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How many speeds for a beginner a road bike?

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How many speeds for a beginner a road bike?

Old 06-09-21, 07:49 AM
  #26  
VegasTriker
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If your budget is five hundred bucks you will not have a choice for components on a new bike. That's entry level and the drive train components will be entry level like the Shimano Claris. This is the list for Shimano from least to most expensive Tourney Claris Sora Tiagra 105 Ultegra Ultegra Di2 Dura-Ace Dura-Ace Di2

If you can find an older road bike that fits and is reasonably priced that will get you much better components. I wouldn't buy anything below Shimano 105 because I've used that level in the past and it works well and lasts a long time if properly maintained.
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Old 06-09-21, 09:20 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
I've had 5,6,7,8,9,10 speeds.

I have to say I felt the best difference going from 8 to 9. I don't need any more than that. 8 is OK but 9 was nice. 10, not much difference and not worth the money to swap out my bikes. I'll ride 9 speeds the rest of my life and be happy!
Yup. 9 speeds are the best. Wide range 11-36 cassette is great for hilly road cycling. More than 9 speeds isn't bad, but it's harder to know what gear you're in. A personal preference, but 9 is ideal for a road bike, for me. Ive had 2x6, 2x9, 2x10, 3x7. 2x9 rules!
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Old 06-09-21, 09:36 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Chuckles1 View Post
Yup. 9 speeds are the best. More than 9 speeds isn't bad, but it's harder to know what gear you're in. A personal preference, but 9 is ideal for a road bike, for me. Ive had 2x6, 2x9, 2x10, 3x7. 2x9 rules!
That is true! I find myself looking down at my cassette to see what gear I am in, much more than I used to. But growing up with the traditional "10-speed" bike (2x5), the gears were so widely spaced each individual one kind of had its own tactile feel and sound. Being that there were so few of them.
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Old 06-09-21, 09:41 AM
  #29  
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If you compare the 'entry level' components to high-end components of the same brand, the main difference is usually that the higher end components, due to their tighter manufacturing tolerances and better materials, will last longer and stay in adjustment better and provide cleaner shifting over time and heavy use.

Generally the higher end parts that more avid/higher mileage cyclists prefer are the ones that are built for more speeds - I think the top end stuff is at 12 speed cassettes now - that lower end stuff. So if you want a good quality bike that runs smoothly for many seasons, you get a higher number of speeds.

If you want to save dough and get a cheaper or older bike, they come with less speeds - my most modern bike has a 10 speed cassette, but I have 9, 8, 7 and 6 speed bikes still hanging around.

There are likely still folks who prefer fewer speeds, and the price for low-end new stuff is pretty close to higher end used stuff from years ago, so many are happy riding older the top-of-the-range 8 and 9 speeds rather than entry level 8 or 9 speeds.
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Old 06-09-21, 09:54 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Chuckles1 View Post
Yup. 9 speeds are the best. Wide range 11-36 cassette is great for hilly road cycling. More than 9 speeds isn't bad, but it's harder to know what gear you're in. A personal preference, but 9 is ideal for a road bike, for me. Ive had 2x6, 2x9, 2x10, 3x7. 2x9 rules!
Man, I wish I was such a beast that just knowing what gear I’m in was more valuable than actually having more gears!
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Old 06-09-21, 12:30 PM
  #31  
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The OP is in San Francisco and has $500 to spend on a road bike. So, the options are used 10-year old 10-speed stuff or new 3x7 speed aluminum framed things* (ST-A073). I'd go for the used, higher tier stuff.

I could build a resto-mod steel road bike with 3 x 7 microshift for under $500 that would ride great.

*
Save Up to 60% Off LTD QTYS of these Wide Tire Touring/Commuter bikes Windsor Tourist FB or DropBar Advanced Aluminum Touring/Commuter Bikes with CrMo Forks, FULL SHIMANO 3X7Speed + Powerful Disc Brakes, PunctureGuard/ReflectiveSideWall Tires mountain bikes | Save up to 60% off list prices on new bicycles (bikesdirect.com)
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Old 06-10-21, 11:49 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
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'm quoting this because my comment is agreeing strongly with the sentiment that the number of speeds (in the cassette) is secondary in importance to the overall gear range.

