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I Tried A Three Speed Internal Gear Hub

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I Tried A Three Speed Internal Gear Hub

Old 03-13-10, 12:21 AM
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I Tried A Three Speed Internal Gear Hub

I tried a three speed internal gear hub today. It was a Nexus. On Bikeforums.net I've researched internal geared hubs (IGH) and a few people described the three speed as having a really low first gear for going up hills, the main drive gear, and the taller top gear for going down hills.

The hub was on a Felt bicycle at one of my local shops. I want to trade my Dahon Smooth Hound for a cruiser. The three speed was not as described. First gear was not very low. It was too high to go up a slope while seated. I preferred to stand in gear two for the hill instead of using first. It seems that first gear would be useable if I had a large load riding on level ground. It would even be too tall in a strong headwind.

The rear sprocket had twenty-two teeth. The front looked like about forty-two on the one piece crank. If the rear had twenty-four it would be better for me. That would drop the gearing a few percentage points.

Do the seven or eight speed IGHs have lower gears than the three speed IGHs, or do they just have more ratios within the same range as the three speed hubs?

The shifting was easy and being able to shift while stopped is a great benefit of the IGH. The Nexus did make a clicking sound in first gear. The shifter did take a firm twist to get into each gear. It wasn't difficult but it did take some pressure.

Felt doesn't make the model I tried with a derailleur. It only has a three speed. I might just go with a different brand with a derailleur system. The Giant Simple 7 looks good. It wasn't in stock at the Giant dealer.

What are the gear inches of a Nexus three speed hub in each gear with a twenty-six inch wheel? First gear definitely isn't in the twenties and maybe not in the thirties.
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Old 03-13-10, 01:38 AM
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I guess it's a slow week since this is a car free forum! ;-)

First, I think the gear selection was poorly designed by Felt in the first place. The bike you were looking at is the Cafe 3 that was waaaaaaay too high geared. I put the numbers in Sheldon's caculator and these are the figures.

Tire-----------------------700X23
Chainring----------------42
Rear Sprocket----------16
Nub-----------------------Nexus 3

Results in Inches.

1st gear-----------------50.6
2nd gear----------------69.0
3rd gear----------------93.8

Incredible! What were they thinking using that big chainring and small cog on heavy bike that weights 29lbs! On another thread, I said that a utility bike with a three speed hub should be set so that second gear (direct drive) is in the mid-50's. This bike has 70 inch direct drive!!!! I guess they expected you to have legs of steel! LOL!

First gear would be almost OK for regular riding but it's too low and you end up spinning too much going nowhere. As it stands, first gear is not low enough to spin up even slight hills.

Here's what to do. Ask them if they can replace the current 16T cog with a 20T cog on the hub. Now you have a good range of gears that work for you.

1st gear-------------------40.5
2nd gear------------------55.2
3rd gear-------------------75.1

If they don't or can't change the current cog to a 20T walk away fast. Actually the 20T is about 15 dollars so you can do it yourself.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/shimano-nexus.html
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Old 03-13-10, 01:52 AM
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I wish the makers of Sturmey Archer or Shimano would design the three speed so that first gear would drop to 30' inches. This way you would be able to climb many hills and would not need a multigear hub. As it stands, you can't get to 30 inches for second gear must remain in the mid 50's (or higher) and not drop any lower as this is the gear you will spend 95% of your time riding. Some people prefer 2nd gear to be in the high 50's while others prefer low 50's range.
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Old 03-13-10, 02:07 AM
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Most Shimano and SA 3 speed hubs come with rather steep gearing and the 50/70/93 is typical no matter what wheel size the bike has... Sturmey Archer hubs would get smaller drive cogs on smaller wheels to keep the gearing close throughout a range of wheel sizes.

A stock Twenty has a 15 tooth driver... I replace these with 18 and 20 tooth drivers (for my daughter's 3 speeds) and my 700c road bike has a 20 tooth mated with a 48 tooth chain ring so I can still climb hills in the saddle.

The 16 tooth on the Felt is a poor choice and should have been larger... 70 gear inches is fine for a single speed application but on an IGH it causes the 3rd gear to be almost useless for most riders.
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Old 03-13-10, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Most Shimano and SA 3 speed hubs come with rather steep gearing and the 50/70/93 is typical no matter what wheel size the bike has... Sturmey Archer hubs would get smaller drive cogs on smaller wheels to keep the gearing close throughout a range of wheel sizes.

A stock Twenty has a 15 tooth driver... I replace these with 18 and 20 tooth drivers (for my daughter's 3 speeds) and my 700c road bike has a 20 tooth mated with a 48 tooth chain ring so I can still climb hills in the saddle.

The 16 tooth on the Felt is a poor choice and should have been larger... 70 gear inches is fine for a single speed application but on an IGH it causes the 3rd gear to be almost useless for most riders.
I agree that the gear choices on the Felt were very poor. I went and checked my charts the only Raleigh that I have that came from the factory with a even remotely sensible gear set is my 1968 Compact RSW (16" wheels) it came with 48/12 which gives you 40.4"/53.8"/71.8". The Sturmey Archer AW hubs have always had the odd percentage jumps in gears, the Shimano was more even.

