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on March 20, 2012
After reading many reviews on this site and elsewhere, I assumed all the problems other people had with this hub must have been due to user error or incompetence and that I would be able to make it work beautifully. Unfortunately for me, that wasn't the case. I eventually experienced every problem mentioned by others, and yesterday, the hub died for good after 8 months of daily use (1500 miles). Let me list them one by one: first, there is an uncomfortably large amount of lash (i.e. the amount of rotation in the crank when switching from forward to backwards). Second, the indexed shifter is shameful. The index for the lowest gear is in the wrong place, and it will not stay in gear if you use the shifter it comes with. Third, the hub is very prone to slipping out of gear, especially when in middle gear. This problem is sensitive to the cable tension, but no amont of tweaking could ever get this just right. To make matters worse, is it most likely to slip in high-torque situations such as standing up on hills. In other words, the hub will suddenly freewheel right when you're putting the most force on the pedals, and this can (and did) lead to accident or injury. I got around these issues by replacing the indexed shifter with an old friction shifter I mounted on the downtube. This worked for several months, although middle gear was still prone to slipping if not engaged ever-so-carefully. I learned to never stand up in middle gear, but the high and low gears worked OK. Over time however, it started to slip more and more frequently, and yesterday it completely failed. The bottom two gears will not engage at all. With some coaxing, I can get into high gear (direct drive). This was not a user error problem, and I am confident that anyone who buys one of these will also have the same tough luck. If you prefer the feel of a fixed gear, this 3-speed hub might sound like a great idea, but it's not ready for prime time, and you will be disappointed (and out a couple hundred bucks).
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on June 22, 2011
I have owned two of these. The first broke after 4 days. The second broke after two months.

I am 6'3 and 230lbs. I am a fairly aggressive street rider but I don't do tricks or anything like that. All of my fixed gears always have a front brake, but never a rear. I have owned several over the last 8 years. I am fairly hard on my bikes, but I adore them and care for them well. This bike was ridden every day as my main form of transport.

The first hub was bought as a complete wheel and installed by me. I had my work checked by two independent bike shops, and both signed off on my work. I was fairly hard on this first one, occasionally skid-braking and riding smooth dirt trails hard. It broke as I resist-pedaled down a short berm, losing the lowest gear. A couple miles later the middle gear also went, leaving me with only the top gear. (Direct drive.) This gear continued working for the next 15 miles until I made it home. All told, the hub had less than 20 miles on it when it broke.

It was replaced by another hub and wheel by the local bike shop where I had originally purchased the setup. This time I paid to have the shop install everything for me.

I babied this second wheel. I rode constantly, but carefully. I did not skid brake or ride off road. I used my front brake and resist-pedaled as infrequently as possible. After about two months it failed while I was climbing a steep hill. I was in my low gear, climbing out of the saddle. The hub let go suddenly and without warning. I went over the bars and crash. Luckily there wasn't a car behind me. When I recovered, I once again only had my top gear (direct drive). Both lower gears freewheeled both back and forward. I limped home in my remaining 83" gear.

The shop is going to replace this wheel with a Sturmey Archer AWC hubed wheel.

Please understand, the S3X was amazing while it worked. I adored it. I am extremely sad to see it go. But for larger riders, it is simply too failure prone. I personally consider it fragile and unsafe.
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on March 23, 2013
This hub came with my Felt Brougham, it's the red anodized version. On my first couple rides, I encountered the freewheeling problem once each - both times due to poor setup at the shop where I bought it, resulting in misshifts. Once I figured out how to adjust the shifting myself, I never had another problem. All three gears are reliable, shift immediately and positively, and even while climbing some incredibly steep hills it never gave a hint of resistance or trouble. That said, there is a fairly well documented problem with these breaking down under heavy use. I am not sure if there are multiple "generations" for them since they appeared in 2009, and SunRace/Sturmey Archer still hasn't issued a tech document for servicing these. All I can do in good faith is note that others have had problems, but I haven't. I suspect that they are meant for exactly the use I've given them - strictly paved city riding, careful adjustment, absolutely no shifting under load, and virtually no inclement weather riding. In other words, total babying. Maybe so, but I really love this hub.
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on June 22, 2011
I have owned two of these. The first broke after 4 days. The second broke after two months.

I am 6'3 and 230lbs. I am a fairly aggressive street rider but I don't do tricks or anything like that. All of my fixed gears always have a front brake, but never a rear. I have owned several over the last 8 years. I am fairly hard on my bikes, but I adore them and care for them well. This bike was ridden every day as my main form of transport.

