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Touring with 3 gears

Old 01-10-16, 04:41 PM
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Touring with 3 gears

Hello, I have a Monark Philip which is a road bike with an internal geared hub. I have always loved commuting by bike and recently discovered touring. I've been looking around for upgrades I can do for my bike to conduct my first tour and the first thing I thought about was upgrading to a derailleur system but that proved to be impossible as my bike does not support it. Have any of you ever toured with 3 gears? Should I just buy a new/used touring bike? What should I upgrade if I plan on touring with my Monark Philip?

This is a picture of a bike with the same configuration but it is a newer model:

https://www.monark.se/wp-content/uplo...herr_svart.png
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Old 01-10-16, 05:16 PM
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Looks a lot like what's called a trekking bike in Northern Europe, fine for touring in Holland or along the Rhine.

Where do you intend touring and will you self support and camp or stay in hotels etc. A few details will help determine your needs.
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Old 01-10-16, 07:39 PM
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I did 2 weeks in the Netherlands on a rented 3 speed. I would not suggest it unless you had no other choice. An LHT doesn't cost much.
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Old 01-10-16, 11:12 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_St%C3%BCcke This guy did some touring on a three speed, a lot in fact.

You might start out with smaller overnight trips just to get the feel of things.

Its possible to tour on a three speed, google "touring on a three speed" for ideas. And I'm sure that others will have some decent opinion and suggestions, don't despair, Sundays are sort of slow.

Ive done it, on path racer style bikes(drop bars, racing geometry). Generally kept the load down, and only for fairly short trips since its hilly where I ride. I would absolutely use a three speed on a rail trail.

If you don't want to buy a new bike but decide not to use yours, a cheaper option could be finding an older mountain bike. https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/33...onversion.html Plenty of gears, and depending on your location craigs list can turn up something, possibly even a regular tourer.
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Old 01-10-16, 11:50 PM
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Back in the 50s when my parents were touring in Ireland, he rode a single speed, probably coaster brake bike; she rode a 3 speed, drop handlebar, caliper brake bike. The 3 speed was a fancy set-up at the time. Ireland has a lot of hills. I don't know if they camped, I know my dad used to camp, and they certainly stayed in some hostels. Bikes back then were all steel, steel cranks, fender, racks, bars, etc...

It worked back then, it will work today. What would be a lot harder to make work would be to be in a "race" with other tourists you meet up with, or depart with, that all have the latest 33 speed bikes, or whatever. But solo it should be fine.

That frame does not seem to have rack BOs on it, but then neither did our bikes back in the day. If you do mount racks and carry a fair amount of gear, and if your current set-up is correct for your average conditions, then you would probably be wise to look into adjusting your gearing down the equivalent of one chain ring on a derailleur bike. When I am loaded touring I normally find myself using the middle and low chainrings, and when I am riding unloaded I normally find myself on the middle and high chainrings. So for me at least, there is a one chainring difference, or something like it.

If you don't have some reason to run 3 speed, and you can craigslist your way out of the 3 speed and into a touring bike, that would be ideal. Most people prefer at least 21 speed derailleur bikes these days, with most on the 28 speed, and Rohloff.
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Old 01-11-16, 01:19 AM
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I live in southern Sweden (Skåne) where it's pretty flat and kinda windy. This would be my first tour and I'm going alone self supported (camping e.t.c.). Any further information you would like to know?
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Old 01-11-16, 05:14 AM
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Hej OP, my first tour back in the day was from Sweden to Spain on a Monark 5-speed Jubileum. It was fine even crossing the Pyrenees. Great memories.
3-speed is absolutely doable, 3 gears = Uphill, Downhill and Flat

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Old 01-11-16, 06:41 AM
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Of course you could tour on it, people tour on singlespeeds. How strenuous you'll find it depends entirely on the terrain, so if you're in your local area you'll do fine.

Were you to be tackling serious climbs I'd suggest looking for a more purpose-built touring bike, but since this is your first tour I'd advise sticking with what you have for now, and using that first experience to guide you towards what you might like for the longer term.
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Old 01-11-16, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tigerkiller12
I live in southern Sweden (Skåne) where it's pretty flat and kinda windy. This would be my first tour and I'm going alone self supported (camping e.t.c.). Any further information you would like to know?
Try some short tours on it and see how you get on. Talk to other cycle tourists along the way about the kind of bikes they use. After a time you will get an idea of the type of bike that will suit you and what's available in your locality. Maybe find a bike shop that caters for touring and check out what they have available.
Take your time before buying and don't be afraid to spend a little extra for quality.
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Old 01-11-16, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tigerkiller12
I live in southern Sweden (Skåne) where it's pretty flat and kinda windy. This would be my first tour and I'm going alone self supported (camping e.t.c.). Any further information you would like to know?
You have a very beautiful city. Where you are, a a three speed should be fine. Of course you could tour anywhere with a three speed, knowing you may have to walk the bike up very long steep hills. Keep your load reasonable and you should be fine.

