Sturmey-Archer race bike

RedAende Posts: 158
edited September 2007 in Road beginners
Children of the '70's will have grown up with Raleigh Commandos and Raleigh Choppers before progressing to a 3 speed sturmey Raleigh racer, unless they were really lucky and had a massive 5 speed deraileur racer, how impressive 5 gears were.

My question;

Got an old 531 road bike and was thinking of building a single speed (probably not fixed) for commuting. I currently commute on a slick tyred mountain bike and only ever use 3 gears. Commute is mainly on canal towpath and bike gets really dirt. However I do have a couple of short steep tarmac hills which put me off single speed/fixed.

I see Sturmey-Archer are now making 3,5,7 speed hubs, which would reduce maintenance and still give me some gearing.

a) Has anyone tried this ?
b) is it a great idea ?
c) am i barking up the wrong tree ?


Red Aende, Red Spesh Hardrock, Wine Mercian, Rusty Flying Scot


  • buddha
    buddha Posts: 1,088
    I (sometimes) have a Sturmey Archer 5 speed hub on my Pompino.
    For commuting purposes it's okay. Low maintainence and no rear mech to be fouled with twigs and the like.

    However I have a problem with the shifting. Namely that it aint that good.
    For example you have to coast while you change gear, which can take a few seconds with the poor twist-grip shifter. So changing gear on a climb means you loose some momentum.
    Although a trigger style shifter is available, I think.

    For the last 3 weeks I've gone back to riding SS, as it's more 'enjoyable' :) and I don't have to worry about what gear I should be in, or would like to be in !!!

    BTW I bought the hub (an XRF5, which came with shifter and cables) for around £40, brand new, on ebay. So a bargin compared to the RRP.

    edit: re the SS bit and short steep hills. I used to have a 48/22 setup, and struggled on some of these hills (surrey/kent area, some are 1/5). So ran a 42t chainring for a couple of weeks. Having found this too spinny on the flat I reverted back to the 48t chainring. And "low and behold" I can now ride these hills in the higher gear! I'm a relative newbie (and no lightweight :oops: ). So there's probably something to learn from that.
    Having said all that, I'm currently looking for a 'conventional' geared bike. You can;t have too many bikes!
    <center><font size="1"><font color="navy">Lardy</font id="navy"><font color="blue"> | </font id="blue"><font color="navy">Madame de Pompadour</font id="navy"></font id="size1"></center>
  • Nothing wrong with a SA 3spd for commuting. I still use a 1935 version on my old Humber for shopping trips into town and for a few leisure rides. I accept the gear spread is not great but it is adequate for around town and moderate inclines.
    Why not get a hub and controls from a recycled bike and build the hub into another rim (if you are going the 700C route). I did this for someone many years ago and it worked fine.

    Cheers, Phil
  • Why not get a hub and controls from a recycled bike and build the hub into another rim (if you are going the 700C route).

    Cheers, Phil

    700c or maybe even 27 x 1 rims I have . Plenty of clearance on frame for muddies/rack.

    Red Aende, Red Spesh Hardrock, Wine Mercian, Rusty Flying Scot
  • I once had a folding bike with the SA 5 speed hub (about seven years ago) and it was rather good apart from the need for frequent adjustment, although the gear adjustment could be done with your fingers. (The 3 speed hub requires far less adjustment.) Indeed the rest of the bike eventually fell apart (frame rusted at the hinge, rear wheel buckled, bar hinge mechanism bent, etc.) but the hub gear continued to work perfectly!

    Personally I found little difference between gear changing whilst coasting and the naughty occasional gear change whilst pedalling (does it actually damage the hub or are SA just covering themselves if it does?), and gear changes didn't seem that slow unless the hub was out of adjustment. I should perhaps have kept the 5 speed hub when the bike went to the skip, but there again I now want a wider ratio hub for use with 700C wheels.

    I'm now considering a hub gear for my next bike, though it will be one of the new 8 speed models or perhaps the just-released SRAM 9 speed hub.