DISRAELI GEARS

Sturmey-Archer

Sturmey-Archer derailleur main image Sturmey-Archer derailleur main image Sturmey-Archer derailleur main image

Sturmey-Archer is one of the brands of Sun Race Sturmey-Archer Inc. based in Taoyuan.

I believe that Sturmey-Archer was founded by Henry Sturmey and James Archer as the The Three Speed Gear Syndicate Company, possibly in 1902. From a very early stage the company worked with Raleigh, and was soon acquired by Raleigh, possibly also in 1902. Raleigh then used the Sturmey-Archer brand as its brand for components, particularly for its famous range of internally geared hubs.

Sturmey-Archer hubs that I have worked in our workshops, many of which are still running to this day include the 3 speed K series (first introduced in 1918!), the FW and FM (wide and medium range 4 speeds, introduced in 1945 and 1939 respectively), the ubiquitous AW (wide range 3 speed, introduced in 1936), rarer AM and AC (medium and close range three speeds, introduced in 1937 and 1948 respectively) and, my particular favourite, the ASC (close ratio three speed fixed, introduced in 1946). This is not to mention the endless variations of dynohubs. There was a time when so many AWs passed through our workshop that I could disassemble them, service them (inevitably replacing the clutch and pinion pins) and reassemble them in my sleep. Tragic.

Up until the mid 1960s, Sturmey-Archer hubs were manufactured to the very highest tolerances and specification. These hubs were a joy to work on and genuinely seemed to roll on forever. The 1950s in particular seemed to be a golden age of case hardening.

Starting in the late 1960s, the quality went gradually but inexorably downhill. It is a harsh truth, but by the mid 1980s Sturmey-Archer hub gears could only properly be regarded as junk. I would like to find something good to say about this period, but soft words butter no parsnips.

The 1983 S5 five speed hub with two toggle chains was a particular low point - I never found one of these that worked properly - and it was not for want of trying. Henry Sturmey and James Archer must have been turning in their graves, Henry probably turning 25% faster than James.

In 2000 Raleigh finally gave up making even the slightest effort, and closed the Nottingham production line, selling the Sturmey-Archer brand and the production machinery to SunRace of Taiwan. SunRace seem to have got the bit between their teeth, and I hear good reports about improving quality and increasing sophistication - although I have no direct experience of their hub gears.

If you are interested in Sturmey-Archer history, there is a brief history page on the SunRace web site. I once read a fine book, by Tony Hadland, called the ‘The Sturmey-Archer Story’ and last, but certainly most, sturmey-archerheritage.com is an object lesson in how to present bicycle history on the web.

The Sturmey-Archer derailleur in this collection is a bit of a mystery. I have no idea why SunRace have used the Sturmey-Archer brand on this item - but it is a deliciously ironic statement. For decades (a century?) Sturmey-Archer was the standard bearer for the idea that hub gears were vastly superior to derailleur gears, and they were plenty snooty about it. The Klingons have it right; revenge is a dish best served cold.


see also The Engineer 1902 - The Cycle Shows

see also The Engineer 1902 - The Cycle Shows

The Engineer 1902 - The Cycle Shows thumbnail


see also TCF Rev Mens 03/1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon

see also TCF Rev Mens 03/1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle March 1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon scan 1 thumbnail


see also Terrot & Cie. Cycles Motorcyclettes Voiturettes 1914

see also Terrot & Cie. Cycles Motorcyclettes Voiturettes 1914

Terrot & Cie - Cycles Motorcyclettes Voiturettes 1914 front cover thumbnail




see also TCF Rev Mens 08/1922 - La Semaine d'Auvergne

see also TCF Rev Mens 08/1922 - La Semaine d'Auvergne

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle August 1922 - La Semaine d'Auvergne scan 1 thumbnail


see also TCF Rev Mens - 06/1923 Les résultats du 5e Championnat de la Bicyclette polymultipliée

see also TCF Rev Mens - 06/1923 Les résultats du 5e Championnat de la Bicyclette polymultipliée

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle June 1923 - Les resultats du 5e Championnat de la Bicyclette polymultipliee scan 1 thumbnail


see also TCF Rev Mens - 06/1924 Le 6e Critérium de la Bicyclette polymultipliée

see also TCF Rev Mens - 06/1924 Le 6e Critérium de la Bicyclette polymultipliée

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle June 1924 - Le 6e Criterium de la Bicyclette polymultipliee scan 1 thumbnail


see also The staff of ‘Cycling’ - Cycling Manual 1944

see also The staff of ‘Cycling’ - Cycling Manual 1944

The staff of Cycling - Cycling Manual front cover thumbnail


see also H. H. England - Cycling Manual 1960

see also H. H. England - Cycling Manual 1960

H H England - Cycling Manual page iii thumbnail
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