Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Carlton green
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Re: Three Speed Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Carlton green » 9 Jan 2020, 12:46am

Thank you all for the additional insights and experiences, they’re very helpful.

As captured from the experience of others it seems like the gear range selection should be for one cruising gear and two lower ones. With that in mind I noted that a 24T SA ring (HSL876) is now available (SJS Bikes and eBay/practical cycles) and anticipate using one of those in due course with a standard size front ring (say 44T for a top gear in the mid to heigh sixties). Going fast at some point in my journeys isn’t my object - I’d pick a taller gear if it was. My objects are to make sufficiently good progress, to make steady progress, to cycle up most hills and to (be enabled to) keep going at a sustainable and comfortable pace.

I’ve just discovered that over many years Heinz Stücke toured the world on a 3 speed bike so I guess that that illustrates what’s possible: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Stücke .

Edit. I altered the thread tittle (by adding in ‘day rides’) to better reflect all of what I had intended the thread to include. I hope that the thread is useful to somebody else too later, and the additional words in tittle might just help them to find it.

Sid Aluminium
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Sid Aluminium » 10 Jan 2020, 10:33pm

May 8, 1955: mix of hub gear & derailleur machines

https://youtu.be/QPkT0paGEnQ

Throughout the 1930s derailleur and hub gear machines competed even up, same rules, on UK roads. By the start of the War, all the important records were held by riders using hub gears (my man Sid Ferris' end-to-end stood for 21 years).

http://www.sturmey-archerheritage.com/i ... il&id=1283

Tommy Godwin did alright with his 3- and 4-speed Sturmey geared bikes:

http://www.tommygodwin.com/

Americans pretending to be British:

https://3speedtour.com/

richardfm
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby richardfm » 10 Jan 2020, 11:48pm

Carlton green wrote:... My current hub gear is a five speed that I’ve very happily used for many years, so I am a hub hear ‘fan’. My Sach hub would probably still be running in a few decades but, as parts are effectively no longer available, the practicality of its further use is in question...


If it aint broke why fix it?

Carlton green
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Carlton green » 11 Jan 2020, 1:25pm

richardfm wrote:
Carlton green wrote:... My current hub gear is a five speed that I’ve very happily used for many years, so I am a hub hear ‘fan’. My Sach hub would probably still be running in a few decades but, as parts are effectively no longer available, the practicality of its further use is in question...


If it aint broke why fix it?


Good question, though I hope that it will not divert the thread.

Basically I feel like I’m one accident or breakdown away from a scrapped hub and that’s giving me concern - someone else wouldn’t have my concerns and would manage things better. If I spoke German and if I thought that rapid sourcing of old spares from there would be a practical proposition then I wouldn’t be considering the change. However, from a purely practical perspective, I’m looking towards the long term and hence a possible shift to the SA 3 speed at a time that suits me rather than one potentially thrust thrust upon me.

Yes, IMHO, a good five speed hub is a better proposition then a three speed but five speed hubs are arguably now not readily available and/or not adequately supported. After discussions here a three speed unit appears to be a sufficiently practical proposition for my intended use; the gearing range is tolerable and these hubs have a reputation for being reliable. In short it’s a pragmatic choice for the long term.

colin54
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby colin54 » 11 Jan 2020, 2:41pm

This 3-speed fan posts pictures of him and his friends on day rides around the North West,they look like they're enjoying themselves.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/3speedbik ... pedinarian
There's also a U.S Society of Three Speeds site which is quite interesting.

https://societyofthreespeeds.wordpress.com/

Sid Aluminium
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Sid Aluminium » 11 Jan 2020, 3:22pm

Carlton green wrote:Yes, IMHO, a good five-speed hub is a better proposition then a three-speed but five-speed hubs are arguably now not readily available and/or not adequately supported.


I don't want to argue and I certainly don't want to take what you've said out of context. However, I would like to assure everyone the Sturmey-Archer 5-speed hub is alive and well in 2020. I retrofitted one onto my three-speed about a year ago to answer a question a couple of hills were asking.

IMGP0727.jpg

Carlton green
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Carlton green » 12 Jan 2020, 4:59am

Sid Aluminium wrote:
I don't want to argue and I certainly don't want to take what you've said out of context. However, I would like to assure everyone the Sturmey-Archer 5-speed hub is alive and well in 2020. I retrofitted one onto my three-speed about a year ago to answer a question a couple of hills were asking.



