22 September 2011

One For Vera? Or Is It An Internal Matter?

I promise:  Vera will not end up looking like this:

However, she may end up with a fixed gear or a "flip-flop" hub.  Now that she's become my regular commuter, I'm really thinking about dispensing with the derailleur.  

Some of you will tell me to consider an internally-geared hub (IGH).  I am. However, I haven't had the best of luck with the ones I've had.  Hal, the Bicycle Habitat mechanic who's built any wheel I ride and haven't built myself (and who set up Arielle, Tosca and Helene) says the only IGH he likes is the Rohloff, which costs more than my first ten or so bikes.  

And, I'll admit that I like the elegant simplicity of fixed gears, and even single speed freewheels.  But don't worry:  If I go that route, or give in to an IGH, I won't do anything silly like cutting off the derailleur mounting "ear" on the rear dropout.  In fact, I don't want to cut, drill bend or otherwise mutilate the frame for any modification.


  1. Someone told me last summer that once you start converting a derailleur bike to fixed gear, it's a sign that it's on its way out of favour. This was apropos my Motobecane mixte. Anyhow, I hope that is not the case here, but if it is my open arms are ready! What? Just saying!

    Oh and did I miss a ride report? Please do post one. I am especially interested in how the bike compares to the current production Miss M, and in whether it has toe overlap.

  2. BTW: Do you not like SA 3-speed hubs? That would be my choice should you decide to go the IGH route.

  3. The SA S3X hub appeals. Has the Bicycle Habitat mechanic acquired a truck scale to weigh the Rohloff? I like my Shimano 7 speed, but only use three of those gears, which I guess leads me back to the first sentence; lighter than the rest and useful at the same time.

  4. Steve and Velouria,

    Don't worry. Vera is not out of favor. So far, I love it! However, I think it's going to be my regular commuter.

    In my heart of hearts, I think I really want an IGH. I love fixed gear, but I realize that a single speed fixie is not really the most practical option for commuting.

    If I go to IGH, I might go with the S3X. I'm tempted to find an old SA hub (pre-1970 or thereabouts) and space it for Vera just because they're English. (Current SA production is made in Taiwan by Sun Race.) However, those hubs are often in very poor condition through misuse and neglect, so I'd have to spend half of my remaining life hunting down parts on eBay and in swap meets. I really don't want to fuss too much to make something work. At least I would expect a new S3X work right out of the box, and I can get it in the spacing Vera needs.

  5. Hi Justine, just wanted to say it was nice meeting you today. Hope you enjoyed your ride. I look forward to seeing the photo on your blog. Sorry I was in a rush, I was late for a photoshoot. BTW, I have a blog too with lots of photos of me & my bike: sherylyvette.com I'm also known as *BitchCakes*

  6. Bitch Cakes--I really enjoyed meeting you today, too. I understand that you were in a rush; sometimes I am, too. I'm definitely going to check out your blog, and I hope that you like my photo. (A photographer I'm not!)

  7. Sometimes my brain defies logic. IGHs have often given me horrible experiences, the SA five speed has to be the worst, but for practicality, ability to keep chain covered and being able to relax not having expensive gears hanging in the wind IGH does have a strong draw. I made a trip last year with a rented seven speed hub in Germany where they are very popular and have to say that it was a joy. Empty bank account is all that stops me giving the new generation a try...

  8. Coline--Are you talking about the old SA 5 speed that was made in England? My Dahon had a Sturmey Archer 5 speed that was made in Taiwan. It was one of the worst pieces of bicycle kit I've ever ridden: It simply would not stay in adjustment.

    Maybe I should try a Shimano 7 when finances permit.. Don't worry, though: It won't be on Vera!

    1. That 5 speed was on a winter get me to work bike more than thirty years ago and no adjustment could ever stop it changing to neutral without warning!