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redbuda 06-22-13 10:05 PM

Shimano or Sturmay Archer 3 Speed
Hello. Can any one recommend one or the other? My cruiser is geared at 2.75 which fine on flats but not so on hills. I'd make 2nd the same so a lil more and a lil less. Any experience?

Sci-Fi 06-24-13 08:09 AM

Both hubs are solid and reliable. Need to add oil/grease to either one before riding the first time and add oil periodically like the old days.
Have both hubs (no brakes models) and prefer the Shimano hub. But the SA hub can use parts from the original SA hubs, so if you need something, the parts should be readily available and at a reasonable cost. Seen a few that put the internals of their old hub in the new hub to save weight and/or get a closer or wider gear ratio they prefer.

bicyclridr4life 06-24-13 11:36 AM

I Personally, would stick with the Sturmey Archer. I have had nothing but bad experience with anything and everything branded "Shimano" I've owned, be it cycling related or fishing related duing the last 40 or so years. Never had a problem with any of the Sturmey Archer hubs I've had over the years.

Nightshade 06-24-13 11:56 AM


Originally Posted by redbuda (Post 15772809)
Hello. Can any one recommend one or the other? My cruiser is geared at 2.75 which fine on flats but not so on hills. I'd make 2nd the same so a lil more and a lil less. Any experience?

I had a 3sp hub installed on my wife's cruiser back when I bought it for her. I messed up by not having the front chain ring changed to a 36 tooth ring to make the 3 speed more useful.
So best to have a bike shop change the rear hub AND the front chain ring!!

redbuda 06-24-13 12:57 PM

That's god to know about SA hubs parts wise.

Why a 36 front sprocket? What was the rear sprocket tooth?

Thanks for the info.

North Coast Joe 06-24-13 01:52 PM

I don't know if this comment is relevant, as I don't know if you're speaking of newer or older hubs. I had an older Shimano 333 that didn't last long on a recently rebuilt bike; it was replaced with a Sturmey Archer AW which has been fault-free for many, many miles. I really like the SA AW...I have four rear cogs from 18 through 13 which really add versatility to the bike

Nightshade 06-26-13 11:22 AM


Originally Posted by redbuda (Post 15777701)
That's god to know about SA hubs parts wise.

Why a 36 front sprocket? What was the rear sprocket tooth?

Thanks for the info.

The normal front chain ring is 52 tooth which is to high for a hub to work right. The 36 tooth chain ring will move the speed range down into a more comfortable pedaling range to allow you to use all three gears in comfort.

The 36T will "feels" like very low gear, low gear and standard speed. All useful for everyday riding.

With a 52T "feels" like a low gear ,a standard gear and a overdrive gear that no one can pedal. Due to the "overdrive" gear not being used there are really just 2 speeds that will get used.

fietsbob 06-30-13 12:37 PM

Every small part of a SA AW3 hub remains available ..

FWIW, SA 5 speed IGH ads 1 above and Below the AW3 's .75, & 1.33 x ratios.

Sci-Fi 07-03-13 01:12 AM

The usual ratio I've seen is about 2-to-1 or 1-to-2 depending on how you think about it. Stock setup on my 60's bike was 46t chainring and 22t rear and my current 3-speed is 38t chainring and 19t rear. Easier to fix/change broken driveside spokes with the 19t. But some opt for lower first gear and put in a 22 or 23t rear sproket to handle the hilly parts better or change the front chainring to something smaller. Dont forget if you do that, it is beyond what either hub manufactorer recommends.

Think people forget the old SA hubs had a neutral between 2-3. Had to make sure you made the shift before hammering. The modern or updated SA 3-speed hub eliminated this "design flaw".

flyingtaco 07-26-13 11:03 AM


Originally Posted by redbuda (Post 15777701)
That's god to know about SA hubs parts wise.

Why a 36 front sprocket? What was the rear sprocket tooth?

Thanks for the info.

You can lower the gearing by making the chainring (front) smaller or the cog (rear) bigger. Most people start with a larger cog because it's cheaper and easier to replace.

