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any 5sp commuter?

PepPep Posts: 501
edited February 2013 in Commuting general
But I'll soon need to change both my commuting bike (too old) and my commute (changing job and house).

Commute will be urban, flat, possible as far as 20miles each way (depend where we end up living....not decided yet...)

I don't like single speed, but I'm not happy to go for 27sp either. Is there any bike that I can have "few" speeds, say 3-7 only? ie, not front mech?
That would perhaps be only slightly cheaper, but sure less hassle to service...


  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    It is a sound concept; I had a 5spd "racer".
    Modern 8spd chains have a lot of lateral flex and really need a chainkeepr at the front. I used an old front mech but with no cable.
    You are better off with a freehub wheel and they take 8/9speed cassette.

    Sturmey Archer make some nice 3 speed hubs.
  • PepPep Posts: 501
    Freehub wheel do you mean hub gear?
    I did consider hub gear, but ruled yet, reason is I have no clue how to service/clean it etc, would have to go through the hassle of learn it etc.
    I hear different stories on how "maintanance free" hub gears are. Personally, I find hard to believe they could be maintanance free, maybe I'm wrong...
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    5 speed bikes use a screw-on freewheel. 8(+) speed Shimano hubs put the freewheel ratchet in the hub and the cogs slide over the freehub splines. Freehubs are stronger, easier to service and generally more reliable.

    Internal Gear Hubs are a good option. My Shimano Alfine 8 speed is almost 5 yrs old. In regular use you need to do little maintenance. I started doing an oil dip after 2 years and the hub was clean inside. People run them with no messing around, on original lube for many years. They run much cleaner than derailleur gears, picking up less dirt. Apart from oiling the chain, I don't touch my hub between oil dips every year or 2.
  • The three speed Sturmey Archer hub gear is an ideal commuting gear set-up, especially for flat or mildly rolling terrain, the maintenance time and costs and cleaning requirements are tiny. They only need a strip down and regrease periodically and there is plenty of info on the net about how: it is not rocket science, I could do it by the age of 12!

    However they are usually found on rather heavy and slow 'upright' bikes not designed or suitable for longer commutes. If you have a good frame with horizontal dropouts you could build yourself/have built a drop bar three speed commuter, add SA drum brakes and you will hardly ever need to do anything to the bike except oil the chain and pump up the tyres. SA also do a 5 speed hub gear, but the 3 is lighter and less fussy about gear cable adjustment. Also the more gears, the more complex the hub internals and the more likely they are to need special tools. My first drop bar bike, a boys Hercules Hustler, had a 3 speed SA hub, but I never really appreciated how good it was until after when using derailleur geared bikes to commute.

    SRAM and Shimano also do 3 speed hubs but Sturmey Archer spares distribution appears better.

    Now I have a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear commuter, but I need the gear range for the hills in my area. I have only opened it up twice to add a bit of oil to the grease and it is still running fine after 2.5 years, but if I lived in a non hilly area a 3 speed would be my first choice.

    Alternatively if you prefer derailleurs then build yourself something with a single speed chainset up front with 'bash guards' inside and outside of the chainring and an 8 speed rear set-up: the distinction others are trying to make is that you are better off with a 'freehub' at the rear, where the sprockets come as a cassette which can be slid off the freewheeling device and replaced separately, rather than a 'freewheel' where the sprockets and freewheel device are built as one unit. Also the axle on quick release freewheel hubs can be a weak point due to the drive side bearing being positioned too far inboard.

    Freehub cassettes are usually 8 speed plus, though there are 7 speed ones, freewheels are 5-7 speed only. I would go for 8 speed to get the best compromise of availability and durability, 9 speed and above systems do not last as well as everything (sprockets and chain) is made thinner to cram it in the same space and 7 speed uses the same dimensions as 8 speed but is less common. 9 speed rear derailleurs will shift an 8 speed set-up as they use the same cable pull, the indexing is governed by the gear shifter. With 8 speed you can have road or MTB STI type shiters, or MTB pod shifters, bar end shifters or even down tube shifters if you must. In general they are less expensive than 9+ speed shifters. Of course the cheapest shifter, derailleur, hub, frame, etc., is the one you already have... this leads to another question: what is wrong with the current bike and can you not repair/service and re-configure it to meet your idea of a simpler set-up?
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