This collection has now been dispersed but before that happened, Arnfried and I recorded it for posterity. Enjoy the slideshow!
This collection has now been dispersed but before that happened, Arnfried and I recorded it for posterity. Enjoy the slideshow!
Instructions for a wide range of Sturmey-Archer hubs from 1902 to 2001. Includes the original 1902 3-speed, the type K series of the 1920s and 30s, the T and TF 2-speeds, the ever popular AW, the SW, SG, SB, AB, AG, TCW, AM, AC, ASC, FW, FG, FM, FC, BR, GH6, S3B, S3C, all 5-speeds, the Columbia 3-speed, the BSA 3-speeds (based on a Sturmey-Archer design) and the hubs in production when Sturmey-Archer ceased to be British-owned in 2001. Also included is information on the DBU and FSU accessories for use with hub dynamos. The files are in Adobe Acrobat format, making them zoomable and easily printable. (Content last added 21 June 2016)
In the beginning
K series 3-speeds (K, KS and KSW)
An 18-page PDF file that includes Jim Gill’s analysis of the type K, design changes during its production run, cutaway drawings, Jim’s simplified instructions for dismantling and re-assembly, and S-A’s parts lists for 1925 and 1935.
K series S-A hubs
K series 3-speeds with drum or coaster brakes (KB, KC and KT)
A 13-page PDF file including Jim Gill’s description and analysis of the type KB 3-speed and drum brake, and S-A’s 1937 maintenance instructions and parts list.
Type KB 1937
A five-page PDF including Jim Gill’s description and cutaway drawing of the type KC 3-speed and coaster (back-pedal) brake, plus S-A’s 1925 parts list, Jim’s dimensioned drawing of the hub shell and his handwritten notes on (and sketches of) the type KC.
A single page PDF showing S-A’s exploded drawing of the type KT 3-speed and drum brake for tandems. Also included are details of the special brake lever fittings.
S-A 1930s drum brakes without gears (BF, BR, BRT and BFT)
A two-page PDF showing cutaway drawings of the 1932-36 versions of the type BF and BR brake hubs.
Type BF & BR 1932-36
A nine-page PDF including S-A’s 1937 maintenance instructions and parts list for the BF and BR hubs.
Type BF & BR 1937
A four-page PDF with cutaway drawings of early and later versions of the BRT and BFT tandem drum brakes.
Type BRT & BFT 1936-41
From the 1956 Master catalogue
Fitting and adjustment
Use and maintenance
SW wide-ratio 3-speed (See also Brian Hayes’ paper)
SB wide-ratio 3-speed/hub brake
SG wide-ratio 3-speed/Dynohub
AW wide-ratio 3-speed (see below for later AWs)
AB wide-ratio 3-speed/hub brake
AG wide-ratio 3-speed/Dynohub
TCW wide-ratio 3-speed/coaster
AM medium-ratio 3-speed
AC ultra-close-ratio 3-speed
ASC fixed-wheel 3-speed
FW wide-ratio 4-speed
FG wide-ratio 4-speed/Dynohub
FM medium-ratio 4-speed
FC close-ratio 4-speed
BF & BR hub brakes
Dry Battery Unit & Dynohub wiring
Instructions from various dates, 1960s – 2001
S3B 3-speed with small-diameter hub brake
S3C 3-speed coaster
S5/2 and Five Speed Alloy 5-speeds
S52 1988 modifications
5 StAr and 5 StAr Elite 5-speeds
Columbia ‘no-slip’ 3-speed (Jim Gill’s documentation)
AB/C & BF/C 90mm hub brakes
AWC 3-speed coaster
AT3, VT and ST Elite hub brakes
Sprinter 5-speed hub and Sprinter 5-speed Elite 5-speed hub brake
Sprinter 5-speed coaster
Sprinter 7-speed hub & Sprinter 7 Elite 7-speed hub brake
Sprinter 7-speed coaster
Steelite SBF, SBR & SAB hub brakes
All information provided here is done so in good faith. It is as written by the original authors and has not been modified by Tony Hadland. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss, damage or injury of any kind sustained for any reason arising therefrom. Our thanks go to Sturmey-Archer Limited and Jim Gill for permission to reproduce their material.
The first seven of the following files provide amazingly detailed information on Sturmey-Archer hubs, from the earliest models to the present day. They were compiled by English engineer and hub gear enthusiast, the late Jim Gill. Although some of the material was originally published by Sturmey-Archer, the vast majority is Jim’s own work and has never been published before.
Also provided is John Fairbrother’s simpler approach to fixed-wheel conversions. John is an engineer and bicycle restorer based in Hampshire, England.
The files are in Adobe Acrobat format, making them zoomable and easily printable, page at a time.
Epicyclic Gears – some theoretical considerations
Engineer and hub gear enthusiast Jim Gill explains how various hub gears work. Includes zoomable diagrams.
Sturmey-Archer Hubs – reference tables
Zoomable dimensioned drawings and tables of pawls, drivers, axle keys, pinion pins, gear teeth, ballcups, hub shell dimensions, indicators and more.
Sturmey-Archer Hubs – axle charts
Zoomable dimensioned drawings of axles for Sturmey-Archer hubs.
Sturmey-Archer Hubs – cone charts
Zoomable dimensioned drawings of cones for Sturmey-Archer hubs.
Sturmey-Archer Hubs – spring charts
Zoomable dimensioned drawings of springs for Sturmey-Archer hubs.
Sturmey-Archer Hubs – triggers
Zoomable dimensioned drawings of triggers for Sturmey-Archer hubs. Includes how to convert triggers for use with fixed-wheel hubs.
Jim Gill’s fixed hub conversions
Jim Gill’s compilation of how to convert a 3-speed to 2-speed fixed-wheel and how to convert 4-speeds to 3-speed fixed.
Jim Fairbrother’s fixed hub conversions
Modifications to Sturmey-Archer hub gears to produce fixed wheel gears
Engineer John Fairbrother outlines another approach to fixed-wheel conversions.
Fixed hub trigger conversion
Modifications to Sturmey-Archer triggers for use with fixed wheel gears
More good stuff from Jim Gill.
