Beginner: What essential gear to purchase?

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
A new commuter, eh? Well, good luck. Here's my list, for what it's worth.

Essential:

Bike, including lights if riding in the dark, and locks as appropriate. That's all you actually need.




Desirable:

Almost everything else.




Don't bother:

You'll soon figure out through trial and error what works for you, what is useful for you, or what you in particular can live without. Everyone's perspective, needs and threshold are different, so I wouldn't presume to advise. The classic example is rucksack - I loved mine for commuting, but such things bring other riders out in bouts of chunder at the more thought for no other reason than simple preference. Ultimately you'll only know what suits you when you've tried it.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
- get rid of gearing and freewheel - it eliminates alot problems and allows you to chose longer lasting drivetrain components.- a spare chain, a few spare quicklinks may suffice in case a fat chain.
- put mud covers wherever you can to protect your drivetrain - it avoids alot maintenance..
Or you could ride an old-school 3-speed Roadster with an enclosed chaincase but having the benefit of gears.....
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Or you could ride an old-school 3-speed Roadster with an enclosed chaincase but having the benefit of gears.....
I wouldn't go enclosed again because it filled up with autumn silt far too fast for my liking and made spotting chain problems more difficult. The O^^ shaped ones are good enough, although a hockey stick is easier to fit.
 

12boy

Über Member
Location
Casper WY USA
I carry a tool roll with Lezyne pump, park sticky patches, 2 tire irons, 3, 4, 5 and 6 mm Allen wrenches, a cut down 15 mm wrench for the 2 bikes that don't have QRs, a water bottle ( 20 oz steel double wall.) A bit of blue paper shop cloth in case the public toilet is paperless or my hands are greasy is nice. Some of my bikes have bags, some rscks and bags. Neoprene over boots with a cutout for an SPD clip are nice and warm in the winter. If you can score a locker you can bring a weeks work clothes at a time. Lunch and a wee snack before toddling home are good too.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
... and the drawbacks of gears. ;)
3 speed hub gears don't really have any drawbacks compared to single speeds, other than being a bit more expensive to buy new. They are totally reliable and maintenance comprises of a squirt of oil once in a while. You still get a good chainline and minimal wear & tear.
 

carlyboo

New Member
Location
manchester
have a commuter travel 11 miles to work everyday and carry lunch, change of clothes and spare cycle shorts/tops in case of rain on the way. Don't like to spend much on cycle gear so generally look for comfortable reasonably priced stuff that you don't mind getting getting abused! I like lusso shorts affordable and last. Obviously spare tubes, pump and levers. One thing i do is put everything in plastic bags stop it from getting soaked if weather is bad nothings 100 percent waterproof. :rain:
 

silva

Active Member
Location
Belgium
3 speed hub gears don't really have any drawbacks compared to single speeds, other than being a bit more expensive to buy new. They are totally reliable and maintenance comprises of a squirt of oil once in a while. You still get a good chainline and minimal wear & tear.
Still a freewheel, still derailer, still cables, still 3/32" chain width limitation.
Been there. Got rid of some reoccurring troubles with it.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
Still a freewheel, still derailer, still cables, still 3/32" chain width limitation.
Been there. Got rid of some reoccurring troubles with it.
Where's the derailleur on a 3-speed roadster? One SA trigger shifter gear cable, one chainring, one rear sprocket, one of my freewheels has lasted 45 years so far, and so in all probability has the chain.
Whilst I do admire the mechanical simplicity and weight-saving potential of a single speed, they don't have a monopoly on mechanical reliability and longevity.
 
3 speed hub gears don't really have any drawbacks compared to single speeds, other than being a bit more expensive to buy new. They are totally reliable and maintenance comprises of a squirt of oil once in a while. You still get a good chainline and minimal wear & tear.
I would humbly disagree. Back in the olden days I had a couple of 3 speed sturmey archer hubbed bikes, and found the three speeds horrible for jumping out of 3rd gear whilst trying to honk up a hill. I even fell off once as a result, but luckily it was a raleigh shopper so I didn't leave my bollocks on the crossbar. Bearing in mind I was only schoolboy and thought a 3 mile cycle was a long way, it wasn't as if I'd done thousands of miles. Presumably others' experience differs, but I would never get another. On my 2nd one, years later, changing gears failed completely so I had to do the last 20 miles of a hilly ride in top. Admittedly that was a perhaps old 2nd hand bike so may have been worn out. I did know how to adjust them (or thought I did anyway) but seemingly you were on a knife edge of getting it just right.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Still a freewheel, still derailer, still cables, still 3/32" chain width limitation.
Yes, freewheel, yes, one cable, but I've no derailleur and I use 1/8" width chains (and sprockets) so I'm not sure you're thinking of the right thing. You can use 3/32" chain if you want and Shimano seem to specify it as standard on their hub gears but I don't really understand why you would unless you've a few gross of chains to use up or you really really like buying Shimano chains (who I think don't make a 1/8" chain).

