Author Topic: Short tours on 3 speed IGH  (Read 115 times)

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Offline RedDevil7

Short tours on 3 speed IGH
« on: April 05, 2019, 09:27:04 am »
New guy here. Been cycling for 33 years but have never toured. I'm retired now and want to start doing some 2-3 night trips so I am coming to the people who can give the best advise.

I have lots of road bikes, and a couple of years ago I bought a single speed out of curiosity more than anything. It quickly became my favorite bike and with a 48/18 I take it on my normal 25-40 mile daily rides like any other bike and don't even think about a lack of gears. So when it came to touring bikes I was researching SS's.  I live in southeastern NC, mostly flat with rolling hills. I doubt I'll ever be touring in the mountains, I'll probably be riding down toward the coast at Charleston.

I came across Handsome Cycles which I had never heard of before and they had the perfect bike. Then I saw they had a 3 speed version and took into account my 51 year old knees. And the fact I'm not Markus Stitz haha. Has anyone toured on the SA SLS30? Does anybody foresee any problems with it? Can you put a spare cog on the NDS for emergency backup?

Looks like a really nice bike at a great price. For some reason the top tube is pretty long but ok for me. Their geared bikes have shorter TT's.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Short tours on 3 speed IGH
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2019, 09:56:31 am »
Short answer is yes, you can tour on ANY working condition.

That said, you would probably miss the extra gears if you ever started riding in hilly areas.  For instance, if you road the Blue Ridge Parkway, you would either need to get the smallest chain ring you can up front, the largest rear cog in the back, or both.  I am 54 and as I age, my knees do not enjoy hills near as much and I have an ultra-low 16" for my lowest gear.  A 48/18 is 72 inches (assuming a 700c wheel) so I would be walking a lot of hills.

For flat touring, the bike would probably be OK.  I do not know much about modern? SA hubs. You could probably go over to and ask about reliability.

Other than that, the bike seems fine for an entry-level bike.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 10:19:55 am by John Nettles »

Offline TCS

Re: Short tours on 3 speed IGH
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2019, 02:58:30 pm »
For touring, a modern titanium framed, disc brake, belt-driven 252-speed touring bike with tubeless tires just can't be beaten.

Okay, we got that out of the way, so onward down the rabbit hole.  Sturmey-Archer three-speed hubs were born out of an experience where one Mr. Frank Bowden hurt his knees on a bike tour in France - in 1887!

Lotsa folks have toured using three-speed hubs in the last 116 years.  They've day toured, overnighted, crossed the USA and ridden around the world. 

Frank Berto theorized that historically the French (Huret) & Italians (Campagnolo) developed the derailleur drivetrain for their long mountain passes and sunny climes, while the British (Sturmey-Archer), low countries and Northern Germany (Fichtel&Sachs) went with the hub gear for their flatter terrain and damp weather (their steep hills are short enough to be walked).

The Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub produced today is basically the 1936 AW (nicknamed the Always Works) with a few small improvements.  It has stood the test of time and is easily the most complicated bit of cycling kit with that length of production.  It's built today on modern, computer-controlled machine tools.

The three-speed Internal Gear Hub is a serious mechanical device, used in demanding service on millions of bike-share rent-a-bikes worldwide.  In the single year of 1939, Tommy Godwin rode a total of 75065 miles using a Sturmey Archer 4 speed hub gear, a record that may or may not still stand depending on various caveats.  A three-speed hub is also a jolly bit of cycling fun.  Every May the two-day Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour is held in Red Wing Minnesota just for three-speed bikes.  There are hundreds of entertaining and inspiring pictures of past Lake Pepins on the web.

Currently, the Society of Three Speeds is hosting 'Adventure April'. This challenge involves riding a 3-speed bike for distance, climbs, a bit of gravel biking and an overnight tour.  I signed up and I'll be riding my Dahon Curl i3 on a two-day tour over Easter weekend.

Aspirational current production three-speed bikes include the Pashley Guv'nor, the Shinola Bixby and Brompton S3L-X.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2019, 11:13:59 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline John Nettles

Re: Short tours on 3 speed IGH
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2019, 04:02:14 pm »
Tubeless is not the way to go  ;D . Only solid tires! (just kidding of course)