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  1. #1
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    Shimano Nexus 3 speed hub review

    I finally bought one of these for my commuter. I searched diligently to find reviews for this hub before I bought it, most of what I found turned up here.

    This is the Shimano SG- 3D55 3 speed hub. 32 hole, 135mm, centerlock disc-ready, purportedly having a silent clutch (more on that later). The only production bike I've found to have this hub was a Specialized Globe model from a couple of years ago. I've been riding a single speed for my commute to work, but it's a bit of grind on the hills, especially when it's raining and blowing. So I built this up.


    It's the Salsa single speed Casseroll, which I've fitted with the 3 speed hub. The Salsa has forward facing horizontal dropouts, which is ideal since you can remove the rear wheel without taking off the rear fender. I don't have much experience with IGH's although I did test ride an Alfine 8 speed at a local bike shop. The Alfine works well, but it's quite chunky and I didn't want a grip shifter. The SG3d55 is relatively cheap, $125, add a shifter and bell crank for about $20. It is also about a pound lighter.


    The SG-3d55 has gearing that is the same as all other Shimano 3 speed hubs. 1st gear is .733:1 second gear is 1:1 third gear is 1:1.36. I am running 48t/19t cogs, which results in drivetrain gains of 1.85, 2.53, and 3.44. The gearing is fairly widely spaced, about the same as shifting from your smaller front chainring to the big chainring on a typical road bike (39t/53t). I ride in second gear the most. Overall it works pretty well, though sometimes I find myself wanting something in between 2nd and 3rd gear.

    Shifting. Upshifting is good. Moderate load can be applied to the pedals and the bike will still up shift quickly and quietly. Downshifting . . . not so much. For a clean downshift you pretty much have to pause in pedaling for a clean shift. Seems to be more of an issue for shifting 2nd to 1st than 3rd to 2nd. Just like any of the current cruiser bikes, the bell crank translates the cable pull of the shifter into a pushing force against the pushrod within the axle. Lateral position of the push rod determines what gear the hub is in. The bell crank is fixed by a set screw. Removing the rear wheel first requires removing the bell crank, then loosening the axle nuts. I didn't want a grip shifter, so I dove into the old parts bin and found a Suntour 7speed indexed downtube shifter. Coincidentally, 2 clicks on the suntour works out to one gear on the shimano hub. With a little tuning, the system works pretty well. I run a bare shifter cable from the shifter, under the BB and straight to the bell crank -- no cable housings. This makes for a crisp system.

    Aside from the option for a disc brake, the biggest selling point of this hub is the "silent clutch". Well, that claim is only partially true. The hub is truly silent in first gear, both coasting and pedaling. Second gear is typical hub behavior, silent while pedaling, ratcheting while coasting. Third gear is . . . a disappointment. The hub ratchets both while coasting and pedaling. Not so silent. As far as I recall, the Alfine does not have this problem, so it's certainly possible to design around it.

    Overall, I like the hub. I think the simplicity and compactness of the 3 speed IGH is perfect for commuting. Fewer moving parts than an 8 speed, so less to go wrong. While the external bell crank is not very cool looking, it works well and wheel removal is easy. The gearing works for me pretty well, if anything it could be a bit closer spaced, but it works fine as it is. The biggest annoyance is the ratcheting in third gear, which is only slightly moderated by the fact that I use this gear the least. Improved downshifting would be nice as well.

  2. #2
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    Spiffy setup with the nekked cable exiting directly. Me likey.

    It's too bad 1:1 can't be the #3 gear. I could see some value in that.

    Very clean build.
    speedub.nate
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the review. I wonder if any of the less than optimal shifting and gear noise could be caused by the non-standard shifter config?
    baker

  4. #4
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    The SG-3D55 is Shimano's good ol' Nexus three speed in an aluminum shell with the main drive ratchet replaced by a roller clutch. As mentioned, the two regular over-run ratchets are still in place.

    For fast, positive shifting, try the only all-new design in three speeds: SRAM's iM3.

    My review:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Geared...threaded=1&l=1

    Another review:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Geared...threaded=1&l=1

    JD

  5. #5
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    Sounds interesting. I hadn't really heard anything about the IM3 hub. Does it ratchet in 3rd gear? I didn't see any mention of that in the reviews. After a quick search, it doesn't appear to be available in a 32 hole version.

  6. #6
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    That hub comes with a 19T cog, correct?

    Is it a standard freewheel type in case one would want to put on a different size?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by f3rg
    Is it a standard freewheel type in case one would want to put on a different size?
    No. In case one would want to put on a different size, it is a standard IGH type, as used on Sturmey 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-speed hubs, SRAM 3-, 5- and 7-speed hubs, Shimano 3-, 4-, 7- and 8-speed hubs, and countless SS coaster brake hubs. These are available in 13T to 23T, in both narrow (for 3/32 chain) and wide (for 1/8 chain) thicknesses from several manufacturers.

