Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Igleheart and a 'Sex Hub'

At the New England Bicycle Expo a couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of meeting legendary New England framebuilder Christopher Igleheart and briefly test riding one of his bicycles - an upright commuter model called the Yoyodyne. One cool thing about this bike - aside from it being an Igleheart - was the 3-speed Sturmey Archer S3X hub - aka "the sex hub." Several people I know have set up their bikes with this hub and their feedback has been intriguing, so I wanted to try for myself. And what better way than on an Igleheart bike?

Located just North of Boston, Mr. Igleheart - like many local builders - traces his professional beginnings to the legacy of Fat City Cycles, where he started as an apprentice welder in the 1980s. By 1994 he had established Igleheart Custom Frames as an independent operation, spcialising in TIG-welded steel. In the chaotic environment of the Bicycle Expo, a sense of calm presided over the crowded Igleheart booth. The man is very comfortable with his work and discusses it in a way that communicates his experience and versatility. Road bikes, mountain bikes, transportation bikes and even randonneuring bikes - he knows them all, executing them in his distinct aesthetic.

Unfortunately, I somewhat dropped the ball on photographing this beautiful bicycle. The high noon light was unflattering from every angle, the background I chose was too busy, and people kept coming up to ask about the bike and distracting me. The results are washed out and entirely unworthy of the Yoyodyne, so I did what I usually do with ruined pictures: upped the contrast and at least tried to make them atmospherically interesting.

The Yoyodyne is designed as a fun and comfortable city bike. This particular one has a green frame and an orange fork, which is an unexpectedly pleasing colour combination. 

Columbus Zona is a comfortable all-around tubing that contributes to a plush ride quality. The welds are very cleanly done. The segmented fork is one of my favourite fork designs and I never tire of its various iterations from different New England framebuilders.

Components cater to urban commuting, combining good quality and budget considerations: single crankset, Soma stem and Oxford swept-back handlebars, cork grips, simple city brake lever, brass bell, and a front rack. [edited to add: I just learned that the price for this complete bicycle is $1900 - good deal!]

Cardiff leather saddle with copper rivets. You can't see this very well here, but the seat post has a special feature that allows the top of it to be easily detached and reattached, without having to re-adjust saddle position.

And of course, the exciting 3-speed fixed gear hub. A testament to just how distracted I was, I even failed to capture the "S3X" label. It's on the other side. 

Sturmey Archer has a new gear shifter for 3 and 5-speed hubs that is versatile in that it can be used both on upright and drop handlebars. I found it a little difficult to budge in comparison to the traditional trigger shifter, but perhaps that can be adjusted. 

It's difficult to properly test ride a bicycle at a crowded Bike Expo, but I made a half dozen laps on it around the large parking lot in the back of the building, as well as cycled up and down the long driveway a few times. With a constant stream of cars coming and going it was like a slower version of actual urban cycling.

The ride quality of the bicycle felt familiar as soon as I began pedaling. Cushy and easy to handle, it was not unlike a vintage Raleigh Sports - only more responsive, 1/3 of the weight, and made of far nicer tubing. I would feel comfortable riding it in city traffic. However, I would need a longer test ride to determine how it handles potholes at speed. 

All of this struck me before I remembered about the bike being fixed gear. What I mean is that usually the fixed-gearness of a bicycle tends to dominate my impression of it, but here this was not the case. It felt more like a comfortable 3-speed, on which it just so happened that I didn't coast. This could be due to the bicycle's handling, or it could be due to the hub.

The ride with the S3X hub felt interesting, but I would say not entirely like a fixed gear bike. When I ride a single speed fixed gear, there is more to the sensation than merely not coasting. I feel like I have a direct connection to the drivetrain, and for me that is part of what makes riding fixed gear bikes enjoyable. This aspect is gone with the S3X: It basically feels like a nice 3-speed hub that does not allow you to coast. Shifting is easy and the gear spacing is just about perfect, but no matter what gear it is in, the feeling is not quite the same as single speed fixed gear.

One thing you have to watch out for with the S3X is that if not adjusted properly, the hub can "space out" and go into coasting mode for a millisecond's time at the end of each pedal revolution. Several people I know who've installed the S3X hub report this, and I experienced it as well - which makes me think that the adjustment has to be extremely precise in order for it not to happen. 

