Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

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mjr
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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby mjr » 25 May 2020, 4:56pm

Mike Sales wrote:I suspect that you are right, but the cable/hub connection is vulnerable on SA hubs, and on others I expect.

It's a chain into a tube, often with a hard plastic protector cap. You can plough fields with it and it'll often still work (DAMHIK) when a derailleur would be scattered across the crops. How is it vulnerable and what to?

Adjustment often gives problems too, like groin to top tube impacts.

Not in the last 20+ years of hubs, but even before that, adjustment is simply twirling an adjuster until the rod end is level with the axle end seen through a hole in the nut. It's amazing so many people don't know how to do that and don't bother to look it up, instead doing the sort of trial and error bodging that derailleur setup requires.

Neglect and abuse are always a problem. I see many childrens' bikes with faulty brakes. Perhaps a fixed is the most child proof?

Maybe. One of my young relatives has just started riding fixed. Her father has expressed worries about it so I expect I'll hear how she fares :-)
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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Mike Sales » 25 May 2020, 5:14pm

mjr wrote:
Mike Sales wrote:I suspect that you are right, but the cable/hub connection is vulnerable on SA hubs, and on others I expect.

It's a chain into a tube, often with a hard plastic protector cap. You can plough fields with it and it'll often still work (DAMHIK) when a derailleur would be scattered across the crops. How is it vulnerable and what to?

Adjustment often gives problems too, like groin to top tube impacts.

Not in the last 20+ years of hubs, but even before that, adjustment is simply twirling an adjuster until the rod end is level with the axle end seen through a hole in the nut. It's amazing so many people don't know how to do that and don't bother to look it up, instead doing the sort of trial and error bodging that derailleur setup requires.

Neglect and abuse are always a problem. I see many childrens' bikes with faulty brakes. Perhaps a fixed is the most child proof?

Maybe. One of my young relatives has just started riding fixed. Her father has expressed worries about it so I expect I'll hear how she fares :-)


I have worked as a bike mechanic and seen many indicator chains broken by impact, many without the plastic cover. Most intact ones needed adjustment, and you know that can lead to watering eyes.
As you point out, few seem to know how to do it, though it is easy, just as most neglected bike adjustments are. Neither system is proof against ignorance and neglect.
I wonder if index derailleur systems are more prone to problems from ignorance, though easier to use when adjusted.
The fixed suggestion was a little tongue in cheek, I'm afraid.
You are probably right that hub gears are a little more resistant to abuse, but bikes will never be immune to it.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby millimole » 25 May 2020, 6:22pm

lbomaak2 wrote:This thread has reminded me of the Tin Can Ten, for which I have just found the website: http://bikejumbles.co.uk/tincanten/index.html . I had to look in the results pages to ascertain that I had participated twice, with a DNF in 1992 and a reasonable time (for me) in 1996. [The only competitive cycling that I have ever done was very occasional appearances at the Loughborough Phoenix Wednesday evening time trials, and these two Tin Can Tens over the same course.]

It appears from the website that the Tin Can Ten was last held in 2017. Does anyone know more about this?
Thanks for that - it appears I participated twice in 95 & 97, although I really can only remember the once!
It's the only competive cycling I've ever done, and it's good to see my name immortalised.
I remember it as a very friendly event and it brought out the 'pros', the 'enthusiasts', the duffers (me) and the very odd (a Pashley GPO Bike, with rider in uniform!). I seem to remember that there was participation from the Raleigh factory, but that might be a false memory.
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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Tinnishill » 25 May 2020, 8:54pm

Is there much accumulated experience, yet, of the Sturmey C50 5 speed, rotary changer, hubs ? I think they have been available about 5 or 6 years now ? They were initial promised to be a bit more robust than previous 5 speeds. How did that turn out ? I don't think I have ever actually seen one.
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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Brucey » 25 May 2020, 11:04pm

Tinnishill wrote:Is there much accumulated experience, yet, of the Sturmey C50 5 speed, rotary changer, hubs ? I think they have been available about 5 or 6 years now ? They were initial promised to be a bit more robust than previous 5 speeds. How did that turn out ? I don't think I have ever actually seen one.


one of the few I have been inside has been broken. It looked as if it had been used whilst poorly adjusted, for quite a long time. The thumbshifter has the same problems as the previous thumbshifter that goes with the (W) five speed hub. I wrote this up in a post in the technical section.

