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Brompton 5-speed hub reliability

Old 10-16-16, 08:28 PM
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raftr
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Brompton 5-speed hub reliability

I have an early-2000's Brompton with a 3-speed Sachs hub. The hub works ok for the most part, even though not as smoothly as modern hubs do, but I'm putting most of the blame on the antiquated Torpedo shifter.

I will be building new wheels soon, and I thought this might be a good chance to replace the hub, ideally with something with a wider range. I read a bit about the available hub options, from the factory 6-speed combo to Rohloff, Alfine, and Nexus applications. I think I would be fine with the 256% range of the Sturmey Archer S-RF5(W).

I keep reading though, those new 5-speed hubs are fiddly to set up and require occasional re-alignment. I was wondering if there were any users of those hubs here who could confirm they actually came across those issues with theirs, or was it just a third-hand opinion people repeat.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 10-17-16, 07:25 AM
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As long as you're replacing hubs, one more option to consider for your Brommie - an 8 speed XRF8(W), with a 325% range:

Brompton 8-Speed Kit ? Kinetics
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Old 10-17-16, 08:22 AM
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Joe Remi
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Originally Posted by raftr View Post
I have an early-2000's Brompton with a 3-speed Sachs hub. The hub works ok for the most part, even though not as smoothly as modern hubs do, but I'm putting most of the blame on the antiquated Torpedo shifter.

I will be building new wheels soon, and I thought this might be a good chance to replace the hub, ideally with something with a wider range. I read a bit about the available hub options, from the factory 6-speed combo to Rohloff, Alfine, and Nexus applications. I think I would be fine with the 256% range of the Sturmey Archer S-RF5(W).

I keep reading though, those new 5-speed hubs are fiddly to set up and require occasional re-alignment. I was wondering if there were any users of those hubs here who could confirm they actually came across those issues with theirs, or was it just a third-hand opinion people repeat.

Thanks for any advice.
No firsthand experience, but the folks on the Pashley Guv'nor forum say the same thing about the Speed 5 version of that bike: The 5-speed hub is finicky about staying in adjustment, and shifts poorly when not.
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Old 10-17-16, 11:29 AM
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I am using one since I have a B that came with the old StAr 5 speed with two cables. I like it a lot, enough gear range for my type of riding and almost the same weight as the 3 speed. I would not trade in this hub for a heavyer one with more gears.

A bit moody on the adjustments yes but it is like most other things in life: learn how to do it and do it right.

I just spoke to a owner of a B that used to be 10 speed (5x2) That bike is now 6 speed (3x2) becouse he gave up on the 5 speed hub. He used two chainrings in the front so maybe trying to adjust that and get it right was part of the problem.

If you have a bike with the braze on needed for the chain pusher you can use a 5 speed hub with two sprockets and get 10 speeds with much lower weigt than a 8 speed or Rolhof hub.

I sugest you try to find out what shifter peopel who report problems are using. I have heard that some of the shifters are not working well.

Last edited by badmother; 10-17-16 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 10-17-16, 11:37 AM
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Brompton used to use the shift out both ends 5 speed, then as written in the Brompton Book , the supply dried Up.

The next source was Sachs Making the first 2 cog 3 speed 6 speed , for them.(Sachs was Bought out by Sram)

Now the New source is back to Sturmey Archer, But the company changed hands and now comes from Bicycle Island, TW ROC.

Their current 5 speed wont fit in the standard Brompton rear width; less than 120mm ..

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/files/...0IGH%20C50.pdf

125 is the narrowest overlock nut spec offered.






'/,

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-17-16 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 10-17-16, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Brompton used to use the shift out both ends 5 speed, then as written in the Brompton Book , the supply dried Up.

The next source was Sachs Making the first 2 cog 3 speed 6 speed , for them.(Sachs was Bought out by Sram)

Now the New source is back to Sturmey Archer, But the company changed hands and now comes from Bicycle Island, TW ROC.

Their current 5 speed wont fit in the standard Brompton rear width; less than 120mm ..

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/files/...0IGH%20C50.pdf

125 is the narrowest overlock nut spec offered.

