Friday, May 13, 2016

Early Style Sturmey Archer Handlebar Shifter

Many people are familiar with the "upside down" type Sturmey Archer 3 speed shifters of the 1950s.  But did you know that SA had been producing early versions of that "click" shifter since the late 1930s?

SA handlebar shifters go back to the earliest days of 3 speed hubs, but the first truly modern iteration ("the click shifter") appeared in the late 1930s. World War II intervened, and the top tube "quadrant" shifter continued into the 1940s, after the war ended. In the late 1940s, "click" handlebar shifters gradually began replacing the quadrant shifters on 3 speed bikes.

Here is an example of a 1940s Sturmey "click" handle bar shifter.

This model comes before the "window" shifters of the 1950s and has a longer lever. It is part of the 1948 Raleigh Dawn Tourist I am rebuilding.

Many people love the look of a quadrant top tube shifter, but even the early "click" handlebar shifters generally offer more convenience.  This particular variation is much less often seen than the later, "window" shifters.