SRAM Automatix 2 speed hub review

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SRAM Automatix 2 speed auto hub with coaster brake.

Bikes without cables are rare. It seems that most bikes today have a lot of cables to operate various things but they make a bike look fussy and they need maintenance and frequent replacement.

Some bike builders put a lot of effort in to hiding their cables by feeding them through the frame or guiding them using any number of clips. This looks nice but makes replacement a little more complicated.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a bike with no cables? One way to do that is to use a back pedal (coaster) brake rear hub. Straight away that gets rid of not only a cable, but a lever and a whole brake assembly. I don’t think there’s any great difference in weight but a back pedal brake is very simple and effective and will work in the rain, unlike many typical brake systems.

There are many manufacturers who make geared hubs for bicycles but most of them require cables to operate but there are a few that don’t. Many years ago I rode an old German shopper bike which had a back pedal brake and a two speed hub which was operated by back pedalling slightly so I knew that a cableless gear system was possible.

So I started researching and discovered this SRAM Automatix 2 speed hub. What makes this different to other hubs I have seen is that the gear change is completely automatic. You don’t even have to think about it.

It’s actually quite brilliant and the gear change is practically seamless. You start pedalling and the hub is in first gear and as soon as you get up to about 8 mph it changes. There are two bob weights inside the hub which swing out at speed and change the gear. It’s very simple.

As I am using 20” wheels it seems to change at just the right time. As you are thinking, ‘another gear would be nice’ it changes. However I have read reviews where the rider felt that it changed too soon. They took the hub apart and bent the springs on the bob weights slightly and fixed that. Here’s the link that shows how It’s a good article that talks in depth about many of the features so there’s no need for me to do the same.

It’s quite heavy at 1.3 kilos but when you consider it has two gears and the brake included and you won’t need cables, levers or brake,s so all in all it’s not too bad.

In use it works just fine but it does clatter a bit. It’s not the quietest hub when freewheeling but I forgive it all this because it’s awesome. I don’t find it changes too early but as I said I’m running 20” wheels and I guess this must make a difference.

This hub is available with freewheel sprocket, coaster, roller or disc brake. It’s certainly available with a 28 and 36 hole configuration.

Conclusion: If you want easy gear change and brakes with no cables then this hub is brilliant. If you didn’t like the way it changes gear you can change that so what’s not to like? Adds a touch of class to any bike. Also the price seems very reasonable to me at about 80€.

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