If a would-be new rider is considering candidate bikes going back far enough in time, it's useful for them to be aware that not all n-speed drivetrains are comparable. A bike with a more recent, fairly-wide-range 9-speed cassette and a compact double crankset is going to be a very different animal than, say, an early 2000s Ultegra setup that has a cassette with a maximum of 27 (or 25, or 23, or 21) teeth and a 53/39 double crankset.

Last edited by John Valuk; 06-10-21 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 06-10-21, 12:29 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by John Valuk View Post
I'm quoting this because my comment is agreeing strongly with the sentiment that the number of speeds (in the cassette) is secondary in importance to the overall gear range.

If a would-be new rider is considering candidate bikes going back far enough in time, it's useful for them to be aware that not all n-speed drivetrains are comparable. A bike with a more recent, fairly-wide-range 9-speed cassette and a compact double crankset is going to be a very different animal than, say, an early 2000s Ultegra setup that has a cassette with a maximum of 27 (or 25, or 23, or 21) teeth and a 53/39 double crankset.

Like my bikes! I love the 53x11 riding on the flat, so I always tell people that I'm probably the worst person they could come to for advice on how gearing is going to feel for them.

San Francisco really needs a big granny gear if you have to ride those big urban hills. Nothing else quite like trying to accelerate from a stop mid-hill on a crazy grade in traffic. There's plenty of good flat rides there as well if you want to avoid the hills. I lived in the Haight, which is where the flatland starts.
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Old 06-13-21, 10:55 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
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.
I do live in San Francisco. Would a 7 speed Shimano RSX with triple crank (21 gears) be good for hills?
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Old 06-13-21, 11:16 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
I do live in San Francisco. Would a 7 speed Shimano RSX with triple crank (21 gears) be good for hills?

So I had to look this up--this bike is from before 1998, right? That's when Shimano stopped making the 7 speed RSX.

I think a triple gives you both range and a lot of gearing options. The big chain ring on that set up is 46 teeth, so you might be lacking in the high end.

That's a really old system, and looking at some comments, there may be some issues with the front derailleur, so definitely try riding a bike with that on it and shift it through its ranges before you decide to buy.

Can you tell us what bike you're looking at with 7 speed RSX? RSX was 8 speed for a couple years, then was replaced by Sora.
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Old 06-13-21, 11:20 AM
  #36  
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An old bike with just 5 cogs on the rear might be good enough for your hills near SF, CA. Shoot some probably ride them on a single speed.

It's all about how you want to ride, how long and how good your current riding strength and fitness are.

Don't confuse the term mountain bike as meaning it's great for paved roads going up hills. IMO, the term mountain bike was coined to compare to mountain goats that don't use roads all to get up mountains.

If you are going to ride paved roads, then many bikes fit the bill depending on you and your desires. Mountain bikes on paved roads do well and certainly have the gearing for hills, but road bikes will be better for long riding at decent speed. Cruisers will be better for leisurely short rides at a comfortable relaxing speed.

If you've no idea what gear ratios do for you then try some out. Small front, big rear cogs give you the lowest ratio for easy hill climbing. Big front, small rear cogs let you go faster without spinning the crank at the speeds of turbine engines. You just need to figure out what you need for your current leg muscle.

However a road bike with a 50/34 front and a 11-30 or 11-32 rear will be more than enough for most, though it might be too much range. Especially if you ride a lot and get better physically for cycling.
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Old 06-13-21, 11:31 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
So I had to look this up--this bike is from before 1998, right? That's when Shimano stopped making the 7 speed RSX.

I think a triple gives you both range and a lot of gearing options. The big chain ring on that set up is 46 teeth, so you might be lacking in the high end.

That's a really old system, and looking at some comments, there may be some issues with the front derailleur, so definitely try riding a bike with that on it and shift it through its ranges before you decide to buy.

Can you tell us what bike you're looking at with 7 speed RSX? RSX was 8 speed for a couple years, then was replaced by Sora.
Not the OP, but I scored a used bike with 7sp RSX for $60 once. A 1999 Diamondback Interval. The one I got needed some shifter flushing and freehub flushing and repacking all bearings, all shifter cable housing needed replacement, still a good deal.
https://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/...spx?item=85509
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Old 06-13-21, 11:33 AM
  #38  
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My favorite is 9-speed 105, preferably with a triple if in a hilly area.