While I like 3-speed hubs and I like fixed gear, I am not sure that the combination is for me, as it introduces a degree of complexity into both categories. But I still think it's a neat idea, and I am glad I tried it. In future, I hope to have the opportunity to learn more about Igleheart bicycles and to take one on a longer test ride. Many thanks to Mr. Igleheart for allowing me to ride the Yoyodyne!

51 comments:

  1. I almost ordered that same hub for my future ANT Truss bike, mostly cause I wanted no brakes to clutter up the bike, then Mike sugested I go with a 3-speed with a coaster brake. I think it will be suited for me as a townie back road kind of bike. Also I having the shifter put on the seat stay, for more of an antique look.

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  2. That's a gorgeous bike. In the pictures, the orange looks coppery, which may be why it goes so well with the green?

    The S3X hub is going on my wish list of things to try one of these days.

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  3. CJ - Yup. I's a coppery orange and a pine green, very autumnal.

    Dave - I think that those considering the S3X hub have got to try it first. It really is cool and if I had a dozen bikes I would build one up with it. But whether it's the right choice for one's main daily commuter is a matter of taste.

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  4. Your comments about this hub not having precisely the same feel of a regular fixie has got me curious. Doe's it have some sort of vibration or something that comes through the drivetrain or is the power transmission less than perfectly smooth? I have experienced some interesting things on bikes that don't "make sense" so understand how there can be sort of a different "texture" to things. I used to be able to tell the difference between 1/8" and 3/32" chains on my BMX racebikes and know riders who can tell when it's time to reverse the rotation of a tire to even the wear from the feel.

    There's a S3X rider on our Wed. evening rides who might let me put a few miles on his.

    Spindizzy

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  5. After having taken the S3X for an extensive test ride in a friend's bike, I suspect this hub will not last very long.

    Even when brand new (and adjusted perfectly), the hub's internal gearing had excessive play in both directions, which was quite annoying. Riding at slightly higher speed I felt uncomfortable to apply the typical fixed gear braking techniques, because, in addition to the quarter of a crank revolution it took the pawls to engage, the hub emitted a creaking noise every time I applied force against the rotational direction of the cranks. I would definitely advise against using this hub in a bike without additional brakes.

    The shift lever is great, though. There's a handlebar-mounted version that sits on an adapter similar to Paul's Thumbies available, which is by far the best internal gear hub shfter I have tested so far. It even made me think about replacing the Nexus 3-speed twist shifter (and hub) on my Retrovelo Klaus with a Sturmey-Archer coaser brake 3-speed hub.

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  6. What a lovely bike :) Really love that copper color I could see it maybe a shade darker for me though.

    Sounds like an interesting idea that hub anyone have an idea how much the hub is by itself and where to get one?
    Cheers
    Jim

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  7. Yoyodyne? But isn't that here in New Jersey?

    That's a nifty bike, although I almost think I'd like to put the S3X hub on a go-fast fixie, kind of like the old British time-trialers that used it in its original incarnation. On a city bike I like coasting. Actually, for an off-road "scorcher" would be fun with three speeds, hmmm....

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  8. I considered a 2 speed version with coaster brake for a simple bike I'm building, but it wouldn't fit the rear drop out spacing on the frame.

    A ride similar to a Raliegh Sport on a frame with much reduced weight is very appealing. The Raleigh Sports, at least the '53 Superbe I am familiar with, were nice riding bikes and not nearly the weight of the big Dutch bikes.

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  9. I have a low trail gen 1 Kog P/R built up now with the S3X hub; if adjusted properly, it feels like a fixed gear drivetrain in all gears - direct drive, with that compulsion to go a little faster than normal. Yes, it's not great on skid stopping, and in fact I believe that SA reccomends against this, but as this Kog already had rear cantis (it was set up with a 3 x 8) it's fine to use the hub to slow down with, and the brakes when necessary. I set it up in order to have a fixed gear, but still to be able to climb my usual routes, albeit not at such low gearing as on my other rides. And having gotten rid of my IGH Rohloff which I used in the winters, I had forgotten what a hassle winters and deraillers are round here, especially this last winter, when for the first time in awhile my daily ride was not either the Rohloff or the MTB componented Kog, but a full campy late 90s gruppo which fell to pieces in the snow and sand and negligible maintenence so hence the switch to a new IGH; and i figured, why not the fixed one?

    So after riding it for 600 miles in the last few months, I can say that it's a great piece of gear; I have it set up with a 46 x 16, which is a little low on the high end, but still lets me get up my 17% grade, as well as the other 5 - 8% grades in my neighborhood. The rest of the time, it's like having a great fixed gear; and when hauling weight, it's also nice to be able to gear down.