The first hub was bought as a complete wheel and installed by me. I had my work checked by two independent bike shops, and both signed off on my work. I was fairly hard on this first one, occasionally skid-braking and riding smooth dirt trails hard. It broke as I resist-pedaled down a short berm, losing the lowest gear. A couple miles later the middle gear also went, leaving me with only the top gear. (Direct drive.) This gear continued working for the next 15 miles until I made it home. All told, the hub had less than 20 miles on it when it broke.

It was replaced by another hub and wheel by the local bike shop where I had originally purchased the setup. This time I paid to have the shop install everything for me.

I babied this second wheel. I rode constantly, but carefully. I did not skid brake or ride off road. I used my front brake and resist-pedaled as infrequently as possible. After about two months it failed while I was climbing a steep hill. I was in my low gear, climbing out of the saddle. The hub let go suddenly and without warning. I went over the bars and crash. Luckily there wasn't a car behind me. When I recovered, I once again only had my top gear (direct drive). Both lower gears freewheeled both back and forward. I limped home in my remaining 83" gear.

The shop is going to replace this wheel with a Sturmey Archer AWC hubed wheel.

Please understand, the S3X was amazing while it worked. I adored it. I am extremely sad to see it go. But for larger riders, it is simply too failure prone. I personally consider it fragile and unsafe.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 1, 2016
I bought the S3X as part of a wheel set shortly after it was released. I loved the concept. But I found that it was very difficult to get the shifter positioning right. Often times I would end up in a dead spot between gears. Sometimes I would get the shift right, but then the hub would slip out of gear under load. Finally the gears became stripped, one by one, until the hub was useless.

I never skidded, but I did use the hub to brake (always in conjunction with a front brake, of course!). I got about 300 miles of use before I started to experience problems. After another 200 miles the hub was completely worthless, with all 3 gears stripped.

I contacted the Sturmey Archer USA rep by email explaining the problems that I had experienced. They were very responsive. They shipped a complete replacement set of internal hub components within a few days of my complaint. I had a local bike shop replace the internals. My experience with the refurbished hub was identical to my initial experience. The hub worked initially, but it was difficult to shift precisely into gear. Finally the gears began to fail after several weeks of moderate use.

I love the idea of this hub. I would happily ride a bike equipped with one if they were able to work out all of the issues. I'm not even bothered by the lash. It is something that I could easily get used to if the hub performed reliably and consistently. But the failure of the gearing system after such a short period is absolutely unacceptable. Clearly Sturmey Archer knew there was going to be an issue with the mechanicals in this hub because they delayed it's release by over a year after initially announcing the product launch. They should have just canceled the product and offered purchasers refunds. Their attempt to provide customer service by replacing defective components free of charge was admirable. But replacing a defective component with another defective component doesn't solve the problem.
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on June 22, 2011
I have owned two of these. The first broke after 4 days. The second broke after two months.

I am 6'3 and 230lbs. I am a fairly aggressive street rider but I don't do tricks or anything like that. All of my fixed gears always have a front brake, but never a rear. I have owned several over the last 8 years. I am fairly hard on my bikes, but I adore them and care for them well. This bike was ridden every day as my main form of transport.

The first hub was bought as a complete wheel and installed by me. I had my work checked by two independent bike shops, and both signed off on my work. I was fairly hard on this first one, occasionally skid-braking and riding smooth dirt trails hard. It broke as I resist-pedaled down a short berm, losing the lowest gear. A couple miles later the middle gear also went, leaving me with only the top gear. (Direct drive.) This gear continued working for the next 15 miles until I made it home. All told, the hub had less than 20 miles on it when it broke.

It was replaced by another hub and wheel by the local bike shop where I had originally purchased the setup. This time I paid to have the shop install everything for me.

I babied this second wheel. I rode constantly, but carefully. I did not skid brake or ride off road. I used my front brake and resist-pedaled as infrequently as possible. After about two months it failed while I was climbing a steep hill. I was in my low gear, climbing out of the saddle. The hub let go suddenly and without warning. I went over the bars and crash. Luckily there wasn't a car behind me. When I recovered, I once again only had my top gear (direct drive). Both lower gears freewheeled both back and forward. I limped home in my remaining 83" gear.

The shop is going to replace this wheel with a Sturmey Archer AWC hubed wheel.

Please understand, the S3X was amazing while it worked. I adored it. I am extremely sad to see it go. But for larger riders, it is simply too failure prone. I personally consider it fragile and unsafe.
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on April 22, 2011
Wow! I used a 12 tooth cog and a 46 chaining and this is unbelievable. Shifts smooth and accurate. Simply amazing.
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on October 9, 2012
It's a pain to get going, which I expected. The main problem I have with this is that for $130 they could have given me some options for the shifter. I mean how much would it really cost to provide a handlebar mount? It's the same lever!
11 comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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