Sheldon Brown once told me that the ASC hub was fragile, and to use higher gears so that you couldn't torque the hub too much. When I mentioned this to a friend, they remarked "Well ... Look how big Sheldon is." 8o) I've tried various gears of 42, 45, 46 (including a steel "Thetic" oval ring from the 30's, don't try to spin that on a downhill!!!) and finally a 48 with a 17 toothed cog, approximately 76", 68" and 57" gearing. Sheldon used Chuck Schmidt's favorite fixed gear 48 x 16. I'd like to try a 16 toothed cog, but they seem as rare as hens teeth in the 12 splined version that I have, and I won't do the AW driver with three splines conversion in order to get all the cogs like Harvey Sachs has done. If someone would sell or trade me that 16 toothed cog, please contact me! While even a 76" gear is much higher than I'd ride a single fixed gear, I love that combination of three speeds, and my other chainrings will be relegated to the parts bins for a while. 57" will get me up pretty stiff climbs with some grunting in my hilly area. Sheldon also said that down shifting in the middle of a (down) hill to enhance stopping with the pedals might be a mistake and I agree. With the extra backlash (even seems different in each gear) Neil Foddering is right about the bike riding like a three speed that doesn't coast, and using the brakes to protect the hub. The durn things really are quite expensive and rare.
I also had some trouble with needing to hold in the trigger on uphills in first gear. The cable has so much more tension in first that you may have to tighten up the cable to get it to work. It's unsettling to have the cranks freewheel on a fixed gear between 1st and 2nd when you're climbing, especially after Sheldon warned of breaking teeth on the epicyclic gearing. Better than reaching for the shifter, I quickly grabbed the cable and pulled it away from the top tube for extra tension to get the gears back. I later found that all the brackets had been slipping on the electricians tape I'd put under the brackets to 'protect' my classic frame, a curved tube Jack Taylor. Restoring the original locations and tightening the brackets a bit more fixed the problem. I think the hubs may be more solid than Sheldon thought, but that bike's still a ride I take good care of.
And it is a hoot to ride! The bike is comfortable, and especially on gently rolling terrain, it's an all day set of gears. I have a somewhat rolling metric that the ASC equipped bike works well with, probably would be great for Bike Florida too. I still haven't mastered the art of track standing a regular fixed gear, so I won't be a judge of it with the ASC though I've seen it done. I still think it's an honor to be able to ride such a cool set of gears. I took up someone's offer for the ASC a day after I'd heard it even existed. I had to have it! Have fun with yours.
Happy trails Sheldon and everyone,
Dan Artley in chilly Parkton, Maryland, USA
> Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008 10:33:16 -0800
> From: adam(AT)onetwentyeight.com
> To: Classicrendezvous(AT)bikelist.org
> Subject: [CR]Looking for ASC experiences and advice
> Hello CR!
> I'm picking up a Sturmey Archer ASC wheel later today for my Carlton Flyer
> project, and wanted to solicit the lists input on what its like dealing and
> riding with these hubs. I am picking up a proper ASC trigger, so I do not
> need to worry about modifying a 4 speed. I am more curious to people's
> experience riding them, and how they hold up to use and compare to riding a
> standard fixed wheel. I have been riding fixed for several years, and am
> very comfortable with it. Can the ASC hold up to back pedaling/resisting
> while decending hills or tapering speed? I will have front and rear brakes,
> but would I be a fool to initiate a skid with the ASC? Will I notice the
> hub while track standing? Etc, etc., I have read Hillary Stone's article
> on classic lightweights and sheldons page on the asc already.
> Eitherway, I am very excited to try it all out, as I have wanted one of
> these hubs ever since I first heard of them when I initially getting
> interested in older bicycles and equipment.
> Adam Schwarcz
> San Francisco, CA