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How many gears is too many?

Old 11-12-21, 10:04 PM
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armille1
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How many gears is too many?

What is the ideal number of gears in rear cassette? 12? 13? 20?

I think the bike industry keeps adding gears as a marketing tool, even if it is at the expense of engineering efficiency. Does anyone agree?

The more gears you add, you (i) lose chain thickness (so faster wear or lower tension limit), (ii) reduce the spoke angle (so less wheel strength) and (iii) maybe get thinner gears (so faster wear?). At what point is it too much?

How do you think this plays out over the coming years? Keep adding gears until there are too many snapped chains or taco'd wheels? I suspect that after 14-15 gears, chains will start to wear out too fast and customers will start complaining, and then they'll go back to 12 or 13 gears.

How do you think this plays out?

Thanks.
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Old 11-12-21, 10:45 PM
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Maybe they develop a continuous variable shift system that can give you any possible gear-inch between two extremes. Then you just need to spec the extremes.

scott s.
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Old 11-12-21, 10:53 PM
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I sometimes wonder if having more gears means that you just wind up shifting more often, which means more wear and tear on levers, derailleurs, chain, cables, etc.
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Old 11-12-21, 10:57 PM
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2x11 is the ideal number of gears for a drivetrain, so the correct answer is 11 cogs in back is ideal.
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Old 11-12-21, 10:59 PM
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Old 11-12-21, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by armille1 View Post
What is the ideal number of gears in rear cassette? 12? 13? 20?

I think the bike industry keeps adding gears as a marketing tool, even if it is at the expense of engineering efficiency. Does anyone agree?

The more gears you add, you (i) lose chain thickness (so faster wear or lower tension limit), (ii) reduce the spoke angle (so less wheel strength) and (iii) maybe get thinner gears (so faster wear?). At what point is it too much?

How do you think this plays out over the coming years? Keep adding gears until there are too many snapped chains or taco'd wheels? I suspect that after 14-15 gears, chains will start to wear out too fast and customers will start complaining, and then they'll go back to 12 or 13 gears.

How do you think this plays out?

Thanks.

Actually the 3x9 system was one of the best ever designed but became obsolete Manufacturers sold everyone on the latest fad the 2x10 system which was replaced by the 2x11 and now the 2x12, so we went from 27 gear combos to 20, to 22 and now 24 and lets not discuss the single gear chainrings. I miss the old 3x9 gear sets, they had excellent mid range choices, great granny gears and the rear cassettes didn't look like dinner plates. The manufacturers must be laughing every time they sell a groupset for more money with less components and costs.

Oh well..
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Old 11-12-21, 11:38 PM
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More than 8 or 9 seems like overkill to me, but stuff marches on regardless of what I think. I agree with N2deep that 3x9 was probably the apex of gear development.
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Old 11-12-21, 11:41 PM
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I'm quite happy with 12sp, the only thing I dislike is the production of 9 and 10t cogs requiring different cassette freehub bodies. Don't know where people live that they need such extreme gear ranges but if you really need more gearing than an 11-48 or 52 provides with a single chainring then get a second chainring. Otherwise its just a move to make a decent system obsolete for the sake of cramming that 9t on there. If you really need to redesign the freehub, make it better in every way so its worth switching, not just to keep up with the latest trend.
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Old 11-12-21, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
Maybe they develop a continuous variable shift system that can give you any possible gear-inch between two extremes. Then you just need to spec the extremes.
.
There actually is a shaft drive system that uses a single ring with infinite number of gearing possibilities between two extremes. No indexing just friction. Twist it one way for taller gearing and the other for lower gearing. There's a utube vid of it in action. Because of the few moving parts involved aside from the drive shaft it will probably be the next greatest thing once the bugs are worked out of it.
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Old 11-12-21, 11:58 PM
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3x s actually only have 15 different combos. The rest are an illusion.
All my bikes have 1 x 1 cog. LOL. IGH or nothing for me.
My Rohloff14 will put all else to shame on a heavyweight. Slower starts and hills, but otherwise it just floats along. It weighs 4 times what a CF does.
The SA RD3 is just as easy, with 48/ 63/ 84 GI.
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Old 11-13-21, 12:15 AM
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So how does this play out? Bike industry keeps adding gears until what happens?
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Old 11-13-21, 04:30 AM
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Well eventually they will start removing gears again and come up with a reason for that being better . In the mtn bike world there are already some options for just that. Box and Microshift already make 8-10 wide ranges groupsets and they all aren't cheap. You can spend some real money on Box's 1x9 group if you want.
https://boxcomponents.com/collections/prime-9-filter
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Old 11-13-21, 05:11 AM
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The less the better....I prefer just one.
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Old 11-13-21, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by armille1 View Post
So how does this play out?
How do YOU think that this plays out?
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Old 11-13-21, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by armille1 View Post
What is the ideal number of gears in rear cassette? 12? 13? 20?

I think the bike industry keeps adding gears as a marketing tool, even if it is at the expense of engineering efficiency. Does anyone agree?

