Converting the Sturmey-Archer FW 4-speed hub into a 5-speed

NB: It is important to note that these instructions were written in the mid 1980s. Many items that were then current or easily available may no longer be so. The article is based on Appendix B of The Sturmey-Archer Story by Tony Hadland, published in 1987 by John Pinkerton.

Converting an FW into an S5/2

By far the easiest way to convert an FW to five-speed operation is to obtain a complete axle assembly for the S5/2 (HSA 329, HSA 330 or HSA 331, depending on axle length). This comes ready assembled, complete with sun pinions, dog ring, axle key and associated springs. The FW is merely rebuilt around the S5/2 axle assembly.

This conversion offers a gear which is virtually identical to the current five-speed hub. In the past Sturmey-Archer disapproved of five-speed conversions but, at the time of writing, the company is prepared to issue a list of the necessary parts for rebuilding FWs around S5/2 axle assemblies. They also market a retro-fit list consisting of the complete S5/2 internals and accessories for fitting into an FW shell, or an AW shell made before April 1984.

Converting an FW into an S5 (original pattern)

It is also possible to convert four-speeds to the original S5 style of operation; this involves a push rod in the left end of the axle, rather than the toggle chain used in the S5/1 and S5/2. The following conversion instructions for the FW were written by Denis Watkins of Castle Bromwich, after the discontinuance of the S5 and before the introduction of the S5/1.

1. The FW is really a five-speed hub in which, to permit its control with only one lever, only four speeds are used.

2. The extra low gear of the standard FW is brought into play by pulling the two sun pinions K409 and K408 to the right such that the dogs on K408 engage with the axle dogs.

3. If, when the FW is in top, it were possible to put K409 and K408 into the same position as in 2. above an extra high gear would be obtained.

4. To obtain both extra high and extra low, movement of K409 and K408 must be controlled by an additional lever. This can be done as follows.

5. Compression spring K8l3B is not required and must be removed.

6. Axle key K526A must be replaced by axle key K526 (used in AW).

7. Coupling/indicator rod K807ZA must be replaced by the type used on the AW.

8. Replace axle key K402 by a further axle key K526 and file ends of latter flush with surface of pinion sleeve K406.

9. Remove indicator rod K804 (K804A) and replace by a suitable push rod with end threaded to suit axle key K526. This is the only real difficulty. It is possible to use the rod portion of K504AZ (indicator for AW with long axle). It might be better to cut the outer end off an AW indicator rod and have a bit of similar rod welded “end on” to provide a total length such that, when the rod is pushed in to move K408 into engagement with the axle dogs, the outer end of the rod is flush with the end of the axle.

10. The push and release of the rod is conveniently controlled via a bell crank. Shimano have a very nice bell crank arrangement on their three-speed hub. Unfortunately it is threaded for a standard 3/8” (9.5mm) axle and there may be insufficient metal to permit drilling and tapping to Sturmey axle size.

11. A very important point; in early versions of the FW, K408 was made with parallel dogs. This is OK for conversion. Later versions of the FW had these dogs chamfered on the one face to facilitate engagement. These are unsuitable for conversion (unless an old type K408 can be obtained) as, if attempted, it will be found ‘ratcheting’ occurs in extra high gear and no drive is possible.

With regard to 11. above, the later FWs can also be converted if the larger sun of an S5 (HSA 269) or of an S5/1 (HSA 317) can be obtained. Of course, Sturmey-Archer produced a bell crank and push rod for the S5 (HSJ 679 and HSA 297 or HSA 288) but these are no longer available. The design of the bell crank evolved through three versions; plastic, pressed steel and machined steel. The latter seems to have been the most reliable. Some riders replaced the push rod with a modified flat-headed nail for smoother and more reliable operation.

An alternative to the bell crank was devised by Jack Lauterwasser. The push rod is made from a section of 12 gauge spoke and protrudes from the axle end by about 20mm. Threaded onto the external end of the push rod is a brass bush (made from a solderless nipple), drilled to permit the control cable to pass through freely at 90 degrees to the rod. An oversized tear-drop shaped brass washer is fitted to the wheel axle, with the pointed end of the washer pointing 180 degrees away from the cable fulcrum clip. The pointed end of the washer is cut out to house a solderless nipple, fixed to the control cable.

When the control cable is tightened, its far end cannot move because it is anchored to the tear-drop washer. The cable therefore straightens itself and, because it passes through the end of the push rod, pushes the rod into the hub, thus shifting the suns. The system works very smoothly.

