new Sturmey Archer S3X internals

Sturmey Archer’s U.S. rep got the parts to me in TWO DAYS, no questions asked. New internals for the S3X, and a new shifter because some of the first ones had been mis-indexed, and may have caused the problem in the first place.  I could have shipped the wheel to Napa, and the rep would have done the repair, but this seemed faster and more fun.  It kind of was.

I had to take it to Tommy’s to get the left cone nuts removed. They were on so tightly that I bent my old Eldi cone wrenches trying to remove them. I ordered a pair of Park wrenches for the future.

While I was there, Ben was like, “It’s out – do you want me to just put the new one in?” Umm, “yes please.” I was on my way to the Oregon Manifest party, and didn’t really want to be doing the operation in Chris King’s parking lot. Might’ve garnered some attention, but still…

I need to adjust the cones, I think. I read something on the internet about setting the right cones exactly, and then adjusting from the left, but didn’t want to get all “I read this on the internet” to a professional bike mechanic.

So I’m happy, the bike rolls well, it works in all three gears, and the slightly higher gear I chose when I put it back together is better for keeping up with traffic.

The S3X needs the SHORT guide nut

E-Bike Stop told me my S3X has a two year warranty, so I called Sturmey-Archer America, and talked to David, the lone American S/A representative, about my broken axle nut, and how I can’t get the shifting to work with the new, longer nut. I had worried that I broke the hub completely, but it still shifted, even with the broken nut. Turns out it’s just the nut, and David’s mailing me a “short guide nut,” no charge. Super nice.

this nut goes on a regular 3 speed, not the S3X

The long “guide nut”* I had gotten as a replacement (the right-side axle nut with the hole for the indicator chain), doesn’t allow the gear adjustment you need. I’m not entirely sure how that could be; it seems like you’d just slacken off the cable, but it sure doesn’t work that way. I think the length of the nut and the cable angle must act like a pulley, and change the amount of travel in the shifter.

If you need to replace your S3X axle nut, get the Sturmey number and call directly. A shop may not be able to get the short one from the usual channels, and it will most likely cost $5 or so.

I actually called David back and asked if Sturmey Archer had a quick release for the cable. He thought I meant a quick release for the hub, and said Coombs Cycling Components is going to be showing him an axle quick release system for the S3X at Interbike in a couple weeks. That sounds really cool. The Coombs quick releases look dorky with a QR lever on each side of the axle, but I had a flat the other week with no wrench, so I can see the value.

As far as a cable quick release, they don’t have anything like that. I’ll probably end up ordering a Bruce Gordon QS2s or Davinci cable splitter for it if I can’t find a SRAM cable release.


* I had no idea this is what they were called. Good to know.

S3X busted nut

S3X busted nut., originally uploaded by BikeTinker.

The wheel was slipping in the dropouts (yeah, yeah, “fork ends”) after I changed a flat, so I added two links to the chain and cranked down extra hard. Two days later I noticed the end had cracked, but it still shifted.

Yesterday, at the bottom of the hill on Willis Road, it snapped entirely. The top two gears still worked, but the low gear only freewheels. I climbed the hill anyway, and picked about two gallons of blackberries for jam. Then I went to the Hotel Oregon and put my feet up.


S3X goes on its maiden voyage

Around the block and through the orchard with the dog. 35mm tire, 42×15.

47.5 57 76 gear inches.
3.6 – 4.3 – 5.7 in gain ratios (I’m finally trying to internalize gain ratios).

  • The backlash isn’t a feature.
  • The back lash is not a dealbreaker, yet.
  • Amazingly, the shifter just screws right onto the seatstay rack boss and shifts without turning. Thanks, Pants Pants!
  • If it comes loose, I’m certain a piece can be fabricated that will lock it down.
  • Already had to replace the shift cable, since I reorganized it mid-ride, but set it to ‘slack’ in gear 2, not gear 1. Or 3. The 1:1 high gear. Of course, I really cinched it down! Luckily, I used cables from the dead trigger shifters in the parts bin.
  • Even old Speedblend tires make the red hub look normal and sedate.