Sheldon Brown's site has a gear calculator that includes internal gear hubs which will help you find the right combination:

Generally speaking, the lowest practical gear is around 25 gear inches, while the highest is around 100. With a 3 speed hub, you'll want to aim somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, say 40-80 gear inches.

fietsbob 07-26-13 07:16 PM

The Sun Spider is a Fat-Bike for beach sand (and snow bike) they use the kickback 2 speed coaster hub
and a pretty small chainring

its a nice combination low to start then overdrive to cruise , hit the coaster brake and its in low to get going again..
(or a slight tap, to downshift))

yodatic 12-07-13 09:07 PM

I have rebuilt , cleaned, greased, etc. both brands and much prefer the Sturmey Archer. The bike I am riding the most now has a 4 speed SA with a Dyno-hub. tom

wahoonc 12-08-13 06:32 AM

Hard to beat the durability AND the parts availability of the Sturmey-Archer AW series hubs. The newest generation should be as good as the old ones, just does away with the "neutral" gear. My most used AW hub has around 50,000 miles on it. I have some newer Shimano, but none have anywhere close to that mileage on them. One item to note is that the gear steps on the AW are a bit uneven compared to the ones on the Shimano. It bothers some people.

Aaron :)

surreal 12-08-13 07:58 PM

Let me weigh in on some stuff:

For all the commonly available three speeds, the manufacturer recommends a MINIMUM 2:1 gear ratio. So, if you go with that 36t ring, anything bigger than 18 is against the manufacturer's recommendation. You can prolly get away with a bit lower, but too low and the torque will damage the hub's internals, particularly in the lowest of the 3 gears.

Shimano 333s of yesteryear were turd-like devices. Those that have survived are likely low-mileage units that sat for decades in someone's shed. Avoid. The Shimano Nexus 3 is a reliable hub; the range is a bit wider than the typical Sturmey, but not by much. Pros- found everywhere, tends to be reliable, easily found as part of a pre-built wheel.. Cons- only 1 rather lame shifter option, and I think they're only making them in coaster or disc versions these days. I also think they look boring, but that's purely subjective. Shimano suggests only using their proprietary lube, and will not suggest an alternative.

Sturmey-Archer has been around in some form for well over a century. During that time, the QC has varied widely, with the last couple of years before moving to Taiwan being the worst, and the pre-1960s ones supposedly being the best. Whatever; SA AWs (and variants) from the 60s and 70s are absolutely bulletproof. But the 80s? Not so much. The new Taiwan-made ones since SunRace took over are good, but there's some spotty QC with issues on some runs of hubs. Usually, you'll know right away, and the problem can be fixed. Once you got it good, it will stay good with some maintenance. Pros: easier to work on, many shifter styles available, with all but the s3x shifters being compatible with each version of the 3speed hubs (except the s3x) Shimano nexus only has the grip shifter; the SA comes in grip shifter, modern under-bar triggers, old-school trigger, bar-end, thumbie, DT, etc.. SA does list recommendations for lube on their blog, in case you want to cheap out and avoid theirs. More brake options--- you can get a coaster or a disc version like the Shimano, or you can get the drum (in either 70 or 90mm iterations--- I love Sturmey drum brakes!) or you can go brakeless at the hub and use a rim brake. More options, more betterer. Available in hott, high-polish shells, but if you look hard, steel versions still exist. Parts are easily sourced, as others stated. Several options for the hub/cable interface are included with the hub; the old-school version looks much cooler than the Shimano interface.Cons: more likely to get a lemon versus shimano. Um....... well.... no other cons, but that is a pretty big deal, I guess.

Oh, and if you like the Nexus hub but hate it's nerdy shifter, Sunrace/Sturmey-archer makes a thumbie that is nexus compatible, too.

Best bet with either hub, if you like your singlespeeds gearing, is to keep the same size cog and sprocket. The middle gear is direct-drive, which makes it strongest mechanically (ie, less likely to bust something inside) and most efficient. The other two gears will provide under- and over-drive for going up- or downhill, respectively.


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