Sussex Enterprises Bicycle Components
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COMPANY FACTS:


> Founded in 1991
> Based in Taichung,
   Taiwan
> Innovator of modern
   bicycle shaft drive
> Hold patents on
   shaft drive
> First shaft drives to
   work with Shimano    7/8-speed hubs
> Innovators of first
   STI-style road bike
   shifter for Shimano
   8-speed hubs

Common Questions

Shaft Drive
What are the advantages of shaft drive bicycles versus chain bicycles?
How long have shaft drive bikes been around?
How durable is the shaft drive?
How much do shaft drive bikes weigh versus chain bikes?
How will the shaft drive effect or enhance riding performance?
Can existing bikes be retrofitted with a shaft drive?
How does Sussex's shaft drive compare to other shaft drives?

Gearing
Where are the gears?
How many speeds do internally geared bicycles have?
How do you shift gears?
What are the gear ratios for your bikes?
How fast are your bikes?

Shaft Drive Care and Maintenance
What maintenance is required for the shaft drive and internal gears?
What happens if I have a problem with the shaft drive?
How do you remove the rear wheel on a shaft drive bicycle if you get a flat tire?
What if the gears are slipping - how can you adjust the gears?


Shaft Drive

What are the advantages of shaft drive bicycles versus chain bicycles?
Easier to operate: Simple twist grip shift is convenient, responsive and operates independent of pedaling so you can shift gears anytime, even at a complete stop.
Safer: No chain to fall off; no chain bite on clothing.
Cleaner: Axles and gears are fully enclosed - no grease/oil exposure to get on hands or clothing.
Lower maintenance: Fully enclosed, durable bevel gears are protected from impacts, debris and the elements.
Smoother ride: Fluid shifting and mesh gearing combine to create smoother pedaling and shifting.
Easier to transport: Easy loading and unloading without getting chain grease on hands and clothes.
Lower cost of ownership: Increased durability and drastically decreased maintenance schedule means fewer service and repair costs.

How long have shaft drive bikes been around?
Shaft drive bikes actually date back to the early 1900's. However, our modern shaft drive has been in production for nearly 15 years. We are currently on our third generation shaft drive. However, until the last several years, shaft drive bikes were limited in popularity due to the limitation of gearing available. Now, with Shimano's advanced 7-speed and 8-speed internal gear hubs, our bikes offer a very wide gear range without all the external moving parts.

How durable is the shaft drive?
Our shaft drive is designed to have twice the life expectancy of a chain under comparable riding conditions. Our shaft drive is made of the highest grade components, is assembled by hand in our own factory, and has been rigorously tested for strength and durability. Our shaft drives are made with:

  • Heat-treated, hardened chromoly spiral bevel gears
  • Heat-treated, hardened chromoly spindle
  • Carbon steel shaft rod
  • Sealed internal precision bearings
  • Precision machined aluminum housing

The shaft drive is also resilient to impacts and is weather resistant for all-season use. Its sealed design makes it better protected from adverse conditions such as sand, dirt, water, salt and grime than any chain bike ever could be.

How much do internally geared bikes weigh versus chain bikes?
Bikes using our Versa road bike components weigh approximately 21-23 lbs. depending on the components. Road bikes using our Versa road components are by far the lightest internally geared bikes on the market, and are very competitive with externally geared road bikes. Bikes using our shaft drive system weigh approximately 27-31 lbs. depending on the model. In fact, bikes using our shaft drive system weigh less than one pound more than a traditional chain bike of the same configuration. In other words, if the same bike was configured with a chain and sprockets instead of our shaft drive, our shaft drive bike would be less than 1 pound heavier than the chain bike. That means for all the added advantages of our chainless bikes including a smoother ride, smoother shifting, less maintenance, fewer repairs and greater safety, the trade-off is less than 1 pound!

How will the shaft drive effect or enhance riding performance?
Testing has shown that the efficiency of our shaft-drive system is about 92%-94% without regular maintenance. According to Dobrovolsk and Others' "Machine Elements Textbook", the peak efficiency of very expensive chain systems ranges from 95% to 97% (chain-rings in same diameter, chain in perfect alignment and chain in permanent ideal tension). However, typical, averagely maintained chain-derailleur bikes range in efficiency from 75% up to 85%, and can often skip and/or jump gears. This means that for every pedal stroke, shaft drive bicycles will perform more consistently and shift gears more smoothly than a chain bike that is not meticulously cleaned, adjusted and lubricated. This translates into more consistent performance without worrying about adjusting chain tension, aligning chains and derailleurs, and regularly cleaning and lubricating the chains and chain-rings.

