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Use and Maintenance of Sturmey-Archer Gear Hubs
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(This is a section from the Sturmey-Archer 1956 service manual and applies to older hubs.)

Sturmey-Archer hubs have been designed and built to give a life-time of trouble-free service on the understanding that regular attention is given to correct care and maintenance as outlined below.

Gear Shifting

In use, Sturmey-Archer variable gear hubs are the easiest, cleanest and most convenient means of making a change of gear. The change may be made while the cycle is in motion or when it is stationary, which is a great advantage to cyclists riding in traffic where stops and gear changes are frequent.

If the change is made while the bicycle is moving, the rider should continue to pedal but gently ease the pressure on the pedals as he makes the change which should be carried out smartly.

Should it be necessary to change gear whilst stationary, the weight of the foot should be allowed to rest on higher pedal during change, so that internal gears will rotate and engage easily.


Only thin good quality oil should be used for the lubrication of Sturmey-Archer hubs. (Phil Wood Tenacious Oil is my favorite for this application --SCB) (Automotive automatic transmission fluid also is good, and inexpensive -- John Allen). Thick oils or grease must not be used, but when a hub is dismantled a small amount of grease or vaseline may be put on the ball races only. (Note that this information contradicts other information from Sturmey-Archer, to put grease only on the labyrinth seals. The point of this advice is to keep grease away from the pawls -- John Allen)

The ideal rule for lubrication should be 'a little but often'. Two or three drops of oil every week will maintain the hub in first class running order. A new hub should always be oiled before use because the oil put in at the factory may have evaporated in the interval between leaving the factory and being put to use on the road.

TCW (Tricoaster) hubs need more oil than other hubs because in their case the oil is used not only for lubrication but also to dissipate heat generated by the brake. (that is, the oil burns up -- John Allen).

Internal expanding brake hubs have a drainage hole in the brake plate to allow surplus oil to drain away. If this is not kept clear oil will seep through to the linings and reduce the efficiency of the brake.

Since Dynohub hub lighting sets have no bearings of their own, the only lubrication needed is for the hub bearings and gear mechanism. Oil will not harm the dynamo, so there is no risk of damage in oiling the hub.

The moving parts of the trigger unit need an occasional drop of oil to ensure easy action,-but as surplus oil will attract dirt, oiling at this point should be done carefully and sparingly.

Occasionally the outer casing of the control cable should be removed from the fulcrum clip so that the inner wire may be exposed and lubricated.

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Thanks to Jane Thomas, who originated these pages, later revisedĀ© 2007 by Sheldon Brown

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