The Chainlink

My kid will be ready for a 20" bike and some gears probably sometime in the next 18 months, and I'd really like to set him up with a 3-speed internal gear hub.  This looks awesome, but really pricey:

http://kozy.com/product/11schwinn-mini-mesa-3-speed-77252-1.htm

Unless someone has one they'd like to sell used? 

 

Otherwise, it could be an interesting exercise in learning about bike anatomy / mechanics for me to try to convert a bike to an internal gear hub.  Are there any classes in Chicago on learning how to do something like that?  Would you start with a single-speed or a 7-speed?  I'm planning to watch Craigslist for awhile and try to come up with a good option or at least a good starting point.

 

Why do I want a bike for him with a 3-speed internal gear hub?  I like the idea of learning with fewer gears, and I like the increased durability of a sealed system.  The kid bikes A LOT, and fairly long distances, so I'd like to get something that's more than just a toy.

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Nuts, I just sold 20" IGH 5 speed last week for a hell of a lot less.

 

I can set you up with a Sturmey Archer or Fitchel & Sachs 3 speed hub and all the fiddly bits in a steel rim. Or just the hub and bits if you want to try your hand at converting. If you want to convert, your matra is "Horizontal Dropouts, Horizontal Dropouts, not Vertical Dropouts, Horizontal Dropouts.

 

Is your kid old enough for hand brakes?

I'm not sure about hand brakes; he's never used them before.  I guess hand strength would be the biggest concern?  I guess coaster + hand brake would be optimal, but I think hand brake alone would be fine. 

 

Do you see them frequently?  If I wait it out, will you keep me in mind for the next one?

 

I'll keep an eye out, and remember the mantra.  Thanks!

I totally think you could build the guts. The hardest part for me is measuring the distance from the hub to the rim and doing the math. Since you're a scientist I'm going to take a wild leap that you'll do much better with this on your first go around than I did. The actual spoking of the wheel is really simple and therapeutic once you get going. 

I've got a good lead on cheap spokes if you can get the numbers to me. I assume you'll want to go for 36 spokes for strength and ease of finding a hub.

The hubs aren't a problem. I've got a stash of Sturmey Archer hubs from the 50s to the 70s and a couple of the Fitchel & Sachs hubs from the 60s. The F&S hubs are a better quality than the Sturmeys but near impossible to get parts for. That said, with a bit of oil, the Sturmeys last forever and parts can still be had.

The only coasters I have are single speed. One Sturmey and an F&S Komet. Never been a fan of multispeed coasters. The older ones have a tendency to not work when you need them to. Newer ones may be better but, don't know and don't care.

Multispeed coasters are all real junk in my opinion, they all seem to have issues.

 

find a bike with horizontal drop outs and a cable stop in the right place and build yourself a wheel.

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