Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

How many gears do I really need?

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

How many gears do I really need?

Old 09-09-18, 10:58 AM
  #1  
Deand
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How many gears do I really need?

I am just looking for a little exercise around the neighborhood. Mainly flat roads. I am looking at vintage style because of my back with the upright handle bars.

Thank you so much.

Dean
Deand is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 11:02 AM
  #2  
thumpism 
Bikes are okay, I guess.
 
thumpism's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 4,602

Bikes: Waterford Paramount Touring, Bridgestone RB-T, Trek 510 city build, Giant CFM-2, Raleigh Sports 3-speeds in M23 L23 and L19, Schwinn Cimarron oddball build

Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1226 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 13 Posts
I have sport bikes, touring bikes and good old English 3-speeds. I bought the 3-speed for city life and it works fine, but some are "overgeared" and I needed a larger rear cog to move the range of the three gears lower compared to stock, so all three would be easier to pedal than stock.

Any multispeed bike that you buy new will likely have all the gears you need in a suitable range for the use you will give it. Hills, road surface variations, winds and other things might dictate more gears or a wider range.

I personally like the look and character of 3-speed bikes (like old Raleighs) but newer hybrid-style bikes mimic the look and feel and generally feature many more gears and newer engineering. Tell us where you live and we might have specific recommendations.

Buying used is a risk if you do not know bikes because you might not know what to look for on a used machine, while buying new puts you at the mercy of a shop that might not have your best interests at heart. Ask around and talk to a couple of different shops and see what you think. If you buy new, "buy the shop, not the bike." There probably aren't many bad new bikes.

Good luck!

Obligatory Raleigh 3-speed photo. You are getting verrrry sleepy...

Last edited by thumpism; 09-09-18 at 11:15 AM.
thumpism is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 11:08 AM
  #3  
wolfchild
Senior Member
 
wolfchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Mississauga/Toronto, Ontario canada
Posts: 5,545

Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1333 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 37 Times in 21 Posts
One
wolfchild is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 11:41 AM
  #4  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 2,297

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1201 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 46 Posts
Originally Posted by Deand View Post
I am just looking for a little exercise around the neighborhood. Mainly flat roads. I am looking at vintage style because of my back with the upright handle bars.

Thank you so much.

Dean
Note there are 2 distinct concepts, number of gears, and gear range. Racers and high performance cyclists like a good number of gears (currently 22 is the usual), and old putzers like me want a wide gear range.

The gear range you need is mainly determined by how hilly the terrain is and by your fitness level.
tyrion is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 11:48 AM
  #5  
avole
Banned.
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: France
Posts: 1,045

Bikes: Brompton, Time, Bianchi, Jan Janssen, Peugeot

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 598 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Go for 22, you won't regret it. Slogging into the wind on a fixed gear bike isn't fun, especially up a slight incline.
avole is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 12:21 PM
  #6  
Deand
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thank you all for your input. I appreciate it.
Deand is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 12:31 PM
  #7  
Iride01
Senior Member
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 2,305

Bikes: '91 Schwinn Paramount '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 852 Post(s)
Liked 25 Times in 22 Posts
If you regularly find yourself having to put a lot of muscle into pedaling the bike then you probably need another gear. How many? Depends on you, the way you want to ride, the riding surface conditions you ride and lots of other stuff that may or may not matter to you or others.

You don't muscle a bike to ride. That just wears you out, gives you leg cramps and future knee problems. The more gears you have, the more you can find that ideal combination that lets you ride at the speed you want with a low level of muscle strain so you can ride all day long for 100 or even 200 miles instead of exhausting yourself in 30 minutes.
Iride01 is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 02:56 PM
  #8  
NomarsGirl
Senior Member
 
NomarsGirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Easton, MA
Posts: 290

Bikes: Specialized Ruby Sport

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Liked 27 Times in 19 Posts
I used all of mine yesterday. (24)
NomarsGirl is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 03:47 PM
  #9  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 5,424

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by thumpism View Post

I personally like the look and character of 3-speed bikes (like old Raleighs)

Obligatory Raleigh 3-speed photo. You are getting verrrry sleepy...
if you asked Mr owl...
curbtender is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 03:51 PM
  #10  
Homebrew01
Super Moderator
 
Homebrew01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Ffld Cnty Connecticut
Posts: 21,055

Bikes: Old Steelies I made, Old Cannondales

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 797 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 30 Times in 22 Posts
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Note there are 2 distinct concepts, number of gears, and gear range. Racers and high performance cyclists like a good number of gears (currently 22 is the usual), and old putzers like me want a wide gear range.

The gear range you need is mainly determined by how hilly the terrain is and by your fitness level.
This....Different answers for different people.

It's much easier to not use gears you do have, than to use gears you don't have.

You might like a modern "Hybrid" style of bike.
__________________
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike.

FYI: http://www.bikeforums.net/forum-sugg...ad-please.html
Homebrew01 is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:04 PM
  #11  
backonblack
Senior Member
 
backonblack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
One
+ 1.

When I want to work out I ride my road bike with 44/16 ring and freewheel. My play bike has a 9 gear cassette with 3 rings on the crank.
backonblack is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:05 PM
  #12  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 22,454
Mentioned: 166 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8497 Post(s)
Liked 62 Times in 56 Posts
Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
One
Unless you're building a Penny Farthing, it is best to use at least TWO. One for the front, and one for the rear.