Can existing bikes be retrofitted with a shaft drive?
No. The shaft drive requires a specially designed frame. This frame is engineered with a wider and narrower bottom bracket shell and special dropouts where the shaft drive connects to the rear wheel. All of our bicycle frames were designed specifically for use with the shaft drive, ensuring the highest levels of performance, safety, comfort and durability.

How does Sussex's shaft drive compare to other shaft drives?
Sussex's shaft drive bicycles is superior in several ways:

  • More efficient

    uses more efficient spiral bevel gears in a lighter weight and more compact design. This means it takes less pedaling effort to propel the bike forward and to maintain cruising speeds. Sussex's shaft drive also minimizes the grease used to lubricate the gears, making pedaling easier. Other shaft drives fill the front gearbox in grease - so you have to pedal through all that grease - making them harder to pedal. These cheaper shaft drives also use larger, heavier gears and bulkier designs that add weight - particularly rotational weight which makes the bike less efficient.

  • Stronger Interface Between Frame and Shaft Drive

    Sussex's shaft drive uses two mounting bolts between the rear gearbox and the rear dropout on the frame. This preserves the structural integrity of the frame and eliminates the single point of failure of our competitors shaft drive which only uses one bolt to secure the shaft drive to the rear dropout. Our competitor's single bolt connection can allow the shaft to pivot on the dropout, putting force and strain on the shaft drive that it was never designed to handle. This is important - the shaft drive is a drivetrain, not a structural component. By compromising this frame component, our competitors interface design can cause unnecessary wear and tear on gear and bearing components causing inefficiency, excessive wear, and potentially premature failure.

  • Technology Ownership

    Sussex has multiple patents on the shaft drive. No one knows more about shaft drive technology than we do. And although other companies deep inside China have copied our ideas so they can churn out cheaper products, they cannot keep up with our continuous advances nor our passion for advancing shaft drive technology.

  • Wider Compatibility

    Sussex's shaft drives are compatible with more of Shimano's internal gear hubs than any other shaft drive product. Our shaft drive is compatible with Shimano's 3-speed, 7-speed and full range of 8-speed hubs to provide both lower AND higher gearing for easier hill climbing AND faster speeds than competitive shaft drive bicycles. This makes bicycles using the Sussex shaft drive more versatile and more competitive with traditional chain bikes.


Gearing

Where are the gears?
We have designed our components to work seamlessly with Shimano's advanced Alfine and Nexus internal gear technology. The gears are all neatly tucked away inside the rear wheel axle. These types of internal gears are called hubs. Because all the moving parts are sealed inside the hub, there are no external moving parts to maintain, adjust or clean. Shimano's hubs are sealed and lifetime lubricated to provide many years of worry-free riding.

How many speeds do internally geared bicycles have?
Bikes using our components geenrally have either 8-speeds and 7-speeds. However, don't let the number of speeds mislead you. With Shimano internal hubs, these bikes provide bigger "steps" between the gears, so a single gear change on an internally geared bike is like changing 2-3 gears on a derailleur bike. In turn, our 8-speed bikes provide the same gear range as 21 gears on a derailleur bike, and our 7-speed bikes offer the range of 18 gears. This gives you a very wide range of gearing for climbing hills or cruising streets without all the messy, noisy, clumsy external derailleur and chain tensioners components hanging off the bike. In essence, internal hubs just eliminate all the redundant, unused gears inherent in sprocket-derailleur systems and provide you with much simplified, more consistent and more reliable gearing.

With chain bikes, changing gears is done by moving derailleurs to manipulate the position of the chain on both the front and rear sprockets. By changing the position of the chain on the sprockets, you change the gear ratio (i.e. the number of rotations of the rear wheel for each rotation of the pedals). For instance, in 4th gear on a 24-speed chain bike, the gear ratio will be about 1.1, which means that for every one full revolution of your pedal, the rear wheel will turn 1.1 times. In 21st gear, the gear ratio is 2.9, which means that for each complete revolution of your pedal, the rear wheel will turn 2.9 times. The downside of gearing on bikes with chains and sprockets is that in order to create the range of gearing for both climbing hills and cruising along on flats, you end up with many, many redundant gears in between. This is why you often times have to switch 2, 3 or 4 gears at a time on a chain bike in order to feel a difference in pedaling. Also on a chain bike, if you want to know what gear you're in, you have look down at the position of the chain on the sprockets, which is awkward and dangerous.