These hubs were announced in about 2015 but none I've seen have been made before 2016, making the oldest of them about four years old.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Carlton green » 26 May 2020, 9:11am

I might be incorrect or harsh in my judgement but of all the hub gears that SA make nothing has proved to be anywhere near as popular, reliable and durable as the AW. Sach proved to me that it was possible to make an excellent five speed hub but my experience of SA’s similar offering was very negative. I can only guess at why the AW (virtually) always works and other SA hub gears don’t, my guess is that the British habit of marketing and selling whatever you happen to have regardless of quality came ahead of typical Germanic rigor and product excellence.

Though SA is no longer really British the inability or unwillingness to get design details and fundamentals right seems, to my mind, to result in products that don’t work particularly well. I don’t think that the Germans have a monopoly on quality engineering but they do seem to think that making a (high) quality product is important. Of course hub gears are relatively expensive to make and so in business terms they become less marketable than derailleur gears, the result being that customers and retailers buy low cost products that meet immediate needs rather than something a bit dearer that will last for decades.

The good old AW is British at its best but as for other SA products, well whilst I wish it wasn’t so I feel that I honestly can’t be positive about them. To my mind one can but embrace the AW, accept its limitations, work within and up to its limitations and then enjoy the AW for what it is. Once that embrace and mental adjustment is made then in my experience one discovers that what the AW is is actually something well worth having.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Carlton green » 26 May 2020, 12:28pm

lbomaak2 wrote:This thread has reminded me of the Tin Can Ten, for which I have just found the website: http://bikejumbles.co.uk/tincanten/index.html . I had to look in the results pages to ascertain that I had participated twice, with a DNF in 1992 and a reasonable time (for me) in 1996. [The only competitive cycling that I have ever done was very occasional appearances at the Loughborough Phoenix Wednesday evening time trials, and these two Tin Can Tens over the same course.]

It appears from the website that the Tin Can Ten was last held in 2017. Does anyone know more about this?


Thank you for this insight into hub gear racing. For those that are interested I see that there have been twenty five mile hub gear time trials too. One thing that strikes me as remarkable is the relatively fast pace that a fit rider can extract out of an SA hub gear and even when one is used in a small wheel bike too. See: http://bikejumbles.co.uk/tincanten/page ... s2017.html . The best results for the ten mile trial are around thirty minutes so an average speed of twenty miles per hour on (from what I read on the maps) a not unchallenging course.

For what it’s worth I recon that twelve miles per hour is a respectable average, maybe a bit more is realistic if you live in a flat area, so to do twenty and over once must be ‘pushing it’ - I wonder what their peak speeds were. IIRC my own top speed on my AW, whilst pushing a little but well with my comfort zone, was displayed to me as fourteen mikes per hour by a speed awareness display - it also thanked me for ‘driving’ under the speed limit.

TLDR : Three speed does not equal slow.
Last edited by Carlton green on 26 May 2020, 2:30pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Sid Aluminium » 26 May 2020, 2:27pm

Tinnishill wrote:Is there much accumulated experience, yet, of the Sturmey C50 5 speed, rotary changer, hubs ?


Before I tell you my experience, let me give you some background. For a decade beginning in the late 1970s I used a Sturmey-Archer S5/1 pretty much for all my riding. I commuted to work with it, I did casual riding with it, some light touring and I even rode five 100 milers with my club using the S5/1. I gave it a few drops of oil every now and again and I never had any trouble. It wasn't until years later I learned from others that these were troublesome, unreliable hubs! :D

I've been riding my general knockabout bike equipped with a Sturmey XRF8(W) since 2010. I have this fitted to a bike with EA3 wheels, with Sturmey's matching FCS80 crankset. It's never given me any trouble. I also read this is a troublesome hub!

So with that inexplicably charmed background, yes, I rode with a RX-RF5 for about six months beginning late last summer. I found it smooth, positive shifting and robust over that too-short-for-meaningful-appraisal time period. It was stunningly inexpensive as well. My only dissatisfaction was the weight. The C50s take the blue ribbon for the highest weight per gear and highest weight for total gear range, certainly in the current market and perhaps of all time.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby lbomaak2 » 26 May 2020, 2:59pm

Carlton green wrote:
Thank you for this insight into hub gear racing. For those that are interested I see that there have been twenty five mile hub gear time trials too. One thing that strikes me as remarkable is the relatively fast pace that a fit rider can extract out of an SA hub gear and even when one is used in a small wheel bike too. See: http://bikejumbles.co.uk/tincanten/page ... s2017.html . The best results for the ten mile trial are around thirty minutes so an average speed of twenty miles per hour on (from what I read on the maps) a not unchallenging course.


Yes, the course is quite interesting. All on country lanes, with three 90-degree corners in the first half-mile; the last of these is followed by the only significant hill (not very big: less than 20 metres climb). There are two more sharp corners later on the course. Two laps of that for a total of 10.8 miles (it's a "generous" 10-mile time trial).

