History of the Internally Geared Bicycle Hub

History of the Internally Geared Bicycle Hub

The Vintage 3 Speed Bicycle Vintage 3-speed hub

The 3 speed bicycle with internal hub gearing got its start in 1902 in Nottingham England, invented by Sturmy-Archer Gears LD.

For a complete Timeline of the Evolution of Geared Hubs click here 

Geared bicycle hubs have come a long way since I got my “3 Speed Bike” as a kid. That bike, with English Sturmey Archer parts, had a geared rear hub with an internal shifting mechanism that was actuated by means of a small chain that went into the rear axle. That in turn, was connected by means of a cable to a shifting lever mounted on the right handlebar.

3-speed bike Sturmey-Archer Shifter

This was a clean, efficient type of shifting, as the gearing was enclosed in the rear hub. Although more complex than the derailleur type of shifting, most bike shops still know how to work on these old hubs.

Vintage Shimano 3 speed hubs, circa 1980’s, are similar; but instead of using a chain to pull a rod in the hub, it makes use of a bellcrank to push a rod into the hub.

Vintage Shimano 3-speed bellcrank


Modern Day Multi-Speed Bike Hubs

Modern day multi-speed bicycles with geared hubs still work on the same principal as my vintage 3 speed from the 50’s!

Shimano Nexus Revo Shifter