However, I don't care; I can cover it. The Aussie dollar and US dollar are on parity at the moment so it's still cheap enough to have this little chap below shipped to me:
It's a Nexus 8 speed Rollerbrake or Vbrake hub. Comes with all the accoutrements such as shifters so it's a pretty good deal I think.
I won't be doing the conversion myself as my bike maintenance and repair skills are limited to bolting on extras such as removable headlights, or at a pinch adjusting a derailleur. There's a bike shop down in Parramatta with experienced service staff with whom I've discussed this project.
Converting Petunia is going to cost more than I originally paid for her - in fact at least double! - but the end result I believe will be a unique sweet mixte I'll be very happy with.
Having discovered hub gears last year on my lovely Pashley last year I'm in love with them. They are such a boon in stop/start urban cycling. Have to stop? Just select the appropriate gear to set off again in while you're stopped. Now try doing that with a derailleur. You may find your chain departing from the chainring. I feel far more confident riding with hub gears; part of that is because my hands don't have to leave the grips to change gear.
Now I can go searching for a chaincase cover so I can ride Petunia without getting chain lube and dirt on my jeans; if anyone sees a pretty one let me know! I suspect I'll be getting one from overseas and will start my search at Velo Orange.
What will this elegant piece of engineering look like with hub gears? Maybe I'll know by the end of the month - it depends on shipping and how soon those bike shop lads can do the work. I suspect the chainring may have to be changed as well so will see what's out there and affordable and importantly, attractive. Any advice from anyone on chainrings and anything else I may have to do to make this conversion work?