The Fichtel & Sachs Torpedo Duomatic internal gear hub Story
Torpedo Duomatic (2 gear)
Manufacturer / Location:
Fichtel & Sachs / Schweinfurt, Germany
The Duomatic hub production started in 1964. This was the time of the german “Wirtschaftswunder”. This was the time with a strong economic growth after world war two. The germans bought the VW Käfer (Volkswagen Beetle) and loved the new freedom. But how to transport a bicycle in the Beetle? This was the point where the Klapprad was invented.
A 20″ bicycle with a foldable mechanism in the middle of the frame. Like today the bowden cable for gear shifting and braking was a constructive challenge. The fabulous solution was the Torpedo Duomatic two gear hub.
A coaster brake without any bowden cable and a fantastic two gear shifting mechanism. The link between the hub and the rider was not as common today a bowden cable. The new link was the chain! By pedaling a little bit backwards the shifting mechanism switches from one gear to the other. While using the coaster brake the hub shifts also from one gear into the other. This makes sense! When you ride in the fast second gear you´ll start accelerating again in the slow first one because of the coaster braking. Perfect!
This invention made it easy to fold the bike without any problems of bowden cables! Why? Because there were none!
The 20″ Klapprad wheels are the reason that nearly all Duomatic hubs came with 28 spoke holes. There were a few hubs sold mainly in the Netherlands and Scandinavia with 36 spoke holes. Because this bicycle country with cold winters recognized the big advantage to use this hub for a maintenance free commuting bike. With this hub there were no disrupted and frozen bowden cables anymore.
After a few miles you are familiar with the shifting behaviour after a brake. Because while braking the hub switches to the next gear. What will happen is quite similar to fixed gear cycling. Your attention goes up and you´ll think forward. The options: Do I use the front brake and stay in the second gear or do I brake with the coaster brake and start accelerating with the first one.
- 28 spoke hole version
- 36 spoke hole version (very rare!)
- older versions come with a 10,5mm axel diameter and two flat sides of the axel (Duomatic 102)
- version with common 9,5 mm axel diameter (Duomatic R 2110)