Skip to Content

Why Do Road Bikes Have Fewer Gears Than Other Bikes

Are your friends drawing comparisons between the bikes you guys own? Have you discovered your bike has fewer gears than everyone else’s? It is nothing to be concened about. You probably have a road bike, unlike your friends. Road bikes are manufactured and designed so that they require fewer gears to work. Why is that?

Road bikes have fewer gears than other bikes because they are designed to be used on roads, which tend to be relatively flat. Road bikes are typically built for speed and efficiency rather than for climbing hills or going off-road, so they don’t need as many gears. Fewer gears also mean fewer parts, which reduces the bike’s weight and makes it easier to maintain.

This article uncovers why road bikes have fewer gears than other types of bikes, if fewer gears are good and which gears work best for flat roads. We will also look at how the pricing of cycles and the number of gears are proportional.

road bike gears

Why Do Bikes Need Gears?

Bikes need gears to help riders optimize their output of energy. By changing gears, riders can adjust the amount of force they are applying to the pedals, allowing them to choose comfortable and efficient gear for the terrain they are riding on. 

This helps them pedal more effectively, conserve energy and maintain a steady cadence. 

How Many Gears Does A Bike Need?

The number of gears on a bike depends on the type of bike. A bike typically needs at least one gear, but a road bike or mountain bike usually has anywhere from 18 to 30 gears. The number of bike gears that are needed for a certain bike is equal to the number of front chainrings multiplied by the number of rear cogs. 

The purpose for which the bike is to be used determines the number and type of gear installed in the bike. Some factors include:

  • The terrain in which the bike is to be used.
  • Length of time for which bike is to be ridden.
  • The average speed of the bike.
  • The cost of the bike.
  • The type of bike. 

Why Do Road Bikes Have Fewer Gears Than Other Bikes?

On average, road bikes support 18 gears, but the number can increase to 30. This is not significantly lower than most other types of bikes. Road bikes typically have fewer gears than other bikes because they are designed for riding on flat, even terrain

On flat roads, more or fewer gears are required to provide the right amount of speed and power. Road bikes are also made to be lightweight, making it easier to pedal and increasing the bike’s efficiency. The fewer gears also make the bike more efficient, as more gears can add more weight, complexity, and cost. 

Road bikes are not made for carrying heavy weights, maneuvering on steep hills, or racing. The purpose of a road bike calls for a lower number of gears. The less number of gears makes it easier to maintain the bike and the efficiency of the gears. 

Image of a man inside a bike store.

How Many Gears Do Other Types Of Bikes Have?

Let us take a look at the average gears found on different bikes. 

Mountain Bikes – On average, most mountain bikes have 10-11 gears, but some high-end ones have 12-13 gears.

Gravel Road Bikes – Gravel road bikes typically have two or three gears. Two-gear gravel bikes usually have a single chainring up front and a wide-range cassette in the back, while three-gear gravel bikes usually feature a double or triple chainring up front and a mid-range cassette in the back.

Hybrid Bikes – Most hybrid bikes have between 18 and 27 gears. 

Folding Bikes – Folding bikes can have anywhere between 1 and 27 gears

Are Fewer Gears In A Bike Good?

Fewer gears in a bike can be good if you don’t need a wide range of gears while riding. Single-speed bikes or bikes with just a few gears can be a great choice for riders who don’t need to switch gears often, such as those who ride on flat terrain or prefer a simpler bike with fewer parts. 

Moreover, the wider the range of gears offered, the more confusion there is about which one to use and when. Bikes with several gears may only be used partially by some owners, and the gear life may be reduced. 

What Bike Gears To Use On A Flat Road?

On a flat road, you should use low gear or middle gear. Middle gear is considered the most ideal for use on a smooth, flat surface. An adequate gear ratio is 2.6 to 3.0. 

Watch this Youtube video to learn more about adjusting gear ratios: 

Why Are Middle Gears Ideal For Flat Roads?

Middle gear on a flat road is important for maintaining vehicle control. It allows the vehicle to move slowly and with more stability, making it easier to navigate turns and other obstacles. 

It also helps the vehicle maintain a constant speed, allowing the driver to control it more easily. Moreover, the middle gear is the most comfortable for beginners. 

Why Do Cheap Bikes Have More Gears?

As bike gears depend on the number of cogs and chainrings, cheaper bikes tend to have more because of the cheaper technology. The technology used is called the triple-crankset technology, which is readily available, inexpensive, and mass-produced. 

The gears on cheaper bikes may be somewhat efficient and help to serve the purpose. 

Final Conclusion

Take a sigh of relief because fewer gears do not mean your road bike is inefficient or substandard. A lower number of gears may be a good thing in many cases. Road bikes are meant to be used on flat services and work best with fewer gears as compared to other bikes. 

If the purpose of road bikes differed, they would have supported more gears. The build and durability of a bike determine its quality, not the number of gears.