I felt a great sense of loss when I heard of Sturmey-Archer’s closing in 2000. I remember sitting for a long time after I heard the news, feeling numb. I had sold, repaired, championed and ridden Sturmey-Archer gears for 21 years. The first shop I worked at was a Raleigh shop. They hired me because I could overhaul Sturmey-Archer hubs. They had all the many internal parts for several models of Sturmey-Archer gears in a wall of 5″x 6″ metal drawers. Small parts were in a case of 1″ x 2″ plastic drawers. Such a vast collection of ancient artifacts bore mute testament to a long and fine tradition of strength and durability that stretched to the beginning of the last century. I used to say the popularity of derailleur gears was little more than a fad in efficiency.
Derailleur bikes then were relatively flimsy and in need of constant maintenance to keep them working. Ten speeds were designed after Tour de France bikes. If cars were designed the same way they would all look like Formula One racing cars. Derailleur bikes, like their Tour de France counterparts, were not user friendly. Cyclists then had to switch between touch and sound modalities to “find” their gears. Even the most expensive derailleurs required careful installation and bicycle with a straight frame and chainline. Mechanics would carefully position and skilfully bend the front derailleur cage with pliers. Even then it could not handle more than a relatively narrow range of high gears in the hands of someone who knew how to perform what Frank Berto described as the “overshift-and-correct” shifting drill. In writing the history of derailleur chain gearing (Berto, et al., 2000), noted author Frank Berto described the remarkable craftsmanship of a Campagnolo derailleur saying “it will shift lousy forever”.
The metaphor of a derailleur bike being like a high-strung high-performance race car pushing the envelope of technology was viable then. Bicycles were like radio in the forties, recorded sound in the fifties or cameras in the sixties. Bicycle mechanics were like microscope repairmen.
By comparison, Sturmey-Archer (S-A) gears were user friendly and virtually maintenance free. From among the hurley-burley of designs and compatibility problems Sturmey-Archer emerged as a golden standard. Its design rarely changed and parts had always been available. The most desirable feature of S-A gears was ease of shifting. Instead of shifting while steering with one hand you just flicked a trigger on the handlebars. S-A gears were safe, simple and reliable.
This reputation eroded as Suntour and Shimano began making derailleurs so reliable you didn’t need repair parts. Power shifters, bar-cons, and self-adjusting front derailleurs began closing in on the superior simplicity of use previously dominated by S-A. In 1985 Shimano optimized rear derailleur geometry and introduced indexed shifting (Berto, et al., p.260). The final blow came in 1989 with SRAM’s twist grip for derailleurs (Berto, et al., 2000, p. 263) just like those S-A had been producing since 1961. Suddenly, all I could say to potential customers was that S-A gears were indexed shifting when indexed shifting wasn’t cool.
Losing their advantage of being both user friendly and low-maintenance in the face of a rapidly improved derailleur a fair comparison could now be made. Having a weak engine, bicycles need higher gears that are closer together and lower gears that are further apart. Hub gears have higher gears that are further apart and lower gears that are closer together (see Figure 1 below); the exact opposite of what is needed (van der Plas, p. 161). This is just how hub gears work. Derailleur gears, with their ability to match the limitations of human effort, were superior in this regard.
At least in America, few people seemed to know that the sprocket size on an S-A hub could be changed so that a larger sprocket with more teeth gave lower gears. The gears Raleigh used on their Sports model came with an 18 tooth cog that gave a normal of 66.4 inches (for metric users, a ‘development’ of 5.3m) with a low of 49.8 (4.0m) and a high of 88.6 inches (7.1m). People buying a bike thought that three-speeds “didn’t have enough gears to climb hills and were too hard to pedal.” Raleigh Sports bicycles weighed 36 lbs and came with fenders and needed lower gears. The gears it came with were too high. I remember I used to routinely swap-out the cogs on the over-geared Raleigh Sports. If Raleigh had specified hubs with 22t cogs that would have given the ideal gearing with a medium of 54.3 inches (4.3m) with a low of 40.8 inches (3.3m) and a high of 72.5 inches (5.8m). As a result of being over-geared hub gear owners found themselves shifting often between normal and low with high gear being “way out there”. Probably more than everything else combined, this one detail made most customers prefer to buy ten-speed derailleur bicycles.
The only explanation I ever heard for why Raleigh over-geared their three-speeds was that cyclists used to turn higher gears with longer cranks at lower RPMs. Still, it never made sense.
Along about this time another seemingly unrelated trend was to unmask one of S-A’s characteristics as a defect: gear slip. Ten-speeds were built for a full-tuck riding position and were awkward to ride. The only accommodations made for women was to tilt the saddle nose down 2-3 degrees. To people with chronic back problems I repeated the findings by French physicians that the full-tuck riding position was actually good for your back. To those with carpal tunnel problems I recommended gloves. For men with prostate problems I recommended a leather saddle. Like the ordinary bicycle, or penny farthing it replaced, the derailleur bicycle had evolved to serve a narrow bandwidth of young, athletic, male customers. The bicycle was difficult to ride and maintain.
The emergence of mountain bikes changed all this. With an upright position anyone could easily ride them, and with an emphasis on durability they brushed the flimsy ten speeds aside. S-A gears could not be used for off-road riding for two reasons, the foremost of which was gear “slip”. If the hub is not in adjustment and you are riding in either normal or high, the gear can unexpectedly go into a “no gear” intermediate position between the gears. When it does this the gear suddenly disengages itself under load. Gear “slip” had long inhibited “honking”, or riders getting out of the saddle to pedal up hills because there is always the chance that while you are standing on the pedals it could suddenly slip out of gear. Since mountain biking required out-of-the-saddle pedaling for climbing hills S-A gears were not an option.
Another problem was gearing; S-A recommended that the rear sprocket be no larger than 22 tooth be used (presumably with a 46 tooth chainwheel) giving a 54 inch (4.3m) normal with a low of 41 inches (3.3m). Lower than this and, and as Frank Berto once said “presumably, the hub would grind itself into pieces the size of tooth fillings”. Mountain biking needed these lower gears, especially since honking was not possible. Think about it: you couldn’t use ultra-low gears but you also couldn’t stand up to pedal. This effectively shut S-A gears out of mountain biking, limiting them to road use.
