How many speeds are enough?

Messages
2,342
Location
Ontario Canada
The rage seems to be 9, 10, 11 speed bikes. Most the true roadies I see look like they could devour a hill with a Fixie! This is masterful marketing, is it not? Getting next to impossible to get quality alloy 6&7 speed chainrings derailleurs etc. to keep my old faithful fleet in top condition.
 
Messages
202
Location
California
Yeah, we had to ride our bikes in 3-foot snow to school with only a half a gear. .... Wait.... Hey, get off my lawn! .... OK I'm back. Seems the low to top ratio spread is the most important thing, not the number of gears.
 
Messages
2,284
Location
Cincinnati
Originally Posted By: cjcride
The rage seems to be 9, 10, 11 speed bikes. Most the true roadies I see look like they could devour a hill with a Fixie! This is masterful marketing, is it not? Getting next to impossible to get quality alloy 6&7 speed chainrings derailleurs etc. to keep my old faithful fleet in top condition.
"9, 10, 11 speed......"??????? I could swear my Specialized has 21 speeds. Then again.................................
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
46,119
Location
New Jersey
I think he means on the back cassette. I suppose it is a personal question... what is the dynamic range for your level of fitness, power and use? Its no different then engineering a drivetrain for a car or truck - what is the engine's power band, what is the application, what is the bias in terms of performance and economy. Just like you can get a 3.23 or a 4.10 rear end on a truck, its kind of the same. But I suspect that the real question is, what are the best highest and lowest ratios for the rear cassette for a bike to do _______? I think that fewer intermediate gears are better, less need for close tolerances and less to go wrong. My shifters double shift if operated a certain way, and I most often use the double shift when I can to skip because otherwise there are too many cogs to go through that I dont need.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Messages
21,909
Location
Iowegia - USA
I think that if you are mountain biking, 21 speeds might be necessary. When I was looking for my bike, I tried everything from 3-speed to 21 speed bikes.
Quote:
I suppose it is a personal question... what is the dynamic range for your level of fitness, power and use?
Which is the reason I settled on a 7-speed bike. My biking is rolling hills (about 30%) and flat terrain the other 70%. Biking IMV is a great exercise if you can no longer run.
 
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1,502
Location
Ohio
I thought 21 speeds have been around for a while. My hybrid bike is a 2006 model and has that many. There is a bit in the owner's manual that says 7th gear and 15th gear are not recommended because it's too much of a bend for the chain, so it's really more like 19 speeds.
 
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2,919
Location
Southeast
I always thought 12 speeds were ideal on a road bike. With the six cog stack on the wheel, the derailleur has an easier time indexing the desired gear. If you're off road, it's a totally different situation.
 
Messages
5,929
Location
DFW
Calculate the "gear inches." Most bikes have far fewer gear ratios than the number of speeds indicate. Eventually, you learn which "gears" work for you. Having more just means you have a better chance of finding the handful that work for you. When I was really into cycling I had a "12 speed" road bike (Miyata 310). I used about five of the combinations regularly. No matter how well adjusted the gears are the chain will rub in certain combinations. I never used those.
 
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1,084
Location
Ontario , Canada
I think 7-9 speeds should be lots . I never could understand the need for 21 in fact I think there were some with more gears than that . Must be a thing to brag about ?? Less is better IMO .
 
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2,547
Location
IL
Originally Posted By: Tegger
If some is good, more is better. And too-much is just enough.
..and the LOWER the gearing the better!
 
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Messages
9,783
Location
Saskatoon canada
I lived in Canmore Alberta for a few years many moons ago. I lived on 3 sisters mountain and used my bike to get around since finding parking is usually a nightmare. I have a specialized rock hopper with a 9 speed rear,27 total gears and I basically rode everywhere on the small front sprocket unless I was climbing the hill home. That many gears will have some overlap.
 
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35,679
Location
NY
I just threw a bike together from parts from two bikes and ended up with 12 speeds. Perfect for my needs.
 
Messages
5,929
Location
DFW
Again, number of chain ring and freewheel gear combinations is not the same thing as distinctly different gear ratios.
 
Messages
9,735
Location
Ontario, Canada
The trend was(is?) to move to 2 front rings and then more rear sprockets. As realistically, not many people would bother doing a bunch of front and rear gear changes, to go up the ratios in order. I tend to ride that way too, on my mountain bikes, on a normal trail I just use the middle front ring until I need the lowest gears to climb a hill. Use the first 3-4 gears on the small front chain ring and then double shift up the middle chain ring while shifting down one on the rear.
 
Messages
6,029
Location
Florida
Looks like a bunch of marketing to me. The 10-11 speed cassettes with very large 40+ tooth sprocket look good when paired with a single chainring. I'm itching to convert my 3x8 mountain bike to this configuration. Using an 11 speed with multiple chainrings looks a little redundant. Certainly is with 3 rings.
 
Messages
3,361
Location
Kansas, USA
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
I just threw a bike together from parts from two bikes and ended up with 12 speeds. Perfect for my needs.
Same here.. the old 12 speed Huffy is a fine commuter. Thought about a small gear to go a bit faster not wise on my commute though!
 
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