    HTH,
    JD

  8. #8
    pedal pusher
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    Thanks, John!

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokey_z
    The SG3D55 is relatively cheap, $125, add a shifter and bell crank for about $20.
    FWIW, the SG-3D55 is the most expensive three-speed hub on the N.A. market (apart from the DualDrive and S3X, which are really something different, anyway).

    The SG-3D55 would be around twice as expensive as an SG-3R40, if Shimano only offered that hub aftermarket in America (it is offered as OEM equiment on factory bikes).

    Comparing street prices, the beautiful Sturmey-Archer SRF-3 and lightning-fast shifting, inboard cable SRAM iMotion3 are also only just over half as much as the SG-3D55.

    JD

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by john_dalhart
    FWIW, the SG-3D55 is the most expensive three-speed hub on the N.A. market (apart from the DualDrive and S3X, which are really something different, anyway).

    The SG-3D55 would be around twice as expensive as an SG-3R40, if Shimano only offered that hub aftermarket in America (it is offered as OEM equiment on factory bikes).

    Comparing street prices, the beautiful Sturmey-Archer SRF-3 and lightning-fast shifting, inboard cable SRAM iMotion3 are also only just over half as much as the SG-3D55.

    JD
    They're cheaper, but also seem to weigh significantly more.

  12. #12
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    Hub follow up

    It's been a little short of a year and a half since I put the nexus 3 speed hub into service. I thought I would follow up with how the hub has been performing.

    I have been riding the hub for my commute to work for almost a year and half. It's about a 18 mile round trip, with a mix of flats and small hills. I live in Portland, where it happens to rain quite a bit throughout the year, except July through September. My original goal in building this bike was to have a very low maintenance commuter that didn't feel like a tank to ride. Since I've built it, I have done very little maintence, except oiling the chain, changing tires, and adjusting brake pads. Recently I noticed that the 3 speed hub was making an intermittent click/ creak, so I decided to check it out.

    What I found right away was that the drive side of the hub had been contaminated with water and dirt. The non-drive side looked pretty much like I expected, the originally white grease had turned to a neutral grey color from the natural breaking in process of metal to metal contact. On the drive side, the outer most bearings, cone and retainer were covered in rust, with little grease remaining. The color difference is pretty obvious. The bearings and retainer need replacement, possibly the cone and cog carrier.
    So while this hub offers some higher performance features in terms of weight and the clutch, it lacks the type of seals that are needed for year round riding in the pacific northwest. At the least there should be a double set of seals on the drive side to reduce water ingress. I plan to rebuild the hub with new bearings and see how it performs, however I doubt it last more than one or two more winters before the entire hub is shot.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokey_z
    ..
    So while this hub offers some higher performance features in terms of weight and the clutch, it lacks the type of seals that are needed for year round riding in the pacific northwest. At the least there should be a double set of seals on the drive side to reduce water ingress. I plan to rebuild the hub with new bearings and see how it performs, however I doubt it last more than one or two more winters before the entire hub is shot.
    interesting. Or maybe in your conditions it needs to repacked with grease every few months?

  14. #14
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    I am currently building a wheel with one of these hubs and I am trying to work out what additional bits I need. I have the disc spline hub, I have the shifter and I have the bell crank and non turn washer. I was wondering what size push rod I needed and what other additional parts I might need?

  15. #15
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    You'll need a couple of axle nuts, if you don't already have them. Then you just have to figure out your cable routing from the shifter to the bell crank. I routed mine through a guide under the bottom bracket, road style. I decided to go without cable housing as it tends to add friction. Only drawback I can see is that the position of the axle in the dropouts affects tuning of the shifter. I am able to fine tune the system by sliding the bottom bracket cable guide laterally to make small adjustment in the overall path length. I'l have to check the push rod length later.

  16. #16
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    smokey_z, thanks for your pictures and review.
    It's really sad that a bicycle manufactor doesn't include features to protect the hub from rain. I have a older hub ; SG-3C41, and it needs maintenance as it grinds.

    Love your bike. I have same frame, but older.

  17. #17
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    from the original post I suspect you tested a Nexus-8 rather than the Alfine-8? The nexus has the grip shifter and the alfine has a trigger shifter. Overall I do very much like your very sensible build, sometimes an extra gear or two is needed.

    I also have that continuing struggle with the 3-speed IGH, I do favor a stealthy quiet ride and have never been able to get that. I had two bikes with 3-speed IGH both the Sram and Shimano, both have clackety-clack. The sram I converted to a heavy but superb Nuvinci n-360..utterly silent! and my other I'm preparing to convert over to a nexus-8 coaster. Admittedly these are on more fun/recreation bikes and not a workhorse so I'm fine with the sizable weight penalty. My Alfine equipped bike is dead silent and I love it!

    As I understand, it's the basic mechanical 'simplicity' (relative) of the 3-speeds w/ planetary gears that introduce that gear noise, it also allows them to manage maintaining a favorable weight and price point and that is their strength. I know I'll pony up a modest extra for that well sealed and silent 3-speed.

