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Adding gears to daughter's cruising bike

Old 08-24-10, 03:45 PM
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Adding gears to daughter's cruising bike

My daughter has a 20" wheel pink cruising bike by Electra and has finally decided to love biking! I am trying to find a way to add gears to get her to continue loving to ride.

She is riding well, but her single speed limits what we can do to a few bike paths, and she wants to go biking more with me. I was hoping to buy a reasonable internal gear hub on a 20" wheel that would give her some range and let her climb hills. We live in a hilly place!

Can anyone recommend the right approach? 3 gears to keep it simple or more to make riding more fun? Who builds 20" internal gear wheels? Any help is INCREDIBLY appreciated.
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Old 08-24-10, 04:01 PM
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Internal gear hub can be laced into your size of rim by most any competent bicycle mechanic in a local bike shop


a 3 speed sturmey archer hub has a low gear 3/4 of the middle one , and 4/ 3rds is the higher gear
so how low the low is is dependent on the external ratio of the cog on the hub
made in 13 to 22 teeth, and the gear size on the crank

they S-A are a Taiwan corporation owned company Sun Race and the hub is now featuring a shell of aluminum.
and unlike the older ones there is not the in neutral between gears when slightly out of adjustment.

Buy a complete wheel just by a web click and have it in stock ? I cannot say . is this a 406 20' wheel , does it depend on a coaster brake for stopping now?

There are some multi speed hubs with coaster brakes , but of course you must specify that.

they have an 8 speed too, the lowest gear is the direct drive ratio.
all the 7 others are overdrive gears so a 25 and a 24 tooth cog combo is close to a unicycle direct gear .
the 8 speed has a smaller assortment of external gears..

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-24-10 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 08-24-10, 04:03 PM
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Getting a wheel built up with a new 3-speed hub and adding a shifter and cable will set you back almost the same amount it will cost to simply buy her a new bike with a rear derailleur already on it.
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Old 08-24-10, 04:32 PM
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Except derailleurs are in comparison a PIA, for a child to work
and when the bike gets dropped on the front lawn and the dérailleur gets bent ,
.. kids do that.. drop bikes and do something else at the spur of a moment..
it goes out of whack and wont click no more.

Of course if the child will fit on a folding bike when its adjusted down ,
and as girls don't do dirt jumps with the guys , .. usually ..

the hinges wont get over stressed and She can have the bike grow with her,
as it's quite adjustable..
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Old 08-24-10, 05:28 PM
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Buy a used one off the local Craigslist and sell the old one. In the long run it will be more cost effective. Your daughter will outgrow the bike in a few years anyway and certainly way before you recoup the cost of upgraded parts.
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Old 08-24-10, 05:41 PM
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I'm with Ratdog on this. Kids grow so until they stabilize late in their teens there's not much point in sinking a bunch of money into doing internal gear hub mods.

I'd also suggest that since you said it's hilly in your area that the 3 speed won't really be enough variation unless the hills are not that steep. I had an SA 3 speed hub back when I was a teen and there wasn't a lot of variation between the three gears. So if you actually have stuff that is significant to walk up then you'll want at least 5 speeds.
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Old 08-24-10, 05:49 PM
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Both my daughters ride three speed equipped bikes (vintage Raleighs) and love them... my oldest daughter rides a lady's Saffron which will grow with her so I have rebuilt her wheels and will be installing a new crank and bb to replace the cottered unit when it wears out, and will probably build up an 8 speed IGH when she is ready for that.



My youngest is ten and will need a new bike next year as her bike is not like the Saffron and am hoping she will have the reach to handle a vintage R20 folder or straight model which I will then modify like I have her sister's bike.

Barring this, will build her a custom frame like the Saffron as this will overcome threading and compatibility issues one gets with vintage Raleighs.

A 3 speed IGH laced into a 20 inch wheel would be an excellent idea and could be transferred into another bicycle... like a newer folder.
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Old 08-24-10, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BCRider
I'm with Ratdog on this. Kids grow so until they stabilize late in their teens there's not much point in sinking a bunch of money into doing internal gear hub mods.

I'd also suggest that since you said it's hilly in your area that the 3 speed won't really be enough variation unless the hills are not that steep. I had an SA 3 speed hub back when I was a teen and there wasn't a lot of variation between the three gears. So if you actually have stuff that is significant to walk up then you'll want at least 5 speeds.
Both my daughters can handle short 10-12% grades on their 3 speeds which have been geared down with 20 and 18 tooth cogs... my oldest (almost 13) was spinning out the 20 so requested the 18.... and can still climb those hills.
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Old 08-24-10, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Except derailleurs are in comparison a PIA, for a child to work
and when the bike gets dropped on the front lawn and the dérailleur gets bent ,
.. kids do that.. drop bikes and do something else at the spur of a moment..
it goes out of whack and wont click no more.

