27296826934_d7db213a5b_o.jpgThanks for stopping by! The Society of Three Speeds (or SOTS, if you are into that whole brevity thing) was founded in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, USA. To put it simply, our society appreciates the humble three speed bicycle. Once the ultimate in human-powered transportation, the three speed bicycle has been sidelined by first the road bike or “ten speed” and then the mountain bike. The three speed has been either disparaged or just forgotten about during the past 40 years or so.

But there’s nothing wrong with a three speed bicycle!
We aim to provide the resources and inspiration for people to enjoy and ride three speed bicycles, whether vintage or modern. For a nominal fee, you can become a member of the Society of Three Speeds and get a membership packet sent to you!
We also put on a series of Three Speed Rides through the year. The first one occurred in 2011, and we have about three rides a year.
Please peruse the many pages on this website for more information. (Please be gentle on us, this website is still a work in progress, and it is a labor of love by one obsessive man.) If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Viva Three Speeds!
updated 18 Oct 2016

82 thoughts on “Welcome!

  1. …and another English welcome, from the home of the Three-Speed. Thank you so much for the truly lovely little introductory pack. I will be ordering more stickers, and another couple of memberships as gifts.

  2. Jeremy Derby. says:

    Yes…. I´m now a member of this great cycle club.
    I ride my three speed every day here in Denmark and people do comment on the bike. Mostly things like `can you manage with only three gears´ or `how do you cope with hills´ I manage fine and I can always walk up the hills.
    Nice web site as well.

  3. Edward Brandwein says:

    Nice blog! I’m a three speed fella myself. I ride a pretty new Worksman Ritchie. SA hub. Great bike for NYC.


  4. Arnie Starcher says:

    How much fun can riding around with a bunch of bike nuts grasping onto an outdated form of transportation be?
    Wait,…..probably a blast! New stuff sucks! And everyone there knows it! Wonder if I’ll meet my twin siblings there?

  5. Don Salerno says:

    I want to join SOTS… I have a Steyr-Puch 3 speed…here in Hollywood, Florida
    Send info please

  6. I am actually a paid up member and a long time 3 speed enthusiast. I wrote a book, recently published, in which our hero, a15-year-old wealthy Texas kid, travels back to England in 1928 on a 1913 Gentleman’s Royal Sunbeam. It’s free to download on Kindle (or your kindle app) over Labor Day weekend if anybody’s interested. Thanks. Hope it’s OK to mention this here: http://www.amazon.com/Up-Back-and-Away-ebook/dp/B00CHCP95U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377864699&sr=8-1&keywords=up+back+and+away

    • amy says:

      one of my three speeds is harder to pedel than the other. one happens to have a lower gear ratio. however if you just got the three speed you may want to have a tune up before you ride it. mine deeded oil in the hub so i took it to a bike shop.

    • Michael Flournoy says:

      For some unknown reason ALL the old 3 speed bikes I’ve ever seen are geared way too high from the factory. It’s like they thought everyone was Ricky Racer trying to go 30 mph in first gear.
      You may have other issues as well such as a dry hub or rusty chain but while you are working on it take a look at the rear sprocket. My ’52 Raleigh came with 17 or 18 teeth, I forget which, and I switched it to 20. A big help but I think I may go even larger so that 1st is more useful for hills. If I then spin out on the downhills that’s just fine – coasting is OK too!
      I bought an old Sears Freespirit for a friend and it came with only 16 teeth. First gear wasn’t comfortable until 10 or 12 mph. I changed his to 20 teeth also – huge improvement. A new sprocket is less than $10. and a new chain about $12 to $15.
      Good Luck

      • Roy Bird says:

        This feature of “too high” gearing seems to apply to all Raleigh 3-speeds. I can only assume that most were manufactured at a time when cadence of a typical rider going to and from work was 60 rpm or less. I can’t imagine that it was meant to attract macho-men with thunder thighs! In fact I imagine that many folk were put off by the high pedaling effort. I have reduced the gearing on a Raleigh Sports and a Raleigh 20 which has transformed the riding experience. The sprocket on the Sports was increased from 17-21, and the 20 from 15 to 17. here’s a video I put together on the restoration of two Sports.

  7. amy says:

    i love my three speed the chane never comes of the gears no mater how many time i have to shift. I never had luck with mountain bikes, i could not go two blocks whithout the chane comming off; than the frount wheal bent, needless to say ill never ride anything but a three speed.

  8. Kevin in Colorado says:

    Looking forward to joining the society once I score a Raleigh Sports or similar here in Colorado!

