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The Sturmey Archer Hub

A strong rival to derailluers for gear changing on bicycle was the Sturmey Archer three speed hub.   The SA Hub had internal gears, which were selected using a lever on the handle bars.  They are reliable, sturdy, and trouble free.

The Sturmey Archer hub was designed in 1902 by a schoolmaster, Henry Sturmey, and an engineer, James Archer.  Both of these men had designed earlier internally geared hubs, and were brought together by Frank Bowden, inventor of the Bowden cable in 1894, and owner of Raleigh Bicycles.  Raleigh favored use of Sturmy Archer hubs, which left the French to develop and popularize the derailleur.   The story of the development of the derailleur is told in the wonderful book “The Dancing Chain”, by Frank Berto and Daniel Rebour.

Tony Hadland has written a book on the Sturmey Archer Story that has the complete history of SA Hubs.  As usual, Sheldon Brown of Harris Cyclery has detailed information about Sturmey Archer hubs, the various models, and repairing them.

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Chainless Drive Bicycle

Around the turn of the century there were a number of bicycle designs which did not use chains, but instead had a drive shaft with bevel gears.  This bicycle is from 1891 and uses four bevel gears and a drive shaft for propulsion.  This idea was later taken to motorcycles, such as the BMW shaft drive motorcycle some 50 years later.

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