    I've been curious about switching my SS road (steamroller) over to a Sturmy KB2 hub. I too have enough hills about me that a devotion to SS when riding decidedly pedestrian can be a chore. Its fine to grin and suffer when it's about exercise and fitness but sometimes I just am trying to slowpoke it home, my interest lay primarily in climbing hills and not more speed so a two speed might be okay.

    Bike is a beaut! Great color!! Gratitudes on the review also.

  18. #18
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    MTB and Nexus 3 speed

    How will the Nexus 3 speed hub hold up to mountain biking? I'd like to try one out for a Full suspension bike.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cottonball View Post
    How will the Nexus 3 speed hub hold up to mountain biking? I'd like to try one out for a Full suspension bike.
    Currently testing one on a Surly Pugsley. So far it rolls well but on really rough rides it self shifts which is annoying. After some adjustment it has gotten better. Physically it's holding up well.

  20. #20
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    What do you guys think of the spacing on this hub, I can't feel much difference if any difference at all between 1st and 2nd gear, I am on a 34x16.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dblspeed View Post
    What do you guys think of the spacing on this hub, I can't feel much difference if any difference at all between 1st and 2nd gear, I am on a 34x16.
    34x19 (w/ 29" tires) gave me a more useable ratio, but keeping up on singletrack with a 40lb bike proved to be standing room only on the pedals! I found that on flat ground I was typically running in 3rd, there was no sense in having 3rd for downhill/downwind only.

    you could try 34x17 or 18, and get more climb if you don't use 3rd much.


    As a side note, I am upgrading to alfine 8 for more useable offroad gearing while still keeping the top speed the same.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by roobydoo View Post
    34x19 (w/ 29" tires) gave me a more useable ratio, but keeping up on singletrack with a 40lb bike proved to be standing room only on the pedals! I found that on flat ground I was typically running in 3rd, there was no sense in having 3rd for downhill/downwind only.

    you could try 34x17 or 18, and get more climb if you don't use 3rd much.


    As a side note, I am upgrading to alfine 8 for more useable offroad gearing while still keeping the top speed the same.
    mine was actually an issue of the hub not shifting, after some trial and error and a lot of research I found out I had been provided with the wrong pushrod (too short). After installing the right pushrod the hub works correctly.

    I own a Rohloff as well and I bought this hub as an alternative to either the SS or the Rohloff for flat to hilly terrain, and it works really great for this purpose, much lighter than the Rohloff, moderately heavier than the SS, it offers just enough gear options to be faster on the flats and the downhills, save your legs on the grinds, and keep up with the gearies when needed (ie, on pavement). That said I'd be weary of using an Alfine instead of the Rohloff for riding in real mountains, given the proven, bombproof shifting and general performance of the latter.

  23. #23
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    What are the exact sprockets inside the Nexus 3?
    I read that the OP mentioned some ratios but I must be new still that I cannot convert that on to "T" terms.

    I looked at Shimanos web site and, for the Nexus 3, shows 16T, 18T, 19T, 20T, 21T, 22T & 23T. I figure that their specs sheet makes reference that it can have any 3 combination from 16T to 23T but my local dealer told me that the Nexus 3 is only one and cannot be customized... he did not know what is the gearing inside!

    I just bought a bike that has 39T at the Chainring and the Nexus 3... I am just curios of what exactly I have.

    Thanks!

  24. #24
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    Count the number of teeth on your rear cog. Multiply that number times the gear ratios to get your effective rear gearing.

    Ratios
    0.733
    1.000
    1.364

    So, if your cog has 18 teeth, your effective rear gears are: 13.2, 18, and 24.5
    baker

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker View Post
    Count the number of teeth on your rear cog. Multiply that number times the gear ratios to get your effective rear gearing.

    Ratios
    0.733
    1.000
    1.364

    So, if your cog has 18 teeth, your effective rear gears are: 13.2, 18, and 24.5
    Thanks for your answer BUT the Nexus 3 has the cogs inside the hub. Cannot see the cogs, cannot count the teeth unless the hub is completely disassembled and opened hence my question...

  26. #26
    dru
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    You don't need to count the cogs inside. The hub uses various combinations of those cogs to produce the ratios that Baker listed. The ratios X whatever of the 7 sprockets you choose determines the effective gear.

    As Baker said the 18T gives 13.2, 18, 24.5

    And, as Baker said, count the number of teeth on the sprocket on the hub.

    When you have that # multiply it by .733, 1, 1.364 to get your three 'gears'

    For instance, using the 22T gives you 16.126, 22, 30.008....