Because the bikes they provided for road use were all hopelessly over-geared the picture of S-A’s inevitable obsolescence is more understandable. What is most curious is that S-A hubs had been “slip-free” since the 1904-1937 “X” model hub. Why didn’t they just bring back “slip-free” hubs when mountain biking became popular and why did they ever quit making such hubs in the first place? The answer has to do with the series of management companies that ran S-A.
From the beginning S-A was owned by Raleigh Cycle Company. Frank Bowden, Raleigh’s founder, was in the process of building what was to become the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer when he was approached by William Reilly, a poor Irishman, about a three-speed hub he had just invented. In 1902, in a series of legal maneuvers he swindled William Reilly out of the patent rights and got rid of him (Hadland, 1987, p.52). Reilly died in obscurity on a curb in Stockport, near Manchester in about 1950 when he was 83 (Hadland, 1987, addendum); S-A was thus born with Raleigh was the management company.
The original 1902 hub Reilly designed was a fixed-gear three-speed; you could shift gears but you couldn’t coast. It had an external freewheel threaded on, so you could coast. It had two “intermediate” no-gear positions between the gears to prevent simultaneous engagement of two “fixed” gears, wrecking the hub.
In 1904 the “X” hub replaced the original design. It didn’t need an external freewheel to coast because inside the hub it had three sets of pawls, one set for each speed. If simultaneous engagement of normal and low gears occurred the normal set of pawls was turned faster than the low gear pawls and over-ran them. If there was simultaneous engagement of normal and high the high gear pawls over-ran the slower normal gear pawls. A loose cable gave low, so if the cable broke the hub stayed in low. Designed by the inventor of three-speed hubs, William Reilly, BSA, continued to produce this hub for their bicycles until 1955 when they were acquired by Raleigh who discontinued Reilly’s hub. Bowden took over management of S-A in 1909 after he got rid of Reilly.
Bowden was a brilliant businessman in the process of building a bicycle manufacturing empire. He was not as interested in innovation as he was holding down costs. Raleigh allowed S-A to only just barely survive. Raleigh didn’t want anything but over-geared three-speed hubs and as long as that’s all they produced they didn’t care. The creative genius of S-A engineers was reduced to cutting costs to extend their tiny budget. I always imagined the R&D department as something like Hitler’s bunker.
WWI, production and design problems plagued S-A from l9l4-1918, when they designed the K model hub. This got to the market in 1921. S-A designed it as a cost-cutting measure so that if the cable broke the hub was stuck in high. This was a step backward. For another thing the K hub had only two sets of pawls. One set was used for both high and normal speeds and the other set for low. In high gear the high/normal pawls were fed after being multiplied by the planet gears for high gear. In normal same set was fed directly without being multiplied by the planet gears. In both gears the low-gear set was over-run. For low the sliding clutch “tripped out” the high/normal gear pawls unmasking the previously over-run low gear pawls. This method of “tripping-out” pawls prevented normal and low from being simultaneously driven. There was a danger, however, of simultaneously engaging normal and high. This was prevented in the following way. The fronts of the six clutch arms were square to fit against tabs on the inside of the gear ring for normal. The backside of the six arms of the sliding clutch were ramped so that if both normal and high were simultaneously engaged the gear ring was driven by the high gear. The drive of the faster turning gear ring drove itself into the ramps on the backs of clutch arms and pushed the clutch into full engagement with high. While clutches were expensive to make and tended to wear out there was no “no-gear” position and the hub was always in gear. In 1937 the K hub was replaced by the AW model with the infamous “no-gear” position (see Figures 2-7 below). AW clutches had four unramped arms and were cheaper to produce (Hadland, 1987, p.97). Like the K hub it replaced the AW used two sets of pawls and tripped out the normal/high set to unmask low, preventing simultaneous engagement of normal and low speeds. To prevent simultaneous engagement of high and normal AWs had a “no-gear” intermediate between them to keep them separate (Hadland, 1987, p.97).
It was not so much that S-A was unable to lead the field in market development as it was unwilling.
S-A continued to patent two additional different “no-slip” designs in 1948 (Hadland, 1987, p.120) and 1971 (Hadland, 1987, p.157). Raleigh patented their own “no-slip” design in 1972 (Hadland, 1987, p.154). Raleigh blocked production of all these.
Another example of S-A’s inability to lead in product development is hub brakes. Consider the popularity of disc brakes now. I recently opened a bicycle mail order catalogue and counted no less than six different kinds of disc brakes. When downhill racing became popular S-A announced they felt the disc brake “had no future in cycling” and stuck with drum brakes. In l985 when S-A said their gears were not strong enough for mountain biking (Hadland, 1987, p.168) it was reminiscent of the 192Os and their making similar disclaimers that their gears were not strong enough to be used on tandems. While S-A had produced a tandem three-speed in 1934 (Hadland, 1987, p.90) but they deleted it in 1941 (Hadland, 1987, p.189), giving derailleurs a niche market in which to get a toe-hold after WWII.
As the world changed the circle of Victorian Engineers at Raleigh who seemed to run S-A rigidly refused to acknowledge the world had changed since l9O4. They continued to make gentlemen’s gears for Edwardian cyclists. They probably figured that mountain bikes, like tandems, were just a fad.
Even in “gentlemen’s gears” they shunned innovation. Just like the “no-slip” three speed, S-A continued to patent innovations that Raleigh withheld from the public. Henry Sturmey patented a five-speed in 1921 and S-A continued to patent different designs of 5-speeds in 1940 (Hadland, 1987 p.111), 1973 (Hadland, p.155) and a 6-speed in 1954 (Hadland, p.130). Production of 5-speeds did not begin until 1966 (Hadland, 1987, p.146.); a 45 year interval.