I would humbly disagree. Back in the olden days I had a couple of 3 speed sturmey archer hubbed bikes, and found the three speeds horrible for jumping out of 3rd gear whilst trying to honk up a hill. I even fell off once as a result, but luckily it was a raleigh shopper so I didn't leave my bollocks on the crossbar. Bearing in mind I was only schoolboy and thought a 3 mile cycle was a long way, it wasn't as if I'd done thousands of miles. Presumably others' experience differs, but I would never get another. On my 2nd one, years later, changing gears failed completely so I had to do the last 20 miles of a hilly ride in top. Admittedly that was a perhaps old 2nd hand bike so may have been worn out. I did know how to adjust them (or thought I did anyway) but seemingly you were on a knife edge of getting it just right.
If the gears have been run out-of-alignment for long, then it can damage some of the pawls and make shifting unreliable. As to "thought I did": was it put shifter in middle/normal, move the cable adjuster until the shoulder on the shift rod is level with the axle end (viewed through the hole on the right-hand wheel nut or by opening the cover on the cable guard if fitted), then secure the adjuster with its lock nut?

Also, some riders seem to forget the indexing needs checking whenever the wheel is refitted or chain tension reset, and inexperienced mechanics sometimes fit incompatible shift rods (there are at least five available now, marked I to IIIII on the rod IIRC) which basically makes correct indexing an annoying trial-and-error experiment because the rod and axle ends don't line up.

Most 3-speed hubs haven't been mangled or fitted with incompatible parts, so this doesn't happen much. Modern SA 3-speeds have no neutral so you won't suddenly fall forwards, but they do have a clutch which can be damaged by reversing the bike in top gear (so don't do that - always park it in Normal).

I'd heartily recommend a 3-speed for utility bikes and I usually tour on one, plodding it over two small mountains last time, but I wouldn't go so far to say it's an essential beginner's purchase!
 

silva

Active Member
Location
Belgium
Where's the derailleur on a 3-speed roadster? One SA trigger shifter gear cable, one chainring, one rear sprocket, one of my freewheels has lasted 45 years so far, and so in all probability has the chain.
Whilst I do admire the mechanical simplicity and weight-saving potential of a single speed, they don't have a monopoly on mechanical reliability and longevity.
Nowhere, I had forgotten the absence of a derailleur in a 3 speed case. Back in 198x, I had a 3-speed first bike and now that you say it, I remember.
For not wanting freewheel I have 1 reason causing 2 problems, they're not well, or not at all, sealed, water slips in,
1) sudden downpour > sudden freewheeling in forward direction > there you are in middle of nowhere with a bike that is as usable as without chain, needing a hairdryer or so.
2) winter, near evening, starts to freeze again > same story.
You probably already know what happened (freewheel working principle, pallets, springs, sticky fat when wet, springs unable to pull pallets back).

In my 2x7 gears - period things went like this:
- New bike, or a replace all
- A couple weeks riding > unable to switch to gears 7,6.
- 1 month > unable to switch to gear 6,5.
- 2 months > unable to switch to 4.
- 3 months > unable to switch to 3.
- 6 months > 2 and 1 worn
- replace all, when new bike waiting 1 week, then 3 weeks, then 3 months and finally even 6 months, in meantime second bike sitting at end of aboves story too.
- and this story 6 bikes 3 dealers involved, so it's not that I didn't try.
After a decade or so I decided it was enough.
None of those 3 dealers willing to build me a singlespeed (which I coincidently had read about on the www, didn't even know those still existed), reasons being given as no time, no parts and no frame in my size.
I had to find a 4th to get it done.

In my singlespeed period, things went like this:
I had bought 2 bikes but (ofcourse...) that 4th dealer didn't mount a 1/8" drivetrain (I then didn't know those existed and wasn't told either), and my chosen gear of 52/16 quickly ate up the freewheel - sprocket, and above mentioned freewheel problem also became a pest. That 4th dealer told me that I could try a special 'piste' freewheel, that would have a multiplied number of pallets/springs, which would solve the problem. Their price was 4 times the price of the previous, and they didn't solve the problem at all, nothing changed.

And then, I went for fixed gear, and shortly later discovered (thank you internet) the existence of a 1/8" rear cog, and not much later also a 1/8" chainring, and could convince the 4th dealer to convert both bikes.
Never regretted. The only (drivetrain related) problem I had was that the rear pads fret out due to the many losenings for chain tensioning, which was solved by roundels (otherwise the frame-read bike would have been lost).

And with my latest bike, the last problem was solved by a bottom bracket eccenter. Plus a cog mounted with 6 bolts with allen key heads. And very important, it became an option to do things myself, and I did. This latest bike was a shame in its delivery state (see my other posts), but in the end I managed to fix these all myself.

So forgive me my fixed gear enthousiasm, it's just that it allowed me do-it-yourself, independency, freedom.
 
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