The cable anchorage cut out, being keyhole shaped, permits quick release of the cable, merely by depressing the push rod whilst unhooking the cable end. Because the cable end is fitted with a solderless nipple, the push rod remains attached to the cable – with the bell crank system it is fairly easy to lose the push rod. The biggest disadvantage with this system is the risk of accidental damage to the exposed end of the push rod.

The Lauterwasser left-hand cable device

A somewhat similar system was devised by Mr P. Pottier of London during the 1950s. He used a Sturmey-Archer toggle chain, the end of which was riveted to the pointed end of the tear-drop washer; the chain passed through a steel bush push-fitted onto the end of the push rod. The control cable was attached to the toggle chain in the usual way; hence, when the cable was tightened, the chain moved the push rod further into the gear.

Non-Standard Controls for the S5

Many riders using the S5 type converted four-speeds use a derailleur lever for the left changer. This gives good ‘feel’ to the change (which, unlike that of the S5/1 and 2, is not designed to cope with crash changes) and reduces the need for cable adjustment.

Some riders advocate use of a derailleur lever also for the right hand changer; a practice greatly disapproved of by Sturmey-Archer because of the ‘no gear’ slip position between high and normal gears.

The Californian cycle engineer, Ernest Rogers, devised a Duo-Trigger Shifter for five-speed hubs. This consists of two of the metal three-speed triggers (not the current bulbous plastic type) bolted one on top of the other, the clamp of the top trigger body having been first removed. The effect is somewhat similar to the triggering arrangement on a double-barrelled shotgun.

Frank Berto, RIP

I am very sad to report that my old friend Frank Berto passed away last Sunday at the age of 90. He was the leading authority on the history and development of derailleur gears and the author of various books and numerous articles on cycle technology and its history. For more see: and

Tony Hadland’s Bibliography as at December 2019

This list includes books to which Tony Hadland has made a significant contribution. Entries in black type were authored or co-authored by him. To those in blue type he contributed one or more of the following:  a chapter, a paper, significant research, editing or design. Books are listed in descending order of first edition publication year.

A complete update and revision of the book The Sturmey-Archer Story by Tony Hadland, first published in 1987
Authors: Tony Hadland & Alan Clarke
Publisher: Pinkerton Press (Veteran-Cycle Club)

Hardback: 2019
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club sales

Proceedings of the 29th International Cycling History Conference, London, England
Editors: Gary W. Sanderson, Thomas Baker & Phillip P. Sanderson
Contains a paper by Tony Hadland on whether the safety bicycle influenced human evolution in England
Softback: 2019
Availability: International Cycling History Conference website

Tony Hadland’s involvement in DJing, broadcasting and video production
Author: Tony Hadland
Publisher: Hadland Books (via FeedARead)

Softback: 2018
Availability: Amazon, any good bookshop or this blog

The biography and bikeography of Mike Burrows
Authors: Tony Hadland & Mike Burrows
Publisher: Hadland Books
Hardback: 2016
Availability: Amazon, any good bookshop, British Human Power Club or this blog

Superbly illustrated outline history of the bicycle
Senior editor: Chauney Dunford
Contributors included Tony Hadland
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Hardback: 2016
Availability: Amazon or any good bookshop

Illustrated family history
Author: Tony Hadland

Privately published via CEWE for limited circulation
Hardback: 2015

Illustrated biography
Author: Tony Hadland

Privately published via CEWE for limited circulation
Hardback: 2015

MY LIFE IN PICTURES: Part 1, 1949–1974
Annotated photo album
Author: Tony Hadland

Privately published via CEWE for limited circulation
Hardback: 2014

A uniquely comprehensive and carefully researched history of bicycle design
Authors: Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing
Publisher: MIT Press
Hardback: 2014 (out of print as at November 2017)
Softback: 2014 (out of print)
Revised softback: 2016
E-book: 2014
Russian language hardback: 2020
Availability: MIT Press website, Amazon or any good bookshop

The most comprehensive history of Britain’s most famous cycle maker
Author: Tony Hadland
Editor: Rob Van der Plas
Publisher: Cycle Publishing/Van der Plas Publications
Hardback: 2011
Availability: out of print

An anthology of writings and research
Author: Arnfried Schmitz
Edited, designed and pre-pressed by Tony Hadland
Published by Tony Hadland for Arnfried Schmitz
Softback: 2010
Availability: via the author at Gallas, Lioux, Gordes, F84220, France