    I heartily reccomend it, esp if you're working on picking your speed up; a fixed gear will do that, but at least for me, it's too singular a use; with the gearing I can get both the speed training benefit, as well as being able to use it just getting about from here to there; and of course the simplicity / pleasure is nice, as is the overall feel of it.

    Coupled with the low trail handling / 650b hetres, this thing is like an amped up range rover.

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  10. Also - one can put a single speed freewheeling sprocket (or as they say, "Kog") on it, to convert it to a non-fixed if need be, so best of both is possible

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  11. Spindizzy - It's really hard to explain. The only way I can put it is that the pedaling sensation felt somehow mediated. I could be imagining it. But if anything, I was positively predisposed to this hub and wanted to like it - so I was more biased for it than against it. I don't know. Give it a try on your group ride and let me know what you think.

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  12. Would you think differently of the hub if it was set up with a freewheel as other three speed hubs are? The close ratio seems like a good match for gentle terrain.

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  13. Steve - Sturmey Archer 3-speed hubs are my favourite, both vintage and modern. The S3X feels true to its SA origins, and as a 3-speed hub I like it. But don't they already make a freewheel close ratio version of their regular 3-speed?

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  14. It's different in the sense that direct drive is 3rd gear, which is more useful than second because you want to spend the most time in direct drive gear and this way you can have two useful lower gears and reasonably high direct drive.

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  15. Sherlock - I agree with your suggestion to have an additional brake with this hub. And the other things you are describing reflect the feedback I've heard from others. It's possible that SA simply needs another year to iron this one out?

    Jim - locally to me I know that Harris has them in stock. But they are readily available online, just look it up. $120 or so.

    Matt - I was picturing this hub on something like a traditional Mercian roadbike as well!

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  16. rural 14 - That sounds great! Did you have trouble adjusting the hub and did it ever fall out of adjustment?

    There is a nice review of the S3X hub here as well, on a vintage Raleigh.

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  17. They do have a no-brake freewheeling version available, but the overall range is slightly closer on the s3x than on the s-rf3. Also, there is the advantage of having the high gear as direct drive, as well as the fact that you can convert from either fixed to free easily.

    Those more interested in the bar-end shifter than the hub, be aware that there is a version for the s3x (the sls3x r3b) and a different version for the other 3speeds (the sls30 b3).

    As for the guy above who predicted that reliability won't be very impressive with this hub: I agree. I think that IGHs don't do well being shifted under load, unless you have a totally different design,like the Rohloff speedhub. History bears this out with the ancient and unloved SA ASC hub. I hope we're wrong, but time'll tell.

    -rob

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  18. Sex hub? That's what Times Square used to be, back in the day.

    Seriously...From what you've described, the hub sounds like an updated version of the Sturmey Archer ASC hub, which was made for only a few years during the 1930's. Like the S3X, it was also an internally-geared hub with three speeds on a fixed gear.

    Although I've never ridden either the ASC or S3X, I know that such hubs can never have the same feel as a regular fixed-gear hub. Most fixed gears screw directly onto the hub, whereas the gear on the Sturmey-Archer hubs has to be connected via a series of other parts in order for it to function as a three-speed.

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  19. By the way, it is an attactive bike. I think the reason the colors work together is that the orange seems to be (at least from your photos) more of a bronzy or coppery hue, and the green seems like a deep, almost jewel-like shade.

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  20. It's very difficult to resist a bicycle named "Yoyodyne."

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  21. I actually took the Raleigh S3X out to the North Shore last week to do a metric century diabetes fundraiser; which was probably the longest ride that I've done on that bike. So far, shifting on the hub has been fine, though, as noted, slowing down is different than on a standard fixed gear, given the amount of play on the hub when not in direct drive. I haven't had any creaking myself when applying reverse force to slow down, but slowing down with reverse force doesn't feel quite as effective as when pedaling on a standard fixed gear.

    *shrug* it's been fine so far as a city and wet weather bike (and, boy, has it been a workhorse over the past few months) but if there is one thing I would add as a bit of constructive feedback on the bike, that I did not include in my original post is that it could stand to use a wider range. direct-drive to 75% is a nice jump. 75 to 66% is less noticeable or useful. direct-drive/75%/50% or even 60% would be more interesting, though.