  9. T-money says:

    Howdy from Alaska! I just picked up an 80 raleigh sports, and am smitten. Need to get that hub back in action and replace a spoke, but then I’m in action! Goin back to school on that one for sure…

    I think I might have to join your club :). See ya on the road…


  10. Leigh Ann says:

    Hi, I got here via your urban adventure league website. Can I “join” even though I ride a non-vintage 5 speed bike? It does have Sturmey-Archer hub gears! I’m a hub gear orphan out here in West Texas. Not very many people ride bikes here to start with. And hub geared bikes? Forget it. But I love mine.

  11. Robi says:

    HI There, Robin, an Englishman exiled in Wenatchee WA here! Very hilly country. Smashing cruising downhill to downtown but a real slog coming back up. Thank goodness for the 20 rear cog and nice Schwalbe Delta Cruisers!
    Have a 73 Raleigh Sports which I have accessorized with a rear rack (Portland Design Works) and a nice shiny front rack porteur style from Velo Orange upon which I have fastened a nice wicker laundry basket from the Salvation Army Store priced $3! More comments on the basket than on the bike! Will send for packet! Have thought of an electric motor but really that would be cheating I suppose and reason to disqualify for membership?!

  12. Hi,
    I found this an interesting site. Thanks to those who set it up. I sent in my membership a week ago or so. I just found on Craigslist a Triumph 3 speed, blue, step through, old Brooks saddle (cheap type but feels fine). I just took it to Holden Arboretum, here in Kirtland, Ohio (the largest arboretum in the US) and had a fine time. I enjoy photography. So I had the camera backpack on my back and I found that I could use a rear rack for water and food, etc. Does anyone have a suggestion for an inexpensive rack for this bike? I am also interested in a trunk/bag of some sort, nothing fancy. I have looked at Brooks, nice stuff but way out of line for me, same with some others. I have also looked at Blackburn and Topeak. I figure that you people may be best bet for making sure I get what is suitable for this bike and me.

    • Thanks for joining! When you say “inexpensive” for a rear rack, how inexpensive is that? You can usually find your generic Blackburn/Topeak/Planet Bike types for $20-30, cheaper if used. The old Pletscher racks are classic and often seen with these bikes. Not as functional as I like, but they are out there, and probably sitting in the back of a bike shop somewhere. I like/use the Linus rack, which looks aesthetically “right” for these bikes, but cost about $45.

      As for “trunk” bag, I think you mean “saddle”bag, as trunk bags sit on the rack, saddlebags attach to saddle. The Brooks bags I know are saddle-attached bags. You can’t beat Carradice in that department, but they ain’t cheap. Best bet for inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing would be the offerings from Minnehaha. But they are nowhere near as durable as Carradice/Brooks bags. You get what you pay for in this department.

  13. Debbie says:

    Pootling along here over the pond in England through towns and villages and along the country lanes on a black Pashley Princess Classic 3 speed. Been riding SA 3 speeds since the mid ’60s and love them dearly, don’t want any other kind of bike. Kind regards and Happy Riding to all you American Cousins over there!

    • Thanks for the note!. My wife and I walked about UK last September and found British polite, courteous and thoughtful, everywhere we went. We stopped at a bike shop in Salisbury and looked at the Pashley. What a lovely bike.

  14. Steve says:

    Been riding my new Pashley princess classic (three speed) since February and I absolutely love it.
    I would like to hear from other men who ride ‘step thru’ bikes such as the Pashley princess.
    I didn’t like the mens Pashley, the bottom bracket was too high. I tried the Princess and fell in love straight away.
    I’ve been riding three speeders for 50 years now and I wouldn’t ride any other bike. I love them

  15. Hi from Durham, NC! Love your site. I’m the proud owner of a Raleigh Sports 1980 and my wife has a Raleigh Sports 1974. Just did a 15 mile ride with them today. Fabulous Autumn weather made for a perfect ride.

  16. Clayton says:

    Hello from Ottawa, Kansas! I love my Takara three speed with 27″ wheels. I bought it used and don’t know the year, but my guess is the 80’s. I was converted over to the three speed side of life by Sheldon Brown’s site about seven years ago, now I testify every chance I get trying to win people over to trying one. This is a good site.

  17. Enrique says:

    Hello from Brooklyn, USA! My wife and I have early ’70s Schwinn 3-Speeds and we rode 23mi this past weekend. Looking to lower gearing, 18 to 21. Thoughts?

      • I think he’s talking 18 to 21 teeth on the back sprocket. You might as well go all the way and put a 22 tooth one on. Sachs and Shimano 24 tooth sprockets will also fit but there’s a chance you might put too much torque through the hub and wreck it.

      • Yeah, the important thing to remember is to not go below a 2:1 ratio. So if you have a 48 tooth chainring, 24 is the max for rear sprocket. And 23 the max for a 46.