I’ve no issue with the general reminder and am pleased for you that you have found a solution to your particular question and situation (small wheel bike with possibly limited drop-out width). Despite a bad experience with the early SA five speed hub I did investigate them again a while back. To me it seemed that the product available was not sufficiently likely to prove reliable, the number of variations and iterations confused matters, and the supply of spare parts was questionable. Of course I might be being over cautious and the ‘new’ SA 5 speed will doubtless do a job for many people, but the alternatives seem a better ‘bet’ for my particular needs.

Prior to this thread I was resigned to going back to a five speed derailleur - I have a small stash of old but suitable parts - but it seems that the old (basically Nottingham) 3 speed hub will do a job for me, there appear to be plenty of new and used spares on eBay too. Hills do ask questions but these days I’m happy enough to walk some and I have other bikes for when I really do need to be able to climb nearly everything on route.

It’s been interesting to hear folk speak out about the old 3 speed hub, it seems like they have been a great enabler - maybe not a perfect solution (that’s s Roff?) but certainly affordable, reliable and rather useful. Examples of further uses and adaptions, and views on more pro’s and con’s, etc, etc, would be most welcome. The more information the better.

Greystoke
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Greystoke » 12 Jan 2020, 8:43am

As Brucey has pointed out numerous times the issue with the SA 5 speeds hubs is mainly due to poorly designed gear shifters.
It's a pity they (SA) can't properly resolve this.

cycle tramp
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby cycle tramp » 12 Jan 2020, 3:01pm

Towards the end of 2014, I swapped a nu-Vinci 360 hub and roller brake, for a S.A. 3 speed hub with a 90mm drum brake, and in 2015 I had a number of memorable day rides and enjoyed an unloaded 2 day tour with organised by Sustrans from Bath to Bournemouth...
...during the tour i adopted a different approach to tackling hills to those using multi-speed systems and would rush at the hill in top gear as I approached its base. Momentum would then carry me forward, as I passed alot of other cyclists who had kept the same cadence and had simply changed down. However once my own cadence had dropped below 65 rpm , I then changed down to second, and then, if I had to, third and then I was off the bike marching to the top of the hill....
... one would think that by this time I would be at the rear of the group, but strangely i found i was not. Indeed at the end of the first day, there was a climb into Shaftesbury and using my approach I was the fourth person out of the group to make the climb...
..of course some hills and slopes weren't as long, and a couple of times I even crested the smaller hills in second gear, at a much higher speed than many of those using multi-speed transmissions..

Sadly, it wasn't the hills which caused any issues, but the headwinds. Sedgemoor, Somerset is one of the flatist parts of the country there is, and as a result we get alot of high winds - and on some of these days a gear between my top (69 inches) and middle (52 inches) would have been most welcome. After struggling against high winds in either a too high or too low gear I gave up and in the middle of 2016, fitted a 70mm drum brake with a five speed freewheel and deraileur - thus providing my much needed middle gear, and an additional lower gear. Equally it also meant that if I had an issue with my transmission I could probably replace it at very little cost by visiting a bike shop or even halfords.

Carlton green
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Carlton green » 12 Jan 2020, 9:34pm

Thanks @cycletramp for that insight into three speed hub use. As with all tools it’s important to understand how best to use them and I suspect that there’s a degree of technique involved in using a three speed hub to best effect.

For solo (non group) riding a 69 inch gear would typically be fractionally too tall to me (little to no torque left in reserve) and particularly so for riding into a head wind, but finding a happy compromise is never be easy and sometimes it’s just not possible. Your later move to a five speed derailleur seems logical enough too; it reminds me that a 14 - 28 block with a small ring (IIRC 42T) worked quite nicely for me as a simple transitional set-up (whilst I was figuring out double rings) ... but I’ll be going the SA route for now.

Thanks again for the pointer on 3 speed hub use technique(s), very useful. Similar from other riders would be helpful too.

Edit. On a separate thread I came across some helpfully overlapping comments about their past use of 3 speed hubs. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=134855&start=15#p1433420 . This comment from the same thread about cadence is also interesting: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=134855&start=15#p1433379 , I’ll just accept riding slower to not overspin.

Edit. Whilst reading a separate topic elsewhere I was reminded of my brief past experience of the 3 speed hub some decades past. I put a large sprocket on the back but I think that there was a (as originally supplied) 46 or 48 on the front. 2nd gear was for starting off on level-ish ground and for lesser inclines, 3rd gear was for progressing along broadly level roads (ie. moving but not necessarily quickly + typically the most used gear) and first gear was for hills - until I got off and pushed. So three distinct gears for three separate states.