S-A was starved and their resources plundered while Raleigh continued to grow. With over 7,000 employees in 1960 Raleigh was purchased by Tube Investments (TI), a manufacturing conglomerate that made everything from industrial tubing to several highly successful kitchen pans (Hadland, 2000). S-A had a new management company to run it and it was Raleigh’s turn to be managed. TI continued Raleigh’s regressive practices of plundering profits and blocking progress but had their own cruel twist about the mouth. Under TI’s management, Raleigh didn’t bring out a children’s hi-rise, or Stingray, bicycle until the demand in America was over. During the 1960s, Alex Moulton designed a small wheel bicycle and offered to sell it to Raleigh. After rejecting his offer Alex Moulton made them himself (Hadland, 2000). The bicycles proved wildly popular and Moulton bicycles quickly became Raleigh’s #1 competitor (Hadland, 2000). Raleigh delayed bringing out a BMX bike until it was too late to develop market share and got such a late start in mountain bikes (1984) they lost millions (Hadland, 2000). Now it was Raleigh’s turn to have its hands tied.
One outstanding example of the way TI prevented innovation involved the geared Dynohub. The Dynohub was a hub that contained a generator that powered bicycle lights. S-A had patented a geared Dynohub in 1967 (Hadland, 1987, p.147). While the generator turned as fast as the wheel a “geared” Dynohub generator was designed to turn faster than the wheel and generate more power. The Dynohub had been in continuous production since 1945 (Hadland, 1987, p.167). TI blocked bringing out the geared Dynohub. Rather than coming out with an updated more powerful model to stimulate sagging sales, it was cheaper to discontinue it and the Dynohub was withdrawn in 1984 as well as its battery-takeover option (Hadland, 1987, p.133). This was too bad because generator hubs are currently made by three different companies; Schmidt, DT and Shimano.
Another example of cost saving measures was the indicator chain coming out of a hollow axle, a feature of all S-A hubs. Because you couldn’t use a quick-release it had all the disadvantages of both a quick-release hollow axle and a solid axle; without the strength of a solid axle it was weak like a hollow axle but without the convenience of a quick-release. S-A patented a solid axled 7 speed in 1974 (Hadland, 1987, p.157). The 1974 patent on the solid axled 7 speed had expired by the time Shimano began producing S-A’s designs and producing gears with solid axles. By the time S-A closed Shimano had a solid axled 4 and 7 speed, Sachs had a 5, 7 and 12 hubs that used indicator chains and Rohloff had a 14 speed in both solid axle and quick-release versions, before S-A finally came out with the solid axled 7 speed they had patented 20 years before.
As early as 1984, as Mountain bike sales exploded, S-A, under TI, produced a “no-slip” three-speed for Columbia Bicycles in America that was not released to the general public. It had three sets of pawls and a ramped clutch. In 1984 Raleigh still didn’t have a mountain bike. By Feb. 1987 they had made 60,000 hubs for Columbia (Hadland, 1987, p.167). They were still in production in 1997 though they had not been released in the United Kingdom (Read, p.114). Their steadfast refusal to issue these to the general public is but one of many decisions that led to Sturmey-Archer’s increasing obscurity.
Moreover, three speeds, for all their faults, actually cost slightly more in America than their lighter ten-speed counterparts in the late 70s. For example, the Raleigh “Record Ace” introductory ten-speed was $265 in 1979 in the USA. By comparison a 3-speed Raleigh Sports cost $285. While the emerging mountain bikes still cost well over $600 prices were shortly to begin dropping rapidly as they exploded in growth.
Though British-made Raleigh imports to the U.S.A. stopped in 1981 there were a lot of three-speed bicycles still around and I could still find work as a Sturmey-Archer specialist.
About this time Sturmey-Archer was forced to discontinue rather than update a number of products which had long been in production such as the Dynohub with its battery take-over. They redesigned the drum brake which they offered in a bewildering array of materials and finishes.
The road to obscurity had not only to do with mountain bikes and S-A’s withholding from the public the same improved designs they provided to manufacturers but also a history of defective designs for products they did release to the public that betrayed the loyalty of even the most die-hard customers.
In 1980 I convinced a shop to order a couple of 5-speed hubs. Someone heard we had them and drove fifty miles to buy one. But he kept bringing it back saying it “slipped” out of gear. We ended up giving him his money back. A few months later we got a notice from S-A that the hub had a “faulty” spring. It was too late because no bike shop in town would take the chance on selling five-speed hubs. Some time later I found the shift levers it came with were also “faulty”.
I remember being delighted when S-A came out with an aluminum-alloy-hubshell five-speed hub in 1983. This was withdrawn in 1989 when it was found that pieces of the gears would burst through the hub shell (Read, p.83). Though I never saw this it must have been spectacular to see. The 5-StAr hub (the capitalized “A” playing on the first two letters of the words “Sturmey” and “Archer”) was introduced in 1991 but was withdrawn two years later because it tended to break axles. Though these happened on a relatively minor scale they had the effect of alienating the finicky and touchy market that cyclists are. S-A came out with a series of triggers that, with their increasing reliance on injection-molded plastic, bore an uncanny resemblance to a child’s play-toy. No serious cyclist would even consider putting such ugly junk on an expensive Reynolds 531 frame.
The real tragedy of this is that S-A didn’t have to fail. Recent research by Frank Berto and Chet Kyle indicates that run-in and well oiled Sturmey-Archer hubs are 91.8%-95.6% efficient compared to a Shimano derailleur’s 86.9%-95.9% efficiency (Berto & Kyle, 2001).
In 1979 S-A completely dominated the market. The history of bad design choices has its roots in some of their earliest designs. Before 1922 if a cable broke on a S-A hub it was locked in low (Hadland, 1987, p.74). Under Frank Bowden they redesigned it in 1922 so if the cable broke the hub was stuck in high. They brought out the “no gear” position in 1937 because it was cheaper to make. In 1954 they substituted the AW three-speed design with the ill-fated “SW” model three-speed (Hadland, 1987, p.134) with springless crescent-shaped pawls. How this hub got into production is curious because it never worked and slipped in every gear. What is most surprising is that it took them three years to withdraw it! I don’t know if they replaced all the defective hubs they sold but I don’t think they did.