CliffordK is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:11 PM
  #13  
seamuis
aire díthrub
 
seamuis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: chatham
Posts: 525

Bikes: Raleigh Competition, Pashley Roadster Sovereign, Cielo Sportif Classic, Mercian Vincitore Speciale

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 240 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 20 Posts
To be a bit of a smartas$, just one. Truthfully though it comes down to two things: how you intend to ride the bike, and the environment that you ride in. So this is a question without a single answer, or two put it another way there is literally no right or wrong answer. Based on the little amount of info provided, I would say a single speed would be a good choice, but I would actually recommend a 3speed IGH, like a sturmey-archer. Very near the same simplicity of a single speed but allowing the bike to be a little more versatile if you decide to broaden your riding. Your mention of vintage and upright handlebars, would lead me to recommend an older (read vintage) Raleigh sports maybe a Raleigh superbe or similar model. You could, for ease of maintenance and probably reduced cost, go for a modern equivalent, with a ‘vintage’ look. The ‘roadster sport’ from Linus bikes, comes to mind. https://linusbike.com/products/roadster-sport

Last edited by seamuis; 09-09-18 at 04:23 PM.
seamuis is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:27 PM
  #14  
Flip Flop Rider
Senior Member
 
Flip Flop Rider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: South Carolina Upstate
Posts: 1,069

Bikes: 2010 Fuji Absolute 3.0 1994 Trek 850

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 390 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 17 Times in 12 Posts
4 to 5
Flip Flop Rider is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:48 PM
  #15  
Cl904
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 304
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 19 Times in 15 Posts
as many as are on the bike that you want to ride.
Cl904 is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 04:58 PM
  #16  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 22,454
Mentioned: 166 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8497 Post(s)
Liked 62 Times in 56 Posts
Keep in mind in the cycling world (as well as real life), there is the N+1 phenomena.

So, whatever you have N of, inevitably you will need N+1.

So, say you have 20 speeds (10 in rear x 2 in front), there is always that temptation to go to 22 speeds (11x2). Or, 12x2 (or 12x3???)

In your case, if everything is mostly flat, then you may not actually require much.

But, in general there are two main driving forces for more sprockets.
  • Tight gearing and small steps is nice. Keep it in the best gear of the moment.
  • Range of gearing. Best to keep power from fast shallow descents up to steep climbs.
In the past racers were forced to choose between either tight gearing or wide range gearing. They no longer are forced compromise as much between the two somewhat independent needs.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 05:12 PM
  #17  
FlMTNdude
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 390

Bikes: 1988 Panasonic

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 82 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 11 Posts
If just riding around the neighborhood a 2x7 or 2x8 hybrid would work fine, and can be found new for less than $500, such as a Trek FX. Of course, if the bug hits, then you will eventually want something else. Start basic, see what you like.
FlMTNdude is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 06:42 PM
  #18  
Ironfish653
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Virginia Beach
Posts: 932

Bikes: 1997 Cannondale, 1976 Bridgestone, 1998 Softride

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 304 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 15 Posts
If you like the 'Classic 3-Speed' like @thumpism ' s old Raleigh, there are lots of options. Just poking through Nashbar's 'City/Commuter' bikes shows us the Breezer Uptown/Downtown series, Fuji's Sagres, with 3- and 8-speed IGH, or 1x7 derailleur drivetrains. There's also Nashbar's own ($179) 3-Speed commuter.
Fenders, chainguards, and classic upright bars, with modern running gear, so none of the trials associated with owning and keeping up a truly vintage ride.
Ironfish653 is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 07:16 PM
  #19  
martianone
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern VT
Posts: 2,116

Bikes: recumbent & upright

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Consider a Townie D7 ?
comfortable to ride upright position,
gearing is a 1x7, works well on fllat terrain and some hills also.
my partner and I each have one as our beach bikes,
after our road bikes, they get the most distance.

martianone is offline  
Old 09-09-18, 07:48 PM
  #20  
sail
Senior Member
 
sail's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: iOWA
Posts: 379

Bikes: Yep

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 46 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I would probably still be riding my Raleigh 3 speed had it not been stolen. I see them on craigslist, most are women's which would be ok w/ me and most are the smaller of the two most common sizes which would be ok if your short. I agree most 3 speeds need lower gears which is a cheap easy fix.
I do appreciate my modern 3x9 hybrid that replaced it, thats not too many gears but three are enough.
sail is offline  
Old 09-10-18, 08:03 AM
  #21  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,167
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 899 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 46 Times in 36 Posts
Originally Posted by Deand View Post
I am just looking for a little exercise around the neighborhood. Mainly flat roads. I am looking at vintage style because of my back with the upright handle bars.

Thank you so much.

Dean
For relatively flat riding, a 7 or 8 speed bike will be fine.

A bike with a single ring in the front and a 7-8 speed cassette in the rear with a cog size range somethinng like 12-32 is all my wife and I need on our town cruisers.

Last edited by Kapusta; 09-10-18 at 01:19 PM.
Kapusta is offline  
Old 09-10-18, 08:43 AM
  #22  
jgwilliams
Senior Member
 
jgwilliams's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 378

Bikes: Planet X Carbon Pro Evo SRAM Force, custom built 653 and 531 bikes with frames by Barry Witcomb, Giant XTC 4 mountain bike and a Brompton folding bike.

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Doesn't this follow the n + 1 rule?
jgwilliams is offline  
Old 09-10-18, 09:03 AM
  #23  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6832 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 211 Times in 176 Posts
Originally Posted by Deand View Post
I am just looking for a little exercise around the neighborhood. Mainly flat roads. I am looking at vintage style because of my back with the upright handle bars.

Thank you so much.

Dean
3, Sturmey Archer AW3_ IGH, 1 is 0.75. & 3 is 1.33,
2nd is your gear ratio consisting of of cog t : chainring t.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 09-13-18, 11:32 AM
  #24  
Deand
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thank you all for the very detail messages.

How about size?

I am about 6’0 215 pounds.

Thank you.

Deand is offline  
Old 09-13-18, 01:00 PM
  #25  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 5,424

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
20-22", 56-58cm, Large...
curbtender is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.