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Sturmey-Archer Bicycle Hubs

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by Sheldon "Epicyclic" Brown
revised by John "countercyclic" Allen
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Sturmey-Archer History

Old English Almost all English 3-speeds have Sturmey-Archer rear hubs, and there have been many different models since the company started in 1902. Sturmey-Archer was a division of Raleigh Industries until autumn, 2000, when the parent company ran into financial difficulties. Sturmey-Archer (U.K.) was rendered homeless by various corporate maneuvers. For a while it appeared that it would disappear entirely into bankruptcy. The land the factory stood on was sold, and Sturmey-Archer was nearly liquidated by a corporate raider. Fortunately, a Taiwanese company called SunRace came to the rescue, and bought the company assets more or less intact. The machinery and stock were moved to Taiwan. SunRace resumed production of Sturmey-Archer hubs -- some pre-existing models, many new ones.

Sturmey-Archer quality had been on a downward slide since the early 1960s, as the company's engineering efforts shifted from trying to make a better product, as they had been through the first half century, to finding ways to make an acceptable product cheaper. Sturmey-Archer's quality peaked probably in the late '50s.

SunRace spent a great deal of money moving the machinery from England to Taiwan, but when it arrived, it turned out that most of the machinery was worn-out junk, no longer capable of manufacturing parts to the degree of precision appropriate to the 21st century.

I heard an interesting anecdote from a Sturmey-Archer veteran employee, now with SunRace/Sturmey-Archer:

Back in the day, sometimes a batch of internal parts would be just a bit out of tolerance, maybe a bit too small, or a bit too large, whatever. The production people would take a sample to the engineering department, where a grey-haired engineer would check it out and often say "Well, it is a bit out of spec, but not really enough to cause failure, so let's let it go."

SunRace didn't have those engineers who had grown up with Sturmey-Archer in their blood, so when they found a batch of out-of-spec parts, they would say "That's out of spec! Melt it down, and make new ones, and do it right this time!"

In any case, the quality of Taiwanese production from SunRace/Sturmey-Archer so far has been excellent, generally better than the quality of later English production. Sturmey-Archer's selection of multi-speed hubs is much wider than that of the other manufacturers. Sturmey-Archer hubs tend to be lighter than the competitors'. SunRace has also introduced many new models, including an 8-speed internal-gear hub, a fixed-gear three-speed and an updated version of the Dynohub generator. Many Sturmey-Archer hubs -- even the 8-speed -- can fit the narrow dropout spacings of older bicycles. .

Some folks don't believe that the Taiwanese can make stuff as well as the British did, but there's no factual basis for that belief, and in many cases this attitude may be traced to racism.

More information:

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Current Sturmey-Archer Models, and most others produced since the 1930s

Cells with pink backgrounds identify current models as of 2010.

Quick Reference
Links to individual models are mostly for older models.
2-speeds 3-speeds 4-speeds
5-speeds 1967-2000 5-speeds 2000- 7-speeds
8-speeds 1-speed brake hubs Front hubs
Individual models
AB AB/C AC AG AM AR ASC AT3 AW AWC BF BFC
BF/C BFT BR BRC BRT FB FC FG FM FW GH6 K
KB KBC KS KSW KT KTC S5 S5-2 S3C SAB3 SBF SBR
Spr.5 Spr.7 ST SW T TB TBC TBF TBFC TCW TF VT
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Internal-gear hubs

Model Speeds Range Gears(%) Features

2-speeds

B2C

2 Wide 138
100
2-speed kickback hub, coaster brake, steel shell. Also see coaster-brake page.

S2C

2 Wide 138
100
2-speed kickback hub, coaster brake, aluminum shell. Also see coaster-brake page.

S2

2 Wide 138
100
2-speed kickback hub, no brake, aluminum shell.

S2

2 Wide 100
71.4
Note, same model number as new S2 but different ratios. 1960s model with kickback shifting

T

2 Medium 100
75
A rare 1930s model, made for club bicycles and tandems.

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TB

2 Wide 100
75
A rare 1930s two-speed hub with cable/rod-operated drum brake. Similar to TBC

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TBC

2 Wide 100
75
A rare 1930s two-speed hub with cable-operated drum brake. Similar to TB

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TBF

2 Wide 100
75
A rare 1930s fixed gear two-speed hub with cable/rod-operated drum brake. Similar to TBFC

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TBFC

2 Wide 100
75
A rare 1930s fixed gear two-speed hub with cable-operated drum brake. Similar to TBF

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TC

2 Close 100
86.54
A rare 1930s model, made for club bicycles.

See: sa-1938f2.jpeg (176k)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

TF

2 Medium 100
75
A rare 1930s fixed gear model, made for club bicycles and tandems. The fixed-gear version of the T
Sturmey-Archer TF

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

3-speeds Servicing information

AB

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Basically an AW, with cable-operated drum brake.