The wind will be a factor since you are fairly upright on the bike, but I'm sure you have dealt with that if you've been riding there for a while.

Enjoy!
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Old 01-11-16, 11:26 AM
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I've did plenty of touring here in the States, single speed. A lot depends on how good of shape you are in to start with and how much you decide to push it. Get in shape and a 3 speed bike is totally fine for touring. If you were to start off without ever having ridden in years I wouldn't suggest it by a long shot. Get yourself up to doing the daily miles you would be looking to ride during the tour. Just remember the number one factor...there is a difference between riding loaded versus unloaded. Try best to even simulate the loaded down by riding with extra weight on the bike.

Like has been said above start off slowly and do some overnighters to get a feel for things and for that matter to see what you can leave at home. People take so much stuff with them that they don't need/ever use its incredible. It always sounds nice to take the stuff with you but when you get back from a long trip and see you never even used it(non bike tools/bike parts) all you can do is kick yourself for it. That's why you weed that stuff out early by seeing what you can live without while on a bike trip. If you don't need/use it on a short bike trip(non bike tools/bike parts) then more than likely you won't be using on a much longer tour. Granted clothing can change depending on the weather for when you will be going on the trip but I'm not necessarily talking about clothing but other items.
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Old 01-11-16, 11:59 AM
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I've ridden around town on a 3 speed. No problem. For touring, I'd prefer more gears, but it really depends on fitness, the area you're riding, the amount of gear your carrying.
This guy is riding around on two speeds: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=16351&v=Qw
And no shortage of gear, I think.

If you're bike won't take a derailler, that doesn't mean you're stuck with 3 speeds, either. Most bikes that can do a 3 speed hub, can also run hubs with more than 3 gears. I don't know the particulars of your bike, but unless it is very odd, you should be able to replace that 3 speed wheel with another hub that has more gears. Shimano, Sturmey Archer, and, I thought, Sram have an 8 speed (Sram site not showing the 8 speed at first glance). Shimano has an 11 speed. Rohloff has a 14 speed. And Nuvinci has an "infinite" speed (although in terms of range, I think it's most comparable to the Shimano Alfine 11).

I have a Shimano 8 speed and a Nuvinci. I've used the Nuvinci on some short tours, and, going forward, I expect to be using the 8 speed. I had, at one point, considered a Schlumpf Speed Drive to give me an extra gear at the front, but I'm finding the 8 speed to be pretty capable so far, so I will likely leave it alone for now.

Good luck.
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Old 01-11-16, 12:22 PM
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My dad and his friends rode New England as teenagers in the depression on English 3-speeds. I don't know if what they did would be considered "touring" but I am willing to bet they rode the bikes loaded. (And one of my dad's buddies most certainly rode New Hampshire's hills carrying things that were never meant to see a bike. I never saw evidence of this, but I worked with him in my college days on a crazy project so I know - if it can be done and the idea is simply outrageous, he has tried it.)

Ben
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Old 01-11-16, 12:36 PM
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As has been said in this thread, three speed touring can be done, and has been done! And it sounds like the OP will be doing touring in a flattish region, so you're not going to need a super-low gear. (Though I can't help you with the wind!)

One bit of advice (to the OP or anyone considering three speed touring) is you should try to get as low of a low gear as possible, which means getting a larger rear cog. Just be careful to not get too big a gear, as Sturmey-Archer, Shimano, and SRAM don't recommend anything lower than a 2:1 ratio. On my Raleigh Wayfarer three speed, I have a 46 tooth chainring in front and a 23 tooth cog in back, which is right at that 2:1 ratio. This gives me on a Sturmey-Archer AW hub a low of around 39 gear inches. For comparison, many modern touring bikes have a low gear somewhere between 15 and 20 gear-inches for mountain climbs. So a three speed hub is never going to be a great climber, but for shorter and not severely steep climbs, it works.

Last year I did a three day tour on my three speed in the Driftless Region of SW Wisconsin. Part of it was on rail-trails, but the Driftless Region is notorious for its relatively short yet relatively steep hills. I hit a few grades of up to 8% for a mile or so, and I still managed to climb with a loaded bike OK.