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  22. Yoyodyne-- love the Pynchon reference on a bike. Reason enough to give it a look.

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  23. Pynchon is the favourite author of several of my friends, but I cannot read him. Still like Yoyodyne as a name though.

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  24. About the shifter -- I installed my bar-end on an old set of half-broken, headset-mounted stem shifters. After cutting the broken half off, it looks quite factory and plays nicer with my grips.

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  25. Justine - I think it was indeed meant as an improved re-release of the ASC.

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  26. I have a wheelset with a S3X hub.

    I think the S3X works great with a ss freewheel, but I doubt it would last long with a fixed cog.

    When people buy these things they are thinking 3speed fixed. They will be disappointed. There is lots of lash so you cant really expect to apply counter pressure. If your the type of person that does skid stops (I dont brake pads are cheaper than tires) you will destroy the hub in no time.

    On the other hand if you want a simple 3 speed with the freewheel independent of the gears, then its great.

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  27. Here's a link to a photo of the Kog w S3X hub. Did it slip? No more than other SA hubs, once you have it set up properly, and the cable has had it's initial stretch - all is fine. Because the top gear is the direct drive, that is the gear I chose as my normal gear - so when I'm spinning out on the flats, I'm at around 25 mph (and I suppose I'm learning to spin faster, which is a bit of the point, no?) The 2 lower gears, indirect gears, are for hills only / carrying weight only, so essentially it's a fixed gear bike with some assists, so allows me to ride fixed on terrain not suited for fixed at all (and yeah, all o youse quickbeam users, doing the "Riv change" - have fun! Great for long climbs out west, less so around the steep hilly east; there are very few people round here who can ride fixed and not be severely limited by terrain).

    I DON'T think that there will be any long term maint issues / breakage issues, unless one is using the hub for making giant skids a la urban fixters who need those leaden tires with extra tread for leaving stripes on the ground (that = authenticity right? perhaps this is an issue for RTMS). But using the hub with a front brake, and with front and rear brakes for quick stops, I predict it'll last a long time.

    SA, even in it's newly reconstituted iteration, has incredible experience building IGH hubs; this is a solid piece of goods. Their regular 3 speed hubs are so reliable, even those from the crappy periods, that surely this one is well engineered, as they knew what they were getting into. FYI, my Rohloff had to be replaced twice, so even though there are lots of satisfied Rohloff users out there, there still are quite a few that don't make the grade (I was told by Rohloff, that it's 1%, which is a huge number; I'd think it'd be less then that, otherwise there'd be more internet chatter). And certainly this hub feels far better in all 3 gears than that Rohloff did in almost all it's gears...that was the main drawback to having it (that and the weight, and the fact that it was geared TOO low for me (though I used it on d2r2 last year just for fun).


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/14427499@N04/5750489433/in/photostream

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  28. Wonderful little bike, as someone who's owne a Fat City Monster Fat for 19 or so years, I can really appreciate how this bike must ride! The S3X hub looks nice and the comments about Skid braking sound totally reasonable. Not being much of a fixie fanatic, I think I would opt for a freewhell!

    There are some nice touches on that bike, I like how the cork grip is notched out and the brake band is covered by the edge of the grip! Very clean!

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  29. I don't usually skid brake, but what I felt must be what Justine describes:

    "such hubs can never have the same feel as a regular fixed-gear hub. Most fixed gears screw directly onto the hub, whereas the gear on the Sturmey-Archer hubs has to be connected via a series of other parts in order for it to function as a three-speed."

    The bike itself is very nice; wonder whether Igleheart has ever tried his hand at a loop-frame transportation bike...

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  30. rural 14 - Thanks for the link. that is a nice looking bike! I agree about SA hubs and prefer them to Shimano by far. I was dismayed to discover that there is no single speed coasterbrake SA hub.

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  31. Love Pynchon in principle. In fact, it is my deeply held belief that anyone who claims to have finished Gravity's Rainbow is lying. Lot 49 was brief enough to stick to.

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  32. On a completely different note - what was the Cardiff saddle like?

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  33. Well, I'm sure that I recall finishing Gravity's Rainbow (it was a long time ago) but don't ask me for literary analysis! Blog related comment: It is a nice-looking bike, but I'm sure that the hub would not be my cup of tea. Steve in MD

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  34. There are several popular authors I hate, and it has to do with the tone more than the style of their prose. Tolstoy, DH Lawrence and Pynchon are among them. Don't know what it is, but I can't take reading them - though I find the work conceptually interesting.

