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5 & 8 Speed Hubs: Sturmey-Archer, Nexus, Alfine?

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5 & 8 Speed Hubs: Sturmey-Archer, Nexus, Alfine?

Old 12-21-15, 09:48 PM
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elithrar
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5 & 8 Speed Hubs: Sturmey-Archer, Nexus, Alfine?

Hi all,

Working through a new commuter build with a builder in prep for a move to the U.S, and had originally requested a change to an 8 speed Sturmey-Archer hub (from their std. 3 speed) to suit the San Francisco terrain a little more closely.

Thus far:
  • The 8 speed SA thumb shifter appears to have been discontinued
  • The 'backup plan' of a 5 speed Sturmey-Archer hub (new C50 series) and 5 speed SLC thumb shifter: won't be in stock for ~6 months, based on contact with United Bicycle Supply (the main distributor for SA)
  • the Shimano range is a little harder to decipher, but the SG-S7000 8 speed hub appears to be the updated version of the SG-501 8 speed

We had considered an 8spd Alfine rapid fire shifter on the 8spd SA X-RF8 hub, but there's little hard evidence of that working in practice.

Is the SG-S7000 8 speed Alfine w/ a SL-S7000-8 rapid fire shifter ultimately the only way to go here? What's the shift performance & reliablity like compared to the Sturmey-Archer 8 speed?
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Old 12-21-15, 10:40 PM
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I have a nexus 8 premium on my Gazelle it works great with the Alfine trigger shifter or the Nexus grip shifter,
The Alfine trigger shifter is more precise, and the Nexus grip shift is faster as it allows skipping gears, or selecting any gear in one shift.

One thing I really like about the Shimano 8 is its 5th gear is a 1.0 ratio where the SA 8 1.0 ratio is first gear. It seems the SA 8 is meant for 20" and smaller wheel bikes.
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Old 12-21-15, 11:21 PM
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I have an 8-speed Shimano Alfine hub on my GT Eightball.

I love the clean look and the shifter is crisp and reliable in practice. Its tough enough to run on hardpack & gravel trails as well as pavement around here.

No problems with it. An IGH drivetrain on a bike is as maintainance-free as you can get.

Whatever IGH you decide to get, it would last you a lifetime. Heck, people today still ride 50 and 60 year old English 3 speed IGH bikes without incident.

Good luck.
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Old 12-21-15, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
Whatever IGH you decide to get, it would last you a lifetime. Heck, people today still ride 50 and 60 year old English 3 speed IGH bikes without incident.
My 1935 Raleigh has a 3 speed KB hub with drum brake, 80 years old and still going strong.
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Old 12-22-15, 12:36 AM
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A 40 year old 3 speed might outlast a brand new 8 speed. Not saying that there's been a drop in quality, only that modern 8 speed and higher IGHs are much more complex than an old 3 speed. More complexity means more things that can fail.

I'm not trying to scare you away from one. I have an 8 speed Alfine and am very happy with it. I wouldn't be surprised if it lasted 40 years, but I also would be surprised if it lasted 4. These things do break and when they do, often the least expensive option is just to replace it.
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Old 12-22-15, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
One thing I really like about the Shimano 8 is its 5th gear is a 1.0 ratio where the SA 8 1.0 ratio is first gear. It seems the SA 8 is meant for 20" and smaller wheel bikes.
This is a great point, as I'd forgotten that the SA X-RF8 hub was direct in first. The 5 speed is a newer design with 1:1 in 3rd gear, and even (25%) spacing between each.

Given that they seem to be near impossible to find, and with the Alfine seemingly well received, my choice is being made for me.
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Old 12-22-15, 08:17 AM
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I am going to mention a different direction to consider, a NuVinci. My daughters bike has an 8 speed. I have a Nuvinci and of the two I prefer the NuVinci.
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Old 12-22-15, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
A 40 year old 3 speed might outlast a brand new 8 speed. Not saying that there's been a drop in quality, only that modern 8 speed and higher IGHs are much more complex than an old 3 speed. More complexity means more things that can fail.
The standard lore of the IGH, as I understand it, tells of a major drop in quality - funnily enough about 40 years ago. If you have a hub that has held up with minimal maintenance all these years then it will likely keep going. IF the hub was five or ten years newer, OTOH, it probably wouldn't have lasted until now. I believe the lesser quality hubs were UK made after about the mid 70s or so... competition from cheaper imitators (Shimano and Suntour primarily), or other market or business forces resulted in SA stepping down their quality. I believe the newer Asian made SA hubs are superior to the last of the UK made hubs, but up until the early/mid '70s, SA hubs were made like 1920s farm equipment - leave it in a field for fifteen years then squirt some oil into it and it's ready to go.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
The standard lore of the IGH, as I understand it, tells of a major drop in quality - funnily enough about 40 years ago.
@wilfredLaurier, no major drop in quality that I'm aware of. There have been sporadic incidences of specific hubs from specific time periods having problems but overall SA and Shimano (and Rohloff?) are still quite durable and reliable. This based on living in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Scotland for some time and knowing a lot of people in the bike industry there.

