced brifter. Most IGH shifters are twist grip type, designed to fit flat style bars which are normally smaller in diameter than drop bars. There is an adapter called the Hubbub available which allows mounting a twist grip shifter on the end of a drop bar. One European maker does do a drop bar that is multiple piece with a reduced diameter top section intended to allow mounting a twist shifter on the bar top flat area.

    Use a frame with horizontal dropouts, either the old Campy style semi-horizontal or track dropouts. Otherwise you need to use a chain tensioner on frames with vertical dropouts or a frame with an eccentric bottom bracket or sliding adjustable dropouts so that you can adjust chain tension.

    A number of people have used the Surly Crosscheck frame as the basis for an IGH bike due to the semi horizontal dropouts. Another candidate I am thinking of getting is the Steelwool Tweed frame from Canada which has an eccentric bottom bracket.

    Disadvantages are generally a narrower gear range than most road bikes and slightly heavier weight. Per some studies that have been done there is also a slight loss in efficiency compared to a clean and well adjusted derailleur gear train. Also if you do have problems with the hub it can be difficult to find service for it at most bike shops.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  4. #4
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    Okay thanks for the heads-up. I guess I'd rather deal w/ a derailleur than figuring out how to service a fickle hub. Just seemed like an interesting concep

  5. #5
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    It is an interesting concept, and one that is popular in Europe. Was popular here too, just a long time ago. If I lived on flatter ground, or commuted a lot in the rain, I'd probably have an IG. At least for fun. But with all the hills I have, the wide range--and close spacing--of the bike I have is quite nice.
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  6. #6
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    I'd probably splurge for a Rohloff if/when I get the chance.

  7. #7
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    IGH are VERY robust. Repairing one (or getting it repaired) can be difficult or impossible. But they tend to last forever, so this is rather misleading to call them fickle.

    To parrot back what a previous poster said, "there is a reason why people who depend on their bikes to get them to work every morning often times go IGH".

    They are not the solution to everyone's problems. But they are certainly damn useful for what they do. And, I would think that a city bike would be a perfect application.

    jim
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  8. #8
    Senior Member aidy's Avatar
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    internal gear hubs don't break easily, wouldn't worry about that.

    The SA S3X is fixed gear, but you can screw on a freewheel if you want.

  9. #9
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    I went with IG specifically for less maintenance and worn out cassettes. Same with disc brakes. Rim brakes wear out rims and don't give good performance when wet.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidy View Post
    internal gear hubs don't break easily, wouldn't worry about that.

    The SA S3X is fixed gear, but you can screw on a freewheel if you want.
    This is not correct so far as I know. Per the SA published info the S3X has a splined hyperglide sprocket compatible attachment for the hub power input sprocket. I do not see how that you could install a freewheel on that w/o a custom machined adapter.

    Most other modern IGH units use 3 spline input sprockets with a few exceptions. Some quite old SA 3 speed hubs were fitted with a freewheel thread compatible power input but production of those ceased at least 50 years ago from the information I have read on the SA Heritage web site.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  11. #11
    Senior Member aidy's Avatar
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    um well I remember reading on their blog or their catalog about being able to add a freewheel...
    will check again

    edit: http://sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspo...-on-drive.html
    "threads on the driver that will accept a single speed freewheel" etc.
    edit again: so they basically made a flip flop hub
    I thought the gearing would be useable with the freewheel
    Last edited by aidy; 04-28-09 at 07:12 PM.

  12. #12
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan515 View Post
    Okay thanks for the heads-up. I guess I'd rather deal w/ a derailleur than figuring out how to service a fickle hub. Just seemed like an interesting concep
    Shimano internal geared hubs used to use cartridge inserts. When something went wrong, you just pulled out the old cartridge, slipped in a new one and sent the customer on his way. You could rebuild the cartridges, but they were cheap enough that it wasn't really cost-effective to do so except as a learning experience.

    I don't know if they still do this.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidy View Post
    um well I remember reading on their blog or their catalog about being able to add a freewheel...
    will check again

    edit: http://sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspo...-on-drive.html
    "threads on the driver that will accept a single speed freewheel" etc.
    edit again: so they basically made a flip flop hub
    I thought the gearing would be useable with the freewheel

    When/where can I buy an S3X anyway? Does it work with smaller (120mm) spacing? And are there any shifters for drop bars? What's the diff between the S3X and the other SA 3-speeds other than the fixed gear?
    Last edited by Dan515; 04-29-09 at 01:18 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aidy View Post
    um well I remember reading on their blog or their catalog about being able to add a freewheel...
    will check again

    edit: http://sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspo...-on-drive.html
    "threads on the driver that will accept a single speed freewheel" etc.
    edit again: so they basically made a flip flop hub
    I thought the gearing would be useable with the freewheel
    You are right. A new addition since I last visited the SA site. Per the photos it appears that the freewheel will install in place of the normal splined cog so it would convert it into a standard 3 speed with freewheel IGH. Not sure that I see the point.

    Still not available though and it is now almost May with no new posted information on the expected availability date. The March estimated delivery is now obsolete and obviously bogus.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  15. #15
    creaky old bones FZ1Tom's Avatar
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    I can't help but think that somehow adding a Nexus 3 speed internal hub to something like a Masi, Specialized, or Jamis classic fixed frame would be pretty neat, IF it could be done with proper brifters (so much the better if the cables could be routed underneath the bar tape too) and there was no significant weight penalty.

