The Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub is world famous, but there were many different designs. Here is an overview of some common and some not-so-common Sturmey Archer 3-speed hubs.
The A-series Sturmey Archer 3-speed Hubs
The Sturmey Archer AW
This is the hub that most people think of when Sturmey Archer is mentioned.
The AW hub was first sold in 1937 and has the longest production run of any hub gear. It is a 3-speed wide ratio hub and has a very simple and reliable design. It has been used mainly in commuter bikes and bikes for children.
The AW is much simpler in design than the K and is the easiest Sturmey Archer hub to repair and service. If you are keen to learn about hub gear repairs, this is where you start.
The AW Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub is still being made today but there are a few differences between the current AW and the 1937 version.
The Sturmey Archer AM
The AM was made for the club cyclist and is both smooth and reliable. It has a closer ratio than the AW.
The AM is very similar in design to the AW except it has compound pinions. The pinions have timing marks which must be set for the hub to work properly and to avoid serious damage. If you are unable to obtain the correct toggle chain/indicator rod you can change the axle key for the AW version and use an AW toggle chain.
The gear was deleted in 1963 due to the increasing popularity of dérailleur gearing.
The Sturmey Archer AR and AC hubs
The AR is a close ratio gear designed for the racing cyclist. It was first made in 1936 and was deleted in 1941.
The AC is the redesigned AR Sturmey Archer 3-speed which was introduced in 1949. Although using the same principles as it’s predecessor it is a very different design.
The AC was deleted in 1963.
Some other Sturmey Archer 3-speed Hubs
The Sturmey Archer SW
Although this hub can be made to work it is best considered more as a curiosity than a viable option for your classic bicycle. This hub had huge reliability issues and was not a success. These are usually only repaired to keep a nice completely original bike on the road.
The SW was first sold in 1954 as a replacement for the Sturmey Archer AW. The SW was deleted in 1959 and the good old AW was back in the shops.
No internal parts can be substituted from other models so parts for the SW hub are very scarce.
Springless pawls made this hub almost silent in use, but also made it very unreliable.
The Sturmey Archer K
The K was introduced in 1921 and was deleted in 1938. It was a reliable hub but was complicated and expensive to produce.