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

How many speeds for a beginner a road bike?

Notices
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 speeds for a beginner a road bike?

Old 06-08-21, 01:38 PM
  #1  
kevsf
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 36
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
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?
kevsf is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 01:49 PM
  #2  
Iride01
Hits [ENTER] b4 thinking
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 8,312

Bikes: '20 Tarmac Disc Comp '91, '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3277 Post(s)
Liked 1,869 Times in 1,327 Posts
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.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-08-21 at 01:55 PM.
Iride01 is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 01:53 PM
  #3  
10 Wheels
Galveston County Texas
 
10 Wheels's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: In The Wind
Posts: 32,080

Bikes: 02 GTO, 2011 Magnum

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1049 Post(s)
Liked 588 Times in 297 Posts
My 8 Speed was my best bike to Ride. 2003 year. Bought Used 2011

__________________
Fred "The Real Fred"


Last edited by 10 Wheels; 06-08-21 at 04:03 PM.
10 Wheels is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 01:57 PM
  #4  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 10,723

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T Lab X3

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1701 Post(s)
Liked 734 Times in 456 Posts
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.
chaadster is offline  
Likes For chaadster:
Old 06-08-21, 01:57 PM
  #5  
Rolla
Gyro Captain
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 1,045
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 453 Post(s)
Liked 1,088 Times in 480 Posts
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.

Last edited by Rolla; 06-08-21 at 02:02 PM.
Rolla is offline  
Likes For Rolla:
Old 06-08-21, 02:09 PM
  #6  
BikingViking793 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 387

Bikes: 2015 Felt Z75 Disc, 2008 Fuji Cross Comp, 2010 Trek Navigator 1.0, 2010 Raleigh Talus 3.0, 1974 Raleigh Sports, 1974 Schwinn Le Tour, 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 146 Post(s)
Liked 54 Times in 44 Posts
Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
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.
__________________
check out the Frugal Average Bicyclist
Frugal Average Bicyclist – The goal here is to help you keep cycling on a budget.
BikingViking793 is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 02:15 PM
  #7  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 6,935

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1616 Post(s)
Liked 844 Times in 523 Posts
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.
pdlamb is offline  
Likes For pdlamb:
Old 06-08-21, 02:24 PM
  #8  
livedarklions
Racerboyz' b'crat
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 9,837

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Giant OCR A1; SOMA Double Cross Disc

Mentioned: 53 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5086 Post(s)
Liked 4,388 Times in 2,471 Posts
Originally Posted by BikingViking793 View Post
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.
livedarklions is offline  
Likes For livedarklions:
Old 06-08-21, 02:36 PM
  #9  
Bob the Mech
Senior Member
 
Bob the Mech's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: South Wales
Posts: 206

Bikes: 2016 Trek Emonda S6 frameset, custom build (road). 1995 Dawes Genesis Reynolds 531 Competition frameset, custom build (road). 1996 Orange C16R frameset, custom build (retro MTB). Coyote Dual hard-tail, custom build (MTB).

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 61 Post(s)
Liked 76 Times in 55 Posts
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
Bob the Mech is offline  
Likes For Bob the Mech:
Old 06-08-21, 02:53 PM
  #10  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 10,723

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T Lab X3

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1701 Post(s)
Liked 734 Times in 456 Posts
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.


chaadster is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 02:54 PM
  #11  
livedarklions
Racerboyz' b'crat
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 9,837

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Giant OCR A1; SOMA Double Cross Disc

Mentioned: 53 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5086 Post(s)
Liked 4,388 Times in 2,471 Posts
Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
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 is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 02:56 PM
  #12  
livedarklions
Racerboyz' b'crat
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 9,837

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Giant OCR A1; SOMA Double Cross Disc

Mentioned: 53 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5086 Post(s)
Liked 4,388 Times in 2,471 Posts
Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
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.



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!
livedarklions is offline  
Likes For livedarklions:
Old 06-08-21, 03:08 PM
  #13  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 10,723

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T Lab X3

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1701 Post(s)
Liked 734 Times in 456 Posts
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.
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.

Last edited by chaadster; 06-08-21 at 03:11 PM.
chaadster is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 03:10 PM
  #14  
Herzlos
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 123

Bikes: Voodoo Limba, Planet X Fat Baz

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 232 Post(s)
Liked 166 Times in 94 Posts
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.
Herzlos is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 04:33 PM
  #15  
CrowSeph
On the crow's wings
 
CrowSeph's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: South Italy
Posts: 594

Bikes: (Whistle Roadbike) (Cannondale Trail) (Robur Roadbike1956)(Chiorda Condorino)(Erre from circa 1930) (Tomasini Roadbike 1970)(A folding commuter)

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 136 Post(s)
Liked 60 Times in 37 Posts
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.
CrowSeph is offline  
Likes For CrowSeph:
Old 06-08-21, 05:00 PM
  #16  
70sSanO
Senior Member
 
70sSanO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Mission Viejo
Posts: 3,846

Bikes: 1986 Cannondale SR400 (Flat bar commuter), 1988 Cannondale Criterium XTR, 1992 Serotta T-Max, 1995 Trek 970

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1145 Post(s)
Liked 991 Times in 645 Posts
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
70sSanO is offline  
Likes For 70sSanO:
Old 06-08-21, 05:49 PM
  #17  
hubcyclist
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Boston
Posts: 2,058

Bikes: 2017 Raleigh RX 1.0, 2018 Specialized Allez

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 416 Post(s)
Liked 488 Times in 256 Posts
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.
hubcyclist is offline  
Likes For hubcyclist:
Old 06-08-21, 05:57 PM
  #18  
vane171
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 247 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 47 Posts
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.
vane171 is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 05:59 PM
  #19  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,328

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2723 Post(s)
Liked 2,442 Times in 1,130 Posts
There are lots of riders who aren't particularly fast on 11-speed groups.
caloso is offline  
Likes For caloso:
Old 06-08-21, 06:01 PM
  #20  
vane171
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 247 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 47 Posts
yeh, but there are many riders who ride wrong bike for their riding ability, style, purpose...
vane171 is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 08:06 PM
  #21  
kevsf
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 36
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
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.

Last edited by kevsf; 06-08-21 at 08:21 PM.
kevsf is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 08:11 PM
  #22  
Troul 
:D
 
Troul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Mich
Posts: 4,351
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 1,105 Times in 793 Posts
cant have too many gear! triple with dual shift 11 speed rear cassette.
__________________
-Oh Hey!
Troul is offline  
Old 06-08-21, 08:59 PM
  #23  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 10,723

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T Lab X3

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1701 Post(s)
Liked 734 Times in 456 Posts
Originally Posted by Troul View Post
cant have too many gear! triple with dual shift 11 speed rear cassette.
we’re moving closer to infinity, one tooth at a time…
chaadster is offline  
Likes For chaadster:
Old 06-09-21, 06:18 AM
  #24  
hubcyclist
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Boston
Posts: 2,058

Bikes: 2017 Raleigh RX 1.0, 2018 Specialized Allez

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 416 Post(s)
Liked 488 Times in 256 Posts
Originally Posted by vane171 View Post
If you take sporting rides and are reasonably fit, 10 speed would seem to be the optimal number.

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
hubcyclist is offline  
Old 06-09-21, 07:38 AM
  #25  
big chainring 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Wilmette, IL
Posts: 7,032
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 659 Post(s)
Liked 402 Times in 210 Posts
The gear 90% of people ride in.

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

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.