AB3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
With cable-operated 90 mm drum brake. Still sold in 2010.

AB/C

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
With cable-operated 90 mm drum brake. Still sold in 2010.

AC

3 Close 106.66
100
93.3
A rare model, made for club bicycles, time trials.

AG

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Basically, an AW with a built-in Dynohub generator.

AM

3 Medium 115.55
100
86.54
A rare model, made for club bicycles.

AR

3 Ultra Close 107.24
100
93.24
A very rare 1930's model, made for club/racing bicycles.
Sturmey-Archer AR

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

ASC

3 Close 100
90
75

Fixed gear. Extremely rare, and lots of fun! This site has two separate pages devoted to this hub: See the main ASC Page for general info, and the ASC Tech Page for service instructions, cutaway and exploded diagrams.

In 2010, SunRace/Sturmey Archer has introduced a new 3-speed fixed gear hub, the S3X

AT3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
"Elite" 70 mm drum brake and no-intermediate-gear (no neutral) internals. "Elite" indicates a hub with an aluminium shell.

AW

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
This is far and away the most common model, introduced in 1936. No-neutral-gear version still sold in 2010 --75th anniversary is coming up in 2011! Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

AWC

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Three speed coaster brake. No-neutral-gear version. Steel shell. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

AWC(II)

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Slight modification to the AWC. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

CS-RF3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Hybrid gearing, fits a Shimano or SRAM 8- or 9-speed cassette.

BWR

3 Extra-wide 63.8
100
156.7
Special Brompton extra wide-ratio 3-speed used with 2 sprockets and a rear derailer to make a 6-speed hybrid-gearing system.

CS-RK3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Hybrid gearing, fits a Shimano or SRAM 8- or 9-speed cassette. Disk brake fitting

K

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
The immediate predecessor of the AW

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KB

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
With rod-operated drum brake. (Similar to the KBC)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KBC

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
With cable-operated drum brake. 1930's predecessor to the AB
Sturmey-Archer KBC

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KS

3 Close 112.5
100
89.9
A rare 1930s model, made for club bicycles and tandems.
Sturmey-Archer KS

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KSW

3 Medium 116.6
100
85.7
A rare 1930s model, made for club bicycles and tandems.
Sturmey-Archer KS

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KT

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Tandem hub with cable/rod-operated drum brake. Similar to KTC
Sturmey-Archer KT

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

KTC

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Tandem hub with cable-operated drum brake. Similar to KT

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

QS-RC3

3 +
reverse
Wide 133.3
100
75
Coaster brake, aluminum shell, reverse gear and second sprocket, made for a tricycle. This is a gearbox, not a hub and must be used in an intermediate position on the frame, with two chains, because the secondary sprocket attaches where the spokes would.

RS-RF3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
New version similar to the AW, with an aluminum shell. Rotary shifting interface inside the dropout; no brake.

RX-RD3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
New version similar to the AW, with an aluminum shell. Rotary shifting interface inside the dropout; 70mm drum brake

SAB3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Steel shell, 70mm drum brake. No-intermediate-gear mechanism. Still sold in 2010

SBR

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
"Steelite" with 70 mm drum brake.

"Steelite" indicates a hub with a steel shell.

S3C

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Coaster brake. After Consumer Reports rated the TCW IV "unacceptable" because the brake would fail completely if the shift cable was misadjusted, Sturmey-Archer completely redesigned the Tricoaster, so that the braking was independent of the gear-change. This model is safer than the TCW series, but is still prone to failure. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

S3X

3 Mid 100
75
62.5
SunRace/Sturmey-Archer's new-production 3-speed fixed gear, supplanting the rare ASC. A matching front hub, the HBT, is available.

S-RC3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Aluminum-shell version of the AWC(II), with coaster brake.

S-RF3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
New version similar to the AW, with an aluminum shell. Improved pullchain interface; no brake.

SW

3 Super-
wide
138.4
100
72.23
This model was intended to replace the AW in 1957, but was so troublesome that it was withdrawn, and the AW re-introduced in 1958. The SW uses a unique 3-prong driver, and has crescent shape pawls that don't use pawl springs. When they work, they're very nice. They are light, nearly silent, and efficient. None of the internal parts are interchangeable with other models. See Brian Hayes's article on this site.

