A Personal Blog on Bicycle Transportation and DIY Projects

Sturmey Archer S3X 3 speed hub is not just for fixed gear riders.

The Sturmey Archer S3X hub was hyped as the solution for fixed gear riders who wanted 3 speeds.  While it took a while for the hub to be released since its announcement, you never really saw the waves of bikes you would have expected carrying this hub.  In fact, I have yet to have met anyone that purchased it.  The price was originally $240 and it is now around $120 completed with a bar mounted shifter….quite a bargain.  Perhaps it wasn’t as popular….for the FIXED GEAR market.
This hub is a real sleeper and it will take some time for its capabilities to be realized.  If you haven’t considered it, here are the reasons I believe you should:
1.  Direct drive – Internal gear hubs are known for having to require more energy input for an equivalent output versus the derailleur or single speed drivetrain.  Most hubs have a “direct drive” mode where the efficiency is equivalent to a simple single speed without a derailleur.  Unfortunately, this direct drive is usually in the middle of the gear selections.  On a standard 3 speed, it is the 2nd gear.  The S3X has direct drive mode on the highest gear, where you are want it when you want to go fast.
2. Efficiency – I assume the S3X shares the same gear design as standard 3 speed Sturmey Archer hubs.  According to the study below, the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hubs are near the top of the list, just under the sachs (sram) 3 speeds for efficiency but much better that the Shimano 7 and Rohloff 14.  So when you use the gears, you will waste less energy and go faster.
3. Gear Range – 160%.  I have found this gear range more than adequate for most city, causeway and hilly environments.
4. Weight – If you don’t need more than 3 gears, you save weight.  Ever pick up an 8 or 9 speed hub?  They are near 3.5+ pounds!  This one weighs 2 pounds.
4. Freewheel Capability –  Perhaps the most overlooked feature.  The fixed cog can be removed and a freewheel added.


If you are happy with the gear range and you combine the efficiency, weight savings, high gear direct drive and a freewheel you have what I consider the highest performing internal gear hub on the market for $120 plus the freewheel cost.


4 responses

  1. I liked this idea, but a bit of digging sadly shows that the S3X has a narrower gearing ratio than the 3 AW

    April 22, 2012 at 5:22 am

    • daus300b

      It does, but the ratio is plenty for the flat areas of Florida. The issue so far was getting enough gear inches with a freewheel.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:51 am

  2. Thomas

    Hi, you wrote fixed cog can be removed and a freewheel added. Do you have a workinginstruction for this? Because i would like to have freewheel.

    January 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    • daus300b

      Sturmey archer says any freewheel can attach to it, but that is not true. In must be thin enough so it won’t hit the side of the bike frame. If it fits, it will just screw on like a normal freewheel and not use a locking nut. The cheaper freewheels should fit.

      January 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm

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