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT *in-use* View Post
    Thanks for your answer BUT the Nexus 3 has the cogs inside the hub. Cannot see the cogs, cannot count the teeth unless the hub is completely disassembled and opened hence my question...
    An internal gear hub, such as the Nexus 3, uses a planetary gear system to determine its ratios. It doesn't have cogs like you find on a freewheel or cassette. The Shimano specs that show a range of available cogs to use with the Nexus 3 are actually talking about the single rear cog that can be switched out. I have rear cogs ranging from 18t to 22t that will fit on my Nexus 3, but only one can be fitted at a time. Changing the rear cog is simple. Doing so will change all three gears of the hub to be either higher or lower. There isn't a way to change individual gears in the hub, though that would be nice.

    You can use a gear calculator to compare the gear ratios in the Nexus 3 to cassette cogs. Here is one that I use, as it displays the results in a nice graph:

    kstoerz.com | visual drivetrain comparison tool

    You change the IGH field to Nexus Inter-3 when entering your data.

    I used to have a Nexus 3 mated to a 700c wheel. With a 39t chainring and 19t rear cog, the three gear ratios in the Nexus 3 were equivalent to using 26t, 19t, and 14t cogs on a cassette (also with a 39t chainring and 700c wheel).

  28. #28
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    Maybe he meant to ask how many pawls are inside the hub - as in how quickly will drive engage?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by dru View Post
    You don't need to count the cogs inside. The hub uses various combinations of those cogs to produce the ratios that Baker listed. The ratios X whatever of the 7 sprockets you choose determines the effective gear.

    As Baker said the 18T gives 13.2, 18, 24.5

    And, as Baker said, count the number of teeth on the sprocket on the hub.

    When you have that # multiply it by .733, 1, 1.364 to get your three 'gears'

    For instance, using the 22T gives you 16.126, 22, 30.008....

    Drew
    Got it... got it now! Sorry Baker I did not get it the first time!

    Quote Originally Posted by scooby214 View Post
    An internal gear hub, such as the Nexus 3, uses a planetary gear system to determine its ratios. It doesn't have cogs like you find on a freewheel or cassette. The Shimano specs that show a range of available cogs to use with the Nexus 3 are actually talking about the single rear cog that can be switched out. I have rear cogs ranging from 18t to 22t that will fit on my Nexus 3, but only one can be fitted at a time. Changing the rear cog is simple. Doing so will change all three gears of the hub to be either higher or lower. There isn't a way to change individual gears in the hub, though that would be nice.

    You can use a gear calculator to compare the gear ratios in the Nexus 3 to cassette cogs. Here is one that I use, as it displays the results in a nice graph:

    kstoerz.com | visual drivetrain comparison tool

    You change the IGH field to Nexus Inter-3 when entering your data.

    I used to have a Nexus 3 mated to a 700c wheel. With a 39t chainring and 19t rear cog, the three gear ratios in the Nexus 3 were equivalent to using 26t, 19t, and 14t cogs on a cassette (also with a 39t chainring and 700c wheel).
    Great link!
    Took me a while to understand the concept but I stand corrected!
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Corporal Punishment View Post
    Maybe he meant to ask how many pawls are inside the hub - as in how quickly will drive engage?
    Thank you for sharing and trying to make me look less stupid!
    I was confused but corrected.

  30. #30
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    No worries GT *in-use*, this stuff isn't straightforward when you move from a regualr drivetrain over to IGH...
    baker

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    Shifter question

    So, would the SA thumb shifter work with this hub? I would like to set one of these Nexus up on a drop bar bike and don't like the idea of their twist shifter on the bar end.

    Thanks, Matt

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattyT View Post
    So, would the SA thumb shifter work with this hub?
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by MattyT View Post
    I would like to set one of these Nexus up on a drop bar bike and don't like the idea of their twist shifter on the bar end.
    If you're so enamored with the Shimano hub you've named one of you children Nexus, there are ways to use a drop bar shifter with this hub. Probably more straightforward though just to use a Sturmey three-speed hub from the AW-NIG family on that drop bar bike, then you'll have a choice of factory classic trigger, modern trigger, thumb, twist, bar end, braze-on downtube or seatpost shifters.

    In comparison to Shimano and SRAM IGHs, Sturmey hubs have the additional advantage in NA of parts support.

    JD

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    I use a Sturmey Archer S-RF3 on one of my drop bar bikes. The SA bar-end shifter works great. Makes for a great drop bar commuter bike.

    I used to have a Nexus 3 wheel, but didn't use it on this bike. I couldn't find a satisfactory shifter arrangement. I ended up selling the wheel to cover the cost of the new SA hub.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooby214 View Post
    An internal gear hub, such as the Nexus 3, uses a planetary gear system to determine its ratios. It doesn't have cogs like you find on a freewheel or cassette. The Shimano specs that show a range of available cogs to use with the Nexus 3 are actually talking about the single rear cog that can be switched out. I have rear cogs ranging from 18t to 22t that will fit on my Nexus 3, but only one can be fitted at a time. Changing the rear cog is simple. Doing so will change all three gears of the hub to be either higher or lower. There isn't a way to change individual gears in the hub, though that would be nice.

