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Thread: Remembering my old 3-speed got me thinking...

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    Default Remembering my old 3-speed got me thinking...

    I had a 3-speed when I was a kid, and I rode the heck out of that thing. Mostly my rides were in my parents' yard (about an acre of grass, a concrete patio, and a looong gravel driveway), but occasionally I'd ride roads to get to Hidden Oaks Nature Center (where I would use the nature trails as my own private CX course; not very appropriate, but I didn't know any better at the time). I remember loving that bike, and learning to finesse the wide spacing on the three speeds (though #3 was too high for almost anything I did at that age).

    All this got me thinking: how would a classic 3-speed IGH be for grown-up commuting? A lot of people (including me) like single-speed or fixed for commuting, but there are times when it can be really nice to have a lower gear (or two)! I know people that like their IGH, but a common complaint is the significant weight and cost of modern 7-, 8-, 11-, or even 14-speed hubs (some of those are well over $1000). Seems like a 3-speed would be simpler, cheaper (around $100, I think), and lighter than some of the other options. For someone (like a SS or fixie aficionado) used to varying cadence quite a bit, and appreciating a low-maintenance drivetrain, this could be a good compromise to a fully-geared bike.

    [As an aside: for or my own part, I have been ssslllooowwwlllyyy recovering from sore knees, and I have a brand new, belt drive fixie that is languishing in my basement (anything more than a mile or two on that bike just kills me, sadly). A possible intermediate step in my recovery could be building up a 3-speed wheel and adding a brake and bar-end shifter, rendering that bike usable and not hard on my knees. And, heck! It's only money!]

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    Why 3 speeds? Once you've introduced a shifting mechanism, you've incurred the weight and/or complexity of systems with more gears than 3.

    For the record, I have no more affection for my old 3, 10, and 12 speeds than I do for my transistor radio, tube amplifier and 8-track.

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    DismalScientist is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post

    For the record, I have no more affection for my old 3, 10, and 12 speeds than I do for my transistor radio, tube amplifier and 8-track.
    Well, I'm still riding my old 10 speeds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    Why 3 speeds? Once you've introduced a shifting mechanism, you've incurred the weight and/or complexity of systems with more gears than 3.
    Weight and cost: Sturmey Archer tends to be the cheapest, as far as I can tell, and the weight and cost of their 8-speed hub is almost double that of their 3-speed hub. I'll admit I don't know much about these hubs, but what I'm sensing from the inter-webs is that more can go wrong with the additional planetary gears in the larger hubs. Also, the larger hubs tend to be restricted to click-shifters, which is not what I'd want for a drop bar.

    Anyway, the reason I brought it up here is to hear different opinions, so have at it—particularly if you are familiar with IGH systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    Why 3 speeds? Once you've introduced a shifting mechanism, you've incurred the weight and/or complexity of systems with more gears than 3.
    The cost argument seems fairly compelling. The three speed can be found well under $100, and the 7 speeds start about 2x that. The gear ratios are fairly narrow, though, and a 5 speed will provide a wider range for not too much more money.

    For the record, I have no more affection for my old 3, 10, and 12 speeds than I do for my transistor radio, tube amplifier and 8-track.
    I do sometimes wish I could ride my old 10 speed again. Suicide levers FTW!

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    M'kay, so I educated myself on the computer using the site below. There is an argument to be made for 3 speeds, especially for those who do their own maintenance. I still think if my knees were a problem, I'd step up into the 5-7 speed range.

    https://hubstripping.wordpress.com/i...ar-hub-review/

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    I just upgraded one of my bikes from a 3 speed to an 8 speed. The 8 speed hub is heavier and more complex, but it better on my knees. If you are looking for a minimalist setup, look at the kickback 2-speed hubs as well. They shift using your feet and have a coaster brake, so they don't need any cables at all. A coaster brake is a good idea in general!

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    I thought 2 speed was just standing and not standing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFX_Hinterlands View Post
    They shift using your feet and have a coaster brake, so they don't need any cables at all. A coaster brake is a good idea in general!
    I rode a beach cruiser when I was in San Diego this summer (that's what everyone rides, apparently ), and I hated the coaster brake! I suppose I could get used to it again, but I don't want to. It seemed to me at the time that a bike with a coaster brake requires you to be able to put your feet on the ground while you're still on the saddle (i.e. a low saddle), since you can't stand on the pedals to get out of the saddle to put a foot down and brake at the same time; if you did, you would either put all your weight on the braking foot and come to a skid stop, or you'd have to take your braking foot off and you wouldn't stop at all.

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    I did some math based on the specification for a 3-speed IGH, and chose three corresponding combinations on my geared bike to use during my commute today. I thought it was pretty great using only three speeds. As in riding fixed, I had to vary my cadence a bit, but it was not a problem, even on hills. Unlike riding fixed, the overall speed seemed pretty slow (though I'm not sure it was in actuality) and the whole ride felt relaxed, which is what I'm looking for at the moment. I may go for it, if I can get permission from Rockford to spend even more money on bikes. The good thing: if I get tired of 3-speeds and want to go back to the fixed wheel, I can rebuild the 3-speed rim into a dynohub.

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