    Erin - The Cardiff saddle is also the same saddle as used by VO. On first try it feels pretty good; more comfortable than a Brooks even. But I've heard that they sag sooner than Brooks saddles do.

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  35. Hay thank you all for commenting. It is a fun round town bike.It even has the Marathon Ultra tires. The Cardif saddle is new, aimed more at a lower price point. The Cardiff comes with the saddle tensioner wrench, it should be treated with leather prep & just keep on top of the saddles tension & it should last awhile. I admit the Yoyodyne is a eclectic mix of parts, mostly aimed at a price point. My usual builds are specked to what the customer wants. The Yoyodyne will be on display & for sale at the RedBones bike to wok beer & bones fest on Monday the 6th of June.
    I have been riding my regular bike for 3 years with the Sturmey S3X hub, pretty much ever day. There where some issues with the shifter that took a few tries for Sturmey to figure out. I have been on the current hub for over a year now & not a problem at all. I like the 3 gears, 2and is the perfect "get away from the stop light when it turns green" gear.I ride it on dirt roads & on wider trails up here on the North Shore. I have done a few centurys with the bike also. You find the slight gap in the fixed aspect of the hub is no problem & I don't notice it.I can do skid stops with it too. It is not a delicate hub, though I don't suggest it, I rode over Mt Tam in Marin County,Calf. last year (it was not planned it just happend due to circumstance) it was a lot of fun, On some of the tecnical down hills I pulled it off with skids to contol the descent.It was a gas. That bike has the Ritchey Break-Away bits so it travels in a bag for $25 as checked baggage, just never mention it being a bike. One thing not mentioned about the S3X is the "casset" part of the hub is threaded so one can thread on a single speed/ BMX clicker freewheel cog so you can coast, if you want rather than a splinned fix cog.
    Thank you all again & it is a Lovely Bicycle sight.
    Cheers!
    Christopher

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  36. Paul: You said, in essence, what I said about in a paper I wrote about Gravity's Rainbow more years ago than I'll admit. I think a lot of people like the idea of Pynchon more than they actually like reading him.

    Yes, most people are lying when they say they've finished Gravity's Rainbow. I think the only book about which more people lie about having finished, or even read, is "Moby Dick."

    The funny thing is that when I first learned about Rivendell, I was put off by the Tolkien references. I'm simply not a fan of any writer who uses deliberately archaic language. But it doesn't bother me that the Inglehart is called a Yoyodyne, even though I'm no more a fan of Pynchon than I am of Tolkien. I guess it just seems less self-conscious, somehow, than all of Grant Petersen's Middle Earth references.

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  37. Justine - I have to try very hard to ignore the Tolkien references in order to enjoy Rivendell bikes : )

    To me, Joyce's Ulysses is the ultimate "pretend to have finished it" book.

    Unfortunately, I've read Moby Dick, cover to cover. Requirement for 11th grade AP English.

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  38. Christopher - Thanks so much for commenting.

    What is the cost of this bike, as shown here?

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  39. On this narrative/stylistic detour: I completely agree about Tolkien - the faux-archaism made it impossible for me to finish Lord of the Rings, even though I was quite gripped by the story (enough to get through one and a half volumes before choking on the style). But why Tolstoy, Velouria? I'm with you on D H Lawrence, and (in a less tried and tested way, because I've only dipped and then hastily retreated) Pynchon, but War and Peace and Anna Karenina are two of my regular re-reads, and as a morbid teenager I even enjoyed Resurrection. The Rivendell thing seems eminently forgivable because bike-geekery and Tolkien-geekery do seem to fit together - though I like Riv retro-bike-style much, much more than Tolkien's (however erudite) archaizing.

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  40. No Nick - I dislike Tolstoy, because he over-narrates.

    Ivanov sighed as he observed the crowd of merry-makers with longing. "Ivanov must be lonely," thought Petrov. Petrov had a habit of thinking about others' emotions.

    I exaggerate of course, but that is what it reads like to me. For thousands of pages.

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  41. Oh yes, I can see that about the excessive narration! It's one of things I love about him - that copiousness, but I can see why it could drive one mad.

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  42. I'm glad you guys are validating my long standing decision to resist Pynchon. I do like Tolkien and Tolstoy because they were books I read sort of at random when I was a kid that showed me there were other directions in literature than Heller and Updike and that lot.

