Posts Tagged ‘Sturmey archer s2 duomatic hub’


the final version ?

the final version ?

the sturmey s2 hub

the sturmey s2 hub

A while back I converted my Road King ten-speed into a two-speed by using the Sturmey Archer S2 kickback hub. I really liked this hub, but disliked the “deep V” rim it came fitted with, firstly because I find aero rims ugly and secondly, the rim was very heavy, and the depth and short spokes made for very rough riding on the already non-compliant Road King frame.
So I dismantled it and found another reason for disliking deep-Vs , i.e. the spokes are a pain to work on…

s2 road king

s2 road king – one version

Having 32 spoke holes, upgrading the S2 hub required me to order some new rims and a new front hub. I settled on H Plus Son ‘Archetypes’ from Wiggle, in a bold black anodised finish with classy upper case white lettering, which really suited the frame I had chosen. The front hub is a Miche Primato 32H low-flange track model. These rims were a relative pleasure to fit to the chosen hubs  and they ran true without too much fiddling.

the mystery bike

the mystery bike

This frame is a mystery, and the previous owner could not throw any light on it. The cast rear dropouts are Gipiemme (suggesting 1970s at the earliest) , the original fixed BB cup was an older Brampton but the bike had been fitted up with a Shimano 600EX Arabesque group. I wanted this group for another project though, so I had to begin anew with this frameset.

tapping the bb

great care is needed – tapping the bb

No wheels were fitted as found. The BB is stamped “V26272”

The frame decals are “Speedwell” but have been added after some repainting – I don’t believe that Speedwell is the original brand as there are no indications of the Speedwell head badge having been fitted.

There are brazed on guides under the BB for front and rear derailleurs and for shifters on the down-tube. No eyelets or bottle cage threads fitted though.
I had to use a Tange fork from another frameset as the old ones had corroded dropouts. Coincidentally the tange fitted well, and is the right colour red also.

To up the gearing a little from the Road King’s 42 x 22T, I used a Token TK2051 crank with a 44T ring and the 22T rear cog. This gives a moderate 2:1  ( c.54 inch ) bottom gear and a good all round ‘urban’ top gear ( 1.4x – my guess is roughly 44x16T equivalent ).

I retained the original fluted SR Laprade seatpost and the 3T “Competizione” drop bars and fitted a new VP head-set and a Genetic 100mm road stem. Brakes are new Tektro R559 long throw with Dia-Compe Q.R. levers. I used Cinelli “Mike Giant” arty bar tape in black & white for some more character.

The trickiest part of this rebuild was the bottom bracket, as the threads would not allow me to fit a new sealed square tapered BB. I’ve had this problem before on old bikes, and I guess it’s because the sealed cartridges have a wider threaded area on the fixed cup than the old non-sealed ones which, over many years, allow grit and moisture to clog and corrode the inner shell threads preventing further inward travel.

heaps of swarf

wow – heaps of swarf

I decided to bite the bullet and buy a BB thread tap and shell refacing kit. The Park Tool kit was too expensive to justify for this hobbyist mechanic, so I went for a ‘Lifeline’ kit. This worked quite well but the instructions are poor – and one needs to be absolutely certain that the correct tools for each side are used ( as there are both left and right handed threads on an English threaded BB ). Luckily the Park Tool site has a useful ‘help and repair’ section and their kit functions in quite a similar way. The new sealed BB now threaded in smoothly and easily.


a shiny result !

a shiny result !

Tyres chosen were Schwalbe Delta Cruiser in cream, and these 35C jobs give a smooth ride and roll reasonably well at the recommended 65psi ( for such ‘semi-balloons’ at least ! )

I wanted the tyres to contrast with the black rims and I am rather pleased with the look. Tyre clearance is close at the rear and the nutted Tektro brakes work very well. They were the best I could find for the large drop and wide tyres.
With these tyres, the laid back seat tube, the longish wheelbase and thick bar tape, the bike gives a comfortable ride on the rough urban and suburban roads I often use.

isca-selle tornado

isca-selle tornado

The frame has a 56cm seat tube and 58cm top tube ( C-C ). These old style ‘over-square’ frames often give an unfashionably slow and yet lovely stable steering. To my mind it depends as much as anything on one’s riding ‘mood’ and environment as to which is preferable.

