Gears & Shifting 101: 3 Speed vs. 7 Speed

Choosing a Bike
August 23, 2017
Gears & Shifting 101: 3 Speed vs. 7 Speed
Gears & Shifting 101: 3 Speed vs. 7 Speed

New riders and cyclists who have been riding for a while often have questions regarding the different bike speeds. They’re looking for the perfect bicycle for their riding conditions and goals, and they realize that having the correct bike with the right amount of gears is essential.

So, let’s talk about gears and shifting, and in particular the main differences between a 3-speed and 7 speed bike. A discussion about 3-speed vs. 7 speed needs to include pros and cons for both bikes, which ultimately hold as much weight as the rider puts on them.

Three-Speed Bikes

Let’s begin with the pros of 3-speed bikes. These bicycles have all of the gears and shifting mechanisms tucked neatly away, giving the cycle a clean and minimalist look. They’re also easy to maintain, as dirt, road tar and other gunk doesn’t get into the gears and wear them down prematurely.

Many riders are surprised to know that 3-speed bikes don’t have a chain that moves and don’t require a derailleur, which means that you can mount a chain guard with full coverage to your bike, keeping your drive train sealed from any elements that would destroy it. Plus, without a drive train exposed, your legs and pants stay cleaner.

In general, an internal hub like the 3-speed bike leads to less money coming out of your pocket for repairs caused by poor road conditions. Your drive train lasts longer and your hub has a less likely chance of being bumped out of alignment should your bicycle tip over. A 3-speed bike is easy to use and reliable. It lets you shift from a complete stop and you don’t have to worry about sloppy adjustments from gear to gear.

The cons? Your initial purchase of a 3-speed bike may be more, just because internal gearing systems are more complicated and more expensive. These highly engineered designs come with many small parts, which means standard repairs may set you back more than you’d pay with a 7-speed bike. It takes more time and expertise to work on a 3-speed bike, so riders should plan for a bit longer servicing time on one of these models. Thankfully, though, 3-speed bikes don’t normally need many repairs.

Seven-Speed Bikes

It’s probably obvious that the primary difference between 3 speed and 7 speed bikes is the number of gears. But, their designs are dissimilar as well. Our 7-speed bikes use what many riders would refer to as a standard gearing mechanism for a bike, which includes different-sized cogs placed externally and shifted by moving the chain via a derailleur.

A 7-speed bike is a great bike for a person who rides on tricky terrain. It’s main purpose is to let the bike adapt to rough conditions and accommodate inclines, bumps and other difficulties. On a 7-speed bike, the lower gears make it easier to pedal and the higher gears allow for better movement going downhill. Compared to a 3-speed bike, a 7-speed is preferable for a rider who travels on varying terrain.

Professional cyclists ride 7-speed bikes because they can adjust the cycle’s gears according to personal preference. A 7-speed bike takes a bit more effort to operate, but it’s pretty simple to get the hang of it when you know about, and embrace, the learning curve.

Like a 3-speed bike, a 7-speed comes with a few cons, which include a greater need for mechanical repairs if the bike is typically taken out on rough terrain. The structural complexity of these bikes mean that if one cog breaks, the entire bike would likely need to be brought in to get work done.

In the end, the choice between 3-speed bikes and 7-speed bikes is one a rider needs to make based on personal preference and intended use for the bike. Whichever bike you end up purchasing, you’re bound to enjoy it, as riding is one of the best activities there is.

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