Of course if the child will fit on a folding bike when its adjusted down ,
and as girls don't do dirt jumps with the guys , .. usually ..

the hinges wont get over stressed and She can have the bike grow with her,
as it's quite adjustable..
I fail to see how operating a 5 or 6 speed indexed thumbshifter or twistgrip is any more of a PIA than operating a 3 speed one for a 6-8 year-old. And they have these things called derailleur guards. They're very common as an already included item for many brands.
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Old 08-25-10, 02:32 AM
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Big issue is that kids bikes tend not to have internal hubs. Why do I care?

I ride a lot with kids, and it takes them a long time to remember to shift prior to the incline. So they start riding up, realize they are in the wrong gear, then yu hear the clash and smash as they try to downshift when their bike is coming to a stop.

Internal hubs, I believe, address this.

Plus I don't see a decent kids bike for under $400, and I am hoping to spend $150 on this project.

What do you think of this one:
https://lightenupbikes.com/shimano-ne...el-silver.aspx
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Old 08-25-10, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Torchy McFlux
I fail to see how operating a 5 or 6 speed indexed thumbshifter or twistgrip is any more of a PIA than operating a 3 speed one for a 6-8 year-old. And they have these things called derailleur guards. They're very common as an already included item for many brands.
Torchy,
I don't know if you have been in the market for kids bikes, but trigger shifters are as rare as double amputee kickboxers.

Ibex has one ($450) and maybe Trek, but the rest is all grip. I hate grip shifters for kids. Especially front. Their hands have a hard time generating the torque.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:29 AM
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OP,

A lot of parents get their kids nasty cheap bikes and wonder why the offspring don't take to riding.

By buying a (pink!) Electra flat foot bike for your child you've got her a nice bike she can love and grow with for years. Good form!

I've found that kids are often good with gears years before they're 100% reliable with hand brakes. Because of that, here's my recomendation:

Buy a Sturmey 3-speed hub with coaster brake - an AWC, not one of the earlier designs - off ebay. It won't be expensive. (Or spring for a new S-RC3. Still not that expensive.) Also get a traditional trigger shifter. Your LBS should be able to build a wheel up and rig the shifter - this is, after all, 1904 technology.

She should be able to get good service out of this bike until she's ~11/12 y.o.

If the rims on your daughter's Electra AREN'T painted (or maybe even if they are), consider adding a front hand brake so she can get used to using it and be ready for a bike with derailleur gears and fr/rr hand brakes in the future.

HTH,
tcs

Last edited by tcs; 08-25-10 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by BCRider
I'm with Ratdog on this. Kids grow so until they stabilize late in their teens there's not much point in sinking a bunch of money into doing internal gear hub mods.

I'd also suggest that since you said it's hilly in your area that the 3 speed won't really be enough variation unless the hills are not that steep. I had an SA 3 speed hub back when I was a teen and there wasn't a lot of variation between the three gears. So if you actually have stuff that is significant to walk up then you'll want at least 5 speeds.
You must be misremembering unless you had a rare close ratio hub. The big complaint aganst the AW is that the jump between gears is too large.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:41 AM
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Um... well it WAS a lot of years ago. But also I lived in an area that had a lot of very steep hills. Having ridden through that area as an adult I was down to the granny just to keep going if that helps justify my memories of thinking that the 3 speed didn't have enough range.

Harrier does raise a good point about jamming the gears too. And to make this all more palatable for the pocket book I'm also thinking that there's no reason why the hub and shifter can't be transffered to a new bike in a few years. Just build it into a new wheel.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:53 AM
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My question is, on a 3s upgrade or any speed upgrade for that matter, will the hub even fit into the frame without substantial bending or cold setting. Old single speed hubs used to 110mm (is the OP frame in question 110mm or 120mm?) and any geared hub was considerably wider by 10mm or more, that is a lot to spread a frame, especially a 20" that has short stays.
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Old 08-25-10, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by harrier
Big issue is that kids bikes tend not to have internal hubs. Why do I care?

I ride a lot with kids, and it takes them a long time to remember to shift prior to the incline. So they start riding up, realize they are in the wrong gear, then yu hear the clash and smash as they try to downshift when their bike is coming to a stop.

Internal hubs, I believe, address this.

Plus I don't see a decent kids bike for under $400, and I am hoping to spend $150 on this project.

What do you think of this one:
https://lightenupbikes.com/shimano-ne...el-silver.aspx
If you convert the beloved cruiser bike into a multi-speed bike, it will likely have everything that made her love the bike in the first place... buying another bike - folding or derailleur equipped - might not fill her with the same passion for riding.

However, you are mistaken about IGHs and shifting under load. A well equipped modern derailleur bike will shift quite well under load (although it might sound nasty when it happens). Under high torque IGHs often stay in the same gear until the rider backs off a bit. My Shimano Alfine hub shifts ok under load but not quite as nicely as my derailleur equipped bikes.
FWIW, the Sturmey archer 8 speed hubs are designed to work with small wheeled bikes so it might be ideal. I would try to select smaller gears such that the current single-speed ratio is close to the higher end of the spectrum (the second or third hardest gear), that way she will have 5 or 6 easier gears to climb hills.
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Old 08-25-10, 10:45 AM
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Is the Electra frame steel or aluminum? A steel frame can have the dropout width adjusted but a aluminum frame cannot normally. I know Electra has a lot of aluminum frame bikes in their lineup.