    I'll read about anything in a pinch but it's going to be a long snowy winter til I re-read Moby Dick(which I did like) or give in to Pynchon, Rand or anymore Hemingway.

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  43. Velouria and Justine: You probably know that GP did not name RBW for the Tolkien reference, but for an backpack company that he admired. Nonetheless, the lawyers have made him give up all Tolkien references except for the company name itself and the Bombadil, I believe. In any event, it doesn't bother me, as I'm a Tolkien fan. Regarding Ulysses, I had a full college course on the book (a long time ago). No doubt that's the only way I could have gotten anything at all out of it. But it was very worthwhile, having been helped along in that way. Cheers, Steve in MD

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  44. I know they say it was named after the backpack company, but how then do you explain the model names? Either way... no offense intended, but I am thankful they've had to give that up.

    Oddly though, I like other things that I later learn are TLOTR-inspired, such as this.

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  45. Velouria, There may not be any new single speed SA coasterbrake hubs out there but there are lots and lots of old ones. They were pretty bulletproof(like most SS coasters) so the average E-Bay hub is a pretty safe bet.

    Spindizzy

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  46. Owning a s3x hub (on a drop bar Tikit), I have to admit I think it would fit better on a townie-ish bike than a "normal" fixed gear. Some of the float makes it feel odd.. not bad... just odd... and I think an upright bike it might feel better on

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  47. Spindizzy - I know, I just also meant that it's sad they no longer produce it. So if you're buying a new single speed coaster bike today, chances are you're getting Shimano.

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  48. Islaysteve: Actually, I didn't know that about Riv. Thanks for pointing that out. Still, as Velouria said, it doesn't explain the model names.

    Velouria: You have a point about Tolstoy, though I do plan to read Anna Karenina again. On the other hand, I think Dostoevsky overdoes just about everything. One of my professors, who read his works in the original, claims they're actually better in translation than in the original. Other Russians have told me the same thing.

    Someone, I forget whom, defined a Russian novel as one in which the main character sulks for 600 pages.

    As for coaster brakes: If I were to buy one, I wouldn't buy anything new. Shimano makes one which, shall we say, is not one of their better products. And there are some nameless CB hubs as well as others with names I can't recall. SA's were very good; Bendix and New Departure (both of which were US-made) are also solid. And Sachs were decent, too.

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  49. You guys are a riot, I love books too, my favorite Pynchon is Mason & Dixon. He uses some archain language but the yarn is a wide ranging romp of history & Pynchon fantasy. I have tried to finish Gravity's Rainbow every couple years, but it is a tangled tail. The Yoyodyne referance is Pynchon's but also it was used in Bucharoo Bonzi as the "evil corp" for all the Johns as homage to Pynchon.
    Anyway, I am offering the Yoyodyne S3X round towner for $1900 & installing a rear Pauls racer M brake as it will be more commuter freindly.The front rack will hopefully have a neat wooden platform for bigger load ability.
    Cheers!

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  50. $1900 for complete bike? That is a great price for a custom bicycle. I will add that to the text.

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  51. I think I'll take on this hub (with freewheel) instead of an AW or S-RF3 for turning my BD Windsor into a Clubman. I like the range and the direct drive top gear. Running things through the Sheldon Brown calculator, it seems (range-wise) more like the AM than the ASC.

    That's probably how S-A should approach this hub anyway; just go on and ship it with freewheel installed and market it as a medium range FREEWHEEL 3-speed hub that can ALSO be run fixed, rather than a FIXED hub that can be run freewheel. From what I've read scouring the interweb looking for reviews (which led me back here, where I somehow missed this review previously), that seems to be the way most people use them. I would be very surprised if Sunrace/Sturmey-Archer hasn't noticed the same thing, so they might as well accept that and go with it.

    I've seen a couple of S3X-equipped bikes (here in Brooklyn, though NOT in Hipsterburg, er, Williamsburg) running freewheel and the guys riding them loved them.

    "A screaming comes across the sky..." I haven't read "Gravity's Rainbow" - yet. Bookstore browsing only. But that opening? Musical enough to make me want to read it. Very incantatory and prog rockish, rather like the opening to "Close To The Edge" by Yes ("A Seasoned Witch to call you from the depths of your disgrace..."). Good name for a band too, though Richie Blackmore might balk at the "Rainbow" part of it.

    Now that I think of it, Pat Benatar did an album called "Gravity's Rainbow".

    Rudy

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