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About the Sturmey-Archer
S5, S5.2 and AT5
Wide-Ratio 5-Speed Bicycle Hubs
Sheldon Brown photo
by Sheldon "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" Brown
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More information about these hubs, with rebuilding instructions,
exploded drawings and parts lists can be found in another article

The S5

The Sturmey-Archer S5 five-speed hub is actually a variation on the FW four-speed model. Most of the parts are shared between them. The exceptions are the indicator spindle, axle keys and primary sun pinion.

The FW used a special two-part indicator spindle, with a small spring surrounding the junction of the two parts. The four-speed trigger works normally shifting down through the top three gears, but when you pull it into the bottom gear, it is shifting the two sun pinions, making the secondary sun pinion disengage, and the primary sun pinion engage. You can feel the extra spring tension as you shift into the bottom gear, which may require considerable effort.

The S5 and related models used dual shift controls, with a cable running to each side of the hub's axle.

The original shifters were a pair of top tube levers, designed to look like the shift levers of a derailer bike of the period. These levers were very poorly designed, and never worked very well. The hubs acquired a bad reputation as a result, but that reputation is not entirely deserved. If you replace the original shift levers, these hubs can be quite pleasant to ride, once you get used to their unusual shift pattern.

How the S5 works

The S5s are basically a 3-speed hub with two ranges. Here's the shifting sequence:
  1. Left: Tight; Right: Tight (1). This is the lowest gear, underdrive on the wide range setting.
  2. Left: Loose; Right: Tight (1). This is the second lowest gear, underdrive on the narrow range setting.
  3. Left: doesn't matter; Right: middle position (2). This is direct drive, so it doesn't matter whether wide or narrow range is selected with the left lever.
  4. Left: Loose; Right: Loose (3). This is the second highest gear, overdrive on the narrow range setting.
  5. Left: Tight; Right: Loose (3). This is the highest gear, overdrive on the wide range setting.
Shifting the right lever/trigger is the same as a 3-speed, can be done while pedaling, coasting or even pedaling backward.

Shifting the left lever works most smoothly if you keep pedalaing forward (gently) while shifting.

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Spoke Divider

S5, S5.1, S5/2 and AT5

The original S5 used a bell crank and pushrod on the left end. Pulling the cable would push the pushrod, which would cause the primary sun pinion to engage the projections on the axle.

With the S5.1 they reversed the linkage on the left side, using an indicator spindle chain to pull the sun pinions to the left. The S5.2 is similar. The AT5 uses the s5/2 mechanism but with a drum brake, and a shorter planet cage with plunger-type pawls that engage with a radial ratchet on the inner face of the left ball cup.

Here's some official info on upgrading to the S5/2. This is not necessary with the S5 but it is highly recommended with the S5.1, which does not reliably stay in gear (or you could backgrade to an S5).

official info on upgrading to the S5/2

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Fixed Gear
Frames Gears &
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Thanks to Nicholas Flower for this document later revised © 2007 by Sheldon Brown

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