At the time I first started working in a bike shop Sturmey-Archer was owned by Tube Investments which also owned Reynolds, Raleigh and Brooks. Like a ship breaking up on its way to the bottom Tube Investments sold Raleigh USA to Huffy; the largest manufacturer of junk bicycles in America in 1982. Anticipating a corporate sell-off, Derby, an American management firm was formed by a wealthy American tax attorney expressly for the purpose of acquiring old Raleigh holdings as they were sold by TI (Hadland, 2000). Raleigh of England, Reynolds, Sturmey-Archer and Brooks came under the management of Derby, Inc. in 1987 (Hadland, 2000).
TI had pretty much ruined Raleigh/S-A. By the time TI was finished Raleigh went from employing 7,000 employees in 1960 to 700 in 1987 (Hadland, 2000). The factory was virtually the same as when they bought it, only more decrepit. Moreover, aluminum was the tubing of preference and Raleigh couldn’t do anything but make steel bicycles.
S-A had their resources plundered and development choked for 85 years by first Raleigh and then TI. Derby, their new owner, would eventually own Raleigh of England, Raleigh of America, Nishiki, Kalkhoff, Univega, Gazelle, CyclePro, Haro and Diamondback and be the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the world. Under Derby, S-A began innovating and was allowed to finally release their “no slip” three speed hubs, the ill-fated 5-StAr in 1991 and the solid-axled 7-speed hub to an optimistic public in 1995 (Read, 2003). Tragically, both these designs were defective and S-A had to issue replacements. In 1999, after twelve years of trying to undo the damage and upgrade the factory Derby quit trying. They sold the land Raleigh and S/A were on to the University of Nottingham and auctioned off Raleigh’s brand new laser cutting equipment and robotic machines. They didn’t know what to do with S/A’s buildings and patents and so they sold S-A and Brooks for the price of a three-speed hub (Hadland, 2000). The buyer was Lenark, a shady British management firm who had previously been investigated for fraud.
The law of supply-and-demand was never so cruel.
The end came abruptly. Shortly before my birthday, in October, 2000, the employees were called in, told that Sturmey-Archer was closed and they had ten minutes to get out. A year later I still had trouble accepting that Sturmey-Archer was closed, the workforce unemployed, the land sold to a university to train people for a future without jobs, the buildings knocked down and the machines put in a ship container for Taiwan where Sun Race, their newest management company was located. For me, S-A is gone forever.
S-A’s failure had its origins in 1904. What we are seeing is the dark fruit of greed. The greed that designed hubs for cyclists like the SW and the AW with its “no-gear” position was the same greed that sold the land S-A was on to a University. Greed and avarice do not serve society any better than they serve the needs of cyclists.
My own fortunes followed those of Sturmey-Archer’s. While I continued as a mechanic I was not hired as a Sturmey-Archer specialist after 1985. The bike shop I work in now is a Raleigh shop. It has one extra three-speed cable and one small plastic drawer labeled “Sturmey-Archer” containing a couple of frame fittings.
Berto, F. and Kyle, C., (2001), HUMAN POWER, #52. Summer, 2001. pp.#3-11. Though other articles have appeared measuring the efficiency of epicyclic gearing this is the most recent and possibly most carefully done.
Berto, F., Shepherd, R., and Henry, R. (2000), THE DANCING CHAIN, Self-pub., San Francisco. The definitive text on derailleur design and history. Imprimatur.
Hadland, T. (1987), THE STURMEY-ARCHER STORY, Self pub., s.l. The definitive text on Sturmey-Archer hub gear design and history. Nihil Obstat. Imprimatur.
Hadland, T. (2000), Raleigh in the last quarter of the 20th century. In the 11th INTERNATIONAL CYCLE HISTORY CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, A. Ritchie & R. van der Plas, Eds. Van der Plas publications, San Francisco, Calif., USA. Chronicles the confusing business dealings that led to Raleigh’s leaving England and Sturmey-Archer’s closing.
van der Plas, R. (1991), BICYCLE TECHNOLOGY. Bicycle Books. San Francisco.
Read, P. M., STURMEY-ARCHER: “THE END” AND “NEW BEGINNINGS”; (1902-2000 onwards) hub gear drawings, diagrams and parts lists, Fourth Ed., (1997), Self pub., Milton-Keynes. Peter Read has a business repairing Sturmey-Archer equipment. This massive tome is the definitive guide to repair each S-A design with many small changes carefully documented. It includes the many aftermarket improvements that Sturmey-Archer cognoscenti have developed over the years.
The author thanks Tony Hadland on whose research this article is almost entirely based and for his invaluable suggestions. The author also thanks David Gordon Wilson and Peter Read of Phoenix Hub Gear Repairs for their invaluable comments on earlier versions of this paper. The author is especially grateful to Marv Wells, in Columbia, Missouri for his expertise in preparing the images. You’re a good bud, Marv.
The author is a bicycle mechanic in Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by paper mail at 1007 Grand Ave., Columbia, MO 65203-4025, USA or by telephone on + 573-442-1187
Figures and Text both copyright (c) by Vernon Forbes, 2003. (Minor revisions February 2012)
Raleigh bicycles were manufactured under licence in New Zealand by Morrison Industries of Hastings from the very late sixties through to (I think) 1987. Although the Sports Model was the original backbone of the range, it was the Raleigh 20 which really set the sales records.
Slightly cruder than the original Nottingham version, the 20 was nevertheless a sturdy machine which suffered very few problems over its long production life. It was made of local steel, and the main tube was of slightly smaller diameter than the original. In another departure, the bracing tubes from the main tube to the bottom bracket were missing. This last feature allowed the production of a fully detachable version which was, I think, unique to NZ.
I own a Raleigh 20 Detachable, although I’ve modified the machine heavily. The bike originally came fitted with the usual Raleigh equipment: Quick adjust seat and ‘bars, full ‘guards, a built in prop-stand and a sturdy tubular carrier. Also fitted was a wiring system for dynamo lights, which ran through the main tube and through copper contact plates at the shotgun style joint.