      • Enrique says:

        I did mean 18 to 21 tooth. Thanks for the responses. I changed mine to 21 tooth this past weekend and threw a new chain on for good measure. Now I’m running 46 tooth chain ring and 21 tooth hub sprocket. I’m really happy with the results. Second and third gears are way more versatile and first gear is better up hills. I did notice on a local hill that first gear didn’t feel easier but I was able to get up and over with same effort as before but in much better time. I may have to pace myself in the future so that I’m not winded at the end but I think my current cadence up that hill is what I’m comfortable with and any slower and I may feel it in my leg muscles more. I’m going to be swapping out the 18 tooth cog on my wife’s 1970 Schwinn Suburban to a 22. Her bike has 27″ wheels and a 3-speed so the 22 tooth should give it the same ratio as my bike. I didn’t know going with a much larger cog could wreck the hub but that makes sense. I hope I’m okay with 2.19 and 2.09 ratios.


      • Yeah, you midwest folks need to get together! Maybe do some big event out there in the spring that brings the three speeders from all over.

        Wait! Didn’t I just describe the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour? 😉

      • Clayton says:

        Ouch! Even with the pleasant emoticon attached to the end of the statement, it still stings a bit when one is confronted with the truth! I’ve looked at that tour many times… so why don’t I just do it? I’ts difficult to identify specifically why. Maybe this will be the year.

      • Yeah, why don’t ya do it? 😉 Seriously, I come from half-way across the country to do it, and you’re loads closer! I know one member who regularly travels from Kansas City for it. In any case, there’s nothing stopping you folks down Kansas/Missouri way from doing some three speed events of your own!

  18. servalan says:

    What ho! I’ve been fluttering about on the periphery for a while but just couldn’t resist a membership pack, and besides, all my 3 speed chaps are up on blocks, as it were, this time of year. Snow is thin but temps are low here in the midwest so I raise my cap in a warmly gloved hand and bid you all a very heartfelt hallo!

  19. servalan says:

    Hoping to do the Pepin tour this year- it’s only about three and a half hours from my house – or 15 hours 3 speed time – would be very nice to meet you all!

  20. Roy Bird says:

    Does anyone on the list live in Southern Ontario, Canada? I feel a bit like an orphan out here. There are some superb paved trails in the Pickering, Ajax and Whitby area as well as a number roads with little traffic. This is largely due to the fact that our Mayor (Ajax) is a bike nut!
    I do all our domestic shopping on a Raleigh 20 pulling a WIKE trailer. So far I have calculated that with this rig the number of my shopping trips has now exceeded 1000! This is 8 years averaging three trips a week.

  21. joe says:

    I enjoy your site. I have ridden and raced road bikes for years and accidentally acquired a pair of vintage 3 speeds over the last few years. One is a rebadged early seventies Raliegh. Reminds me of when I was a kid. Our scout troop planned a bike camp trip about 50 miles away. My ten speed’s rear derailleur ate my wheel on the first hill. My dad brought me a rusty ladies three speed as a replacement. He got it out of a neighbor’s garage-full of dust and cobwebs. I was aghast but give the choice of ride it or go home. I tried it. By the time I arrived -not the last one there. I was in love with the rusty relic and regretted giving it back. The two I have now bring me right back to that summer trip. Who knew time travel could be had so cheaply?

  22. I have no less than ten bikes which I have acquired over the years. Four of these are 3-speed Raleighs -two Twenties and two Sports. The remainder includes a Carbon Fibre Trekand a celeste road race Bianchi with Campy components. The point of all this preamble is to state that for general purpose riding, to me when compared with modern examples of similar design, the only shortfall is the weight ,- which in itself is reflected back in increased strength and durability. Apart from this, they remain just fine. As previously mentioned, one of the Twenties with a WIKE trailer, is used for all our domestic shopping.

  23. In my previous post, how could I omit my Dawes Kingpin/ It was originally upgraded in 1992 and further modified in 2012. For some time it was my favorite bike and even today is regularly ridden. There are You Tube videos if any one is interested

    • Thomas Alan STAINSBY says:

      I have a Dawes Kingpin with a 3speed Sturmey Archer hub and a 16 cog wheel that I am thinking of changing to 18 teeth as it is hilly here in Sussex. Do you have any experience of changing the rear cog to a larger size please?

      • Christopher says:

        It’s just held on by a circlip, you just leaver it off with a screwdriver.
        You’re only adding another two teeth so there should be plenty of space in the dropout to slide the wheel forward. You won’t have to fit another link in the chain unless there is a fairly tight mudguard clearance.

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