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#3442477 - 08/01/14 05:46 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 28456
Loc: NY
I just threw a bike together from parts from two bikes and ended up with 12 speeds. Perfect for my needs.
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#3442608 - 08/01/14 09:03 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
DBMaster Online   content


Registered: 09/18/12
Posts: 5104
Loc: DFW
Again, number of chain ring and freewheel gear combinations is not the same thing as distinctly different gear ratios.

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#3442641 - 08/01/14 09:39 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
IndyIan Offline


Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 8438
Loc: 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.
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#3442678 - 08/01/14 10:22 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
hatt Offline


Registered: 01/03/12
Posts: 3885
Loc: 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.
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#3442902 - 08/01/14 01:48 PM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: demarpaint]
Eric Smith Offline


Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 2965
Loc: 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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#3449370 - 08/08/14 12:17 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
JOD Offline


Registered: 09/10/09
Posts: 3209
Loc: PNW/WA
Originally Posted By: cjcride
The rage seems to be 9, 10, 11 speed bikes.


Keep in mind that most of those "9-11 speed" bikes are actually 18, 22 or 27 speeds, depending on the number of spockets on the front. Keep in mind also that there's a lot of overlap among all of those gears.

What *does* matter is the high and low gearing. Low/easy gears are key if you live in hilly terrain, and previously really low gears were only available with lot o' gears.

That's completely changed. My new mountain bike has 11 speeds, total--but it has a wider gear range than my old "27 speed" from a few years ago. It's a total game changer, and one of the first unique products from the bike industry in quite a while. No front derailleur, no chain slap off-road, and a chain that will pretty much never come off. All with the simplicity of one shifter. Right now it's exorbitantly expensive, but the tech will trickle down. My guess: most recreational mountain and hybrid bikes--and even some road bikes--will be 11 speeds total in the next 3-5 years.

Eleven is kinda the magic number where you can have a big enough "big" gear, low enough "low" gear, and reasonable jumps between them-even in really hilly terrain.

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#3449689 - 08/08/14 10:49 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: JOD]
cjcride Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 1622
Loc: Ontario Canada
Thank you for clearing that up. I'll start watching their price.


Edited by cjcride (08/08/14 10:50 AM)

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#3450507 - 08/09/14 11:38 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
javacontour Offline


Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 9949
Loc: Illinois
As others have said, it's not the number of gears but the gear ratios. I was looking for one more gear this AM on my ride smile

But I held off my companions as we sprinted to the turn, so I guess I had enough gears.
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#3455204 - 08/14/14 11:36 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
Saab9000 Offline


Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 67
Loc: Florida
3 speeds is all you need, for a city cruiser in relatively flat terrain. I have a Raleigh 3 spd from the 70s that is a great around town bike. Fenders and a chain guard so you can ride it in any weather without any special clothing. Its basically maintenance free, all you need to do is oil the internal gear hub a couple of times a year.

Gear it down so the 3rd gear is your cruising gear and the 1st two gears are for hills and for starting off from a dead stop.

That being said, I also have a road bike, 9spd Cannondale, that has the closest possible gearing since I ride in flat terrain. 53/39 chainrings and 13-19 + 21 cogset. Close gearing gives you by far the best efficiency and/or speed.

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#3455805 - 08/14/14 08:31 PM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: Saab9000]
ET16 Offline


Registered: 10/28/08
Posts: 1224
Loc: MD
Originally Posted By: Saab9000
3 speeds is all you need, for a city cruiser in relatively flat terrain. I have a Raleigh 3 spd from the 70s that is a great around town bike. Fenders and a chain guard so you can ride it in any weather without any special clothing. Its basically maintenance free, all you need to do is oil the internal gear hub a couple of times a year.

Gear it down so the 3rd gear is your cruising gear and the 1st two gears are for hills and for starting off from a dead stop.

That being said, I also have a road bike, 9spd Cannondale, that has the closest possible gearing since I ride in flat terrain. 53/39 chainrings and 13-19 + 21 cogset. Close gearing gives you by far the best efficiency and/or speed.



I tend to agree. A good three-speed is surprisingly sufficient.

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#3456529 - 08/15/14 03:46 PM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
Wheel Offline


Registered: 12/22/11
Posts: 527
Loc: Upstate NY
In theory, a person operates best at a particular, fairly narrow rpm range, much like a diesel engine. This depends on fitness, the terrain, bike weight, etc. I can ride at between 1 and about 160 rpm, but have peak power output at about 105 rpm. My son is more efficient at about 95 rpm.

So while you can certainly do fine for certain things with even a single speed, the closer you can get to your own performance band, the better. Thus, more speeds, allowing for better selection for the variables involved. Not that I wouldn't say marketing is involved, but their is indeed science behind part of it.

As far as old chainrings and derailleurs for 6 and 7 speeds, chainrings won't matter up thru 9 speeds, and 10 will likely work fine. Old 8 speed Campy derailleurs use the same pull as 5-8 speed freewheels (not cassettes). Loose Screws used to be a great source for things like this, but they are out of business now. Harris Cyclery is another good source for info (and parts)

I've got an old Cannondale 6 speed that I keep an eye out for parts for this reason (aluminum 126mm spacing - not upgradeable) and snag parts when possible.
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#3457113 - 08/16/14 10:13 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
dja4260 Offline


Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 986
Loc: Greenville, SC via Chicago, IL
My bike is a 1x9. The only time I've ever wished I had more was biking in the Great Smokey Mountains. Chicago area is all flat land.
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#3457571 - 08/16/14 08:28 PM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
Cujet Online   content


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 6509
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
I ride flat FL roads. As such, I really only ride on a few cogs. Into the wind, zero wind and with the wind. It's possible that 3 carefully chosen speeds would work OK on most days.

However, there is always the day with the wicked headwind and a long way to go. On Christmas day, I had a 20MPH headwind, and a 27 mile ride home from work. That was a first gear day much of the time. However, when a truck passed, I could upshift for a bit and pick up speed.
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#3457942 - 08/17/14 11:38 AM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
Miller88 Offline


Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 12337
Loc: Onondaga County
I have 24 speeds on my mountain bike. Geared quite low - so I can ride it up any hill.

Now the problem is it's geared a bit too low for the paved trails I mainly ride now.

24 speed is real nice though. I think I only use 3 or 4 total.
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#3458103 - 08/17/14 04:13 PM Re: How many speeds are enough? [Re: cjcride]
Pop_Rivit Offline


Registered: 02/09/08
Posts: 6367
Loc: Midwest
Both my wife and I have 21 speeds, and we both use most of them at some point.

If we're leisurely riding the trail or riding with friends we use a completely different gear set than we do if we're pushing ourselves for exercise. If I'm riding alone I use a different set because I usually push myself much harder, especially when riding the entire 40 miles of trail. Without the additional gearing I doubt that I would be able to make the entire 40 mile trail in 1 hour, 45 minutes (average speed of about 22 MPH). When leisure riding we do the same 40 miles in 4 hours (plus lunch stops).

Given that the trail is fairly hilly, if I'm pushing myself hard I use a lot of different gears to keep my heart rate up and stay on pace.

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