I now think that spinning to get into the next gear up is pointless ‘cause the gaps are too wide for that (so you get tired). It’s best to just make slower progress in a gear and at a sustainable cadence that works for you, you reach your destination eventually but the way of doing it requires a big shift in mentality. To an extent, with the three speed hub, we are talking about a form of basic cycling that’s not optimal (many more gear ratios are need for that) but it’s simple, reliable and rather a lot better than walking (it’s say three and more times the speed and you can carry loads/goods with much less effort).
Last edited by Carlton green on 15 Jan 2020, 5:56pm, edited 1 time in total.

cycle tramp
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby cycle tramp » 14 Jan 2020, 7:58pm

Carlton green wrote:Thanks @cycletramp for that insight into three speed hub use.

For solo (non group) riding a 69 inch gear would typically be fractionally too tall to me (little to no torque left in reserve) and particularly so for riding into a head wind, but finding a happy compromise is never be easy and sometimes it’s just not possible.

Your later move to a five speed derailleur seems logical enough too; it reminds me that a 14 - 28 block with a small ring (IIRC 42T) worked quite nicely for me as a simple transitional set-up (whilst I was figuring out double rings) ... but I’ll be going the SA route for now.

.


You're welcome..

....in regards to your comment about reducing the highest gear down from 69 inches, I thought that too.... at one point I even went as low as 63 inches (36 teeth on the front 22 on the rear) but became absolutely frustrated with my progress, on the flat with a wind behind me.... also tried a middle gear of 63 but it placed the highest gear out of use for all but the idealist of conditions (wind from behind, flat road) and made the low gear not very helpful....

Admittedly I had fitted my 3 speed to an expedition weight steel frame, with an upright riding position, front and rear racks and 1.75 inch tyres...
...perhaps if I used a lighter frame, thinner tyres, lost the front rack and used handle bars which allowed you to change positions to reduce my wind resistance then the gap between my high and middle gears may not have felt so prominent.

...Emotionally I am still drawn to the 3 speed hub.... its classical purity, simplicity and elegance, but I could never make it work..
....and thus i returned once more to the 5 speed freewheel, despite having left it in 2002- ignoring its ugliness and brutality and need for attention, simply because of the feel of it, its power and seduction

...oh God, I feel so dirty....

>Cough<

Er, as you were ladies and gentlemen, as you were.

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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Vorpal » 15 Jan 2020, 9:53am

Sid Aluminium wrote: I retrofitted one onto my three-speed about a year ago to answer a question a couple of hills were asking.

That's a nice turn of phrase.
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mjr
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby mjr » 15 Jan 2020, 10:57am

Carlton green wrote:Thanks again for the pointer on 3 speed hub use technique(s), very useful. Similar from other riders would be helpful too.

Charging the hill by spinning up the top gear as you approach and downshifting before you hit red will work for short hits, especially if there's a downhill approach, but for some of the long slopes around here of a half mile or mile, and some of the few shorter steeper, I prefer to plod into the bottom, shift down early and try to keep a lowish steady cadence all the way up, varying the effort not the cadence. The climbs here are mostly not steep but are onto chalk ridges so have a bad habit of steepening just before the brow, which can be too much if you charged the foot of the hill, put you irretrievably "into the red" and leave you walking the rest.

I now think that spinning to get into the next gear up is pointless ‘cause the gaps are too wide for that (so you get tired).

Not always, but you do need to be able to really really spin fast before it's worthwhile, else it'll leave you mashing pointlessly with your speed slowly dieing off.

To an extent, with the three speed hub, we are talking about a form of basic cycling that’s not optimal (many more gear ratios are need for that) but it’s simple, reliable and rather a lot better than walking (it’s say three and more times the speed and you can carry loads/goods with much less effort).

It depends what you're trying to optimise. Less time in the shed replacing chains or tending finickity derailleurs with their more precise cable tension and indexing, and more time cycling - is pretty optimal by some measures ;)
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Carlton green
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby Carlton green » 15 Jan 2020, 8:56pm

@ Cycle Tramp. “Admittedly I had fitted my 3 speed to an expedition weight steel frame, with an upright riding position, front and rear racks and 1.75 inch tyres...
...perhaps if I used a lighter frame, thinner tyres, lost the front rack and used handle bars which allowed you to change positions to reduce my wind resistance then the gap between my high and middle gears may not have felt so prominent.”


To my mind such an arrangement is asking a bit much of a 3 speed hub and the proposed possible changes would be my direction of travel too ... might keep the front rack though. Drop or less upright handlebars would, I think, make a positive difference too, particularly when riding into headwinds.

Edit. ( I’ve been thinking about gearing a lot. My objective is to be able to sustain the best practical average speed and part of doing that means not having to get off and push. One also has to both understand the limited gear spread of a three speed and accept the loss of the overdrive and granny gears one has on a derailleur set-up.