    You can use a gear calculator to compare the gear ratios in the Nexus 3 to cassette cogs. Here is one that I use, as it displays the results in a nice graph:

    kstoerz.com | visual drivetrain comparison tool

    You change the IGH field to Nexus Inter-3 when entering your data.

    I used to have a Nexus 3 mated to a 700c wheel. With a 39t chainring and 19t rear cog, the three gear ratios in the Nexus 3 were equivalent to using 26t, 19t, and 14t cogs on a cassette (also with a 39t chainring and 700c wheel).
    In most european countries the actual gearing components inside the hubs are whats called cogs. And in a derailleur system i guess the rear end are cogs too, kinda, but the internals of a planet gear system are more cogs than a derailleur system if you ask me, purely linguistically speaking. If you say "cog" to someone in europe they immediately refer to the internal parts of planet gear stuff in 99.5% of the cases I'd guess.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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    Specialized sucks ass.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post
    In most european countries the actual gearing components inside the hubs are whats called cogs. And in a derailleur system i guess the rear end are cogs too, kinda, but the internals of a planet gear system are more cogs than a derailleur system if you ask me, purely linguistically speaking. If you say "cog" to someone in europe they immediately refer to the internal parts of planet gear stuff in 99.5% of the cases I'd guess.
    You make good points, linguistically speaking. I tend to think of the chainring and external cassette gears as sprockets, but most people around here call them cogs.

    It would be great is if one could replace the cogs inside an IGH to change the ratios. I have my S-RF3 geared where I like it, but that was done by changing the external sprocket (42 front/20 rear). If I could fine tune it, I would make the ratios a bit closer. Wishful thinking, I know...

  36. #36
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    anyone know the cable pull distance(measurement) between gears?
    thxs

  37. #37
    dru
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    I really doubt you'd find it here. Maybe Shimano has it published somewhere?
    occasional cyclist

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    its actually quite easy, use a paint marker, put a dot on the cable and measure the distance. or measure the lever movement.
    i would do it if i had one in front of me.
    i'm wondering if its close to a front 3 spd (sram) shifter.

  39. #39
    dru
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    My worry would be inaccuracy. That kind of stuff needs to be spot on, as in tenths of millimeters.
    occasional cyclist

  40. #40
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    Then put a locking bead or 2 on it and measure. Its easy to measure 0.1mm. I have a feeling +- 0.5 mm or so is passable on 3 sp ones. Or even much more. Seems to me its like 3 different positions so this can't be that hard honestly to get something working.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  41. #41
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    i was thinking a dial indicator on the lever, if the cover can be removed. i've never seen one in person, so i don't know.
    cable stretch and housing compression is more than 0.1mm. And considering the instructions say to put the yellow indicator between the two yellow lines... doesn't sound too precise to me.

  42. #42
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    You're right about the margin of error, but you are also trying to get a shifter from something else to work. The hub might be a bit picky about that. If you find that it works let the forum knw, by all means.
    occasional cyclist

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    Sturmey-Archer AW family
    1-2: 7.4mm
    2-3: 11.2mm

    Sachs/SRAM T3
    1-2: 7mm
    2-3: 13.8mm

    Sturmey Archer RS-RX3:
    1-2: 8.6mm
    2-3: 15.0mm

    Sorry, don't own a Nexus 3 so I've never measured the cable pull on one. Because of all the different factory shifters available and being able to get spare parts, most the gear heads are into Sturmey 3s.

    jd

  44. #44
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    I actually purchased a Sturmey Archer thumb shifter, to attempt using it with a Shimano Nexus 3. I haven't had a chance to set it up, but I will let you know if it works.

    I kind of just went for it, thinking all I would need to do is get 2nd gear lined up, and that it would be OK if the shifter overshoots 1 and 3...not too sure it's going to work, but I can't stand the grip shifter.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by sriracha View Post
    I kind of just went for it, thinking all I would need to do is get 2nd gear lined up, and that it would be OK if the shifter overshoots 1 and 3...
    Overshoots, yeah. Undershoots, not so much.

    As you say: you gotta line up 2nd gear accurately. If you don't get 2nd lined up, your three-speed hub can have a short and very unhappy life.

    The Shimano 3-speed bell crank has an indicator on it for 2nd gear alignment. Of course the other two gears are found at cable slack and cable taut - conditions your shifter of choice has to achieve.

    One approach with a three-speed is to use a many-speeds indexed shifter (DT, bar end, brifter, dual paddle) and set one of the middle index positions to 2nd gear. This acurate shifter index position can be found when riding by counting clicks, visual observation, looking at the shifter's indicator (were applicable) or feel.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokey_z View Post
    It's been a little short of a year and a half since I put the nexus 3 speed hub into service. I thought I would follow up with how the hub has been performing.

