Cycle Show 2009 - Sturmey Archer's new S3X and S2C hubs
Three speed fixed is everywhere but Duomatic-alike is the star
Sturmey Archer goodness was spread about the show. They're gaining traction with their newer, more reliable hub gears, especially among smaller manufacturers, and they've used some of the internals of the new five speed hub to revive a 1950s classic, the three speed fixed.
The new S3X uses the direct drive and two lower ratios of the five speed to bring gears to you fixed bike. Whether you'll actually want gears on your fixed bike is, well, a matter of much debate at road.cc. The cable and shifter spoil the aesthetic a bit so we can't see it catching on among the dyed-in-the-wool fixed riders, which it will need to if it's to survive after the fixed fashionistas turn their fickle attention elsewhere. At over £200 it ain't going to be cheap either. There were plenty of them on display though, with Pashley and Pearson both showing prototype bikes built around the S3X.
Sturmey Archer had their own stand but the most interesting new hub they've produced wasn't on it – it was nestling quietly on the Moulton stand, who were displaying the only working prototype. The S2C is a re-imagining of the Fichtel & Sachs Torpedo Duomatic hub that Moulton have been busy reviving since they found a bunch of old stock and used them to make a 50th anniversay four speed machine with the Duomatic at one end and a Schlumpf speed drive at the other: four gears and no shifters; no cables either meant that the bike separated easily into two.
The hub is a kickshift with two speeds, simply kick back to switch between ratios. Lean further back on the pedals and you'll engage the coaster brake. It's an elegant solution that requires no cabling to the rear of the bike, so it'll fit in very well with the fixed aesthetic, and it gives you an extra ratio for accelerating and climbing the hills. Sturmey Archer are confident that they'll shift a ton of the S2C hubs and we'd tend to agree, it's going to be less than £100 and it's almost the perfect hub for those stripped back urban machines. Especially if you live somewhere hilly, like we do. Fitchel and Sachs are now SRAM, and they've definitely missed a trend here by not digging out the blueprints and reviving the duomatic themselves.