Proceedings of the 19th International Cycling History Conference, Saint-Étienne, France
Editors: Nadine Besse and Anne Henry
Contains a paper by Arnfried Schmitz on the Vector high-speed trike in the Mercedes test tunnel, edited and presented by Tony Hadland
Hardback: 2010
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales

Proceedings of the 13th International Cycling History Conference, Muenster, Germany
Editors: Andrew Ritchie and Nick Clayton
Contains a paper by Arnfried Schmitz on the rise and fall of Ideale, edited and presented by Tony Hadland
Hardback: 2003
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales or Cycle Publishing/Van der Plas Publications

Illustrated transcript of an interview with Alex Moulton by John Pinkerton
Edited transcript: Tony Hadland

Publisher: LIT Verlag
Pocket paperback: 2007
Availability: LIT Verlag

History of one of Britain’s best cycle makers
Authors: John Pinkerton and Derek Roberts
Contributions from Scotford Lawrence and Tony Hadland
Edited, designed and pre-pressed by Tony Hadland
Publisher: Pinkerton Press
Hardback: 2002
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales 

Proceedings of the 11th International Cycling History Conference, Osaka, Japan
Editors: Andrew Ritchie and Rob van der Plas
Contains a paper by Tony Hadland on Raleigh UK in the late 20th century
Hardback: 2001
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales or Cycle Publishing/Van der Plas Publications

The life and adventures of explorer and intelligence officer Captain William Gill
Edited and pre-pressed by Tony Hadland
Softback: 2001, reprinted 2014 and 2016
Availability: out of print

A non-mathematical explanation of bicycle science, by the creator of Chris Boardman’s Olympic machine
Author: Mike Burrows
Editor and contributor: Tony Hadland
First edition (softback), Company of Cyclists: 2000, reprinted 2001
Second edition (softback), Pedal Press: 2004
Third edition (softback), Snowbooks Cyclebooks, edited by Richard Ballantine: 2008
Fourth edition (softback), Snowbooks: 2015
Availability: Amazon or any good bookshop (being reprinted as at September 2019)

History and development of the derailleur bicycle
First edition (hardback): 2000
Authors: Frank Berto, Ron Shepherd and Raymond Henry
Contributions from Tony Hadland and Walter Ulreich
Publisher: Cycle Publishing/Van der Plas Publications
Second edition (hardback): 2004
Author: Frank Berto
Contributions from Ron Shepherd, Raymond Henry, Walter Ulreich, Tony Hadland and Gordon Selby.
Third edition (hardback): 2009
Author: Frank Berto
Contributions from Tony Hadland, Jan Heine, Raymond Henry, Gordon Selby, Ron Shepherd and Walter Ulreich
Availability of third edition: out of print

Annual guide to alternatives in cycling
Editors: Peter Eland and Dan Joyce
Editorial team: The editors plus Jim McGurn, Tony Hadland, Simon Levermore and Hannes Neupert
Softback: 2000
Availability: out of print

Arnfried Schmitz’s story of his involvement with streamlined Human Powered Vehicles and their evolution through the 20th century
Author: Arnfried Schmitz
Edited, designed and pre-pressed by Tony Hadland
Published by Tony Hadland for Arnfried Schmitz
Softback: 2000
Russian edition (softback): 2007
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales, British Human Power Club or via the author at Gallas, Lioux, Gordes, F84220, France

A guide to issues and practice for users and publishers of electronic resources
Editor: Chris Armstrong
Chapter on information security by Tony Hadland
Publisher: Library Association
Hardback: 1999
Availability: out of print

The story of the brand that grew from the classic early safety bicycle
Authors: John Pinkerton and Derek Roberts
Chapter on Land Rover cycles by Tony Hadland
Pinkerton Press
Hardback: 1998
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales

Outline history of portable cycles in the UK
Authors: Tony Hadland and John Pinkerton
Pinkerton Press
Hardback: 1996
Spiral-bound: 1996
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales

New directions in bank design
Edited by D. Kaine Stankovich
Chapter by Tony Hadland
Publisher: Lafferty Publications
Softback: 1994
Availability: out of print

Technical history of the later Moulton bicycles, principally those models launched between 1983 and 1994
Author: Tony Hadland
First edition (hardback, published by Hadland Books): 1994 (out of print)
Second edition (hardback, published by LIT Verlag): 2009
Pocket edition (softback, published by LIT Verlag): 2009
Availability: Second and pocket editions available via Amazon or from  LIT Verlag

