How to Choose Between a Geared and a Gearless Cycle?

The growing popularity of cycling during the pandemic reclaimed its space in the global cities. And a result, there is a surge in people cycling in the year 2020, which may continue post-pandemic as well. If you are someone who’s planning to buy a cycle, but confused between a geared and a gearless one, then you are not alone. This article will help you better understand the differences between them. It further helps in making an informed decision in investing in a cycle that best suits your needs.

Types of Gearless Cycles

What is Geared Cycle?

A geared cycle is one that has a geared mechanism to transmit power to the rear wheels of the cycle. These cycles have multiple gear ratios for several terrains. The rider can choose the gear accordingly based on the terrain. This further reduces the effort of the cyclist.

Let’s say, you want to ride an uphill easily. To achieve this, you have to choose a low gear ratio, which helps you increase your pedaling rate and simultaneously decrease your effort. Even while riding on the plain roads, you can change the gear ratio to maintain the rate at which you pedal per minute with fewer efforts.

A gear bicycle basically helps a cyclist to maintain the RPM (Rotations per minute). The ideal range is between 60 to 90, which allows you to put less stress on the muscles. A gear cycle significantly reduces the risk of injuries when compared to a gearless cycle.

What is the Gearless Cycle?

As the name suggests, this is a cycle without any gear. It has a single gear ratio and is hence called a single speed cycle. These are very simple to use as the cyclist does not have to worry about changing the gears or shifting from one gear to another. The speed of these cycles, however, depends on how fast or slow you pedal. Unlike geared cycles, this causes a lot of stress on the muscles, forcing you to burn more energy.

A single-speed cycle comes with a simple design and has fewer components. This makes it easier to repair and also eliminates the hassle of regular maintenance. It is very cost-effective when compared to a geared bicycle.

Types of Gearless Cycles:

Gearless cycles are basically of two types:

Types of Gearless Cycles Image

1. Freewheel Cycles

A freewheel cycle is a normal or a regular gearless cycle that most people have. In this model, the rear wheel remains unattached to the pedal. This mechanism allows the rear wheel to turn faster than the pedals. This is very helpful, especially when riding downhill, as you don’t have to pedal because of gravity.

2. Fixed wheel cycles 

A fixed wheel cycle or a fixie bike is the one in which the back wheel has a direct connection to the pedals. In this particular model, the bicycle moves only if you pedal. This keeps your legs constantly moving and is one of the best workouts you can get. It gives the cyclists the ability to control the rear wheel and thus the speed of the cycle.

Riders who are unfamiliar with these bicycles should refrain from riding them in crowded areas. Do not try to coast while riding, because the pedals will still continue to turn and may disrupt the balance of the rider, leading to accidents.

Note: If you are a first-time rider, make sure to practice riding the fixie bike on safe routes, where you don’t have people to obstruct your way. It is highly recommendable to practice stopping the cycle abruptly or changing the speed midway.

Differences between a Geared Cycle and a Gearless Cycle:

Now, that you are familiar with the concept, let’s discuss further their distinct features:

Gear Vs Gearless

Gear System: Both the cycles have gears, i.e., speed mechanisms in them. While gearless cycle has only a single gear ratio, a geared cycle offers multiple combinations of gears (front and back) to choose from, i.e., 2-36.

Usage: When it comes to usage, gearless cycles are very convenient touse when compared to a geared cycle. In the geared cycle there are different gear ratios to choose from when riding in different terrain. Hence a rider should have the knowledge about the high and low gear, and should be adept at how to change them accordingly.

Distance: Gearless cycles are ideal for covering shorter distances in cities or while commuting to a workplace. Geared cycles, on the other hand, are suitable for covering long distances for their speed. Moreover, riding a single-speed cycle can make you feel sapped of your strength and energy in less time because of its single gear. Unlike this, a geared cycle helps you maintain a good cadence without exhausting yourself.

Maintenance: Gearless cycles require less maintenance when compared to geared cycles. A geared cycle has multiple things that work simultaneously. Damage to any of these components might result in breaking the entire cycle. Moreover, it leads to incurring high maintenance costs when you have to change its cogs.

Terrain: One can use the gearless cycle anywhere in the city, like on the bumpy roads or rough roads. When it comes to riding in tough terrain, a geared bicycle is best suitable and highly recommended. Additionally, it has different gears for several drivetrains for making your riding experience comfortable and smooth.

Price: Comparatively, a geared cycle costs more than a gearless cycle, because of its additional features.

Comfort: Geared cycles are more comfortable and convenient to ride than gearless ones. Continuous pedaling in a gearless cycle puts more stress on the leg muscle, making the person exhausted. Whereas in a geared cycle, one can accelerate faster without getting exhausted.

Features: Gearless cycles do not have great features except for the pedals that enable the cycle to move forward. Pedaling can add increased pressure to your leg muscles and can even strengthen them overtime. Hence, these can be a sort of exercise for the riders. A geared cycle usually comes with two different types of gearingmechanisms (high gear and low gear ratio) and a derailleur, which helps you shift between different gear cogs.

Weight: Single-speed bikes are lightweight when compared to multi-gear bikes. The multiple gears, chainrings, and brake systems add more weight to the multi-gear bikes. Riding a lighter bike requires less effort to move it forward. In geared cycles, alloy multi-speed bicycles come in a lightweight but with a high price. Hence, it is up to the individual to choose a bike that best suits his/her needs.

Some frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is cycling good for weight loss?

A. Cycling can be a great workout to lose weight. Spending a considerable amount of time pedaling regularly helps in lowering the body fat levels. This further promotes healthy weight management, increases your metabolism, and even builds your muscle.

2. Is cycling better than running?

Though running burns more calories than cycling, it all depends on the individual’s lifestyle and how religiously he sticks to it. Cycling activates the muscle groups while being gentler on the joints. It aids in weight loss and burns calories.

3. Which gear is the easiest on the bike?

A. Low gear is possibly the easiest one on the bike. It is the smallest chainring which you find in the front and the largest cog present on your cassette. This position is great for climbing and makes pedaling the easiest.

4. Which is better, gear or gearless cycle?

Geared cycles have multiple gears, which help in making long-distance cycling more comfortable for the rider. A gearless cycle has only a single gear ratio. Therefore, one needs to pedal fast or slow to increase or decrease speed, respectively.

5. What are the disadvantages of a geared cycle?

Though geared cycles are perfect for use on any terrain, they are very expensive than gearless cycles. They require regular maintenance, hence a costly affair. Above all, the replacement costs of different parts of the cycle like derailleurs, gears, and cogs are very high.

6. Can I convert my gearless cycle to a geared one? / Can I add gears to my cycle?

It is generally possible to add gears to a cycle. However, it depends on the type of cycle. The easiest way to do it is by simply replacing the rear wheel with another wheel having an internal-gear hub.

Conclusion – Which One to Buy?

For a beginner, a gearless cycle is best recommendable. For someone who loves to plan on an adventure, like a rough surface or hilly terrain, geared cycles are the best. They offer comfort and cadence to the rider, making the journey a great experience. If you are someone who loves speed, yet again, a geared cycle outsmarts the gearless one by giving the rider a thrilling experience.