I’m favouring a top gear that spins out a bit earlier but let’s me continue to use it into a slight headwind and up a slight gradient, that being a way of maintaining a higher average speed though the sacrifice is highest achievable speed. That’s a trade off between having to drop down into (much slower) second gear and having a top gear that doesn’t max your possible instantaneous speed but instead allows you to stay in (a flexible ) top gear when a light headwind or slight rise occurs - faster overall progress through avoiding a (wide spaced) change down. As an addition the lower top gear links to having a lower bottom and that in turn allows much better speed than walking; first isn’t that low and having to get off and walk is both likely (to happen) and when it does it will it knock a big hole in your average speed. In terms of maxing instantaneous speed up a hill a very low bottom isn’t ideal, but the average speed losses incurred by walking (when you have to) are much greater than the marginal gains of a slightly higher gear matched to slightly less steep hills. )


@ mjr . Thank you, I would agree with all of your points and this morning I was thinking what a nice match your Kingpin and the three speed hub were. I should have clarified my earlier post to make clear that I was thinking about hub gears with many ratios rather than derailleur gears. My experience with my Sach 5 Speed Hub has been very positive, compared to a derailleur it has needed virtually no maintenance, the wheel has stayed true whilst derailleur geared ones tend not to and cleaning is something that I rarely need to do, whereas derailleur gears are dirt magnets. Yep, hub gears leave lots more time for riding ... and chains last ages too.

With building a wheel in mind I have a couple of loose (not in a wheel) SA hub gears which I need to inspect and then service as best I can. Their current state of repair is unknown, they are second hand and I’ve had them for decades (speculative purchases). The hubs are hidden outside within my stash of bike parts but as far as I know they are Nottingham AW’s. A few issues loom:

# The drop outs into which the hub will go are 120 mm but the standard SA is for a 110 mm drop-out and has a ‘short’ 5&3/4” axle. Do I need to obtain a longer axle (for my wider drop-outs) and if so what variant? 6&1/4” HSA 108 or 6&13/32” HSA 370 or what?

Edit. By my measurements and calculations the 5&3/4” axle is roughly 5mm too short for my bike, the original alternatively longer HSA108 is no longer available so I’ve ordered a HSA370.

# I’m uncertain how far a hub can be stripped when it’s not in a wheel and if it’s an issue how might I manage it, etc. ?

Edit. It’s likely harder but a hub can be striped outside of a wheel. The body has to be held in a vice (use soft jaws and hold next to the drive side flange) and the thread ball ring un-screwed from the body. The traditional (soft) punch and hammer method failed for me on both bulbs but on the older of the two a peg spanner and extension tube torqued the ball ring out nicely. I tried hard and for a couple of hours with the newer dated hub but ended up scrapping it for parts by sawing through the body to get at the internals, for the later hubs there is a special SA tool with rounded nibs but it’s £30 plus - an eBay seller sells a variety of nib-ed tools to suit various models at a much better price.

Edit. I got the hub apart and back together with the help of on-line videos. Gained a lot of insight and ended up slightly varying the reassembly procedure for my particular older hub. It occurs to me that clamping the hub in a vice to unscrew the ball-ring from the body is a poor (if only) solution, the hub distorts slightly and grips the threads of the part you’re trying to remove. Next time instead of fibre ‘soft’ jaws I will try wooden pieces with a shallow wide V cut in them and an old inner tube on the hub. That should spread and relive the amount of pressure required to gripe/secure the hub, hopefully the ball ring will then rotate out easier.

The reassembled hub tests really nicely on the bench. However for the long term support (primarily new long axle availability) I’d currently prefer to hold that old pre NIG hub as a spare and to buy something more modern (but still second hand) off of eBay.

# I’ll doubtless need some replacement parts but aren’t sure who are the better sources of supply are (ie. comprehensive range of parts at competitive prices). So far SJS, Practical Cycles and Holland Bike Shop look like potential suppliers. Please, does anyone have any recommendations ?
Last edited by Carlton green on 29 Jan 2020, 2:01pm, edited 4 times in total.

John Holiday
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Re: Three Speed Day Rides and Touring, how long and how far.

Postby John Holiday » 17 Jan 2020, 2:59pm

Am amazed that more people don't use hub gears.
Amongst my bike collection, mostly with hub gears,have a couple of early 20th century Swifts with SA 3 speed hubs ,still giving good service.
A bit high geared for steeper hills,but guess the riders were fitter when these bikes were new!
Have graduated to Rohloff for touring, which takes some beating