Peter Kohler wrote:
> The number of
> gears is not, I feel, as important as the ratio range for
> your type of riding. The FM has a really, really low gear
> that, admittedly can be a bitch to shift down too, but is
> lower than any of the others. Plus these came with alloy
> shells as a matter of course.
Correct and good advice, but Bob was asking about a nice low gear, and the FM will not give a very useful high gear in that scenario, due to it's relatively narrow range. How about the FW, which is relatively common compared to the rarer FM (& thus usually cheaper), has the same low gear, but a wider range (higher high), came with an alloy shell, and is just as reliable and durable as an FM as far as I can tell. I have an alloy-shell FW on one of the bikes I ride most often.
Gear inches with a 27" (nominal) wheel, 44 chainring, 19 cog: (view in a constant-width font to make the columns line up) S5: FM: FW: 5 93.8 4 79.2 70.3 79.2 3 62.5 62.5 62.5 (3rd is "normal") 2 50.0 53.6 50.0 1 41.7 41.7 41.7
Since the 94 inch high on the S5 might not be useful to you, try a lower normal gear, 44 x 22 maybe: S5: 5 81.0 4 68.4 3 54.0 (3rd is "normal") 2 43.1 1 36.0 (Again, the FW will have the same ratios as the S5 for 1 through 4)
All ratios by Sheldon Brown's calculator at
By the way, Bob also asked about alloy shell. S5 never came with an alloy shell, did it? However, the most common alloy shells (in the US anyway) are AW and FW, and those will both work with S5 "guts"; just the engraving will be wrong.
The "Late" model Bob mentions with an indicator chain on each side (instead of the bell crank on the left) is known as the S5-2, and has a bit more internal friction than the earlier S5, according to Sheldon.
Seattle WA USA