Unlike the US 20s, the NZ version stayed true to the 20 x 1 3/8″ wheel. I modified mine to 20 x 1.75″ BMX rims, but found that they lowered the BB too much. Since the photos were taken I’ve switched back to bigger diameter aluminium rims and Primo Comet 20 x 1 3/8″ tyres. The bike has been transformed, and is now very nippy, thanks to the full pound each wheel has shed! I’ve also foregone the cable-free back end and replaced the Duomatic with a standard Torpedo 3; much more pleasant to use in my humble opinion. Cable splitting is yet to be tackled.
Keith Guthrie of Cycle Trading Co found the following letter in his files. Note that this letter refers the Folder and not the Detachable, it is closer in format to the original Raleigh 20 Folder from Nottingham, but still without the BB reinforcing bars. Also interesting is the fact that Morrison could confidently claim in 1977 that the 20 was NZ’s biggest selling bicycle.
Back to the history. The 20 grew a bigger sibling, the Morrison 22 and THINK I’m right in saying Raleigh 18s were also made in NZ. Choppers were certainly built here, as were 5 and 10 speed “racers”, the Olympus (26″) and Arena (27″). The pictures below are scans of a Master Cycle Traders’ Federation catalogue from the early 80s (the MCT was NZs national cycle trade body). It was produced by them for their members, i.e. most quality bikeshops in New Zealand. It was multi-brand; all the models on the pages I sent you were made by Healing Industries of Christchurch or Morrison Industries of Hastings. The third largish player on the market was Cyclemakers of Pleasant Point, but at this point cyclemakers would have just been getting off the ground.
The Catalogue is, in fact, a 1981 item. We confirmed this by looking back in old invoice books till we found prices to match. Rampant inflation and no discounting in those far off days made this a fairly simple task.
I’ll run through the catalogue explaining some of the bikes.
Raleigh Bermuda: Morrison’s last version of the Sports Model. Flashy and a good seller, but the chrome was awful and the general standard of work much lower than on earlier efforts. Significantly poorer than genuine Nottingham item. Note the plain fork crown; this was the first Morrison Raleigh to depart from the “Raleigh Crown”.
Healing 10 Speed: Healing’s amazingly successful best seller. The cunningly named 10 speed rode the crest of the oil crisis and the 10 speed boom. Gents and Mixte models. The frame was butt or bronze welded out of local steel supplied by Southward Engineering. Even the handlebars were bent up in NZ on a locally built machine, and a very peculiar bend they were too. Despite dire predictions by those brought up on proper lugged frames, the 10 Speeds proved to be rugged if uninspiring machines.
Healing Commuter: Healing were aggressive in filling every hole in the known market with products based on their basic frames. Here is the 10 Speed frame re-dressed as a (Shimano) 3 speed. Nice bikes, and probably the last fully equipped bicycles to be sold in any numbers.
Raleigh Module 5/Alpha: Gents and Ladies frankly horrible 5 speeds based on the basic sports model frame. There was also a 10 speed version: the Olympic. These were the first derailleur-equipped mass market bikes in NZ, and as such were quite a hit. Keith Guthrie of Cycle Trading Co remembers the sleepless nights he incurred after ordering 20 of them, a big commitment for a young shop-owner. He very quickly sold them all. Once the Healing 10 Speed hit the market with its svelte 27 x 1 1/4″ wheels, the cobby looking Raleighs enjoyed less success. They still had a market though in those rich parents looking for a derailleur bike for their kids. Also, in the pre-MTB days, hard charging clubbies looking for a machine to handle NZ’s “shingle” roads preferred the rugged little Raleighs over the more effete 10 Speed. Note the bars are taped right to the stem. They were NZ made and hot-dip galvanised rather than chromed. Morrisons supplied them with enough cotton bar tape to go all the way to the stem.
Healing 12 speed: Healing’s flagship. Their standard butt welded steel frame (Schwinn Varsity style) with a mixture of better Japanese gear: Shimano 600 and Altus Araya aluminium rims.
Morrison Monark: The best NZ produced mass-market bike of this period. Lugged Hi-Ten frame, mostly SunTour parts and Araya Staylite(?) rims, those dull chromed ones. These were bought by the well-heeled and by aspiring cyclo-touriste not quite able to afford genuine 531 and low gears.
Raleigh Arena: Morrison’s lugged 10 speed. Fairly average mix of parts. Beaten sales-wise by the poorer framed but more stylistically unified Healing 10 Speed. In the early days Morrison frames all had their bottom brackets dipped in a vat of molten bronze and frames were generally very well brazed. By the bitter end they assembled the tubes and tacked them, stockpiling them for brazing. Some would inevitably make it through to painting with a joint or two left unbrazed, resulting in a surprising series of events for the unsuspecting new Arena owners!
Raleigh 20: By this time the NZ 20 had lost its one piece bars and stem to the more fashionable semi-riser bar. Colours had become more limited, and the rugged tubular steel carrier had been replaced by a flimsier chrome wire item. Obviously the now-unfashionable small wheeler’s last gasp.
Healing Cruiser: a frank Raleigh 20 copy. Replaced the loop framed Lo-Line, a more continental looking small-wheeler. Ian Hooker, formerly a manager with Healing, told me that he was always happy to let Morrison experiment with a new model before committing Healing’s capital to the idea. Yet someone in the design department (if indeed one existed as such) must have had a good eye, because Healing products always managed to look more with-it and appealing than the Morrisons they copied. I know from other sources that Ian was very responsive to dealer feedback, even inviting it, something which was an anathema to Morrison Industries. Thus if given a choice, the majority of dealers would prefer to sell a Healing over a Morrison. There were one or two gaffes, the Healing Dragster was definitely less cool than the Chopper it aped, yet even here Healing were probably in the black. With a frame adapted from the Cruiser, and a 20 inch front and 24 inch rear wheel taken from stock, the Dragster was made up cheaply and quickly from existing parts and probably sold in sufficient numbers in the bike-starved 70s to turn a profit.
As you can see, the market in New Zealand was quite unique and insular. Import restrictions were severe and even quite ordinary bikes were expensive items (in 1981 I was earning NZ$80.00 per week as a 15 year old). The bikes were a peculiar mix of English (Morrison) and American (Healing 10 speed) manufacturing styles. By the mid 80s all this changed; a peculiarly free market loving Labour government gained power and we opened up to all sorts of imported machinery. By 1987 Morrison and Healing, the two giants of the industry, had gone without a trace, victims to takeovers and asset strips very familiar to anyone with a knowledge of the British bicycle industry.