Carlton green wrote:For what it’s worth I recon that twelve miles per hour is a respectable average, maybe a bit more is realistic if you live in a flat area, so to do twenty and over once must be ‘pushing it’ - I wonder what their peak speeds were. IIRC my own top speed on my AW, whilst pushing a little but well with my comfort zone, was displayed to me as fourteen mikes per hour by a speed awareness display - it also thanked me for ‘driving’ under the speed limit.


In my teenage years I tended to think of 12mph as a good average speed for my rides of 20-30 miles. In my last term at school, I decided to cycle to school most days (even though I had a free bus pass). School was in Bedford, home was the other side of Cranfield, total distance 11 miles. Only one hill, which was downhill going into school, uphill coming home; and Cranfield is south-west of Bedford, so I also had the advantage of the prevailing wind on the way to school. I sometimes timed myself, and my record for going to school was 43 minutes. That was on my Triumph Roadster, with a pannier stuffed with books etc.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby John Holiday » 26 May 2020, 4:28pm

School in Bedford?
Was that the Modern or Bedford School by any chance? Used to ride my Elswick Hopper to BMS,when it was in town centre.
Everyone rode then,including old ladies on trikes!

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby lbomaak2 » 26 May 2020, 5:34pm

John Holiday wrote:School in Bedford?
Was that the Modern or Bedford School by any chance? Used to ride my Elswick Hopper to BMS,when it was in town centre.
Everyone rode then,including old ladies on trikes!

I was at Bedford Modern, first in the town centre and then on Manton Heights when it moved there in my Lower Sixth year.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby John Holiday » 28 May 2020, 9:26am

Happy memories. Was there in JET era.
We'll have to start an OBM section!

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby [XAP]Bob » 28 May 2020, 3:51pm

simonineaston wrote:
Whilst out for my early morning jaunt (two hour) around the local lanes and tracks my thoughts turned to how well suited the humble - and often over looked - three speed AW is for that type of cycling.
One nibble and you're nobbled... :wink: Now, how 'bout trying an FW? Three gears good, four gears better! The xtra gear is low, too, which is most commonly what one needs. There's a modicum of pain to be got over, regarding the careful adjustment of the right cable, before you can have confidence in gears occuring when you expect them to, but once that's sorted, That's A Bingo!



I'm sorry but that's only a short step to "Four gears good, Two gears better" (with apologies to Orwell)
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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby jimlews » 28 May 2020, 5:54pm

I have to declare a soft spot for the Sturmey AM mi-Lud.

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Re: Sturmey Archer, Embracing the Three Speed AW Hub Gear

Postby Carlton green » 7 Nov 2020, 11:32am

cycle tramp wrote:
Speaking personally as a utility cyclist and someone who rides for pleasure I'm also completely free of the expectation that i should cycle up any hill I encounter, or pedal down a hill. If you let go of the idea that somehow you are less of a cyclist if you walk up hills, you suddenly become less worried about what gears you have.

If I ever return to group riding, it's going to be a shock because I'm going to lose part of this freedom that this style of cycling affords me- the chance simply to stop and properly enjoy the view, or to listen to a stream, or even to completely stop for half an hour in some sunny meadow, break out a book, or watch the clouds.

Each cycling activity I've ever encountered seems to make you race from the start to the finish line and we've got so used to evaluating cycling technology against this purpose, that we've almost forgotten that the bicycle is just a tool - a happy method by which to escape the confines of our abodes and send us out into the world.


I extract the above from a discussion about IRD (brand) freewheels, to me the comments seem so relevant to the (surprisingly enabling) three speed hub.

Ref: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=142094&start=15

And another helpful insight, in similar vein, from the same discussion:

Brucey wrote:the way I look at it, when on two feet you can "go for a stroll" or "go for a run". The only thing common between these two activities is that you are on your own two feet. You can ride a bike in similarly disparate ways.

Mr Pedersen (of bicycle fame) was quite clear about why his bike was like it was; "like walking, but faster" was his objective. Much as they always have done, the particular needs of racing (both on and off road) drive equipment development in particular directions. Needless to say this is at best of limited benefit or even counterproductive in relation to many other cycling activities.

This means that with every new generation of equipment both manufacturers and users alike try and make best use of these designs for other applications which have different priorities altogether. So it is easy enough to lose sight of the fact that you don't need a confection of fancy materials with a million gears and a million and one electronic gizmos attached to it if you just want to "go for a bike ride". Something simpler might do; indeed something simpler might be better.

Speaking as someone who has done very large mileages on various bikes most of which have an unfashionably small numbers of gears etc I guess I have long thought this way.

cheers