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  1. #1
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    going from 18 speeds to 3

    I posted a thread about knee pain a while back. Thank you to everyone who responded. I made a couple of adjustments and I am doing better.

    I think one of my issues is making the transition from my cyclocross bike, with 18 speeds, to this 3 speed bike...

    http://bikehugger.com/images/blog/38...31d61fb46e.jpg

    With the cyclo cross, I had enough greas that I coul dpretty much spin a high cadence in any terrain. With only 3 speeds, I consistenty feel i am in the "wrong" gear and like I am mashing a lot. Combine that with the bike being way heavier, and there is the challenge. Anyone have any tips for making the transition from many gears and a spinning riding style to a 3 speed?

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    I can't help with the 3 speed thing, but why would you make the switch? Did you not like the cross bike? Trying to simplify?
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  3. #3
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    Eighteen speeds versus three speeds is to totally different riding techniques. With the 3 speed you have two choices, spin and go slower, mash and go faster.

    Someone who is used to a steady cadence and being able to shift gears is going to have to relearn when they ride a 3 speed. I did. But now I can switch back and forth between them with minimal fuss, just have to remember the reason I am riding the three speed is to enjoy the ride and maybe get there, with a high count multi speed it is to get there fast.

    BTW I like that Trek Belleville, unfortunately they WON'T be coming to an LBS near me...I already asked.

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  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I have a knee problem that is with me permanently- but not on a bike. After a layoff or after 50 miles Or so- my knees do ache a bit. No problem- take the pressure off the pedals by changing down and get the cadence up a bit. Within a few miles- no knee pain again.

    But I have done rides where I run out of gears and the hill is still getting steeper. I have no choice but to grin and bear it but it depends how strong the legs are. Plenty of training and I can do it. After a lay off and I can't. I do a leg exercise that strengthens the quad muscles around the knee. If the quads are fine- no knee problems.
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    All my bikes are 3-speeds; actually one is a 4-speed. I usually hang-out in the C&V section. Easiest thing to do is change the rear cog to a higher tooth count to lower your gear ratio. You can also change the chain ring in a similar manner. Riding one of these is different and requires a modified technique but not a big deal. The bikes are normally heavier but can be lightened-up if you want to spend some extra $$. PG.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster View Post
    I can't help with the 3 speed thing, but why would you make the switch? Did you not like the cross bike? Trying to simplify?
    I use my bike as my primary means of transportation. So I use it to get to school and work in all weather and all times of the day and night. So I wanted a bike with fenders and a chain gaurd. I like to wear skirts, so i wnated a bike that I could do that with. Also, I ride all year long in NE, and after a winter the back wheel is toast, and all those cogs and a new chain is expensive. I wanted something that could stand up to the elements better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PolishGuy View Post
    All my bikes are 3-speeds; actually one is a 4-speed. I usually hang-out in the C&V section. Easiest thing to do is change the rear cog to a higher tooth count to lower your gear ratio. You can also change the chain ring in a similar manner. Riding one of these is different and requires a modified technique but not a big deal. The bikes are normally heavier but can be lightened-up if you want to spend some extra $$. PG.
    Agreed.

    I saw the OP's bike at an LbS and it is not a light weight. I suspect it must come in around 30 lbs or slightly more. However, buying a larger cog would be the best thing to do. I would use Sheldon's calculator to determine the current range he has today.

    The key to setting up a Sturmey Archer 3 speed is finding the right gear for direct drive (2nd gear). I prefer a 2nd gear no lower than 50-52 inches if you intend to do utility cycling. For some that might be too low but if you go to 42 or 40 inches for direct drive, you'll be spinning and not moving anywhere.

    I did a simple test using Sheldon's calculator and here's what I came with.

    Data:

    Tire size ------------------700X38
    Crank ---------------------170 mm
    Chain ring ---------------- 30
    Cog-------------------------16
    Hub-------------------------Sturmey Archer AW3

    Results:

    3rd gear ------------- 68.3 Inches
    2nd gear -------------51.2 Inches
    1st gear -------------38.4 Inches

    This is about as low as I would go on a Sturmey Archer three speed. I've always said the three speed was missing a drop dead low gear of 24 - 26 inches. The first gear of 38.4 inches is not really low enough for carrying heavy packages uphill but you can't go lower or second gear becomes too low where you end up spinning like crazy going nowhere. This is why people end up buying the Nexus 8 speed.

    However, I found the 5 speed actually solves the problem. No need to buy the Nexus 8.



    I actually wonder if this is possible. Suppose the OP was willing to sacrifice 3 speed altogether and buy a Sturmey 5.

    Data:

    Tire size ------------------700X38
    Crank ---------------------170 mm
    Chain ring ---------------- 28
    Cog-------------------------18
    Hub-------------------------Sturmey Archer 5 speed

    5th gear ----------- 63.7
    4th gear -----------52.8
    3rd gear------------42.5
    2nd gear-----------34.0
    1st gear------------28.3

    This actually works pretty well for the utility cyclist. You would ride in 4th gear as that would become your direct drive. However, 1st gear is very low practically touring bike low. You would have three lower gears that would be useful depending on the size of the hill.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 03-12-10 at 02:58 PM.

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    Alright maybe my last post was too long.

    Here's my simple suggestion for the OP.

    Buy a couple of larger cogs, one with two and four more teeth. Experiment with both and use the one you feel more comforable with.

    Next time a hill comes up, go into it as fast as possible in 2nd or 3rd gear and once you slow down to a crawl, drop to 1st gear.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hannahmontana View Post
    I use my bike as my primary means of transportation. So I use it to get to school and work in all weather and all times of the day and night. So I wanted a bike with fenders and a chain gaurd. I like to wear skirts, so i wnated a bike that I could do that with. Also, I ride all year long in NE, and after a winter the back wheel is toast, and all those cogs and a new chain is expensive. I wanted something that could stand up to the elements better.
    No worries. You're just going to have to adjust your riding style for three speeds for now. You basically went from a sport/racing bike to a "mom going to market" bike. But there is no reason (other than cash of course) why you can't upgrade the rear hub and shifter with an Alfine 8 speed, if not a pricey Rohloff or Nuvinci, or, as someone else suggested, increase the size of the rear cog for immediate lower gearing on the cheap.

    I love your bike though.
    This is my winter (snow and ice) commuter...it uses that Alfine 8 speed I mentioned.

    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  10. #10
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    thanks for the replies everyone. I will not be abole to spend any money on my bike til summer when I can work full time again. In the meantime, I am trying to adapt to my new gearing realities. On the positive side, the bike kinda encourages slow and thoughtful riding vs the high intensity of the cyclocross. So, I am just letting myself slow down and ride in a lower gear than I normally would rather than mash a way too high gear. It is a different way of biking, that is for sure.

  11. #11
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I would take the bike back to the dealer and see if they could swap the rear cog for a larger one to reduce the gearing... my 3 speed road bike runs a 48:20 which gives me a 49/65/86 which works for a vintage sub 30 pound bicycle and a skinny old guy who likes to spin. I would not want my main gear to be any lower than 65 gear inches which is a little lower than what I run on my fixed gear and ss bicycles.

    For what is basically a townie a lower gear range would be better and I'd go and see the dealer and ask if they can install a larger cog (18 or 20) to give you a more suitable gear range... this gearing issue is becoming a common complaint with many new 3 speed owners.

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