Last edited by CrankyOne; 01-03-16 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
I am going to mention a different direction to consider, a NuVinci. My daughters bike has an 8 speed. I have a Nuvinci and of the two I prefer the NuVinci.
Generally agree. I have a N360 on one of my Opafiets and love it. Technically it does have a bit more drag than an 8-speed but in practical riding I don't really notice it.
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Old 12-23-15, 11:42 AM
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S-A 8 speed is better suited to a small wheel Bike, as 1:1 is the lowest gear with 7 overdrive gears.



I replaced my single Crankset with a 2 gear Schlumpf Swiss Mountian drive .. internally geared, the 3 speed hub is used twice .

in low range a 50t chainring acts like it's a 20t. Cycle-Monkey in SF east Bay has them ..


with the chain drive ratio making a 58" gear for 2nd in, direct , high range, my low is 17gi. in low range..

cranks turn at a different rate than the chain-ring thru the gears ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-23-15 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 12-23-15, 12:04 PM
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Actually, SJS cycles in UK does now have the new SA 5 speed in both 70/ 90 mm drum brake models.
There is a design flaw IMO. The drum brake (only) LH side flange is 10 mm off center, making it as bad as a derailler for dish.
I really like the thumb shifters. The old model is still available, which I use very happily after modifying the shift key corners to slide better. A SA 5 may however be not the best for SF hills over 11%. Rohloff is the way to go.
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Old 12-23-15, 12:09 PM
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I have a lot of dish on my 6v. screw on freewheel Drum brake hub . been serviceable for over 20 years..

V.. Vitesses .. "speeds" in French

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-23-15 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 12-23-15, 12:18 PM
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I looked at the SA 5-speed a while ago because the ratios replicated the range and step sizes of a 14-32 freewheel on an old 10-speed like a Varsity. But the only bike I could find that came with one was a Linus (in a clubman style with a downtube shifter, which seemed strange), and no one was selling a built wheel that I could find at all. I wasn't eager to try wheelbuilding or pay for it at the time so I passed.
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Old 12-23-15, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by elithrar View Post
Hi all,

Working through a new commuter build with a builder in prep for a move to the U.S, and had originally requested a change to an 8 speed Sturmey-Archer hub (from their std. 3 speed) to suit the San Francisco terrain a little more closely.
Maybe not all, but certainly most users of IGH are not using any kind of front mech. San Francisco? Really? I've been there... once. I wouldn't consider riding there a single day without a front triple and wide range cassette in back. YMMV, but not all that much. The IGH with a front triple would be fine I suppose, but you now have a derailleur to deal with and for those who have a problem with them... ... A Schlumpf drive is one front solution but unless I way miss my guess the cost of them puts them out of reach for this scenario. Pssst. As a cycling minded individual considering the West Coast of the U.S. you might be interested in a bike friendly little town about 600 mi. north on I-5 called Portland, OR. You may have heard of it. Reasonable hills (bridge approaches included), plenty of bike locking facilities, an improving network of bike friendly controlled intersections, and weather that is somewhat wetter, but nearly as mild. Check it out. Lower real estate prices... ... You may not even need gears. Plenty o' FG/SS afficianados here. I'm not one of them though. FWIW.
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Old 12-23-15, 02:37 PM
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You cannot be low income in San Francisco any more .. Rentier class has pushed the housing up to Manhattan prices .

better be getting recruited for a $200K a year Tech job since that is what the Cost of Living Requires. in 2016

PDX is Pushing hard to get unaffordable Too..
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Old 12-24-15, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
You cannot be low income in San Francisco any more ..
Sure you can, you just have to forego the indoors
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Old 01-01-16, 03:25 PM
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We've had issues with SA5 equipped bikes,it's not the hub the 3spd is. Shimano is coming out with a new 5spd,I'd wait and see on that one. The Alfine had some teething probs when it first came out,but they seem to be sorted now.
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Old 01-02-16, 02:10 PM
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I have an article from Bicycle magazine dated 1907 where they explain 'gearing'. 109 years later, a lot of cyclists still don't understand. Sigh.

