What's the point of having lots of gears? (21, 24, 27, etc)

Thursday guy

Active Member
As a beginner, I'm genuinely baffled. I've done a few test rides with bikes that have over 16 gears (so they all had two gear shifters on each side of the handle) and then I tried this bike http://www.evanscycles.com/products/hoy/shizuoka-000-2015-hybrid-bike-ec059169#features which only has 8 gears with only one chain ring (so it only had one gear shifter for the rear sprockets). Apparently there are many other bikes with that feature as well.

I've found the 8 gear bike was far easier to shift up/down to match my speed and the road incline, it's almost the same as shifting gears 1-5 in a car, only with this bike it's 1-8. And with only one shifter, it was far simpler to operate. Whereas with a 21 gear bike for example, I would have to adjust both shifters, and there's the problem that if I start off on gear 1 on the chainrings shifter (left handlebar side) and progress along the gears (1-7) on the sprockets shifter (right handlebar side), after I've reached 7 on that, I would then need to move to gear 2 on the chainring shifter, but I would have to move the sprockets shifter all the way back to 1, otherwise there would be a big jump and the gear wouldn't match my speed. Is this not an issue for other people as well?

I can climb up steep hills and go really fast on the way down just as effectively as with the bikes which had 16, 21, 24 or 27 gears, so it seems to me that the cons outweigh the pros with bikes that have many gears - not that I see any pros. And from talking to the bike shop people, they mentioned that the bikes with many gears (with more than one chain ring) are more difficult for maintenance and are more prone to faults in its lifetime due simply to having more moving components - is there any truth to this? And also, because they have more than one chainring, isn't there the issue of bending the chain diagonally with certain gear combinations?
 

Drago

Guest
They're there to impress the chicks.
 
I think the main advantage of more gears is the smaller increments between them which should help riders maintain a good cadence over varying terrain. Personally, I'm like you and really enjoy riding my little Charge Grater 1 hybrid which also has a single chainring and 8 speed cassette. It seems to cover everything I need plus you can pick up a new chain and cassette for not much more than £20 and no front dérailleur to worry about.
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
Much of what you say is true. There are lots on here that ride fixed or single speed and manage fine, including me. With 27 gears you get a lot of overlap, so you don't get as many as it sounds. What you do get is a very wide range to cope with serious climbs and fast tail wind descents.

Good luck with your chosen bike.
Keith
 
OP
OP
Thursday guy

Thursday guy

Active Member
Much of what you say is true. There are lots on here that ride fixed or single speed and manage fine, including me. With 27 gears you get a lot of overlap, so you don't get as many as it sounds. What you do get is a very wide range to cope with serious climbs and fast tail wind descents.

Good luck with your chosen bike.
Keith

So 'fixed/single' speed is proper name for a bike with one chainring?

I don't understand your last bit, surely for the toughest climb, you would just use for lowest gear, why do you need a wide range of gears?
 
There's lots of overlap. You also do want to cross over the chain.

I use big at ftont on flat and get 4-8 at rear for fine adjustment.

If on steep climb I switch to middle on ftont and use 3-6 on rear.

If clinbing a wall use small at ftont.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
So 'fixed/single' speed is proper name for a bike with one chainring?

I don't understand your last bit, surely for the toughest climb, you would just use for lowest gear, why do you need a wide range of gears?
One chainring and only one sprocket on the back...one gear! (or for fixed, no freewheeling possible)
 

mustang1

Guru
Location
London, UK
My dad says three gears are enough. A friend of mine (of similar vintage as my dad) also says three gears are enough. When they ask me how many gears I have (20) they say that's too many gears. So I tell them 3 gears are too many and one gear is enough. They argue with me why they need three gears and then they realise they just argued my own point for me. :smile:
Edit: corrected typos
 
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vickster

Legendary Member
There are a lot of different aspects to this old cycling lark, there are bikes for every occasion. You just got to start with what you think is best and then keep adding to the collection.
Oh how very true :whistle: (that said my 3 geared bikes all have the same gearing)
 
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