    I have been riding the hub for my commute to work for almost a year and half. It's about a 18 mile round trip, with a mix of flats and small hills. I live in Portland, where it happens to rain quite a bit throughout the year, except July through September. My original goal in building this bike was to have a very low maintenance commuter that didn't feel like a tank to ride. Since I've built it, I have done very little maintence, except oiling the chain, changing tires, and adjusting brake pads. Recently I noticed that the 3 speed hub was making an intermittent click/ creak, so I decided to check it out.

    What I found right away was that the drive side of the hub had been contaminated with water and dirt. The non-drive side looked pretty much like I expected, the originally white grease had turned to a neutral grey color from the natural breaking in process of metal to metal contact. On the drive side, the outer most bearings, cone and retainer were covered in rust, with little grease remaining. The color difference is pretty obvious. The bearings and retainer need replacement, possibly the cone and cog carrier.
    So while this hub offers some higher performance features in terms of weight and the clutch, it lacks the type of seals that are needed for year round riding in the pacific northwest. At the least there should be a double set of seals on the drive side to reduce water ingress. I plan to rebuild the hub with new bearings and see how it performs, however I doubt it last more than one or two more winters before the entire hub is shot.
    wondering if you considered regular (once a month?) oiling of the hub? I've got one built as a commuter wheelset and I am planning to just inject heavy suspension oil (30wt) down where the shift pin goes and just let it seep out slowly. I put 5ml in at a time and so far have had any leak onto the rim (I'm using disks so it wouldn't matter anyway). Suspension fluid shouldn't be too hard on any seals in the hub I hope as otherwise it would eat your fork seals?

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by dru View Post
    My worry would be inaccuracy. That kind of stuff needs to be spot on, as in tenths of millimeters.
    lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by sriracha View Post
    I actually purchased a Sturmey Archer thumb shifter, to attempt using it with a Shimano Nexus 3. I haven't had a chance to set it up, but I will let you know if it works.

    I kind of just went for it, thinking all I would need to do is get 2nd gear lined up, and that it would be OK if the shifter overshoots 1 and 3...not too sure it's going to work, but I can't stand the grip shifter.
    Any luck yet?

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    Well I used an old right hand Shimano thumb shifter and its working fine

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    Regarding the Nexus SG-3D55: I have recently set one up on my daily commuter.
    - It's brand new, and at this point has seen less than 400km.
    - I have been careful to make sure the indicator rod's yellow line has always been squarely in between the yellow lines when in 2nd gear.
    - The hub has had essentially no problems shifting. (It has mis-shifted perhaps ten times, my own fault due to not tightening a grip shifter on the handlbars properly, so i didn't fully get to 3rd)
    - I have recently noticed a high-pitched squeaking from the hub when in 3rd gear and putting a fair bit of effort into pedalling. I thought the sound came from my cheapo pedals at first because it only happened when i was putting force through the drivetrain.
    - I wonder if this may have to do with the weather. It's recently gotten to about -10C where I live, and I wonder if this is affecting the hub's grease.
    - FWIW, I am on 3rd gear the majority of the time, with the two other gears as lower gears.

    I am mildly concerned... Can I live with this as some kind of "breaking in" process, or should I open up the hub and replace its grease with Shimano's blue mineral oil/ATF fluid/something else?

    I hate the idea that something is destroying itself inside the hub.

    I guess I am OK with the idea of replacing the hub's oil on a regular basis.

    If i replace the grease with oil, any suggestions for what to use other than Shimano's blue stuff?

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by z-warfare View Post
    Regarding the Nexus SG-3D55: I have recently set one up on my daily commuter.
    - It's brand new, and at this point has seen less than 400km.
    - I have been careful to make sure the indicator rod's yellow line has always been squarely in between the yellow lines when in 2nd gear.
    - The hub has had essentially no problems shifting. (It has mis-shifted perhaps ten times, my own fault due to not tightening a grip shifter on the handlbars properly, so i didn't fully get to 3rd)
    - I have recently noticed a high-pitched squeaking from the hub when in 3rd gear and putting a fair bit of effort into pedalling. I thought the sound came from my cheapo pedals at first because it only happened when i was putting force through the drivetrain.
    - I wonder if this may have to do with the weather. It's recently gotten to about -10C where I live, and I wonder if this is affecting the hub's grease.
    - FWIW, I am on 3rd gear the majority of the time, with the two other gears as lower gears.

    I am mildly concerned... Can I live with this as some kind of "breaking in" process, or should I open up the hub and replace its grease with Shimano's blue mineral oil/ATF fluid/something else?

    I hate the idea that something is destroying itself inside the hub.

    I guess I am OK with the idea of replacing the hub's oil on a regular basis.

    If i replace the grease with oil, any suggestions for what to use other than Shimano's blue stuff?
    it's a reasonably cheap hub so shimano's oil seems to expensive for this purpose. As in my post above I am using mine for commuting 10km a day too and once a month or so I put 5ml of heavy oil (i'm using 30w redline suspension which has similar viscosity to gearbox oil) down the hole where the shift pin goes and let it drain out until I top it up again as these aren't sealed as well as, say an alfine8, as the original poster found out. I think this will give it a regular flush and ensure constant lubrication.