SX-RB3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Wide-body 3-speed (for wide dropout spacing) with threads on left side for band brake drum or sprocket.

SX-RK3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Wide-body 3-speed (for wide dropout spacing) with fitting for brake disk.

TCW

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
Coaster brake. Mark I, II, III, IV. Unreliable, replaced by the S3C. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

TS-RC3

3 +
reverse
Wide 133.3
100
75
Coaster brake, high-polish aluminum shell, reverse gear and second sprocket: made for a tricycle. This is a gearbox, not a hub, and must be used in an intermediate position on the frame, with two chains, because the second sprocket attaches at the spoke holes on the right side.

TS-RF3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
No brake, high-polish aluminum shell, reverse gear and second sprocket: made for a tricycle. This is a gearbox, not a hub, and must be used in an intermediate position on the frame, with two chains, because the second sprocket attaches at the spoke holes on the right side.

XL-RD3

3 Wide 133.3
100
75
90 mm drum brake, aluminum shell.

X-RD3

3 +
reverse
Wide 133.3
100
75
70 mm drum brake, aluminum shell.

4-speeds Servicing information

FB

4 Wide 126.6
100
79.9
66.67
With cable-operated drum brake. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

FC

4 Close 109.1
100
90
75
A rare model, made for club bicycles.

FG

4 Wide 126.6
100
79.9
66.67
Basically an FW with a built-in Dynohub generator.

I have one of these on my 1954 Superbe Roadster. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

FM

4 Medium 112.5
100
85.7
66.7
A rare model, made for club bicycles.

FW

4 Wide 126.6
100
78.9
66.67
The most common four-speed model. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

Older 5-speeds Servicing information

5-speed alloy 5 Wide 150
126.6
100
78.9
66.67
An S5-2 with a beefy alloy shell; late UK production. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.
5-Star 5 Wide First single-cable 5-speed hub -- a problem hub.
5-Star drum brake 5 Wide Single cable, with drum brake -- a problem hub.

AB-5

5 Wide Steel shell, 90 mm drum brake, introduced ca. 1999

AT5

5 Wide Aluminum shell, 70 mm drum brake, single cable; introduced in 1993

S5

5 Wide The earliest 5-speed hub, a modified FW. The original S5 used two cables, a conventional 3-speed type on the right, and a bellcrank/pushrod unit on the left. The right lever/cable has 3 positions, and works as a normal 3-speed hub. The left lever/cable converts the hub from a medium ratio to a wide ratio 3-speed. Since the middle gear is direct drive, the left control has no effect on the middle gear.

Most, if not all Sturmey-Archer 4-speeds can be converted to 5-speeds. The planet cage is the same but the axle and large sun gear must be replaced so they engage in both directions. See additional information. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

S5/1

5 Wide Replaced the S5; used two pullchains rather than having a bell crank on the left side. Unreliable, tended to pop out of low gear. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

S5-2

5 Wide Improved, reliable version of the S5/1. The S5-2 has a bit more internal friction than the plain S5. Axle assembly and axle gears are different. Also see rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

SAB-5

5 Wide 70 mm drum brake

S-RC5

5 wide Aluminum shell, ball locking.
Sprinter S5 5 Wide 5-speed single-cable; introduced 1993-1994
Sprinter S5
Elite
5 Wide Aluminum shell 5-speed single-cable, introduced 1993-1994
Sprinter S5C
Coaster
5 Wide 5-speed single-cable with coaster brake, introduced 1993-1994
S-RC5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, coaster brake
S-RF5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999
S-RK5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, disk brake fitting
X-RC5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, coaster brake
X-RD5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, drum brake, large flanges
X-RF5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, no brake, large flanges
X-RK5 5 Wide Ball locking mechanism ca. 1999, disk brake fitting,large flanges

2009- wider-ratio 5-speeds Servicing information

QS-RC5 5+
reverse
Wider 160
133.3
100
75
62.5
Wider ratio, introduced 2009, coaster brake, reverse rear and second sprocket. This is a gearbox, not a hub, and must be used in an intermediate position on the frame, with two chains, because there is a bracket that goes across where the spokes would be.
S5C(W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, coaster brake, steel shell.
S-RC5(W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, coaster brake, aluminum shell
S-RF5(W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, no brake, aluminum shell
XL-RD5 (W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, 90 mm drum brake, aluminum shell
X-RC5(W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, coaster brake, large-flange aluminum shell
X-RD5(W) 5 Wider Wider ratio, introduced 2009, 70 mm drum brake, aluminum shell
X-RF5(W) 5 Wider wider ratio, introduced 2009, no brake, large-flange aluminum shell
X-RK5(W) 5 Wider wider ratio, introduced 2009, disk brake fitting, large-flange aluminum shell

