Anyone else make a 3-speed on SS hubs?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anyone else make a 3-speed on SS hubs?

    SS on my Mary is fun, but I find it limiting for the way I use the bike - my area is very hilly, and if I gear it up so I'm not completely spinning out on flats then I'm soaked with sweat every steep hill. Do-able for MTB, not so great for running errands and around town.

    I was about to go 1x9, but then the owner of my LBS showed me one of his projects - he'd put three cogs on the SS hub (14t, 18t, 22t ).

    This guy did the same thing:.

    Jones does something similar with a custom XT cassette on a Chris King.

    This seems like a cost-effective in-between step. Three gears might be enough, and I won't have to buy a new wheelset.

    Anyone else here done this? If so, any tips?

  2. #2
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    lots of threads on this right now actually

    sure you 'can' put 3 cogs on the hub (I assume thats whats in pic) but not good idea IMHO. ideally you will NOT have a setup with individual cogs but rather, a cassette configuration so you dont gouge the hubshell..trust me, its a bad idea over the long haul. Not to mention, shifting can be total crap and sort of defeats the purpose of having a so called geared SS bike.

    what Jones (and other with SRAM cassettes) does is configures an XT cassette such that it remains the integrity of a cassette, not individual cogs...it retains 9-speed spacing perfectly as such and shifts as good as my other normal 9 speed. type of der also weighs into the equation if you really want it to shift perfectly

    in short, yeah, lots of permutations but whether its 3, 5, 8, 6, etc...best to pursue as close to the normal cassette configuration/body as possible for various reasons not the least of which, shifting can be crap if not done correctly, as is often the case with individual cog setups on SS hub

  3. #3
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    Hmm, I looked around, didn't see them. I guess my search fu sucks.

    If three individual cogs would gouge the hub shell, then why doesn't one cog (what it's built for) damage it the same way?

    If the shifting is crap, trust me, I'll go 1x9. The novelty is fun, but only if it works.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Hmm, I looked around, didn't see them. I guess my search fu sucks.

    If three individual cogs would gouge the hub shell, then why doesn't one cog (what it's built for) damage it the same way?

    If the shifting is crap, trust me, I'll go 1x9. The novelty is fun, but only if it works.
    I am far from an expert...but I will give it a go

    traditional single (single speed) cog is "wide based", designed as such to then not gouge the shell. Standard/normal cogs not specifically designed as SS cogs will not be wide based therefore, will gouge the shell potentially really badly given their narrow pattern when placed on a hubshell independently.

    Cassettes as you know are implicity wide based as they have cogs that are connected by a "base". I defer to the geeks as to the appropriate term but thats what i am calling it for this purpose.

    what people are doing that seems to work best, self included, is "modifying" a standard cassette one way or the other in order to retain the integrity of the cassette body to then have the desired multiple cogs for shifting but not do it in such a way that you gouge the shell from individual non SS-specific cogs.

    depending on the SS hub and cassette you use, slightly different modifications may be needed. I use an XT M770 9-speed cassete where the 3 small cogs are removed and machining is required both on the length of the cassette base (so it will fit on the King SS shell) and machining was also needed inside the base of the cassette by a spline in order for the XT cassette to fit on the King SS rear hub.

    It works perfectly as configured - shifts just as well as my standard 9-speed shimano setup on another bike



    Also attached are some poor camera pics of XT cassette after Jones modified it for me. Hard to make out but he machined the top of the base to bring the length down a smidgen so it would actually fit properly given the length of the king SS hubshell, as well as machining inside the base by one of the splines
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anyone else make a 3-speed on SS hubs?-pic-0253.jpg  

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    Last edited by FoShizzle; 01-17-2010 at 02:10 PM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all that. I get what you're saying, cassette cogs are part of a system and have things like pins to distribute the force evenly, and taking them out of that system will mean the hub will be dealing with forces it wasn't engineered for.

    I'd assumed the 3-speed would be set up with SS cogs (with the wider base), not with cogs cobbled from a 9-speed cassette. Does this mean you can't make the 3-speed set up work by putting on three SS-specific cogs?

    If so, bummer, but that makes the decision easy - there are plenty of really good cheap 9-speed 29er wheels for sale out there, and I won't have to build some exotic wheelset/cassettte combo that will be difficult to flip later on.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Thanks for all that. I get what you're saying, cassette cogs are part of a system and have things like pins to distribute the force evenly, and taking them out of that system will mean the hub will be dealing with forces it wasn't engineered for.

    I'd assumed the 3-speed would be set up with SS cogs (with the wider base), not with cogs cobbled from a 9-speed cassette. Does this mean you can't make the 3-speed set up work by putting on three SS-specific cogs?

