Friday, August 20, 2010

The two-speed kickback hub is back!

Indeed, after a 30 to 40-year hiatus, the kickback hub is back! I have an old Bendix 2-speed kickback hub on one of my bikes.

I love it. It's really the perfect hub for a simple tooling-around-the-city bike. The only problem with mine is that it is four pounds. I assume the new version is much lighter.

The way it works is that every time you back-peddle it switches between low and high. And it has a coaster brake. You can switch gears without braking but you cannot brake without shifting. It kind of sounds like a pain in the ass, but it's not.

Why is this this good? First of all because two-speeds is perfect for 80 percent of your biking needs. Second, basically I use the low gear for starting (sometimes) and for going uphill. I use the higher gear for everything else. And how many other two speed bikes do you know? This gear has no cables, no handles, no derailleur, nothing external, no nothing that needs maintenance or can break. It's the perfect city hub.

9 comments:

Jim Greer said...

Perfect city hub if your definition of a city is New York or Chicago, flatlander.

PCM said...

Why, yes, that is my definition of a city.

AV said...

I had the same thought: those 80% of biking needs would only be if I spent 80% of my biking time somewhere flat.

henryinamsterdam said...

I rode a single speed (fixed actually but that was before they were called "fixies") around San Francisco for years. SF is not flat and even one gear was fine for more than 80% of my needs. Now I often travel with a 2 speed Brompton and that was just fine in (hilly) Paris recently.

Just a couple gears is even fine in a hilly city if you're not riding a heavily loaded bike. There's no shame in occasionally walking up a hill.

We've been testing the new Sturmey Archer 2-sp and it looks really solid so far. We (Workcycles) will build bikes with them.

PCM said...

Yeah, take that, Jim Greer, you pussy! Now go visit Workcycles and let me know how it goes.

Jim Greer said...

My bike is often heavily loaded with a toddler. Really, I'm not riding a fixie or a two speed.

Jim Greer said...

I don't think you would either if you lived at 25th and Dolores.

PCM said...

Get a tandem and put that toddler to work!

Allez! (or whatever they say in France).

[Though there is no shame in walking up a hill, there isn't much fun in it, either. When I'm in S.F., I like my granny gears.]

Logan Doughty said...

I like the idea of being able to keep up with my buddies on my single speed. I lose them on hilly rides, but flat out I can't keep up. A two speed sounds perfect. I have a lefty twentyniner geared for the single tracks around here, but I need an entirely different bike for the greenways if I am riding with my GF or just shop-hopping with friends.