So @tigerkiller12, try out touring with your three speed! And if some point you want to get more in touring, you can always consider getting a different bike. Or not.



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Old 01-11-16, 03:23 PM
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Thanks everybody for the motivation and mindful advice! I now know that you really don't need that much of a bike if you're touring. I'll be trying some overnight tours with my bike and testing out the experience before thinking of upgrading. This could even be an eye-opener to see if touring suits me or not. Excuse my English as Arabic is my main language. Thanks again for all of your advice! I will be heading out as soon as the snow melts. Thanks alot!

///I'm gonna do a follow-up for any of you interested, just bookmark my blog (I rarely post anything unnecessary).
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Old 01-12-16, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by tigerkiller12
Thanks everybody for the motivation and mindful advice! I now know that you really don't need that much of a bike if you're touring. I'll be trying some overnight tours with my bike and testing out the experience before thinking of upgrading. This could even be an eye-opener to see if touring suits me or not. Excuse my English as Arabic is my main language. Thanks again for all of your advice! I will be heading out as soon as the snow melts. Thanks alot!

///I'm gonna do a follow-up for any of you interested, just bookmark my blog (I rarely post anything unnecessary).
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Your written English is excellent and I'd never have thought it wasn't your first language.

Best of luck with the touring.
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Old 01-12-16, 04:30 PM
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Good luck with your touring.

There is a lot of country to explore with fairly nice terrain close to home: Denmark and northern Germany.

Have fun!
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Old 01-23-16, 10:26 AM
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Absolutely! I do it routinely. Couple of tricks I have learned along the way. If you are using the Sturmey-Archer AW hub the ratios aren't the greatest for wide ranges. I carry 2-3 cogs, a few links of chain and some quick connects. I carry a 24t, 20t, 18t cogs. If I am going to be on flat lands I use the 18t, if I am going to be doing a lot of climbing I swap in the 24t. My usual cog is a 22t or a 20t on most of my three speeds. It takes just a few minutes to swap things around. If all else fails getting off and walking a steep hill gives the leg muscles a break.

Multi gear bikes are fine, nothing wrong with them. Just prefer my three speeds.

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Old 01-23-16, 10:54 AM
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Yes you can tour on a three speed. I once met a dutchman who had ridden his three speed, which he said he found in the dump, from the Netherlands to Nord Cap at the top of Norway . There are other people who have ridden around the world on three speeds.
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Old 01-23-16, 11:01 AM
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Silly, silly, silly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-23-16, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc
..If you are using the Sturmey-Archer AW hub the ratios aren't the greatest for wide ranges. I carry 2-3 cogs, a few links of chain and some quick connects. I carry a 24t, 20t, 18t cogs. If I am going to be on flat lands I use the 18t, if I am going to be doing a lot of climbing I swap in the 24t. My usual cog is a 22t or a 20t on most of my three speeds. It takes just a few minutes to swap things around...
Since we're on this topic, Aaron, have you ever tried to put two cogs on at once? I've heard it's possible. As long as the difference between number of teeth on the cogs is 4 or less, like a 18t cog and 22t cog, you can get away with using the same chain, you'd just need to move the wheel in the dropouts. At least, that's what I've been told...
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Old 01-23-16, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox
Silly, silly, silly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But squeezebox, think of all the weight savings you have when you have only three speeds. All those other gears add weight, dont'cha know? Three speeding is the ultimate touring!

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Old 01-23-16, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox
Silly, silly, silly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nope! Nope! Nope! YMMV and obviously many folks have great ideas that apply to them. Good that BF allows for diversity. Imagine what this world would be like if everyone had YOUR opinion.
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Old 01-23-16, 11:31 AM
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Didn't Dervla Murphy ride from Ireland to Afghanistan on a three speed?

Last edited by ironwood; 01-23-16 at 11:31 AM. Reason: capitalization
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Old 01-23-16, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tigerkiller12
Hello, I have a Monark Philip which is a road bike with an internal geared hub. I have always loved commuting by bike and recently discovered touring. I've been looking around for upgrades I can do for my bike to conduct my first tour and the first thing I thought about was upgrading to a derailleur system but that proved to be impossible as my bike does not support it. Have any of you ever toured with 3 gears?
Certainly possible, but why limit yourself to only 3 speeds? There are lots of internal gear hubs with more than 3 speeds such as the Shimano 8 and 11-speed hubs, Rohloff 14 speed (albeit much more expensive), SA 5 speed, Nuvinci 360 (continuously variable), etc.
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