F.E. MOORE CYCLES – 1914 to late ’20s,
F.E. MOORE & SON – late ’20s to 1938
F.E. MOORE & SONS – 1938 to 29th September 1976.
The business that became F.E. Moore & Sons was established in 1914 at 816, Pershore Road, Selly Park, Birmingham using the front room of this terraced house as a shop. Earlier in the year, on 13th March 1914 Norman, the second of two sons, was born to the proprietor Francis Ernest Moore (pictured below) and his wife Rebecca. Ernest Henry, their elder son, had been born eight years earlier on 23rd September 1906.
The first company name used was F.E. Moore. The name was later changed to F.E. Moore & Son when Ernest was brought into the business as a partner in the late 1920s.
Expansion took place first into 818 Pershore Road, the c.1890s Victorian terraced house next door. A workshop approximately 30ft. square was built across the two gardens at the rear. It was a prefabricated building purchased specifically for that purpose.
Bicycle frame building was carried out using ‘Town Gas’ and air in a coke hearth; the air was supplied by foot-bellows
By the early 30s business had increased to such an extent that a display area for cycles was set up in a proper shop at the corner of Wallace & Pershore Roads. The hardware business from these premises was transferred to the ‘shop’ in the front room of 818 in April 1933.
It must be remembered that the whole business had been originally opened in the small front room of a terraced house where there would be little room to display cycles. Few small companies were able to afford stocks of cycles and most were bought-in to order. Cyclists of that period were cautious and spent many hours poring over makers catalogues (such as the 1930s example opposite) before spending hard-earned money. Consequently, they were prepared to wait for a cycle to be delivered. Delivery would usually only take a day or two at most.
At sometime during 1932, Hiley’s Shoe Shop was taken on at 816 Bristol Road South, Northfield some three miles away. By coincidence, it had the same street number as the headquarters in Pershore Road. The shopfitting was carried out by Norman in his ‘spare-time’ after work. He had excelled at woodwork due to the kindness shown by Mr Webb, the woodwork teacher at Bournville School. This was unusual for that period of draconian education. Bournville is best known for its chocolate made by the Quaker family of Cadbury.
When the new shop was running smoothly carrying out repairs and selling spares with Norman in sole charge, a manager by the name of Plevy was employed but this proved to be unsatisfactory. A cousin replaced him and stayed with the company until the start of WW2.
This left Norman free to open up another shop at 7 High Street, Smethwick in 1934. It remained open until 1946. As with the Northfield branch, Norman carried out the shop fitting and rigged up a workshop for repairs. This was sold in 1946 whilst Norman was still working at the Aluminium Bronze Company. Brother Ernie was running Northfield and F.E. was running headquarters with Norman’s help after work.
At long last in 1938 the company name was changed to F.E. Moore & Sons, Norman being formally taken into the business. He had started his business career in 1928 after leaving school at 14. His career was not initially in the family cycle business, as there was only enough to keep F.E.& Ernest Jnr., but in the office of the Stolzeburgh File Company at 10 shillings (50p) per week gross for 44 hours a week. After a month’s probationary period, it rose to 12 shillings & 6 pence (62.5p).
After a few months Norman moved to the offices of Lloyd, Withers & Pitt, Iron & Steel Stockists which proved to be more interesting. He stayed with them until they went ‘bump’, which may have been due to his 17 shillings & 6 pence wage for 44 hours.
Prior to leaving school Norman had been used liberally as free labour in his father’s firm. Now Ernest Jnr. was finding it hard to cope, so Norman was again used to ‘pitch in’. As they got older, Norman and Ernest we got on well together, both working 60-70 hours per week for pocket money.
One memorable Whitsuntide, they were inundated with work and starting at 8.00am Friday, worked right through until 9.00pm Saturday, with meals being taken at the bench. At 2.00am Norman took two new bicycle to New Street Station, riding his own machine, not wishing to walk the four miles home. He had one slung over his shoulder and pushed the other. The parcel office being closed, he rode straight onto the platform and being unable to lift the machine off his shoulder, he banged the office door with his front wheel. When a porter eventually came, Norman asked for some help: the porter’s response was unrepeatable. Nonetheless, their customer in Edinburgh was able to collect his new mount from the station later that day just in time to start his tour.
In 1940 Norman and brother Ernest moved to Aluminium Bronze Limited, a foundry alongside the brook in Bournbrook, Selly Oak. Adjacent to Vincent Timber Merchants, it later became and still is Patrick Motors. Ariel Cycles were close by in Dale Road, Edgbaston below Birmingham University renowned for its local red brick clock tower and buildings. Here Norman earned £3 15s. a week gross, at a time when a middle of the range bicycle cost £10 if you could get one. Later he became foreman. This was no doubt due to his ability and to work with other men old enough to be his father.
The working day started at 6.40am, work starting at 7.00am with 30 minutes break at midday for sandwiches, there being no canteen. They finished at 5.30pm and then went directly to Northfield to open up at 6.00pm until 8.00pm or 9.00pm according to business. They then had a 30 minute ride home in the permanent blackout unless there was an air raid.
Lugs and fittings for the cheaper models were bought from Brampton & Brothers. Ernest Moore Jnr. personally sorted these in the store when collecting them from Rocky Lane off Aston Road. Lugs were also purchased from Charles Vaughan, later Dixon Vaughan in Legge Street off Corporation Street near the city centre; they would cast lugs to order, the patterns being made by a self-employed man in Aston Road.
Tubes were bought from Reynolds Tubes, Tyseley, Birmingham and also Accles & Pollocks Limited of Oldbury. This company would also make handlebars to any pattern. Stiff wire was bent to the customers instruction and off Norman would go on his bicycle with an order for two or three bends of various patterns. In a few days they would be ready for collection, necessitating another ride for Norman. If the customer approved they would be celluloid covered – yet another ride.