The more gears you add, you (i) lose chain thickness (so faster wear or lower tension limit), (ii) reduce the spoke angle (so less wheel strength) and (iii) maybe get thinner gears (so faster wear?). At what point is it too much?

How do you think this plays out over the coming years? Keep adding gears until there are too many snapped chains or taco'd wheels? I suspect that after 14-15 gears, chains will start to wear out too fast and customers will start complaining, and then they'll go back to 12 or 13 gears.

How do you think this plays out?

Thanks.
Modern 11 and 12 speed chains have actually been found to wear less than the older 8, 9 and 10 speed chains. SRAM 12 speed chains have the longest wear life of any chains tested. So chain tech has more than kept pace with the increasing number of gears on the cassette. So your argument about snapping chains and excessive wear is a mute point. Similarly I don't think wheel strength will be an issue either.

So what are the limitations? Well I think it mainly comes down to the number of gears people are demanding rather than any real "technical" limitation. 14 or 15 unique gear ratios appears to be enough for the entire mainstream road, gravel, mtb market, which can be achieved today with a 2x11/12 or older 3x8/9 etc. The recent rise of 1x systems suggests that a significant part of the market (mtb, gravel in particular) are already happy enough with 11, 12 or 13 unique ratios. This is the tipping point.

So my prediction? In 10 years time 1x14 or even 1x15 right across the board. It's the logical end-game and resolves the long standing "wart" that is the front derailleur.
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Old 11-13-21, 07:23 AM
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The crankset effects my ideal number of gears, but I understand your point. Depends where I am at. In town I could get by with 1 but 3 would work and is really all I need, at the cabin in the foothills I might get by with 8 cogs but usually use at least 9 and visiting the kids on the coast 5 or 6 would do everything I need. So point taken, as a recreational rider I admit my three 2x11 really don't offer anything of real value.
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Old 11-13-21, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
Maybe they develop a continuous variable shift system that can give you any possible gear-inch between two extremes. Then you just need to spec the extreme.
All-Speed Gear, 1907. Current Enviolo (Nuvinci) CVT hubs, on the market since 2007.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:01 AM
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Are we doing this again?

Who out here is running, or has even seen a 3x11 or 3x12? Show of hands.


Bueller?...... Bueller?

1x11 or x12 with the giant 48t cassette cogs you guys are so scared of is the MTB configuration. On a bike with full suspension and 29x2.3" wheels (that's 700x60) it makes total sense, especially from an engineering and packaging standpoint. If you were following MTB tech in the 1990s, the array of suspension designs was staggering, as mfgrs tried to make a bike that worked going uphill as well as down, while carrying the 3x7/8 drivetrain of the era.

Top-flight road racing favors more gears, too, in the "Marginal Gains" era, where efficiency rules, and no watt is wasted.
But then pro road racing doesn't really apply to how most people (who aren't on BikeForums) actually use bicycles.

I do think you're going to see more 1x9/-10/-11 in the 'sport / fitness' market, since FD shifting is a dark art to the average consumer. 1x would provide adequate performance for the'typical' user. It also has the follow-on effect of making the bike simpler and cheaper to build (lower part count), although they probably won't cost any less to buy.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:03 AM
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Depends?
MTB, touring, gravel, cross, enduro, DH, mountains, flats, hilly, tri, TT, cruiser, trailered, cargo, electric, tandem, FG/SS, . . ?

OP what specifically are you referring to?
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Old 11-13-21, 08:10 AM
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For casual riding, the range is far more significant than the number of gears. We did fine with 5 back in the day. Beyond 7 or 8 I don't think there's much benefit if you aren't racing or at least chasing top speeds. I would expect that CVT will become more viable in the future.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:24 AM
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I do mostly solo rides in areas where I'm familiar with so my first choice would be one of my single speeds.
However, for these casual rides I think a 3spd would be ideal. eg. a granny gear for the hills/headwind, a gear for the flats (42x16) and one when I want to pick up the pace a bit and the legs are feeling strong. Wouldn't need one for downhill because I like to coast
I have an older 24spd road bike that I converted to a flat-bar 8spd. I take this bike when riding in unfamiliar terrain and barely use more than 4 gears.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:25 AM
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Now the mfg have dropped clear back to the 1x 11 or 12. Gotta keep stirring up the pot so people will buy the "latest" thing.

As someone else stated the 3x 8 or 9 is about ideal.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:38 AM
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Gosh, golly ... why, it's almost as if all this hadn't been discussed here recently ... page after page ad nauseam.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by armille1 View Post
What is the ideal number of gears in rear cassette? 12? 13? 20?

I think the bike industry keeps adding gears as a marketing tool, even if it is at the expense of engineering efficiency. Does anyone agree?
I'm sure that's at least part of it. The number of rear sprockets is an easily quantifiable metric to include in marketing literature.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR View Post
OP what specifically are you referring to?
The Right Way to ride bicycles, obviously..


Buncha damn dirty heathens in here. No standards these days
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