Bicycle gears or no gears at all? When I had my hybrid bicycle, I thought more bicycle gears were better. My hybrid bicycle had 24 gears. That’s three chain rings in the front, including the “granny gear. And eight gears in the back. Multiply 8 by 3, and it comes to 24 gears.
Before I had my hybrid with 24 bicycle gears, I rode a single speed everywhere. The only problem with a single speed is that you have to have the right gear ratio in order to climb larger hills. Something that’s rare within the city area.
For three years, I rode this 24-speed hybrid to work and back. All year round. Five miles total, each day. I rode in all weather conditions. No matter if it was raining, humid, windy or snowing, I would commute to work and back. And I loved it.
That’s until these fancy bicycle gears jammed up on me while on my way to work one day. I was climbing a hill when my “granny gear” decided to wear out it’s welcome. I had to fiddle with it until the gear unjammed.
There was a reason why my bicycle gears jammed up on me. I never used any of the gears on the front cog, except the middle one. And I’d only use three at the most on the rear.
Using my normal 3 gears, I was able to do my 2.5 mile commute within 6 minutes. That’s if I didn’t hit any red lights or have to avoid traffic. Otherwise I’d get home within 10 to fifteen minutes. Something that I’d do most of the time in order to avoid getting sweaty, stay safe, and not burn myself out.
So here’s my question. Should we use bicycle gears or no gears for our regular commutes?
During my commutes I’d time myself to see how long it took. My average time when not racing was about 10-15 minutes. When I switched over to a 2-speed Brompton folding bike, I would still average about 10-15 minutes to complete my commute.
Contrary to popular belief, I never had a problem climbing hills or riding against wind. In fact, I found it easier to ride with the Brompton. I was still using a few gears, just like I did with the hybrid.
Except that the drive train was much easier to maintain, and felt more efficient. The chain no longer had to twist and turn in order to jump to different gears. The chain line was always perfectly straight.
Cleaning the drive train was also so much easier, same as a single speed.
I wish that I could have created a video demonstrating the differences between my 24-speed hybrid, and 2-speed Brompton folding bike. Unfortunately, I no longer have the 24-speed hybrid bicycle.
But not to worry! Fresh off the bicycle commuting menu is a video by my good friend Shifter. Shifter is a dedicate bicycle commuter who has done an unbiased commuter test to see what the difference is between a road bike. A 3-speed City Bike. And a single speed.
Watch this video, because the results might shock you!
Now that you’ve seen the video, what is your opinion? Is the lack of a lower gear for climbing hills worth the simplicity?