Plating was carried out by Willet & Cobb, Berkley Street & Gas Street corner. Deposits of copper, nickel and finally chrome ensured a lasting finish.
Most Moorson cycles were made to order, the specification following the current fashion. However, in 1926 F.E. Moore introduced his Twin Tube frame, registered design 726545, patent no. 269418, which was one of the first unorthodox frames of the 1920s and attracted attention, as did others such as Granby Taper Tube and later Hetchins, Baines, Bates, etc. The design extended the seat & chainstay around the seat tube forming twin top and down tubes. Here they were flattened and wrapped around the steering head top and bottom. This gave extra strength and rigidity all round. Various experimental lugs were tried but finally discarded in favour of lapped tubes. This technique was lighter and neater, as well as permitting any frame angle to be made, including ladies’ open frames. At least two of these still exist. Interestingly, the World War 2 BSA Army Folder also uses this method of construction. The Moorson was used by many successful racers in the Midlands and it is possible that the designer of the BSA folder had seen a Moorson Twin Tube.
One of the 1930s catalogues tells us:
Besides the Twin Tube, F.E. Moore also designed and patented the ‘Adjustable Handle Bars,’ illustrated below, consisting of four separate bends adjustable to any shape from full drops to Lauterwasser Flats and usable with any stem.
The Moorson frame had many successes and became quite popular in the Birmingham area. It was available as a tourer, path or road racer, and in ladies’ and tandem versions. In one catalogue, the Roadster Model specification tells us that “It is strong enough to convert into a tradesman’s cycle by fitting a detachable carrier and carrier tyres.” In fact, F.E. had intended to build a tricycle and had purchased a used Abingdon axle for that purpose. Regretfully neither F.E. nor Norman his successor built one. The axle is now in the Pinkerton Cycle Collection together with two gents’ models and the Moore’s Brothers own Twin Tube tandem. The catalogue picture below shows the Twin Tube tandem frame.
On 29th September 1976, Norman sold the two businesses, lock, stock & barrel to Thomas Lugsdin. Neither Tom or his wife Anita had a clue and let both businesses run down. Finally Tom repaired cycles in the back of a large van.
In 1978, two years after he had sold the business, Norman made the last Twin Tube for himself which he used until his death on 4th May 1995 for tours and special occasions. He used a 1968 model for local and everyday rides.
According to Gwen, he made one more frame which was destined for his grandson. However, when their daughter had a second son and Norman had no more lugs, he would not favour either of his descendants with the last frame. This ‘last’ new frame was sold by Veteran-Cycle Auctions in October 1996.
Some notes on frame numbers and dating. Norman regretted leaving all the order sheets with records of who all of the Moorson Frames or cycles had been supplied to. However, he did write to me in 1994 and say that he could tell the year of manufacture with numbers from seat lug and under bottom bracket shell. S and T prefixes denote Single or Twin tube models. 531 in the number is the tubing and 6039 was June 1939. there was also an individual frame number, such as 431.
Norman graduated from a friend’s scooter to an old crock of a juvenile bicycle, taken in part exchange, learning to ride it without assistance ‘scooter fashion’ in a narrow passage. His father saw him and Norman thought he was ‘for it’ but after watching for a short, while father walked away. The next time Norman saw the bicycle it had been serviced by his brother and was safe to ride. “Great” said Norman! He desperately wanted a fixed wheel but father would have none of it. Undeterred, he tried hammering tin-tacks into the free-wheel but without success – surprise, surprise!
A few years later, he was given a Twin Tube that Joe Bragg had used: Joe was one of the Midlands fast men. Norman was justly proud of it and delighted with the 60″ fixed wheel ‘like all the men had.’ The fixed made him sit still and ‘twiddle’ like his idol Walter Holland, a impeccable local rider.
The bicycle was used for school as well as business trips for the shop (unpaid of course). Before he moved to manage the Northfield shop, if a customer asked for something that was not in stock, Norman was sent off to one of the many local factors, usually a round trip of six miles. With quick service he could be back in half an hour, but father’s last words would always be “Don’t hang about, the customer is waiting!” One outstanding trip was to collect a damaged cycle from Evesham, a round trip of 60 miles, Norman told me “it still makes me tired just to think about it, 50 years later!”
Transport of cycles between shops was done by riding one and pushing the other, no mean feat considering the tramlines, stone setts and horse droppings. He also made a large metal box to fit over the rear carrier. This would frequently be loaded with up to 50 lb. of spares etc. On one such occasion he was carrying a few frames on his back when he misjudged the width of his load and touched a ‘Bobby’ on point duty in Victoria Square. All the policeman said was “Aye, careful with that!”
At 14, Norman joined the Southern Section of CTC, raced with the Wyndham Racing CC (which later amalgamated with the Rover Racing Cyclist Club to form the Birmingham Racing Cyclists Club) and was also a member of the Midland Cycling & Athletic Club. Fred Venables was also a CTC member and they became life long friends. (Fred was 82 in 1988 at the time of our second conversation.) The CTC met under The Clock at Snow Hill Station (Great Western Railway) and cycled to Clent Hills, taking the train back from nearby Blakedown.
During 1940, when most of his club mates had been called up, Norman was transferred from the shop to the foundry to carry out vital war work. One evening at the Smethwick shop, a customer invited him to go out with the Birmingham Rambling Club. Ever eager for pastures new, he agreed to try it, if only once. Surprisingly, he enjoyed it and cycled and rambled on alternate Sundays. He was attracted to a friend of a girl called Gwen but “could not cope with the competition” to quote Norman. However, over the months a friendship developed with Gwen, which lasted a lifetime. They married in 1946. Gwen was Gwendolyn Upton, daughter of William Upton, transport manager of the Midland Motor Cylinders, Smethwick.
© John Pinkerton
28th February 2001
Edited by Tony Hadland, 10th February 2002.
All illustrations from 1930s Moorson catalogues.
The cycle history interviews formerly found on this page are now on the
Veteran-Cycle Club YouTube Channel
Interviewees include David Duffield, Jack Lauterwasser, John Macnaughtan, Alex Moulton, Vic Nicholson, John Pinkerton, Derek Roberts and John Woodburn.