In answer to the OP, the overall range is increased some in the 7/8 speed hubs and the spacing is more consistent.

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Old 03-13-10, 10:56 AM
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Hubbstripping has this review which should answer nearly all questions about the differences between IGH hubs.
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Old 03-13-10, 11:32 AM
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I had a 3 speed IGH when I lived in Florida. It was flat there, but the three speeds came in handy, Against the Wind, Across the Wind, and With the Wind.
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Old 03-13-10, 12:06 PM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/internal.html
^^^
That will give you the gear range of most IGHs.
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Old 03-13-10, 12:06 PM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/internal.html
^^^
That will give you the gear range of most IGHs.
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Old 03-13-10, 12:44 PM
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Not So Fast

Originally Posted by AllenG
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/internal.html
^^^
That will give you the gear range of most IGHs.
Thank you for reminding me of that page. I didn't think to go there because I didn't know that there were IGHs on that page.

I put in the sprocket teeth counts with the 170 mm crank length and the 26 X 2.125 tire size. It came out to 16 mph, 11.8 mph, and 8.6 mph at 80 rpm.

Those speeds would be OK and doable if the weight of the bike were lower. I don't think I have the strength to spin 80 rpm on the Felt cruiser in top gear on level ground. Maybe the gear ratios are incorrect or maybe the fat tires made it seem much more difficult to spin the cranks.

On my 26 pound Dahon I can spin at 80-85 rpm and maintain 15 mph for a long time. On the Felt cruiser in second gear (not third) getting to 80 rpm seemed harder and it was harder to maintain. I don't expect to be as fast on a cruiser as on a touring bike but I do want to maintain my favorite rpm range while riding. Going 12 mph at 80 rpm would be fine with me.

This is the model I rode except there was no chrome. Everything but the wheels was painted black. Apparently the web site is incorrectly showing a single speed even though it is listed under the three speed models on the drop down menu. The one I rode was aluminum according to the in store catalogue.

https://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2010...PEED/LUXE.aspx

I wish more manufacturers would put detailed specifications on their sites.

Last edited by Smallwheels; 03-13-10 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 03-13-10, 01:14 PM
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As a comparison, my Breezer is:

1st is 31.2 gear inches
2nd is 36.6
3rd is 41.6
4th is 48.9
5th is 56.6
6th is 65.9
7th is 76.3

I'm not a very strong rider, and on most bikes, I'll be comfy driving about 50 gear inches. This is the stock gearing, so the bike is specced really well for me. It also gives me some room to grow, since most riders would be comfy with their main cruising gear in the 55-65 gear inches range. If I ever get strong enough that I can cruise mostly in 6th, it would be pretty easy to swap to a smaller cog so I have a slightly higher gear range.

Breezer's current 3 speed model is 40.2, 54.9, and 74.6. That would be a tad steep for me, but it's a much better range than the Felt. Swapping cogs on Breezer's 3 speed so it matches my bike would get the gearing into a usable range for me.

In my experience, it doesn't much matter how heavy the bike is. I don't start noticing substantial changes in what gear I can drive until my bike is fully loaded. Unloaded, it's about 35lbs. If I have a full cargo load on it, the whole bike might weigh 90lbs. The big difference with a heavier bike is how long it takes me to get up to cruising speed.
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Old 03-13-10, 07:46 PM
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My first adulthood bicycle was a shaft-driven job with a 7-speed Nexus. It was pretty cool and very easy to shift gears. However, my current 21-speed isn't that hard either.
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Old 03-22-11, 11:11 AM
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the Cafe 3 is 42x18:

Crankset: 3-piece aluminum, steel 42T chainring
Freewheel: Shimano IGH cog 18T

source: https://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2011...C3%A9%203.aspx
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Old 03-22-11, 11:54 AM
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Due to not being able to get the frame and gear combination I wanted at the time, I didn't ever get a cruiser with a three speed IGH.

I'm paring my possessions down and if I do get to move into a smaller place by next fall, I'll probably want to get my first folding bicycle. I'd love to have a BikeFriday Ticket with a NuVinci hub. It would be heavier and super expensive, but I'd like that combination. Since I'm not wealthy that probably won't happen as my first folding bicycle. If Moulton made a quick folding bicycle I'd dream of owning one of those too.

I don't recall anyone on this forum ever giving a report on a NuVinci hub. If anybody does have one could you tell us what you think about it?

Last edited by Smallwheels; 04-03-11 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 04-03-11, 02:21 PM
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I am thinking hard about getting an IGH on my next bike. I had an extremely old Schwinn Kickback as my first 'real' bike in high school. It was awesome! I took it with me to college, all my friends had road bikes, but my roommate borrowed my bike one day, she could not believe I rode it around, because she had a terrible time with it. I had a fabulous single speed bike after that - I'd put a lot of thought in to building it up, but then after school moved to Brooklyn, and the bridges are manageable on a single speed, but not in a fun way. Riding a geared bike feels extremely weird to me still.

Anyway. Change the cog.
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