    It appears that for now though, it's merely an interesting thought that hasn't gotten beyond the concept stage yet.

    Tom

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoebikerLa View Post
    I went with IG specifically for less maintenance and worn out cassettes. [snip].
    Plus a heavier chain. The chain will surely last much longer than a derailliuer chain.

  17. #17
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    FZ1Tom, that's a very good point. It's particularly interesting to me, because it just happens that my most comfortable bike is my fixed gear bike. I can't add gears to it any other way, since it has the rear-facing dropouts. I guess I oughta buy a new bike. All my other bikes are very old.

    I was a bike mechanic when the Sturmey Archer AW hub was in production. I loved that thing. It didn't stand up to as much torque as a derailleur bike, though. I had a very large customer who broke everything on his bike, including pawls and pawl springs inside the hub. Thanks to him, I learned how to service those hubs. They were simple! How much more complicated are the new IG hubs? I would guess that the ones with more gears are a bit more fragile.

    Is the Sturmey Archer company of today the same one that existed in (I think) Nottingham England? Or is it just a re-use of the name?

    I rode a friend's bike with (I think) a Shimano 7 or 8 speed hub. It was cantankerous. It couldn't stay in one or two gears, especially since I was pedaling quite hard.

    If IG hubs are generally reliable -- and I'm still open to hearing the latest news -- I think they're a good thing, especially for commuters. In general, they need a TON less service than derailleur systems. And being able to shift while stopped is great. The only reason I didn't use them back in the day was that the gears were too widely spaced. There were pretty much two choices: the Sturmey Archer AW and the Shimano. They both had the same ratios: 33% up and 25% down.
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    It is interesting to me too, I hope to be able to build a commuter bike with drop bars, brifters and an IGH but it seems to be something for the future as the brifters aren't readily available and I'd want to at least try them before buying!

  19. #19
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I don't see a brifter being necessary for an IGH. You're not going to shift as fast in that style of riding, so it's no big deal to move your hand from the brake lever to the shifter.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Is the Sturmey Archer company of today the same one that existed in (I think) Nottingham England? Or is it just a re-use of the name?

    I rode a friend's bike with (I think) a Shimano 7 or 8 speed hub. It was cantankerous. It couldn't stay in one or two gears, especially since I was pedaling quite hard.
    The Sturmey Archer name, designs and tooling is now owned by Sunrace and production is in Taiwan.

    Sounds to me like the shift cable on the Shimano hub was possibly misadjusted. The current Alfine hub is supposed to be pretty rugged. The strongest current hubs are supposed to be the Rohloff (expensive) and the NuVinci (Very Heavy). One poster on Bike Forums has reported using both on a motor assist cargo bike w/o problems after destroying some other gear hubs with that setup.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  21. #21
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I adjusted the shift cable several times but didn't have (enough) luck. But it could be that there are tricks to it that I didn't know.

    Thanks for the info!
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    IGH are VERY robust. Repairing one (or getting it repaired) can be difficult or impossible. But they tend to last forever, so this is rather misleading to call them fickle.

    To parrot back what a previous poster said, "there is a reason why people who depend on their bikes to get them to work every morning often times go IGH".

    They are not the solution to everyone's problems. But they are certainly damn useful for what they do. And, I would think that a city bike would be a perfect application.

    jim
    Yes, IGH are about as idiot proof as it gets. Adjusting a Sturmey Archer shifter can be tricky but once set shouldn't be a problem. I've not had the experience of setting up any Shimano IGH but I've ridden quite a few and they shifted just fine.

    IGH wheels are heavier than one with a traditional derailleur but that's not usually a concern for a commuter or city bike. 7-8 speeds is just fine for getting around most cities but not best for all road riding.

    A 3-speed IGH isn't ideal for all areas; you often find yourself in either too low a gear or too high a gear. I'd spend the extra money to get more gears like the Nexus 7 speed or Alfine IGH. A Rohloff is the Rolls Royce of IGH; if you can afford it, go for it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I adjusted the shift cable several times but didn't have (enough) luck. But it could be that there are tricks to it that I didn't know.

    Thanks for the info!
    Take a look at the Shimano installation sheet. It specifically shows two cable routings through the so called casette joint, the right and wrong ways. When a manufacturer shows a diagram of how NOT to do something then presumably it is VERY EASY to do it wrong, maybe easier than to do it right.
    Gear Hubs Owned: Rohloff disc brake, SRAM iM9 disc brake, SRAM P5 freewheel, Sachs Torpedo 3 speed freewheel, NuVinci CVT, Shimano Alfine SG S-501, Sturmey Archer S5-2 Alloy. Other: 83 Colnago Super Record, Univega Via De Oro

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I don't see a brifter being necessary for an IGH. You're not going to shift as fast in that style of riding, so it's no big deal to move your hand from the brake lever to the shifter.
    Everyone is welcome to their opinion, however my opinion is that in city riding it's far more important to keep my hands on the brakes at all times than it is on a nice leisurely country ride. There's a *lot* more emergency stops in the city than there are in rolling hills.

  25. #25
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I agree you want your hands close to the brakes. But you don't need them right by the shifter at all times. I think I don't really follow what you're saying. Could you please clarify?
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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