Using the Shimano internal gear hub, biccyles have a more natural separation between gears so you get a very wide gear range without all the superfluous gears as on chain bikes. Each gear change on our bike provides you a smooth transition to the next speed. We also provide plenty of gearing for climbing hills, cruising on flats and many gears in between. The gear shift indicator tells you what gear you are it at all times, and the single shifter makes it much easier to operate that having to fumble with multiple shifters on each hand.

With shaft drive bikes, one gear change is like changing 2-3 gears on a chain bike. Our 7-speed models offer the range of 17 gears of a chain bike and our 8-speed models offer the range of 20 gears. The 7-speed gear range is our recreational range, giving you the ability to climb hills on paved or packed surfaces with ease, while giving you the high end range to cruise at about 15-20 mph. With the 8-speed, we offer even more flexibility, giving you the ability to nearly match a 24-speed chain bike for high or low end depending on the kind of riding you do most. For a detailed comparison of our gear ratios to that of a chain bike, view our Gear Ratio Charts.

How do you shift gears?
Internally geared hubs are simpler to operate than an externally geared bike. All the gearing is controlled with a single shifter on the right hand. Most bicycles using our shaft drive use either the twist grip or rapid fire shifter. Our Versa road shifters provide a single integrated shifter-brake lever for drop handlebar road bikes. All of these shifters come with a gear indicator that tells you what gear you are in all the time - no more guess work or looking down at your chain to see what gear you are in. Plus, with internal gear hubs, the shifting is independent of the pedaling, so you can shift at anytime - while pedaling, coasting or even at a complete stop, making it easy to adjust for changing terrain or respond to road situations without worrying about dropping a chain.

What are the gear ratios for internally geared bikes?
Bicycles using our components and the Shimano 7-speed and 8-speed internal hubs offer a surprisingly wide gear range from a very compact space. For complete gear ratio charts, please view our Gear Ratio Charts.

How fast are internally geared bikes?
This depends entirely on you as the rider and the configuration of your bicycle. Road bikes using our Versa components and the Shimano 8-speed hub can easily achieve speeds above 35+ MPH for an aggressive rider. Bicycles using our shaft drive system are designed for quick cruising speeds (18-25 MPH) for fitness and exercise riding, commuting, and recreational touring.


Care and Maintenance

What maintenance is required for the shaft drive and internal gears?
With our shaft drive, the only maintenance required is grease added to the front and rear gearboxes on a periodic basis - typically every 500-1000 miles. The frequency of this lubrication will depend on the amount and type of riding you do, and the quality of the grease used. More aggressive riders and heavier riders may need to add grease every 1-3 months, while more recreational or occasional riders may only need to add grease every 6-12 months. Grease is added to the front gearbox through a standard grease nipple (zerk fitting) on the underside of the gearbox using a grease gun. Grease is added to the rear gearbox simply by removing the rear plastic dust cover and applying grease right to the gear teeth. Typically, greasing the shaft drive takes less than 1 minute each time -- without getting grease on your hands or clothes. For best performance, we recommend Green Grease (www.greengrease.net) or Finish Line grease with Dupont Teflon (tan color).

The Shimano internal gear hub is sealed and lifetime lubricated. It does not have a maintenance schedule. However, we recommend you periodically check the gear alignment (from cable stretching). See the instructions below for adjusting your gears at home without any tools.

What happens if I have a problem with the shaft drive?
The shaft drive is likely the most durable component on the bike. However, if you believe there is a problem with your shaft drive, call the place where you purchased the shaft drive bicycle.

How do you remove the rear wheel on a shaft drive bicycle if you get a flat tire?
In many ways, changing a flat tire on a chainless bike is easier than it is on a chain bicycle. You simply remove the black dust cover from the rear gearbox and loosen the axle nuts on both sides of the rear wheel. The wheel slides straight off the back of the bike. You disconnect the shifter cable (quick-pull lever) and the wheel is completely free of the bike. To put the wheel back on, you reverse this process; re-attach the shifter cable, and slide the wheel right onto the bike. The washer on the shaft drive side is keyed so it only goes on one way - this ensures that when you tighten the axle nuts, the gears and wheel are aligned. No special tools or skills are needed. For complete instructions for changing a rear wheel or repairing a flat tire on our bikes, refer to your owner's manual.

What if the gears are slipping - how can you adjust the gears?
Shimano hubs are designed to be adjusted without tools and without needing to touch the hub itself. This makes adjustments fast and simple. If the gears feel like they are slipping or not shifting smoothly, this is usually due to a stretching of the shifter cable, which is normal (same as with brake cables). To re-align the gears, you use the barrel adjuster on the handlebar where the cable connects to the shifter to tighten to the cable and compensate for this cable stretching. Consult the owner's manual for more information.



 
Sussex Enterprises Bicycle Components