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-   -   How many speeds for a beginner a road bike? (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=1232266)

kevsf 06-08-21 01:38 PM

How many speeds for a beginner a road bike?
 
I've been looking around at getting my first road bike. It seems like 8 speed bikes are cheaper, older, and less desired. Why is that? And how many speeds should I be getting?

Iride01 06-08-21 01:49 PM

You should get as many as you can comfortably afford. Unless your desire is track riding in a velodrome. In that case you just need a fixie.

The important part is not so much the number of gears, but the range from low ratio to the highest ratio. You need to make sure that the low gears will get you up the hills you might normally encounter where you ride. And that the high ratio will let you go as fast as you want... typically down the other side of the hill.

For normal speeds on level road, I like to be in my big ring on the front and somewhere 3/4's of the way down on the higher ratio cogs (the smaller cogs) on the rear.

As for why more gears cost more, well new tech cost more. 5 speed rears are older than old. Their design and technology was proved out well before the turn of the century. 8 and 9 speed rears are old tech too Trying to cram 12 gears on the rear is the new bleeding edge tech that demands more money. It takes some designing, engineering, new materials and manufacturing processes to fit all those gears on the rear and not have to change up everything else about the rear of the bike.

10 Wheels 06-08-21 01:53 PM

My 8 Speed was my best bike to Ride. 2003 year. Bought Used 2011
https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...ceb1dcb9ca.jpg
https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...fd3b5957f9.jpg

chaadster 06-08-21 01:57 PM

Iride01 summed it up pretty nicely, but I’ll add, addressing the question in the OP, that 8spd is less desired because it is older tech and because it delivers fewer gearing options than 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13spd cassette systems.

As noted upthread, buy as many gears as you can afford, because it’s good to have options...especially when you don’t know exactly what you need or want.

Rolla 06-08-21 01:57 PM

When eight-speeds came out I thought it was great, and then nine was even better. Now I've got 11 on a few bikes, but I can't say that my performance or enjoyment has really changed that much. I agree with @Iride01 that the range is more important than the number of cogs. I'd have no qualms about riding an 11-32 eight-speed again, although there are some fairly large jumps between some of the gears (four teeth in some cases).

Bottom line: cassettes can be swapped out -- buy the bike that best fits your dimensions and your purpose. You can fine tune other aspects down the road.

BikingViking793 06-08-21 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by kevsf (Post 22093506)
I've been looking around at getting my first road bike. It seems like 8 speed bikes are cheaper, older, and less desired. Why is that? And how many speeds should I be getting?

8 speed is either entry level Claris or an older bike. It works fine.

pdlamb 06-08-21 02:15 PM

I'd say there are two reasons 8 speed bikes are cheaper:

1. In general, especially if you're buying a used bike, they're older. Old things are cheaper (anyone want to buy a 1998 Honda Accord?).

2. On a new bike, the design and production for the shifters, derailers, and cassettes are fully amortized by the manufacturers. Buying an 8 speed is like buying generic drugs -- cheaper but still as good as they were when they cost ten times that much.

I also agree with Iride01 's advice to buy the range you want, but with a wrinkle. If you're riding in hills or mountains, and you're not in great shape or getting older, 8 or 9 speeds may be advantageous because you can easily get a triple with a low low gear. That's difficult with today's trend toward double or even single chainrings when gearing is biased toward "sprint downhill" gearing. As the saying goes, you need in gears what you don't have in your legs.

livedarklions 06-08-21 02:24 PM


Originally Posted by BikingViking793 (Post 22093548)
8 speed is either entry level Claris or an older bike. It works fine.


I have 2 8 speed bikes with Shimano 600 Tricolor, predecessor to Ultegra. They're both over 25 years old, and shift like a dream. I've ridden new bikes with Claris, I hate it. Too damn clunky.

Bob the Mech 06-08-21 02:36 PM

8 speed bikes are also newer (they still make them: Shimano Claris R2000 groupset), affordable and desirable for those facts. What's your budget...what are you willing to spend, this dictates your components, frame and fork materials, finishing kit, wheel quality and upgrade potential. Are you looking at buying new or pre-owned. Consider the cost of extras like cycling clothing, pedals, helmet and a plethora of other items you may or may not need to make you riding experience better/safer :) Get the best you can afford...that has the right range of gears for you intended use (that's the ratio sizing not the level of groupset). And if you can't afford it...stop...save some more then...go out and buy it :)

chaadster 06-08-21 02:53 PM

I have Claris GS 8spd on my Tern Rally, controlled by Microshift thumb shifters, and I think it shifts pretty nicely! No, it doesn’t snap as quickly through the gears as a short cage derailleur like 600 Tricolore, but it has way more gear range capacity. So OP, in all this discussion about gear range and 8spd, be aware of the diverse max capacities of short cage (in Shimano parlance, SS) and long cage (GS) derailleurs. Sometimes it’s not enough to just swap out cassettes to get the range you want, and doing so can lead to shifting problems.


https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...03b953f1e.jpeg

livedarklions 06-08-21 02:54 PM


Originally Posted by kevsf (Post 22093506)
I've been looking around at getting my first road bike. It seems like 8 speed bikes are cheaper, older, and less desired. Why is that? And how many speeds should I be getting?