    If so, bummer, but that makes the decision easy - there are plenty of really good cheap 9-speed 29er wheels for sale out there, and I won't have to build some exotic wheelset/cassettte combo that will be difficult to flip later on.
    i forgot to mention that part, yes, pretty sure you can put some wide based SS cogs together, but not sure how many, but i defer to others with more knowledge to provide that guidance. it just didnt look like that is what was occuring in that picture you provided, though maybe it is...Also, even if you could, probably near impossible or at least a pain in the ass to have it shift properly as you would with a standard drivetrain - the whole point of the Jones-like approach is to not only have gears, but have them available in 9-speed configuration/spacing so all you need to do is run a 9-speed shifter and rear der. If you did / could do a 3 independent wide based SS cog approach, would shift like crap, if at all, in comparison so to me makes zero sense, depending on your goal of course - my goal was to have gears with seamless shifting performance

    i wouldnt say its really exotic to be honest. if you are lazy like me and have no skillz, just buy the cassette from Jones and be done with it. if you need to buy a cassette and shifter and der you may as well since starting from scratch. however, if you plan to stay with gears and not toggle between gears and SS then yeah, normal 9 speed kewl of course

  7. #7
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    Most lower end hubs have a steel freehub that wont get gouged. I'd give it a go. The hard part will be finding a derailleur that has long enough set screws. I tried this with a sram derailleur and I couldn't get enough adjustment to limit the derailleur movement enough for a 3 speed. I was going to try with an old road derailleur and a friction shifter but then I just got a new 9 speed wheel. I'm sure the shifting would be clunky with the big gaps but so what.

    The Jones method looks quite fancy. Judging from the pictures, its too fancy to ride. A guy could pluck his eyebrows in the reflection of that hub.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traktor
    Most lower end hubs have a steel freehub that wont get gouged. I'd give it a go. The hard part will be finding a derailleur that has long enough set screws. I tried this with a sram derailleur and I couldn't get enough adjustment to limit the derailleur movement enough for a 3 speed. I was going to try with an old road derailleur and a friction shifter but then I just got a new 9 speed wheel. I'm sure the shifting would be clunky with the big gaps but so what.

    The Jones method looks quite fancy. Judging from the pictures, its too fancy to ride. A guy could pluck his eyebrows in the reflection of that hub.
    lol...ok. and yes, i dont ride it!

    fancy or not, it works great. SO LONG as you use a non shadow shimano rear der...thats the key. SRAM or shadow shimano are not as easy to setup whereas this was pretty much normal. so yeah, while it looks complicated i suppose, the only extra step was me buying the cassette from Jones instead of my normal source, thats it

    and again, steel hub or not, "shifting" will be impacted if you start piecemealing it together is all i am saying - all depends on what your goals are.

  9. #9
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    Hopefully the Scientologists won't freak out, but...

    Below are pics of my 3-speed and my 2-speed, granted they are both on 9-speed cassette hubs. The 3-speed is really more like a 2-speed since it's hooked up to a non-indexed thumbshifter and I find it hard to hit the middle cog without an indexed shifter.

    The middle cog provides an intermediate step between the 14T and the 21T cogs - I figured 14 to 21 is a pretty big jump. FWIW I've been running both narrow and wide based cogs on 9-speed cassette hubs for years and haven't noticed a difference. If you're worried about the hub body, get some Surly cogs - they are made to stack with the same spacing as a 9-speed cassette.

    I say give it a try and see if you like it... if not, go a different route. Chances are it will work just fine for you.

    p.s. if your limit screws aren't long enough, a good hardware store should be able to supply longer screws.

    More pics and info about the 2 bikes below here and here.



    Another option: If you want 2 very different gears use an old derailleur or Paul Melvin and a front derailleur. That's what I did on my Surly 1x1:

    Last edited by mplsmtb; 01-17-2010 at 05:25 PM.

  10. #10
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    I like that second setup. Really like the Melvin.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mplsmtb
    Below are pics of my 3-speed and my 2-speed, granted they are both on 9-speed cassette hubs. The 3-speed is really more like a 2-speed since it's hooked up to a non-indexed thumbshifter and I find it hard to hit the middle cog without an indexed shifter.

    The middle cog provides an intermediate step between the 14T and the 21T cogs - I figured 14 to 21 is a pretty big jump. FWIW I've been running both narrow and wide based cogs on 9-speed cassette hubs for years and haven't noticed a difference. If you're worried about the hub body, get some Surly cogs - they are made to stack with the same spacing as a 9-speed cassette.

    I say give it a try and see if you like it... if not, go a different route. Chances are it will work just fine for you.

    p.s. if your limit screws aren't long enough, a good hardware store should be able to supply longer screws.

    More pics and info about the 2 bikes below here and here.