Cheap chains, can use road or MTB 9sp rear derailleurs, one more than 8-speed.
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Old 06-14-21, 11:15 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
So I had to look this up--this bike is from before 1998, right? That's when Shimano stopped making the 7 speed RSX.

I think a triple gives you both range and a lot of gearing options. The big chain ring on that set up is 46 teeth, so you might be lacking in the high end.

That's a really old system, and looking at some comments, there may be some issues with the front derailleur, so definitely try riding a bike with that on it and shift it through its ranges before you decide to buy.

Can you tell us what bike you're looking at with 7 speed RSX? RSX was 8 speed for a couple years, then was replaced by Sora.
I'm looking at a 1998 Lemond Tourmalet. I got really confused with the RSX. I just learned about the Shimano component rankings (I'm think I should aim for Tiagra or 105) but there's a whole different older tier.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:17 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
The gear 90% of people ride in.
The small/small combo. "I pushed both gear shift levers till I ran out of gears".
That isnt small small, but point taken.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:17 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
An old bike with just 5 cogs on the rear might be good enough for your hills near SF, CA. Shoot some probably ride them on a single speed.

It's all about how you want to ride, how long and how good your current riding strength and fitness are.

Don't confuse the term mountain bike as meaning it's great for paved roads going up hills. IMO, the term mountain bike was coined to compare to mountain goats that don't use roads all to get up mountains.

If you are going to ride paved roads, then many bikes fit the bill depending on you and your desires. Mountain bikes on paved roads do well and certainly have the gearing for hills, but road bikes will be better for long riding at decent speed. Cruisers will be better for leisurely short rides at a comfortable relaxing speed.

If you've no idea what gear ratios do for you then try some out. Small front, big rear cogs give you the lowest ratio for easy hill climbing. Big front, small rear cogs let you go faster without spinning the crank at the speeds of turbine engines. You just need to figure out what you need for your current leg muscle.

However a road bike with a 50/34 front and a 11-30 or 11-32 rear will be more than enough for most, though it might be too much range. Especially if you ride a lot and get better physically for cycling.
Sometimes on long rides on my mountain bike, my shoulder blades feel ache-y, is that something road bikes help with? (Or do I need a bike fitting)

Does 50/34 front and 11-30/11-32 refer to the teeths on the cogs?
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Old 06-14-21, 12:47 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
The gear 90% of people ride in.

The small/small combo. "I pushed both gear shift levers till I ran out of gears".

I'm pretty sure I know exactly 0 riders who prefer that combo.
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Old 06-14-21, 12:50 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
I'm looking at a 1998 Lemond Tourmalet. I got really confused with the RSX. I just learned about the Shimano component rankings (I'm think I should aim for Tiagra or 105) but there's a whole different older tier.

Have you tried riding it yet? I've never ridden an RSX.
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Old 06-14-21, 02:49 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
Sometimes on long rides on my mountain bike, my shoulder blades feel ache-y, is that something road bikes help with? (Or do I need a bike fitting)
Mtn bikes seem to have a wider spacing on the hands. I think. Mtn bikes aren't my thing and never have been. But if that is true, then the wider hand positions might brace you and make you rigid in the arms and shoulder with your shoulders taking the brunt of the force. So yeah, on long ride you might have sore shoulders. I prefer narrower bars than what road bikes come with as standard. There is no guarantee that a road bike will solve that issue for you at the get go. But there is a good chance. (don't get a hybrid flat bar road bike, that's a conflict of purpose).

Does 50/34 front and 11-30/11-32 refer to the teeths on the cogs?
Yes 50/34 is the front chain rings for a 2x bike. it's what seems to be normal for endurance road bikes that are made for a less aggressive position. The endurance road bike that are more set up to give you an aggressive position or "race fit" many times have a 52/36 or 53/39 crank set.

11-30 and 11-32 are the range of teeth counts on the rear. There can be any number of cogs between. More cogs give you more choice of muscle output to match the speed you want to go. If you need really low lows and really high highs then maybe consider a 3x bike with 9 speeds on the rear. Otherwise, as I said earlier, a 50/34 with a 11-30 or 11-32 rear in a 10 speed rear or 11 speed rear will probably be good 'nuff.

