Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

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Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby dmockus on Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:22 pm

I have a Brompton S3L (2013 model), which I bought in January this year. After riding it for 6 weeks or so, I started hearing a rattling noise coming from the Sturmey Archer hub when freewheeling over uneven pavement. There is no noise while pedaling. But when I'm freewheeling, there is a rather loud rattle coming from inside the hub - it sounds as if some small component parts are loose inside.

Eventually I took the bike to my LBS, which sent the wheel to Brompton and had it replaced. Brompton did not acknowledge the rattling problem, but replaced the wheel anyway (the mechanic at my LBS had detected a rattle) . As it was a new wheel, it rolled completely silent for 4 or 6 weeks and then started to rattle again.

It is now sent back to Brompton and I am riding a replacement bike from my LBS. It's been three weeks and I'm beginning to notice the rattle setting in again.

It's becoming pretty obvious that it wasn't a problem with my specific wheel, but a general issue with the Sturmey Archer hub. Has anyone else run into the same issue and is there a known solution to this problem? I am quite sure I haven't caused any damage myself. Even though I ride the bike every day, I am gentle with it when changing gears (never change gears under pedal pressure), I keep it clean, and only ride on paved roads in London.

Thank you.
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Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:56 pm

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby 20wheels20 on Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:36 am

I see that this is a fairly old post and I wonder if your problem was resolved. My 2001 Brommie has developed exactly the same problem and I am about to strip the hub down. It was interesting to read that you had the problem on three different bikes. Even more interesting is the fact that I have ridden with these hubs on many bikes over many years and never had such a problem before. It would be odd if it was confined to Bromptons. My hub is a genuine Sturmey Archer AW. I would guess that yours is the Brompton equivalent?

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby Paul on Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:48 am

The hub rattles because the planet gear carrier is not provided with a bearing at the opposite end to the planet gears. Look at the parts diagram for the hub on the SA website. The problem is particularly bad on the Brompton because of the rear suspension movement. There would appear to be no solution because it is a feature of the hub.

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby BG on Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:56 am

I upgraded the SRAM 3 speed hub to the BWR hub on my Brompton and my wife's. Both developed a loud rattle on uneven surfaces. I emailed Brompton but got a rather defensive reply. I have now gone back again to the SRAM hub so no more rattles. In my opinion it is a much superior hub although without the wider gear range. Unfortunately it seems they are no longer available.

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby John777 on Sat May 27, 2017 7:49 pm

Hi Guys
I have a 2016 Brompton W6R and experienced the same irritating rattle problem on uneven roads when free wheeling after about 10 months of gentle use. Took it to Brompton Junction who tried various solutions having confirmed the noise but couldn't fix so sent it to Brompton. It came back a week later minus the rattle after they said they'd replaced the internal parts in the hub. Within about 3 weeks the rattle was back with a vengeance. This seems to be a common fault that Brompton don't wish to publicize and I suspect it's a design fault with Sturmey Archer cogs inside the hub. It's extremely annoying and noticeable to any potential buyer thus reducing the value of the bike should one want to sell it.

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby BG on Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:05 pm

Brompton cannot be unaware of this problem. I get the impression they have a quality control issue. My new bike came with a rough running front wheel. I checked the bearing and found badly adjusted cones with no trace of oil or grease. In less than 2000 miles I was on to the second bottom bracket. Latest thing was the chain shifter falling off while I was cycling, fortunately near home.
It spoils an otherwise excellent bicycle concept.
I hope it never happens but I would be interested to see what the Germans or Japanese would do with it.

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby euric82 on Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:54 pm

Purchased a Brompton M6R Black edition in 2016. Rode it occasionally for about a year (< 50 km). I'm now having the same issue. As stated, the rattling noise occurs during free wheeling over uneven surfaces. Its very irritating. It has gotten a little more pronounced now. Not sure if it originates from the hub, but definitely from the rear.

Have you guys gotten any solutions to this?

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby longhaulcmmuter on Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:15 pm

I've been a train/bike/train commuter for longer than I'd care to mention and after my local rail franchise decided to become utter idiots about their cycle policy for full size bikes (insisting on reservations for every trip without providing a means for season ticket holders to make reservations!) - I took the advice of several long time Bromptoneer friends & 'commute buddies' and got a new Brompton in November last year - an all black edition S6L (wide range black sturmey archer hub).

I've just joined the forum to investigate some of the issues I've been having with it so far (including this one):

1: From day 1 riding in gear 1 (whether + or - sprocket) has generated greatly increased chain/jockey wheel noise - mentioned on each of the following return trips to the dealer - who agree it's odd but are flummoxed as to what this is
2: Front wheel bearing gave out completely after only 6 weeks (front wheel replaced f.o.c. by dealer as bearing cups damaged beyond repair - I didn't see it but they described the bearing as having no lube and somehow completely full of grit - said they'd never seen anything like it on such a young bike)
3: Handlebar retaining clip on fork rattled itself off in January and I had to re-tighten both rear mud-gaurd bolts which had worked completely loose causing constant rear end rattling (despite nylock nuts?)
4: Clicking from bottom bracket in May turned out to be 3 of 5 chain ring bolts had worked loose (dealer dealt with f.o.c. but only noticed this after they stripped the bottom bracket looking for a fault - again 'never seen that happen before'!)
5: Right hand grip suddenly came off whilst riding in June...and about this time...
6: the 'freewheeling only' rattling noise from the back end described here started - along with an intermittent but more regular clicking noise whether pedaling or not.

It's been back to the dealer again since - who have been great and given it a f.o.c service and investigation - but the noise is now louder than ever. :evil:

So has anyone found an actual fix for this issue? - or am I just going to have to go back (again!) and insist on either a new rear wheel or a hub gear upgrade?!

Either way this is not the 'legendary build quality' promised by Brompton and which I had expected - and which my friends had actually experienced with their much older machines - ironically comparatively much cheaper than mine when they bought them back in the day!
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Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:25 pm

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby longhaulcmmuter on Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:11 pm


After taking it back two more times my LBS eventually stripped down and serviced the hub - the mechanic said it wasn't all that uncommon on the newer hubs as the grease the factory use when assembling them is rather thin and is prone to simply displacing out of the way with use. He said that they (the LBS) used the same spec. of grease they had been using for years (generously) and this usually fixes the issue. So far (6 weeks in) that seems to be the case - HOWEVER.....

My lemon issues have continued. Not long after the last post I started to get the loud squeaking from the bottom bracket area again - it's been back to the LBS again - who claimed loose chain-ring nuts again, checked and lubed the pedals just in case and gave it back quiet - but only for a day or two before back to square one.

Then I got the recall notice from Brompton about dud bottom brackets on my vintage of bike and took it back AGAIN to have this done in the hope this would end the squeaking. No such luck - within half a mile of riding again the following day it was back intermittently.

Now I think in the USA there's a thing called a 'Lemon Law' - where if the dealer who has sold you a defective car (and anything else?) and they can't fix it after several returns they have to give you a new one - is that right? - Any chance of an equivalent here?!? ;)
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Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:25 pm

Re: Rattling noise in Sturmey Archer 3-gear hub

Postby BG on Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:07 pm

Perhaps the most effective cure for SA rattles is to complain to Brompton. If enough do it they may decide to take it up with Sturmey Archer and get it sorted.

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