Anyway, I've been riding a standard ('large') wheel bike with a S-A XRF8(W), a Jtek bar-end shifter and S-A's companion FCS80 crankset since 2009. It's geared 31-100 g.i. It works great. Fun fact: Sturmey's Interbike show bikes the year they debuted the XRF8(W) had 700C wheels.

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Old 01-02-16, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
There is a design flaw IMO. The drum brake (only) LH side flange is 10 mm off center, making it as bad as a derailler for dish.
Noting that today's derailleur systems have up to eleven cogs on the back and having watched the issues brought up on the 'Bicycle Mechanics' sub-forum over the last ten years, I'm inclined to conclude: (quality modern spokes + quality wheel build)/dish = no problem.
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Old 01-02-16, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
I have an article from Bicycle magazine dated 1907 where they explain 'gearing'. 109 years later, a lot of cyclists still don't understand. Sigh.

Anyway, I've been riding a standard ('large') wheel bike with a S-A XRF8(W) and Jtek bar-end shifter since 2009. It's geared 31-100 g.i. It works great. Fun fact: Sturmey's Interbike show bikes the year they debuted the XRF8(W) had 700C wheels.
Actually, when I built my SA 5 which is almost as offset, I refused to make it so lopsided. I left it at 21//24 on the meter, still 2mm from center. I added a 2mm spacer on on the brake side. My spokes are 2.3/2 mm WH13/14. 10,000 miles rear and 18,000 front XL-FDD.

So pray tell us how fast is your SA 8 ??? Do you actually TRY to go fast ??
My SA 5w is certainly fast for me and pushed to 45 mph whenever possible.
My longest ride was 125.5 miles. Day averages can be over 15 mph.
I certainly like it more than any derailler bike.

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Old 01-02-16, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
So pray tell us how fast is your SA 8 ??? Do you actually TRY to go fast ??
****************************************************************************************************???
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Old 01-03-16, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
San Francisco? Really? I've been there... once. I wouldn't consider riding there a single day without a front triple and wide range cassette in back. YMMV, but not all that much.
Why?

We just spent several days there riding all over without any major problems. We had three Nexus 8 and one SA 5. If I was in a race I'd certainly have wanted lighter bikes and more gearing options but we weren't racing. We were just riding to places to eat, drink, and see things. A couple of times we took a slightly less than direct route to avoid an extra steep climb but that wasn't a problem, just had to plan an extra 5 or 10 minutes.
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Old 01-03-16, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Why?

We just spent several days there riding all over without any major problems. We had three Nexus 8 and one SA 5. If I was in a race I'd certainly have wanted lighter bikes and more gearing options but we weren't racing. We were just riding to places to eat, drink, and see things. A couple of times we took a slightly less than direct route to avoid an extra steep climb but that wasn't a problem, just had to plan an extra 5 or 10 minutes.
Not many people realize that a SA 5 (if built with a small chain ring ) can have very low gears. I increased the sprocket to 20T giving me a 34 inch first gear! That's not bad and it's close to my Jamis Aurora of about 28 inches. I can climb a number of smaller hills easily with that low 34' gear.
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Old 01-03-16, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
Not many people realize that a SA 5 (if built with a small chain ring ) can have very low gears.
Why would you think people don't know this? ANY final drive with a small enough chain ring(s) can have a very low low gear... I think this is understood well enough ... how about the high gears? What is the range of a SA 5? 350%? 500? What does that give you for a high gear if the low is .... say 31"? And that really isn't that low... 27" that's low (1:1). What could the highest gear of a single chainwheel 5sp be if the granny was low enough to be interesting? I don't need to know. I'll never have to use one. I don't do martyr, and my SO loves that about me. Our tandem has a 24/39/52 x 12-27 and she wouldn't have it any other way.
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