Modern multi-speed hubs?

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I've rebuilt a few hundred ighs hubs. The old Sturmey Archer AW hubs(1939 to 1978) are about the best ever for reliability and rebuild-ability and low cost. The biggest issue is the nib (neutral in between) 2nd and 3rd gear if they aren't adjusted just right. That put me in a hospital emergency room one time. I can see the cost cutting that hit in about 1980 (not good). Around 20 years ago, SA was bought out by Sun Race and moved to Taiwan. All the hubs were redesigned and many new models added. I just rebuilt a 5 speed with disc brake and I'm not impressed. Sun-Race Sturmey Archer has since discontinued that design and quite a few others that used the pull rod shifting in favor of the rotary shifter. The Rotary seems to be more reliable but is a bit harder to adjust.

All the old 3 speed with coaster models from England have issues. There were 7 versions and they never got it right. TCW, AWC and S3C. The worst ran the brake through the gears and in NIB, you have no brakes! Some models ran the brake through the gears so the braking power depended on which gear you were in at the time. The later S3C is prone to jambing up. SA kept tinkering with that model.

Some of the newer 4,5, 7 and 8 speed models are very grindy. There have been quite a few variations made. 2 speed kick back, 3 speed fixie, aluminum bodies with anodyzed shells and so on.

Around 1959-1961, Styer of Austria made clones. Most are marked Austria or Schwinn Approved or JC Higgins.

The AW is certainly the most made hub of all time. More than half of all SA's were AWs. Tens of millions sold.

I would start by seeing what kind of shape yours is in. Most don't need anything more than some oil. Improper lubes like grease, parafin (wax) or water are the main internal issues that need attention. The cables and indicator rod get torn off quite often since they stick out.

The 1960/1970s Shimano 3 speed hubs were all over for reliability. Shimano's idea of repair parts was to sell a full cartridge, just swap out the entire guts when the broke. To get around SA's patents, Shimano made all the parts smaller so they were more prone to breaking in to bits. There are box loads of them now for parts but no one wants them. The more recent Shimano 3 speed hubs are pretty reliable. The 4,5,7 are often ruined by water getting in.

The Rohloff 14 speed hub is about $1400!

One of the cooler Shimano hubs is the Auto-D. 4 speed with electric shifting. A short run for oem use that didn't sell well. They did sell a 3 speed with automatic electric shifting as oem equipment. The Trek Lime cruisers used them. The hub works well but the bike was pretty awful to ride. All about fashion design, not ride-ability. With all automatic shifting systems, you have to learn to ride the way it's designed, not how you want to ride. The newer Shimano generator front hubs work pretty well. I used one when I rode across the USA to power a strong LED generator specific headlight during the day on the highways and mp3 player when on trails.
 

JA331

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I've rebuilt a few hundred ighs hubs. The old Sturmey Archer AW hubs(1939 to 1978) are about the best ever for reliability and rebuild-ability and low cost. The biggest issue is the nib (neutral in between) 2nd and 3rd gear if they aren't adjusted just right. That put me in a hospital emergency room one time. I can see the cost cutting that hit in about 1980 (not good). Around 20 years ago, SA was bought out by Sun Race and moved to Taiwan. All the hubs were redesigned and many new models added. I just rebuilt a 5 speed with disc brake and I'm not impressed. Sun-Race Sturmey Archer has since discontinued that design and quite a few others that used the pull rod shifting in favor of the rotary shifter. The Rotary seems to be more reliable but is a bit harder to adjust.

All the old 3 speed with coaster models from England have issues. There were 7 versions and they never got it right. TCW, AWC and S3C. The worst ran the brake through the gears and in NIB, you have no brakes! Some models ran the brake through the gears so the braking power depended on which gear you were in at the time. The later S3C is prone to jambing up. SA kept tinkering with that model.

Some of the newer 4,5, 7 and 8 speed models are very grindy. There have been quite a few variations made. 2 speed kick back, 3 speed fixie, aluminum bodies with anodyzed shells and so on.

Around 1959-1961, Styer of Austria made clones. Most are marked Austria or Schwinn Approved or JC Higgins.

The AW is certainly the most made hub of all time. More than half of all SA's were AWs. Tens of millions sold.

I would start by seeing what kind of shape yours is in. Most don't need anything more than some oil. Improper lubes like grease, parafin (wax) or water are the main internal issues that need attention. The cables and indicator rod get torn off quite often since they stick out.

The 1960/1970s Shimano 3 speed hubs were all over for reliability. Shimano's idea of repair parts was to sell a full cartridge, just swap out the entire guts when the broke. To get around SA's patents, Shimano made all the parts smaller so they were more prone to breaking in to bits. There are box loads of them now for parts but no one wants them. The more recent Shimano 3 speed hubs are pretty reliable. The 4,5,7 are often ruined by water getting in.

The Rohloff 14 speed hub is about $1400!

One of the cooler Shimano hubs is the Auto-D. 4 speed with electric shifting. A short run for oem use that didn't sell well. They did sell a 3 speed with automatic electric shifting as oem equipment. The Trek Lime cruisers used them. The hub works well but the bike was pretty awful to ride. All about fashion design, not ride-ability. With all automatic shifting systems, you have to learn to ride the way it's designed, not how you want to ride. The newer Shimano generator front hubs work pretty well. I used one when I rode across the USA to power a strong LED generator specific headlight during the day on the highways and mp3 player when on trails.
Great info here. There’s a dealer near me who still has a 4 speed auto shift kit.
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I picked up this Viva kilo today for the equivalent of USD $140. I bought it primarily for the wheel set. It has probably been ridden only a couple of times. It has a roller brake 7 speed nexus, double wall rims, HD spokes, SA front drum, Fat Franks, funky rubber pedals, alloy bars, 3 piece cranks, a leather saddle and the nice lady threw in a few accessories with it. How could i resist? Another lady’s bike bites the dust for its bits! The roller brake even works well enough to lock the rear wheel.
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JA331

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Sick parts list!
I couldn’t get to the other side of the city quick enough to grab it. Had to contend with peak hour traffic and a family of redback spiders who were using it as their home, but it was worth it. I’ll fit another wheel set and seat on it and store it it for my youngest daughter to ride in a few years.
 
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I couldn’t get to the other side of the city quick enough to grab it. Had to contend with peak hour traffic and a family of redback spiders who were using it as their home, but it was worth it. I’ll fit another wheel set and seat on it and store it it for my youngest daughter to ride in a few years.
 
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