    6 months and no issues but that's hardly a long enough test. I'd expect 3 years minimum with no issues before I'd swear by it but have to try something in the mean time.

    If you used a thinner oil or ATF you may want to fill it up more often as I would expect a thinner oil to seep out quicker. Also hot/cold climates would affect the oil drain rate. I'm in NZ and we don't salt our roads in winter so don't have that problem either but we do get 1.5-2m of rain over the year for reference.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by z-warfare View Post
    If i replace the grease with oil, any suggestions for what to use other than Shimano's blue stuff?
    Cyclists were reporting tens of thousands of miles of trouble-free service out of their hub gears if they only provided proper lubrication - a century ago! There's every reason to think we can do the same, and some reason to think we could do even better today.

    Current manufacturer's recommended IGH greases:

    Shimano: hub and coaster brake, Y-041 20600

    SRAM: gear and coaster brake, 0369 135 200 200gm container
    gear and coaster brake, 0369 135 201 35gm container
    bearing, 0369.001.015
    pinions, "quality cycle oil"

    Sturmey: gear, SA103A
    bearing, SA103B
    coaster, SA103E

    SunRace Sturmey-Archer has published in various official factory documents that their SA103A gear grease is an NLGI #00 and suggested Castrol Impervia TR Light as a commercial equivalent. Many American lawnmower repair shops carry NLGI #00 in 4 oz tubes as Snapper 7061017 or Stens 770-123. Sturmey says their SA103B bearing grease is an NLGI #2 and one commercial equivalent is Castrol LMX.

    Aarons Bicycle Repair, an IGH specialist in the Pacific Northwest, relubricates IGHs using Sta-Lube blue marine grease (a hydrophobic NLGI #2 grease) throughout. One might think this could be too heavy, especially in cold weather, but his customers' experiences are favorable.

    So how about oil? IGHs were traditionally lubricated with oils and have a history of giving excellent service used that way. The Kyle/Berto drivetrain tests suggested that oil lubrication was more efficient than grease lubrication by a small amount.

    Sturmey-Archer no longer offers their private branded Cycle Oil. 3-in-One's Motor Oil with the blue label (NOT 3-in-One's Multi-Purpose Oil with the black label) is probably our closest modern equivalent to those little bottles of Cycle Oil of yore.

    Shimano now offers an IGH oil, their Y00298010 Maintenance Oil (in a rather expensive "kit") and their SG-700 oil in 50ml and 1L quantities.

    In commercially available oils, I've seen the following lubricants recommended, all of which seem reasonable:
    20wt motor oil
    30wt motor oil
    10W-30 (& synthetic) motor oil
    75W-90 (& synthetic) gear oil (Note: the viscosity of gear oils is measured differently than motor oil - this is NOT "three times as thick" as 30wt motor oil. At the same temperature, it runs through a viscometer about like10W-30 motor oil.)

    If the IGH uses oil lubrication, some recommend a soap-based grease (Sta-lube blue marine grease or Park Poly-Lube or tan automotive grease have all received votes) on the labyrinth seals/grease channels to minimize weeping and water ingress. Others have suggested the use of this grease on the hub's main axle bearings as well.

    Some feel that Phil's Tenacious Oil is too heavy for IGH pawl springs, especially in colder weather. Others have used it with no problems and swear by it.

    There have been many recommendations for IGH oil lubrication with automotive automatic transmission fluid, a high quality oil common in America. Its not all the same stuff, and some automatic transmission fluid can be very light weight, running through a viscometer like 3wt motor oil. Numerous reports on the `net say automatic transmission fluid improves shifting and cold weather performance. I am not aware of any reports to confirm this light weight lubricant adequately protects against wear in high mileage, long term use IGHs, nor of any complaints of unusual wear.

    BTW, after the war when times were hard and there were shortages of everything, Sturmey-Archer officially told their customers that if they'd stay on top of their maintenance, they could keep their IGHs going with sewing machine oil, using Vaseline (!) in the labyrinth seals. I guess it worked; many of those 60+ year-old AWs and FWs are still giving good service today.

    Coaster brakes used to control speed down long/steep hills can get very hot. (Google 'repack hill' for some interesting bicycle history.) Coaster brakes used in this service should be lubricated with grease that does not break down at high temperatures. Shimano, SRAM and Sturmey all offer greases suitable for use with coaster brakes, and many brands of high temperature brake greases are common at auto parts stores.

    And lastly, everybody's favorite: that little bottle of 3-in-One you probably have out in the garage. "3-in-One" debuted during the first great bike boom in 1894, making it one of the oldest cycling products you can still buy. The oil was originally intended for bicycle chains, and the name indicated it "1) cleaned, 2) lubricated and 3) rust proofed", hence, 3-in-One. After 115 years, it's still not a bad choice for chain lubrication.