7-speeds Servicing information

AT7/Sprinter 7 Elite 7 Wide 168
145
124
100
80
69
60

7-speed single cable with drum brake. See also my article on 4, 5 and 7-speed Sturmey-Archer hubs

Sprinter 7 7 Wide 7-speed single cable, steel shell.
Sprinter 7
Coaster
7 Wide 7-speed single cable with coaster brake.
X-R7 7 Wide Different appearance, ball locking sun gears, otherwise like the Sprinter 7.
X-RC7 7 Wide Different appearance, ball locking sun gears, otherwise like the Sprinter 7 Coaster.
X-RD7 7 Wide Different appearance, ball locking sun gears, otherwise like the AT7.

8-Speeds Servicing information

X-RD8 8 Mid 305 238 210 186 164 145 128 100 Discontinued, drum brake
X-RF8 8 Mid Discontinued, no brake.
XRD8 8 Wide Discontinued, internal drum brake.
X-RK8 8 Mid Discontinued, fitting for disk brake
X-RR8 8 Mid Discontinued, roller brake
S80(W) 8 Wide 325 250 220 192 169 148 130 100 Current model, 2010, no brake, steel shell. Only gears up, especially suitable for small-wheel bicycles.
X-RF8(W) 8 Wide Current model, 2010, no brake.
X-RD8(W) 8 Wide Current model, 2010, internal drum brake.
X-RK8(W) 8 Wide Current model, 2010, fitting for disk brake

Other Rear hubs

Model

Features

BR

Drum brake for rod operation (similar to BRC)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BRC

Drum brake for cable operation (similar to BR)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BRD

Drum brake for rod operation (derailer-compatible version of BR)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BRCD

Drum brake for cable operation (derailer-compatible version of BRC)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BRT

Tandem drum brake for cable operation (similar to BRC)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

SAB

"Steelite" 70 mm drum brake for cable operation

SC

Coaster brake. See rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

SC1

Coaster brake. See rebuilding instructions in Sutherland's Handbook of Coaster Brake and Internally Geared Hubs.

ST

"Elite" (aluminum shell) 70 mm drum brake for cable operation

X-RD

Freewheel hub with 90 mm drum brake, 2010 production

X-RDC

Cassette hub with 90mm drum brake, 2010 production

Front hubs

Model

Features

BF

Formerly, drum brake for rod operation (similar to BFC) Now this name is used for a 90mm cable-operated drum brake (current model).

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BFC

Drum brake for cable operation (similar to BF).

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

BF/C

90 mm drum brake for cable operation (current model is called the BF but refers to this one's technical info.)

BFT

Tandem drum brake for cable operation (similar to BFC)

If you have a fast connection, you can see
sales brochures for this model.

HBT

Front track hub to match the S3X fixed-gear hub. Available in several colors.

GH6

Front hub with built-in Dynohub generator.

SBF

70 mm "Steelite" drum brake for cable operation (current model)

VT

70 mm "Elite" drum brake for cable operation

X-FD

Front hub with 70mm drum brake.

X-FDD

Front hub with 70mm drum brake and new-model Dynohub generator.

XL-FD

Front hub with 90mm drum brake

XL-FDD

Front hub with 90mm drum brake and new-model Dynohub generator.

X-SD

Front single-side (tadpole tricycle front) hub with 70mm drum brake.

XL-SD

Front single-side (tadpole tricycle front) hub with 90mm drum brake.

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Links

Sturmey-Archer logo
Official Site
old Sturmey-Archer logo Heritage site
Three-Speed Parts from Harris Cyclery
English Three Speeds, Care and Feeding
Internal-Gear Hubs
Sturmey-Archer Hubs, General Information
Sturmey-Archer 1902-1952
Sturmey-Archer 1935-38 Catalogues
Evolution of the Raleigh Sports
My old Robin Hood
Sheldon's old Robin Hood
Martin Hanczyc's roadster pages.
Tony Hadland's Sturmey-Archer Pages
including the 1956 master catalogue with
rebuilding information for SWs
and others.
Hubstripping web site
John Allen's spreadsheets of internal-hub gear ratios
Retro Raleighs
SW Hubs by Brian Hayes
Jane Thomas's site with
Sturmey-Archer service manuals.
Menotomy Vintage Bicycles
Chat forum on English bikes.

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