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  1. #1
    Dad of new bikers
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    16" wheel with 3 speed hub

    Have a boy not big enough for a 20" wheel bike but want him to have at least a 3 speed so he can bike up some of the hills in our parks with his brother and me.

    Can't find a 16" wheel bicycle that isn't a single speed so wonder if a custom 16" wheel can be put together that uses a 3 speed hub but a local bike shop wasn't able to find spokes short enough to fit 16" wheels. Would prefer a hub that includes the coaster brake function.

    Does anyone know if this can or can't be done with the 3 speed hubs from SRAM or Shimano? If so, where would I find the spokes?

    Any help is very appreciated.

  2. #2
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    How much did you want to invest in parts/labor on this project?

  3. #3
    Dad of new bikers
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    something like $200 over the cost of the stock bike

  4. #4
    Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by semiolddad
    Have a boy not big enough for a 20" wheel bike but want him to have at least a 3 speed so he can bike up some of the hills in our parks with his brother and me.

    Can't find a 16" wheel bicycle that isn't a single speed so wonder if a custom 16" wheel can be put together that uses a 3 speed hub but a local bike shop wasn't able to find spokes short enough to fit 16" wheels. Would prefer a hub that includes the coaster brake function.

    Does anyone know if this can or can't be done with the 3 speed hubs from SRAM or Shimano? If so, where would I find the spokes?

    Any help is very appreciated.
    The Dahon Piccolo and Brompton L3 both use 16" wheels with 3 speed hubs. Dahons are a lot cheaper and seem to have more availability in the USA, you could searc for your local dealer here http://www.dahon.com/locator/nadealers.htm, and ask if they could order the complete wheel and shifters for you. Or, contact Harris Cyclery http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/parts.html who seem to stock a lot of specialized parts, they should be able to supply the hub, rim and spokes for you to build your own.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    An older model DaHon or HON folding bike may work if you could find a good used model--16" wheels with a S-A 3-speed hub. You would probably need to cut off the bottom end of the seatpost to set up the fit in length for your child--the main problem might be that the reach to the handlebar & brakes may be too long. If you find some older DaHon or HON rear wheel with 3-speed hub, you might be able to make the modifications to your child's 16" bike, but it will require some work.

  6. #6
    Year-round cyclist
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    You have 2-3 options.

    The 16" 3-speed wheel is not too expensive if you want to build the bike yourself. Otherwise, expect to spend a bundle on labour.

    If you look through 10-15 year old bikes, you may find a little gem. For my then 7 year old daughter, I found a 20" ATB which had a 11" or 12" frame. It was a bit high when equipped with wide knobbies, but as soon as I equipped it with 2" slicks, it was great for her.

    Finally, if your son is young and can't change gears, it might be better to invest in a larger cog, so he will pedal faster. Hill-climbing will be easier; on the flats, he will have a better spin; and of course, he will spin out slightly sooner while going downhill, but that's not necessarily bad.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  7. #7
    crushing all limitations
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    If you can't find spokes short enough, you can always cut straight guage spokes to length then cut new threads on the end with the appropriate die. Since you're putting a high-flange hub onto a tiny wheel, the you'll have to build using a 1x or 2x pattern since the spoke angles will be too extreme for 3x.

    Maybe check over on the recumbent forum to see if anybody has done anything like this, as those guys are more experienced building with little wheels.

    This sounds like a fun project, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. Kids that small might not have the finger strength or coordination to actuate the shifter effectively while riding. My mom has an old shimano 3 speed bike, and it requires some serious thumb strength to upshift.

  8. #8
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was going to suggest a Dahon Piccolo with pedal shorteners as well; at $350 new it might be the last bike you ever have to buy him. I'm 5'11' 160 lbs, and I ride mine on a regular basis.

  9. #9
    Dad of new bikers
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    Thanks for the many good suggestions.

    I'll call around the local stores and ask about larger cogs. That seems like a very practical solution for our situation.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    Wow, I'm glad to hear that I am not the only guy that has ever given this kind of modification serious thought (grafting an internal gear hub onto a little wheel). I've been considering it on a bike with 18" tires for my little peanut of a daughter. She won't need it for a while yet. But at the rate she is going, I probably will not be able to move her onto the 20" tire gear bike that my older daughter used until she is way too old and frustrated with not being able to keep up. You can often pick up old Sturmey-Archer or other internal 3 spd units, and I already have hand brakes on the 18" bike from when I was training the first one to use them in anticipation of the gear bike.

    Trimming spokes and rethreading the ends seems like the best approach.

    Steve

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