    Another option: If you want 2 very different gears use an old derailleur or Paul Melvin and a front derailleur. That's what I did on my Surly 1x1:
    cool deal! in summary, lots of options

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mplsmtb
    The middle cog provides an intermediate step between the 14T and the 21T cogs - I figured 14 to 21 is a pretty big jump. FWIW I've been running both narrow and wide based cogs on 9-speed cassette hubs for years and haven't noticed a difference. If you're worried about the hub body, get some Surly cogs - they are made to stack with the same spacing as a 9-speed cassette.
    Huh, that's pretty much exactly what I had in mind, and I already have a Surly cog on the bike. Good to know about the spacing, too.

    From what my buddy says, I have plenty of room for 3 cogs on the hub. I was thinking 21/18/15, slightly less than yours.

    Did you ever try that 3-speed rear setup with an indexed thumb shifter?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    SRAM or shadow shimano are not as easy to setup
    How so?

    I picked up some SRAM x.7 for this The price was right, and I assumed the 1:1 pull ratio would be a bit more forgiving, but maybe I was wrong.

    This dude is the master at scrounging, and has an astounding parts bin, so if it's just a matter of needing some longer screws, that's do-able. If the problems with SRAM are more fundamental, I guess I'll just bite the bullet.

    (BTW, thanks for the long detailed write ups.)

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    How so?

    I picked up some SRAM x.7 for this The price was right, and I assumed the 1:1 pull ratio would be a bit more forgiving, but maybe I was wrong.

    This dude is the master at scrounging, and has an astounding parts bin, so if it's just a matter of needing some longer screws, that's do-able. If the problems with SRAM are more fundamental, I guess I'll just bite the bullet.

    (BTW, thanks for the long detailed write ups.)
    its my pleasure to tell you what I think I know but in general, its stuff I hear from others far more knowledgeable that does indeed prove to be factual.

    As for the rear der, I am not mechanical enough to appreciate the nuances why Jeff Jones recommended I go with a NON shadow shimano rear der. Others have made SRAM work for geared-SS setups but Jeff has done enough to know the optimal config and yeah, it works perfectly. I sold my Saint shadow rear der I had after he told me that and got a shimano M971 rear der which is perfect.

    Other threads do talk about what they had to do...I am sure there are many ways to skin this cat but as I was looking for the easiest and most efficient, I took his advice directly and am glad I did.

    Good luck!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Did you ever try that 3-speed rear setup with an indexed thumb shifter?
    Nope... I wish. One of these days I'll spend the cash on some Paul's Thumbies and some shifters. The old friction shifter works fine, but then again I'm not in search of (or have the desire to pay for) "perfection".
    Last edited by mplsmtb; 01-17-2010 at 10:36 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    If three individual cogs would gouge the hub shell, then why doesn't one cog (what it's built for) damage it the same way?
    It does. Well, depending on how wide the base of the cog is, and what the free hub shells is made of. But I have damaged a shell in the past.

  17. #17
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    Well, this project failed. The shop couldn't get the multi-cog thing to work, so rather than messing with it any more I'm going to put it back to SS and mull my options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Well, this project failed. The shop couldn't get the multi-cog thing to work, so rather than messing with it any more I'm going to put it back to SS and mull my options.
    Bummer.
    i was looking forward to it.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Well, this project failed. The shop couldn't get the multi-cog thing to work, so rather than messing with it any more I'm going to put it back to SS and mull my options.
    too bad...sounds like your shop failed, not the project

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    too bad...sounds like your shop failed, not the project
    Yeah, that's a more accurate way of saying it.

    It has put me off a bit more from the idea of doing a multi-speed-on-a-SS-hub setup, though. Might just go 1x9, use some monstrous honkin' rims/hubs and be OK with the less stiff rear wheel. (Not sure how much of a difference I'd actually feel in the real world, either.)
    Last edited by schnee; 02-08-2010 at 10:24 AM.

  21. #21
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    Don't meant to come across as being a d!ck, but you do browse down the forums a bit, don't you? Just got to ask as it seems you're looking for a multi cog setup and the amount of times running 5,6,7 speed on an SS hub has been covered is quite a bit. Most recent one http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=591385

    Quote Originally Posted by schnee
    Yeah, that's a more accurate way of saying it.

    It has put me off a bit more from the idea of doing a multi-speed-on-a-SS-hub setup, though. Might just go 1x9, use some monstrous honkin' rims/hubs and be OK with the less stiff rear wheel. (Not sure how much of a difference I'd actually feel in the real world, either.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    Don't meant to come across as being a d!ck, but you do browse down the forums a bit, don't you? Just got to ask as it seems you're looking for a multi cog setup and the amount of times running 5,6,7 speed on an SS hub has been covered is quite a bit. Most recent one http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=591385
    No worries, no offense taken.

    The thing is, I live in San Diego, and we have teensy tiny homes here. The people that seem to succeed at the custom gearing projects are tinkerers with spacious garages and lots of tools, and I don't have the luxury of either.

    Doing this right seems expensive, too. If I were kitting out my main MTB, I'd go for it in a heartbeat, but CK or Hadley or even Hopes are overkill for a secondary bike.

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