And there’s no toe overlap here, even with large toe clips.

"toy camera" effect

“toy camera” effect

I originally tried an Iscaselle “Tornado” classic saddle that I acquired with another bike, but while it looked great, it’s not as comfortable as any of my regular Brooks, so I am now trying my ‘Team Pro’ instead. Although the Italian ‘leather over foam and plastic’ saddies feel initially softer than Brooks I find that over a distance my bum somehow partially settles somewhere on the hard chassis, whereas the Brooks ‘hammock’ style keeps the pressure points more evenly supported.

now with "team pro" saddle

now with “team pro” saddle

I’ve learned a little technique after using this hub for some time, especially for the tricky down changes. The rattly freewheel sound while coasting in high can be quietened by back-pedalling very slightly, then, if necessary a small quick back kick from there will shift it to low. Still catches me out sometimes though …

I left the frame pretty much as it was, just a rough de-rust and paint touch-up.

hmmm ?

hmmm ?

I added the hand painting of the head tube inset – black with a white question mark – as being appropriate to this mystery frame and I kept the Speedwell decals as they’re part of its history now.   The lugs have been lined in white and — hey presto !

A new-old rough ‘city fun bike’.… and was it worth the trouble ? Well, I think the heavy and harder riding Road King now has to go anyway.

Happy Re-cycling !


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out testing

out testing

No, no, it’s not really about the fine art of component weight reduction via filling everything full of holes – or at least only vaguely …

full circles

full circles

I’ve been investigating flat pedals for a couple of my bikes and have found two pairs of metal platforms of interest. I assume these are designed for technical MTB-ing down hills but they also make good commuter pedals for urban use in traffic where my regular “long distance” toe clips are too ungainly.

kinda honeycomb ...

now sort of floral …

The first is the Speedplay “Drillium”, a really neat looking and grippy pedal with concave surfaces. They feel like suction cups on your feet and even though quite costly – they are the most expensive pedals I have bought to date – they are very well made and very “different” . Not exactly old school or classic looking for your old bike, they form endlessly fascinating honeycomb patterns at different viewing angles. Too cool for words !

road king & b144s

road king & b144s

The other set is the Wellgo B144 in red to match my Road King, these are well made and grippy, though not as much as the drilliums – at around half the price. Both these pedals are equipped with tiny metal studs to hold your shoes fast.

Will the simple rubber O-ring inner bearing seals on the B144s last the distance though ? – we shall see !

The Road King has gone full circle with its bars, as I have gone back to drop bars. The upright bars I had felt strange as I am becoming more used to road bars, which is odd because I used to dislike them …

Cane Creek SCR-5 are my fave road levers for old bikes too – they are really great to grip .

I found some new cotton bar tape that I have shellacked for the bars, and rather like the look and feel, at least with a cushiony double wrap on the drops anyway.

worth a try, anyway

CL7 – worth a try, i suppose

On the Fernleigh track the 2-speed Sturmey-Archer hub shows its limitations, as you would expect. However it wasn’t planned to be a world-beater, merely a suburban tourer and it does that well. Although I don’t have a computer on it, the gearing allows around 30 ( or so ) km/h in top at a comfortable fast cadence. That’s all most people really need isn’t it ?

It’s a matter of slowing down in first sometimes or grinding out in top when your requirements are somewhere in between the two speeds. If you insist on perfection in such a gear system then you could be disappointed, but it’s still much better for my riding style than single speed !
Some more thoughts on this hub :

When coasting down hill, I kick it back to the lower gear as the high gear freewheel sound is loud and graunchy as opposed to the typical sweet Sturmey low gear sound.

It is difficult to tell which gear you are in at traffic lights when you backpedal for the restart of motion, as the sound is the main clue. Another good reason to not gear it too high – bogging down !

In spite of this it’s a great hub, and you can’t beat the feeling of a fast back pedalling upchange when accelerating.

