I have a univega and a fixie. i love the idea of fixed gear bikes but live in a very hilly area which requires more than just one gear. Is there a way to combined those two ideas into one awesome cycling machine? comments are appreciated. thanks.

  • Sorry, your question doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm aware of no multi-speed options that don't essentially require freewheeling. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 1:43
  • The Sturmey fixed gear three speed hubs are pretty obscure. But even if no option existed, how would he know that for sure without asking if anyone else knew of one?
    – armb
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 12:17
  • I suggest that the question title might be better rephrased as "Can you use gears without a freewheel?" - if that is what Josh meant. Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 10:23

3 Answers 3


How about a Schlumf drive?

Schlumf drive example

The Schlumpf drive is an ultra thin planetary gearing system located at the right end of the bottom bracket, between bottom bracket and right crankarm. Installation of a Schlumpf drive hardly changes [either the] position of the chain nor position of the crankarms.

They're probably expensive, but I don't think they have a freewheel. Plenty of people use them with hub gears for extra range. You tap the centre with your heel to shift - not as easy or quick as a lever on the bars, but they look pretty minimalist as they don't have any cables, which seems to jibe with the fixie way (if I've understood it right?)

  • 1
    Looks like there is info on how to set this up here: biketinker.com/2010/bike-resources/schlumpf-double-fixed
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 15:28
  • I thought about hammerschmidt cranksets since they were similar, however they have a freewheel unit in them, so they wouldn't work unlike the schlumpf.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 15:33

I had the same dilemma and the best idea I came up with is a fixed internal gear hub. Sturmey Archer make a 3-speed fixed hub that looked the goods. The way this works is that there's still no freewheel (the same as a fixie) but there's a gear cable coming out of the hub that allows you to select between 3 gears.

On the bike it looks a little like this:

Sturmey archer 3 speed hub

A bit pricey, but on the right bike this could be awesome.

  • so no free wheel at all just different teeth amount. i know very little about bikes. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 23:46
  • The hub gear gives you the same effect as different numbers of teeth on the sprocket. Here's a couple of articles on Sturmey's older 3 speed fixed gear hub: classiclightweights.co.uk/designs/hsasc.html sheldonbrown.com/asc.html
    – armb
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 12:03
  • Someone wrote a blog about this hub.... s3xfixie.blogspot.com
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 12:53
  • I think there are some drawbacks to this hub, it's not simple like a standard fixed gear setup, it will have a lag feeling, like riding a fixed gear with a loose chain before it starts resisting when backpedaling, it's not really designed to be used for skid stops (you'll break it), so you definitely need brakes, and there is a chance that you can get stuck in a neutral gear. Some people love this hub though, a weird cult thing.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 13:00
  • @Benzo, I agree you'd lose the 'purity' of having a fixed gear setup. But given that we're talking about compromising so the bike is still useful on hills it might be an option.
    – Mac
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 22:34

Apart from the Sturmey hub, the only other option I know of for a multi-speed fixed gear is something like http://surlybikes.com/parts/dingle_cog

You have two sprockets on the rear, and two chainrings on the front, carefully chosen so they work with the same chain length. To change gear, you stop, get off, move the chain onto the other set of sprockets, then ride off again.

But you probably don't want to do that at the top and bottom of every hill, any more than you want to take off a wheel with a flip-flop hub and turn it around.

  • Another similar option is to run a double crankset in the front with two different chainrings and set the chainline half way between both. They you can get off, loosen the rear wheel, and swap the chain to the other ring to switch up the gearing. useful if you single speed on road and off road. I think the dingle cog is a bit better than the chainring swap since you need to change less teeth to change the ratio on the rear wheel and your wheel position will change less.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 13:03

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