Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports: Hedging Bets With a Sturmey Archer FW

As many of you likely know, the Sturmey Archer SW hub has a bad reputation for reliability. The root of the problem is that the design can allow the hub to cam out of gear in second or third gear. Its unreliability is unlike the very reliable AW. The 1958 Spots has an SW hub.

I recently came into possession of a 1956 Sturmey Archer FW four speed hub. This is essentially the four speed version of the classic AW. It has two gears below normal: a bottom gear and a low gear. It has the usual normal gear, and it has a modest over drive. The bottom gear is lower than the AW, but the high gear is also lower than the AW's high.

The result is a lower geared hub with greater hill climbing potential. If I have one gripe about the AW, it's that the low gear sometimes isn't quite low enough, even with a larger rear cog. This FW hub will need a dust cap, cog, spacers, and cog lock spring. I can certainly swing that. It has the all important non-drive side shifter push rod, which is key.

The bottom line is that I now will have a choice between the stock SW or the four speed. I am actually leaning toward the FW and making this Sports more suited to hilly trails and terrain than my 1974 (AW with a 22 tooth cog). The set up would be a 24 tooth rear cog and FW hub. I lose a little top end, but gain a fair bit on the bottom for climbing.

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