'/,
Sorry to say this but you are a bit wrong here. Brompton used to ship the S/A Five-Star with two shifters in the late 80ies and early 90ies. In about 1993 they switched to the S/A Sprinter, also with five gears but one single trigger. There were various versions of the sprinter until S/A went bancrupt in autumn of 2000. Brompton switched to Sachs/SRAM gearboxes and developed the six-speed derailleur (2*3) as Sachs could not offer a five-speed that was small enough. In 2009 they switched back to S/A with the six-speed and introduced the BWR with 302% range.

For a couple of years now S/A has a five-speed that fits w/o hassle: The SRF5w. It offers 256%, is a bit hard to get hold of and suffers a bit from fiddly adjustment. Apart from that it works fine though the gearsteps are a bit on the high side (quite similar to a three-speed). As to my knowledge you can build a 10-speed hub from it, using some parts of the BWR plus the Brompton derailleur. You can get the SRF5w i.e. at SJS in the UK with 111mm OLD:

https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/hubs-int...srf5-5spd-hub/

Regarding the eight-speed XRF8w I own two of these, one of them in a Brompton. It is a really nice hub (325% range) with some specialities: Direct gear is the first, so you need either a big cog or a small chainwheel or both. I run 25/50 on the Brompton and the chainwheel could/should be a bit smaller. It offers evenly 15%-steps with the inner 6 gears and 30% with the outer two. So for daily riding you are well set up and have an upper and a lower rescue gear for the extremes that you would not hit every day. In difference to a Shimano eight-gear you do not need to spread the Brompton's back-end but you have to lengthen the chain-tensioner. No need for a kit tough it surely makes the move a bit more comfortable. Unfortunately the hub is again very fiddly to adjust plus it has noticeable drag in the gearbox. And it has not the best reputation regarding long-term reliabiliy. This reputation may have been partly earned by it's older brother, the XRF8 (w/o the "w") - especially earlier versions of this hub tended to die early. Worst about the XRF8w in the Brompton aside from shifting issues from time to time is that you add about 1kg of weight. So you probably do not want it if you have to carry your Brommi regularly.

The SRF5w on the other hand does only add very little weight to the Brompton (about 200g) and it fits like a glove. Plus it is massively cheaper. So it is a good alternative for those who do not like the handling or the price of the Brompton six-speed but need more range than the tree-speed offers and defitively worth considering if you want to replace an older S/A five-speed.
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Old 10-17-16, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post

Their current 5 speed wont fit in the standard Brompton rear width; less than 120mm ..

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/files/...0IGH%20C50.pdf

125 is the narrowest overlock nut spec offered.

'/,
The one I have can still be found. I`d start searching on e-bay but there are also other places.
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Old 10-17-16, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
As long as you're replacing hubs, one more option to consider for your Brommie - an 8 speed XRF8(W), with a 325% range:

Brompton 8-Speed Kit ? Kinetics
Good point. Interestingly, it can be purchased from Bikegang or Brommieplus at about half the Kinetics price, with a modified chain tensioner. It's not customised, comes in the 120 mm over-lock nut-distance version and without the smaller chainset, but I just checked, my rear triangle is 113 mm wide as it is, stretching it by another 7 mm seems doable.

Not sure I'd be happy with the extra 700 grams, but it is a very interesting option.
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Old 10-17-16, 11:13 PM
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well you can't take it with you so most stuff will remain

the narrowed OLD S-A 8 speed kit with a tiny chainring does seem useful
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Old 10-18-16, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Their current 5 speed wont fit in the standard Brompton rear width; less than 120mm ..

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/files/...0IGH%20C50.pdf

125 is the narrowest overlock nut spec offered.
Your chart doesn't list the SRF5; but the hub is still available.

https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/hubs-int...d-hub/?geoc=US

Here is someone selling a kit.

Sturmey Archer S-RF5|Brommieplus-Products

Didn't Jur do this modification?
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Old 10-19-16, 12:32 PM
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I use an S-RF5 with my Brompton and have had 3 different bikes with instances of the hub. I've swapped internals around between them & tweaked the hub by converting it to oil lubrication so I've gotten to know it well. Despite that, for some reason on one bike I couldn't get rid of a notchy feeling in the drivetrain and I couldn't see any reason for it besides the hub... but after switching internals out the rough feeling was still there. The hub which is installed on the Brompton has functioned nearly flawlessly since I switched the 13t sprocket out for a 14t. A 13t sprocket is small enough that the chain engages/disengages with it poorly and the drivetrain feels rough. A 14t is just large enough that after wearing the chain in very slightly it runs smoothly. I'm happy to use a larger chainring for the improvement of the larger sprocket.