    3-in-One (original formulation, now marketed under the descriptor Multipurpose Oil, with the black label) contains a vegetable based component, citronella oil (ever notice the way 3-in-One smells?), which will go rancid, break down and turn into very much a non-lubricant. This residue would get cleaned off a chain in the next application, but when enclosed in a small metal shell it has nowhere to go. Probably more Sturmeys in the USA have been rendered inoperable by 3-in-One residue than for any other reason. The 3-in-One folks themselves do not list hub gears as a potential use for their Multipurpose Oil, which remains widely available.

    These days the company also makes several other lubrication products: their 3-in-One (electric) Motor Oil with the blue label is SAE 20wt non-detergent oil and should be just dandy for IGHs.

    Fun fact: In the 1920s, pioneer American Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger was married to then president of the 3-in-One Oil company, J. Noah Slee. She smuggled illegal European-made diaphragms into the USA in secretly coded barrels of the citronella oil imported by 3-in-One.

  53. #53
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    all you really need to lubricate anything is

    Molycote
    white Lithium grease
    more advanced non lithium grease, with higher viscosity
    any light oil. be it hydraulic oil, motor oil or whatever.

    thats what i use, because all of those I can/could steal from work for free. and it has been working out good so far. I also do custom mixtures. like 50/50 moly/hydraulic oil. That particular combo sounds just right for ighs btw. No wait, 30% moly, 30% light motor oil and 30% non lithium grease, and 10% hydraulic oil, like 10wt. Shaken, not stirred. No olive.

    I maintain my bike like 2 times a year, and it just needs to work, and this is the best I can come up with for an igh. Nothing has ever broken down on me. or rusted
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  54. #54
    rollin
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepDave View Post
    Any luck yet?
    yes!:

    Shimano Nexus 3-speed + Sturmey Archer Thumb Shifter
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Shimano Nexus 3 speed hub review-rampar3.jpg  

    Shimano Nexus 3 speed hub review-rampar4.jpg  


  55. #55
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    Could we see the complete bike? :-)

  56. #56
    rollin
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    Quote Originally Posted by selin View Post
    Could we see the complete bike? :-)
    More pics of the bike are in the link I posted above, but here's the complete bike:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Shimano Nexus 3 speed hub review-rampar1.jpg  


  57. #57
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    Ugh, i finally got around to opening up my SG-3D55 after 8 months of daily riding. There were a few problems, maybe my fault, maybe not.

    1.
    The drive-side dust cover that surrounds the cone had slid off.
    The drive-side bearing cage was distorted and lumpy-looking.
    It looked like it was almost ready to break apart into pieces.
    Luckily, I can't see any pitting on the cone or bearing race, so I guess I can repack it with new BBs, grease, and NO bearing cage.

    2.
    A dozen little fragments of steel fell out of the internals as I cleaned them off.
    At first I thought that 2 pawls had broken apart from the driver unit, but it appears that all 4 pawls there are intact (my first guess was that there were originally 6 pawls and 2 had broken, but it looks like there are supposed to be 4).
    In fact, the inboard edge of the driver unit looks really chewed up, I guess the pieces came from there.
    I guess it's impressive that it worked more or less fine with all that flying around inside, but man, how did that happen? Maybe it's related to using a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed bar-end shifter with this hub?

    I hope I can replace the whole driver unit with one from an SG-3C41 that I happen to have.

    Non-drive-side bearings and the large ring of bearings on the drive side are fine, grease is still white.

    I think I will clean the hub out and fill it with wet lube, with grease on the bearings themselves.

    I'm not really impressed with this hub but I have no choice but to work with what I have, I don't want to build another wheel right now.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokey_z View Post


    ...

    Hi,

    I would like to do the same with my road bike with an Inter-7 hub. I do not know if I can use the same shifter for my 7 speed nexus.
    I don't want to change for a modern shifter but I don't know what could not work correctly with this.

    Thanks for your help.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by JiPo View Post
    Hi,

    I would like to do the same with my road bike with an Inter-7 hub. I do not know if I can use the same shifter for my 7 speed nexus.
    I don't want to change for a modern shifter but I don't know what could not work correctly with this.

    Thanks for your help.
    Looks like at one time there was a trigger shifter with a steel clamp, so you could jam it on drop bars...
    Tim's Cross-Check

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by z-warfare View Post
    Ugh, i finally got around to opening up my SG-3D55 after 8 months of daily riding. (...) I'm not really impressed with this hub (...)
    Thought i'd update this for the benefit of anyone thinking about one of these.

    I put in new internals and it's been great ever since, have been using a Sturmey barend shifter.

    Opened it up and had a look today, races are fine for all the bearings.

    It might have helped that I stuck a bunch of grease and an LX hub's rubber dust cap on the drive side, over the cone and locknut.

    In any case, my feelings about the hub are now much more postive.

    Just remember to get rid of the caged bearings, and add grease and whatever improved drive-side seal you can scrounge!

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