I personally would go for a SA 5 speed coaster brake rear hub if you can find one. SA lists a lot of 5 speed hubs but USA availability on them seems to be poor.
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Old 08-26-10, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by canopus
My question is, on a 3s upgrade or any speed upgrade for that matter, will the hub even fit into the frame without substantial bending or cold setting. Old single speed hubs used to 110mm (is the OP frame in question 110mm or 120mm?) and any geared hub was considerably wider by 10mm or more...
Or not.
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Old 08-26-10, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by tatfiend
I personally would go for a SA 5 speed coaster brake rear hub if you can find one.
Google. 15 seconds.
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Old 08-26-10, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by tatfiend
Is the Electra frame steel or aluminum? A steel frame can have the dropout width adjusted but a aluminum frame cannot normally. I know Electra has a lot of aluminum frame bikes in their lineup.

I personally would go for a SA 5 speed coaster brake rear hub if you can find one. SA lists a lot of 5 speed hubs but USA availability on them seems to be poor.
They are easily available. UBS shows them in stock right now, so any LBS should be able to get one.
I agree it would be the best choice.
Lots of shifter options too. Twist, thumbie, trigger.

Last edited by Dan Burkhart; 08-26-10 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 08-26-10, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by LarDasse74
However, you are mistaken about IGHs and shifting under load.
I'm not seeing "IHG shift under load" in the post.

What I'm seeing is the difference between a young child's ability to execute a too-late downshift with a nuanced pedal pressure on a derailleur bike vs. just stopping pedaling for a second to shift the IHG. If they totally biff the shift they can just roll to a stop and put the IGH in low.

Maybe I'm just behind the times and the Shimano Tourney (don't look for this groupo on their web site!) derailleur and freewheel found on today's better kids' bikes downshifts under pressure like a hot knife in butter.
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Old 08-26-10, 12:35 PM
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AW3 in Bromptons are like a 112 axles in a variety of lengths ..

OK its not as easy as swapping axles in a derailleur hub because theres the Sun Gear attached in the middle.

Shifting is quick and easy, a quick backpedal or letting up on pedal pressure for a moment and the change happens.
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Old 08-26-10, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Except derailleurs are in comparison a PIA, for a child to work
and when the bike gets dropped on the front lawn and the dérailleur gets bent ,
.. kids do that.. drop bikes and do something else at the spur of a moment..
it goes out of whack and wont click no more.

Of course if the child will fit on a folding bike when its adjusted down ,
and as girls don't do dirt jumps with the guys , .. usually ..

the hinges wont get over stressed and She can have the bike grow with her,
as it's quite adjustable..
I grew up in the old Schwinn Stingray era (5 speed RD). Didn't have problems shifting back then. Most of us migrated to more traditional bikes, at 12 I got a Schwinn Continental.

As far as the cost, I would look for a good used bike. There are plenty of small to extra small MTBs out there on the used market, cheap. Some will be twist grip, some will have trigger shifters. Should fit well within your budget, at least around here.

Agree, kids tend to drop bikes, so expect some derailleur hangers getting bent. I have seen some decent and cheap RD guards on MTBs, I would look into that option.


Edited for Later Mention of Age 7: I would change the gearing as mentioned below, and stick with single speed right now (spin the flats). Not sure a derailleur bike is a very good idea.

Trigger shifters are cheap, so if you go that way, dump the twist shift, and go trigger.

Last edited by wrk101; 08-26-10 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 08-26-10, 01:44 PM
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I may have missed it but how old is your daughter. That makes a huge difference as to recommendations for using a bike with caliper brakes and twist grip shifting.
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Old 08-26-10, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman
I may have missed it but how old is your daughter. That makes a huge difference as to recommendations for using a bike with caliper brakes and twist grip shifting.
My apologies. She is 7 and has learned to use coaster but not handbrakes.

I have tended to have a bias against grip shifters for little kids, and for my son I replaced them with used triggers on each bike. Rear grips seemed to work fine, but he and his friends (under 8 year olds) could never get enough torque to move the front derailleurs. His last bike (which he just outgrew) was a Marin 20" that I had modified to have three rings up front with a front trigger and a rear grip.

He made it to the top of Mt. Tam as a 7 year old, and part of it was just having a bike he didn't have to fight.

We have since passed the bike along to two people and it is like magic.

In my experience, a single speed (BMX or cruiser) is the perfect bike for a young kid. Uncomplicated, light, and fast. Until they meet a hill. Then a decent gear range is the difference between hauling them up the hill or having them keep up a conversation with you as they spin their way up.
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