The clandestine survival of Roman Catholicism in Berkshire and southern Oxfordshire 
Author: Tony Hadland
First edition (hardback), Hadland Books: 1992 (out of print)
Second edition (softback), Mapledurham Trust: 2004
Current reprint by Hadland Books, 2019
Availability: any good bookshop or from this blog

New perspectives for the construction professional
Editors: Peter Barrett and Rod Males
Chapter on information management by Tony Hadland
Publisher: Routledge
Hardback: 1991, 2004
E-book: 2002
Availability: Amazon or via Routledge

Technical history of Sturmey-Archer bicycle gears
Author: Tony Hadland
Publisher: Pinkerton Press
Hardback: 1987 (out of print)
Softback: 1987
Availability: Veteran-Cycle Club book sales

Technical history of the original F-frame Moultons
Author: Tony Hadland
Originally published in 1981 as THE MOULTON BICYCLE
First edition (staple-bound white cover), published by Tony Hadland: 1981, reprinted same year (out of print)
Second edition (softback blue cover), published by Pinkerton Press: 1982, reprinted 1986, 1991, 1994 (out of print)
Hardback version of second edition, published by Hadland Books: 2000 (out of print)
Republished in hardback and pocket softback editions by LIT Verlag as THE F-FRAME MOULTONS with new introductory chapter by Michael Woolf: 2014
Availability: Amazon or LIT Verlag

Improved navigation

The new clearer graphical style of this blog, adopted in September 2019, also brings greatly improved navigation for users of smartphones: there is now an easily accessible topic menu on the start page. Also, the adverts have been banished. I hope this proves helpful.

Tony Hadland

Alan Reed, RIP

I am sad to report that ex-Raleigh employee Alan Reed died recently following a fall. He started working for the company straight from school in 1943 and I had the great pleasure of meeting him about 10 years ago, when I was researching my book Raleigh: past and presence of an iconic bicycle brand. His reminiscences and several photos that he provided feature in that volume. He also appears briefly in the oft-repeated BBC4 documentary about Raleigh entitled Pedalling Dreams, which was produced by Testimony Films. My wife and I regularly exchanged Christmas cards with Alan and his wife Sheila, who survives him. Shelia’s uncle was Lord Mayor of Nottingham and accompanied Viscount Montgomery at the opening of Raleigh’s No. 2 factory in 1957.

Alan started at Raleigh when he was just 14 years old and two years later he was reaming out the bottom brackets of military folding bicycles. He later worked in the export department for some years and spent the rest of his working life in various roles as part of ‘the Raleigh family’. His enthusiasm and pride in his work was striking. He was particularly proud of meeting distinguished visitors to the factory: he met Princess Margaret when she visited in 1976 and chatted with Prince Charles during a works visit three years later.

Alan’s daughter Jane Alsop tells me that the funeral service will be held on Monday the 16th September 2019 at 12:30 at the Trent Valley Crematorium, Derby Road, Aston-on-Trent, Derby, DE72 2AF. This will be followed by a wake at the Harrington Arms, 392 Tamworth Road, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 3AU.

Donations, if desired, should be made to either Blind Veterans UK or Children’s Air Ambulance will be collected on the day or can be forwarded to the funeral directors. All enquiries to Kinton and Daughter, Family Funeral Directors, Castle Donington, 01332 390861.

It was a pleasure knowing Alan and we offer our condolences to his family and friends.

Tony Hadland

David Gordon Wilson, RIP

David Gordon Wilson, one of the most inspirational writers on cycle technology, died 2 May 2019. Although best known in the cycling world as the author of the influential book Bicycling Science and as the father of the modern recumbent bicycle, he was deeply involved in other areas of engineering, including turbine design. David held some 60 patents and designed the pump used in the world’s first artificial heart. He was also greatly concerned with matters of public health and ecology, proposing an early fossil-fuel tax and actively campaigning against smoking.

Born in Warwickshire, England in 1928, David lived most of his life in Massachusetts, USA, where he became a professor emeritus at MIT. He was a great inspiration to me, ever since I read the first edition of Bicycling Science, published in 1978. Shortly before his death, David finished the fourth edition, to be published by MIT Press in 2020.

I never met him but we corresponded occasionally and he was always happy to share his knowledge, wisdom and enthusiasm. He was particularly supportive when Professor Hans-Erhard Lessing and I were working on Bicycle Design: an illustrated history, a companion volume to his Bicycling Science.

For the Boston Globe’s obituary of this great man, click on this link: David Gordon Wilson, MIT professor and father of modern recumbent bicycles, dies at 91 – The Boston Globe