But I have no idea what your abilities are. So try before you buy is best. And try to ride the same hills you plan to ride with that prospective purchase if you can. a 3% slope might be easy peasy. A long 5% slope might wear you out if you can't get low enough gears for you. A 10% slope will make many of us grunt a little. I had to walk my first encounter with a 10 percent slope. But the lowest I had then was a 39F/28R combo.

If you ride a lot on that bike or any bike, you will get better and the gears you need will change the better you get.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-14-21 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 06-14-21, 05:20 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Have you tried riding it yet? I've never ridden an RSX.
No, not yet. The bike is 100 miles away.
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Old 06-14-21, 05:25 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Mtn bikes seem to have a wider spacing on the hands. I think. Mtn bikes aren't my thing and never have been. But if that is true, then the wider hand positions might brace you and make you rigid in the arms and shoulder with your shoulders taking the brunt of the force. So yeah, on long ride you might have sore shoulders. I prefer narrower bars than what road bikes come with as standard. There is no guarantee that a road bike will solve that issue for you at the get go. But there is a good chance. (don't get a hybrid flat bar road bike, that's a conflict of purpose).


Yes 50/34 is the front chain rings for a 2x bike. it's what seems to be normal for endurance road bikes that are made for a less aggressive position. The endurance road bike that are more set up to give you an aggressive position or "race fit" many times have a 52/36 or 53/39 crank set.

11-30 and 11-32 are the range of teeth counts on the rear. There can be any number of cogs between. More cogs give you more choice of muscle output to match the speed you want to go. If you need really low lows and really high highs then maybe consider a 3x bike with 9 speeds on the rear. Otherwise, as I said earlier, a 50/34 with a 11-30 or 11-32 rear in a 10 speed rear or 11 speed rear will probably be good 'nuff.

But I have no idea what your abilities are. So try before you buy is best. And try to ride the same hills you plan to ride with that prospective purchase if you can. a 3% slope might be easy peasy. A long 5% slope might wear you out if you can't get low enough gears for you. A 10% slope will make many of us grunt a little. I had to walk my first encounter with a 10 percent slope. But the lowest I had then was a 39F/28R combo.

If you ride a lot on that bike or any bike, you will get better and the gears you need will change the better you get.
Thanks for taking the time to explain so much and for the tips!
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Old 06-14-21, 07:14 PM
  #47  
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I had some old RSX brifters on my '86 Trek road frame. For a 20+ year old part, it did a fine job. For newer groupsets, I prefer Tiagra to build up commuter, everyday-type bikes. I find they are the best balance between quality and cost. For your price range, you'll be able to get a nicer groupset if you buy an older bike. Even though you have 16-27 gears, you'll really only be using 5-6 of those most of the time unless you're using the same bike for all sorts of terrain. IMO, for city riding, you don't need 27 gears to get around. For perspective, I ride a single speed in a relatively flat city with occasional 3-8% grades.
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Old 06-14-21, 07:46 PM
  #48  
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The cognoscenti know that the most beginner bikes have the most speeds. A 27 speed is a lot to take care of, but it prepares you for bike ownership responsibilities. Later, when you get stronger, you can have a 24 speed. Then, as you get even stronger, you can go down to 11, and then seven, three, or even one.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
The gear 90% of people ride in.

The small/small combo. "I pushed both gear shift levers till I ran out of gears".
Cross chaining aside, this is pretty similar to BMX gearing and works pretty well for people who aren’t riding like they mean it
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Old 06-15-21, 02:50 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
I've had 5,6,7,8,9,10 speeds.

I have to say I felt the best difference going from 8 to 9. I don't need any more than that. 8 is OK but 9 was nice. 10, not much difference and not worth the money to swap out my bikes. I'll ride 9 speeds the rest of my life and be happy!
I've had 5-11. I think 9 is the sweet spot. 10-11 is more finicky to tune and keep in tune. On group rides today I see many more people in front of me with an out of tune bike than in days past. And I notice virtually no difference with an extra cog or two. My mind knows it's there but my body doesn't.

If I were going to build up a new budget bike I'd get a Sora group.
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