Big mistakes department — the Dunlop CL7 Narrow classic 50s saddle I tried on the Road King looks cool, but it left a big black rubber stain on my jeans after I tried to revitalise it — it’s back to the trusty B17, I guess !

it doesn't seem like nearly winter ...

it doesn’t seem like nearly winter …

Happy Re-cycling !

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not the road king - i just polished the brass bell !!

not the road king – i just polished the brass bell !!

I hadn’t ridden this bike for some time due to a wonky rear wheel, and was thinking of fixing and selling it, but of course as it was one of my favourite early rides, I had a feeling my thinking would come around !

The frame is a nice size( 58-59cm ) and the original 1984 model bike was only little used and straight framed, but the old SunRace derailleurs were clunky and have a splined freewheel in an old size that I can never find a tool for.

two-in-one - and no cables !

two-in-one – no cables !    and an 120mm O.L.D.

Then along came a new Sturmey Archer S2 Duomatic 2-speed hub laced to a 700c Vee-style rim at a price too good to overlook. These hubs have been available for a few years in their modern version and I had seen them fitted to some new cruiser bikes too.

The hub has a normal ( direct ) gear and one that is an 1.4x ( or 40% higher ) overdrive. My take on this is not to have ” high and higher ” but to have a useful low gear and a normal gear. To that end I used the inner 42T ring on the double chain set and adjusted the chain line in this case by using a dished 22T rear cog with the concave facing inward, to give a straight chain line.

The wheel came fitted with an 18T straight S-A cog – that would have been OK on a 34-36T ring for my purposes.

the new look

the new look

The 42 x 22T combo gives a first gear of around 51 inches and a top gear of 70 inches, giving brisk acceleration in low from low speeds and the equivalent of around a 42x16T “urban” top gear.  If you are the sort of rider who likes to chase down road bikes you will want a smaller rear cog, but with this combo you have an all-round flexible top with a bonus low for those short sharp hills. In this form, it is the rough equivalent of the second and fourth gears of a classic 10-speed, so the idea is to coast, not pedal, down the big hills.

the protector ring hides the outer chain wheel

the protector ring hides the redundant outer 52T chain wheel

As a rider who likes to always remain seated I find this a great set-up, and on a howling windy day like today i could appreciate the headwind cutting ability of the lower gear.

crikey - try pedalling against that !

crikey – try pedalling against that !

On a ten-speed on flattish ground I will often change from the big to the small ring all day, as required, leaving the rear mech. set around the middle cog, and this hub gives a similar feel …

new reflector, no rack

new reflector, no rack

The S2 makes two distinct types of freewheel clicking noises when coasting in either gear, high-loud and low-quiet. This is a simple way of telling the gear, and your gear will hold while coasting unless you pedal backward.

Gearchange is via a quick back-pedal, and while it takes a bit of getting used to it’s really no more fiddly than the trimming of friction shifter gears. The up-change is almost foolproof, backpedal to the first click and you are there ( approx. one-eighth revolution ), changing down is quieter and more tricky, though it’s not a problem to have to have a couple of goes now and again.

hiding from the wind ...

hiding from the wind …

Other alterations to the Road King included changing of the brake levers and callipers, bending the calliper arms to correct the toe-in, a 1/8″ single speed chain, new handgrips, a longer and lower stem, and of course removal of the redundant gear mechs. and levers.

The 27″ wheels are now 700c with Duro ‘Ene Ciclo’ 2-tone tyres and a Brooks B17 saddle replaces the trusty sprung B66, due to the less upright seating.

The bike is now refreshingly simple and a bit lighter, though the S2 hub is pretty hefty – similar in weight to a coaster brake or a 3-speed hub.

Even though the seating is only semi-upright, I found it a real ‘sit-up’ – since I have been mostly riding with drop bars lately !

new stem, no shifters

new stem, no shifters

I would really recommend this S2 hub as a simple yet clever bit of useful gear. I can only assume the coaster brake version may be a little more difficult to use because of the possible shift/brake movements conflict, but I am only guessing in this case.

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