I inherited a bike with a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub (Sturmey Archer AW, from 1984).

I am very familiar with free-wheels and cassete hubs, but this is fairly new to me, although I did some research on the internet, I couldn't find anywhere that had a hub spinning.

In my case, I am probably going to disassemble it (I have seen some videos, it won't be easy but is doable).

Finally, the question:

I noticed that there is a (IMO) fairly big amount of "play" (is this the term?) when I rotate the cog counter-clockwise (direction of coasting) and then rotating clockwise (drive).

I would say it is about 2 cm of "play".

Is the amount shown here too much, or is this normal? Animated gif showing the hub play

  • 1
    No letter codes? sheldonbrown.com/english-3.html#sturmey I think most of the SA two speeds were Duomatic, with a kickback gear change, but your GIF has a indicator rod and change, so it's not one of them. And a fair amount of lash/play before the pawls engage is usual.
    – armb
    Apr 16, 2013 at 15:29
  • @armb nice one, I didn't catch those letters, in my case it says AW, and I know now that it is a three speed hub, corrected on the question. You mean the play displayed is acceptable?
    – jackJoe
    Apr 16, 2013 at 15:39
  • 1
    I wouldn't swear that much normal and not a sign of stuck pawls, but if it reliably does engage when you pedal forwards I expect it's okay. I'll see if I can find one and compare. Knowing it's an AW will lead you to hundreds of dismantling and servicing guides, I've never been that brave....
    – armb
    Apr 17, 2013 at 12:23
  • Thanks, I don't know anyone else with a SA, so if you can try one I would be gratefull. I'm anxious to disasemble it, it will be a fun experience, especially the assembly (the tough part) :)
    – jackJoe
    Apr 17, 2013 at 18:35
  • Found one, and the pawls aren't engaging at all so it spins round in both directions with no drive :-( There's another one in the shed somewhere, with Dynohub.
    – armb
    May 2, 2013 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


I still can't find my working three speed hub, but from memory, and from trying a working five speed, then as far as I can tell from the gif, that's normal.

  • Thanks, I'm going to disassemble it any way, but it's good to have this "confirmation".
    – jackJoe
    May 8, 2013 at 17:32

AW means “always works”. That play seems normal.

  • Is there a source for the AW claim or is it inferred?
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 18, 2022 at 4:13

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