An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The great internal-gear hub shortage of 2007

According to our friends in Europe, the internal-gear hub is in such high demand that there are widespread shortages everywhere. This is the natural result of growing city-bike popularity, and the institutional demand of programs like Paris's Velib. Also, the steampunks are using the parts to build analog computer mouses.

Some are saying that special orders for classic old three-speeders like the Sturmey Archer may have to queue up on a 200-day waiting list.

We're big fans of these hubs -- tear one apart sometime if your pride in human ingenuity has soured. But we feel they have been excessively canonized in recent years. ("Maintenance free! Working parts all enclosed, out of the muck!") The advantages of the internal 3-speed are many, but they're definitely not trouble-free -- and when they do have problems, even your able-bodied LBS mechanic is going to bridle at doing anything more than twisting the cable adjusters.

In fact, internal hubs probably inspire more rejections from bike mechanics than tacoed rims do -- most bike mechanics not being skilled enough to rebuild a wheel or tear apart a three-speed hub in a money-making period of time.


Matt said...

I have a Nexus 8-speed on one of my bikes. It's really nice. I don't know that they've been excessively canonized (maybe that's about to start), in fact, I'd say they've been excessively disdained. For all the froth at Interbike, you sure haven't seen many internally-geared hub bicycles at the LBS. I think a lot of people don't understand how wide a range the hubs offer (the Nexus 8-speed has a wider range than my 1970s 10-speed), that there are no duplicate gears like there are in derailleur bikes, that you can shift at a stop and, best of all, that you can have a chainguard. Keeps the trousers tidy, you know, no dweeby capris required. It'll be a cold day in hell before you see racers using them again but for the vast majority of casual riders, a Nexus 7- or 8-speed or the new SRAM i-motion 9-speed hub offer lots of useful gear range in a tidy package of comprehensible gears. They do kind of blow, though, when you have to change a flat!

Web said...

Many casual cyclists are intimidated by derailleurs. In fact, I know people with derailleur bikes that refuse to switch gears because they're flustered, not knowing what thumb shifter to use...

If internal hubs can help people enjoy cycling more, I say bring them on!


davison said...

Just don't forget to bring a six pack for repairing a flat. A case if you're sportin' the model with roller brakes.

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