Just guessing from your name--do you live in San Francisco? If so, you need a big gear range, number of speeds is far secondary to that. I used to ride there in my youth, great flat and hill riding.

livedarklions 06-08-21 02:56 PM


Originally Posted by chaadster (Post 22093625)
I have Claris GS 8spd on my Tern Rally, controlled by Microshift thumb shifters, and I think it shifts pretty nicely! No, it doesn’t snap as quickly through the gears as a short cage derailleur like 600 Tricolore, but it has way more gear range capacity. So OP, in all this discussion about gear range and 8spd, be aware of the diverse max capacities of short cage (in Shimano parlance, SS) and long cage (GS) derailleurs. Sometimes it’s not enough to just swap out cassettes to get the range you want, and doing so can lead to shifting problems.


https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...03b953f1e.jpeg


Really good advice and a really pretty bike!

I'm a high gear freak, so the range is less important to me than the smooth shifting. Now I understand why I hated the Claris.

Thanks!

chaadster 06-08-21 03:08 PM


Originally Posted by livedarklions (Post 22093626)
Just guessing from your name--do you live in San Francisco? If so, you need a big gear range, number of speeds is far secondary to that. I used to ride there in my youth, great flat and hill riding.

Whether number of gears is far secondary to range depends on how a person wants to ride. Gears are about optimizing output, so in a real, practical way, more is better if optimization of effort and speed is the goal. The ideal would be to have infinitely variable gearing within the prescribed range, but that’s a practical impossibility at this time.

If one is willing to trade off optimization for lower cost, or just doesn’t care about optimizing their output, then yeah, maybe even a three speed would work.

Herzlos 06-08-21 03:10 PM

Lower speed counts means wider gaps and wider tolerances, so cheaper to make and easier to tweak.

More gears really just means smaller steps between each, so it's more likely to find the one that suits you at the time and it's smoother moving up and down.
For beginners, less speeds is fine. If you're somewhere hilly you want something with a wider range (like 11-34 teeth) and if you're somewhere flat you want something with a narrower range (like 11-28 teeth) to give you smaller gaps between gears.

I wouldn't worry about it too much - just buy something you feel comfortable sitting on and can afford, then you can upgrade later if you feel it's lacking.

CrowSeph 06-08-21 04:33 PM

From 13 years ago i'm still using the 10s campy groupset. maybe the newst groupset 11s or 12s can be great but honestly i really feel great all around with my basic 10s.
For now i can feel what you are saying about the 8 speed , nowdays even 10s seems to be underrated.

70sSanO 06-08-21 05:00 PM

I think everyone has painted the picture of optimizing performance and range of gearing. Since this is your first “road” bike, part of your decision should be based on what your ride now, if you have a bike, what shape your are in, and how performance oriented you tend to be.

To cut to the chase, if this is going to be a try-it-out-and-see endeavor then just find a good used bike that fits you and the terrain. If you think this is the start of an going activity, you should talk to local shops and get something you can use for the next few years. You will have to invest more now, but you will probably not need to upgrade 6 months from now.

John

hubcyclist 06-08-21 05:49 PM

I have a relatively recent model Specialized Allez (2018) with an 8 speed Claris groupset, it's perfectly fine (for reference I have an 11 speed CX bike). Depending on the type of riding I'm doing (generally a workout) sometimes the jump from like 17t to 15t is a little more than I'd really want but for the vast majority of my riding it's great. People like to tell themselves their experience will be subpar if they get anything below shimano 105 level or whatever and that just isn't true.

vane171 06-08-21 05:57 PM

If you take sporting rides and are reasonably fit, 10 speed would seem to be the optimal number. Anybody for whom 11 and more speed would be useful wouldn't ask the way the OP does.

I think 10 speed is perhaps still a standard today? 11 and up is for more serious people who are able to ride reasonably fast, ride up serious hills, that sort of thing.

Anyway, there is not enough data supplied about the OP bike riding history, how he intends to use the bike, what sort of bike he is looking for etc. The more data supplied, the more useful the answers can be.

caloso 06-08-21 05:59 PM

There are lots of riders who aren't particularly fast on 11-speed groups.

vane171 06-08-21 06:01 PM

yeh, but there are many riders who ride wrong bike for their riding ability, style, purpose...

kevsf 06-08-21 08:06 PM

Thanks everyone for the answers! I'm budgeting $500 and will narrow my search to a minimum of 9 speed. I'll also read up on gears and which groupset to get.

Troul 06-08-21 08:11 PM

cant have too many gear! triple with dual shift 11 speed rear cassette.

chaadster 06-08-21 08:59 PM


Originally Posted by Troul (Post 22094036)
cant have too many gear! triple with dual shift 11 speed rear cassette.

we’re moving closer to infinity, one tooth at a time…

hubcyclist 06-09-21 06:18 AM


Originally Posted by vane171 (Post 22093881)
If you take sporting rides and are reasonably fit, 10 speed would seem to be the optimal number.

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...e6d30d48b3.png
I take 'sporting rides' and am 'reasonably fit' 8 speed is perfectly fine. Any bike between 8 and 11 speed can hit the same speeds, it all depends on the power in an individuals' legs


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