You have to be careful in getting the axle width and OLD spacing right. I used a 175mm axle and it needed shortening slightly.. which is something to undertake cautiously as part of the axle is hollow.

For me the wide range (more recent) version of the hub is too wide in its gear spacing so if I were to use that I'd want to incorporate the 2 speed shifting system for a 10 speed set up.
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Old 10-19-16, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by raftr View Post
I have an early-2000's Brompton with a 3-speed Sachs hub. The hub works ok for the most part, ....

I keep reading though, those new 5-speed hubs are fiddly to set up and require occasional re-alignment. I was wondering if there were any users of those hubs here who could confirm they actually came across those issues with theirs, or was it just a third-hand opinion people repeat.

Thanks for any advice.
They (SA) were talking about discontinue the narrow OLD version 5 speed hub, but it seems to be quite available still. If you have 6 speed brompton, it is easy to mod into 10 speed, but you do need to order N version SRF-5.
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Old 01-17-17, 02:12 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input, I guess I will be trying out the SRF5W this spring.
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Old 01-17-17, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Remi View Post
No firsthand experience, but the folks on the Pashley Guv'nor forum say the same thing about the Speed 5 version of that bike: The 5-speed hub is finicky about staying in adjustment, and shifts poorly when not.
Joe:

I have a bike with the 5 speed hub from Sturmey and it shifts fine. However, I had a flat tire and when putting the wheel back on, it shifted poorly. I found a local LBS who showed me how to put the wheel on correctly after taking it off. There's a procedure on how it's done but I forgot the instructions. I haven't ridden the bike in ages!
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Old 08-07-19, 09:11 AM
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Bumping this thread up…

To get rid of the derailleur on a six-speed Brommie, replacing the BWR with an SA SRF5(W) seems like an easier alternative to spreading the triangle and fit a Nexus/Alfine 8.

Provided it's reliable enough once you know how to set it right (how?), do you think I can use it with a 13T sprocket and a 40/24T double chainring as a replacement for the BCD110/80 46/30T I currently use?

According to this site, that would get me a 1.52m - 6.50m (427%) range, one less shifter, and no more worries about the derailleur getting stuck in mud.

Thank you.
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Old 08-07-19, 10:15 AM
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For me the gaps are too big between gears on the wide ratio. If I were to use that hub I'd keep the derailleur and make a 10 speed. It's not hard to adjust properly, the principle is the same as a 3 speed SA. You just make sure the coloured marking on the indicator chain is in line with the axle end when in gear 2.
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Old 08-07-19, 10:45 AM
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Never tried any 5 speed hub at the time this thread was created. But last year; BFold of New York City was
nice enough to let me take their Chedech on a long test ride. It has a Sturmey Archer 5 speed IGH w/ trigger
shifters. Shifting is more straight forward than Brompton's left/right switches. Also the shifts were smooth
and precise:
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Old 08-08-19, 04:24 AM
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Thanks for the input.

Since the goal is to get rid of the derailleur, its shifter, and the occasional grit-induced loss of the derailleur, I'd use the SA with a single sprocket.

Ideally, I'd go for the eight-speed Nexus Premium, but I'd have to find someone who knows how to do it right.
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Old 08-08-19, 07:59 AM
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I have a spare Brompton now (upgrade bits to the point where I can make a second complete bike) and I’m considering installing an alfine 8 that I’ve had in the spares box for years. I get the impression that spreading the rear triangle is a fairly safe process.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
I have a spare Brompton now (upgrade bits to the point where I can make a second complete bike) and Iím considering installing an alfine 8 that Iíve had in the spares box for years. I get the impression that spreading the rear triangle is a fairly safe process.
It maybe on a full size bike but on bike with such short stays its risky. I think, but do not know, that doing on a Brompton would entail a series of bends involving indents to accomplish this.
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Old 08-08-19, 03:57 PM
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How long does it take an experienced techie to widen the rear triangle of a Brompton to fit a Shimano Nexus 8 gear hub?

Provided it takes an hour @ €50/hour*, and considering the hub itself is available for around €100, it shouldn't cost a lot more than €150.

* or five times the minimum wage over here
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