Which gear is the fastest

How the circuit works

Who these days the market for Bicycle gears overlooked, you can break a sweat for a moment: Because such a large selection of different shift systems, gears and models is breathtaking. With almost every bike model, you have the choice between several manufacturers and designs when it comes to your individual gearshift. Manufacturers generally differentiate between so-called Derailleurs and Hub gears. This is also a newer circuit category, which, however, occurs rather rarely Bottom bracket gear.

Our guide to the functionality of bicycle gears shows you not only the functionality but also compactly and clearly all advantages and disadvantages as well as areas of application of the various bicycle gears.

Tip: Before purchasing a specific circuit, you should always pay close attention to the following three points:
  • Which gear ratio and how many gears do you need?
  • How important are longevity and low maintenance requirements to you?
  • How important is ease of use to you?

Before you find out how the circuits work in our guide, you should have answered these three questions for yourself.

1. The derailleur

1.1 How it works

A typical derailleur

With a derailleur system, the bicycle chain is moved from one chainring to the next, while at the same time it continues to move forward. There are small gears on both the front and rear wheels, too pinion called, appropriate. The manufacturer then names the total package of all individual pinions Cassette. The number of front and rear gears plays a decisive role:

  • One speaks of one high translationif the front chainring has many teeth and a sprocket with a few teeth is engaged on the rear wheel. Pedaling is now more difficult for the rider, but the bike covers a long distance with one turn.
  • Opposing this one speaks of a low translationif a pinion with many teeth is set on the rear sprocket, just like on the front. The driver can now press the pedals much more easily, but doesn't get that far anymore.

With a circuit there is a Change of translationwhich is commonly referred to as Gear shift designated. This is where two other important add-on parts come into play: This is on the back of the bike Rear derailleur responsible for pushing the chain back and forth between the small and large sprockets. This rear derailleur is called on the front chainring Derailleurbecause it “throws” the chain from chainring to chainring.

1.2 How many gears does my derailleur have?

Mathematics, which is often unpopular, is in demand here. But don't worry: it's a very simple calculation because you just have to Multiply. To find out the exact number of gears on your bike, you need to use the Number of chainrings in front (almost always three on a modern bicycle) with the Number of rear gears multiply. Manufacturers often use seven, eight or nine gears on the rear wheel, which ultimately leads to 21, 24 or even 27 gears on your bike.

Tip: In order to be able to better imagine the switching of a derailleur, you should always ask yourself the question: "Where is the chain?"
  • Lower gears result from sprockets and chainrings further inside.
  • Higher gears you get accordingly with external sprockets and chainrings.

Try to avoid gear combinations that involve one extremely large anglethe chain arises. According to this principle, the combination of the smallest chainring on the front and the smallest sprocket on the back of the bike is particularly bad. With frequent use, the chain usually does not “survive” very long.

In addition to the number of gears, there is also the so-called Translation area a relevant parameter for each gear shift. This describes the Vratio between the lowest and highest gear and is usually given in percent.

1.3 Advantages and disadvantages of derailleur gears

Our guide “How the bicycle gears work” gives you the advantages and disadvantages of derailleur gears at a glance, also in comparison to hub gears:

  • individual compilation of the translation (especially for ambitious cyclists)
  • lower weight
  • relatively low price
  • large translation range
  • high efficiency in good condition
  • poorer protection against soiling
  • higher wear
  • higher maintenance effort
  • can only be switched while pedaling
  • poorer efficiency when dirty

1.4 Application area (s)

In principle, a derailleur can be installed on (almost) every bicycle. However, derailleur gears with only 16-24 gears are particularly suitable for slightly hilly or mountainous terrain, depending on the configuration of the sprockets. Derailleurs with more gears, on the other hand, are suitable for virtually any terrain, even after the sprockets have been put together.

For racing bikes, most manufacturers usually only use two chainrings at the front and nine, ten or eleven sprockets at the rear. Against are on all other bikes Derailleur gears with three chainrings in front and nine, sometimes ten, rear sprockets the standard.

2. The hub gear

2.1 How it works

A typical hub gear

As Hub gear is called a in the bicycle sector mechanical transmission, which is built into the rear hub in a closed manner. All hub gears work exclusively with epicyclic gears, so-called Planetary gears. You have to imagine that gears revolving on axes orbit a central wheel, similar to how planets circle the sun. These gears also provide the necessary power transmission. The so-called exceptions are here NuVinci hub gears, in which the force is transmitted by means of a ball.

2.2 How many gears does my gear hub have?

With a single transmission, a maximum of three gears could be achieved on a bicycle, far too few for a shift. Therefore, manufacturers combine different planetary gears in one hub, e.g. For example by connecting them in a row. This means that up to 14 gears are possible on a modern gear hub.

Info: Shifting into different gears takes place via one when driving Switch handlelocated on the handlebars. It also shows you the currently engaged gear.

2.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of the gear hub?

Our guide “How the gears work” clearly shows you the greatest advantages and disadvantages of the hub gears - also in comparison to competitive derailleur gears:


  • high ease of use
  • less maintenance
  • longevity
  • Switching possible while stationary
  • good protection against dirt
  • higher weight
  • higher price
  • Pedal must be stopped to shift into a new gear
  • poorer efficiency
  • no aisles can be skipped

2.4 Application area (s)

Typical hub gears with up to nine gears are normally used on everyday bicycles and short distances, for example on classic city bikes. They are particularly suitable for flat and sometimes slightly hilly terrain.

There are, however more demanding gear hubs, such as 11-speed or 14-speed gear hubs, which have additional functions and options, such as the use of disc brakes. They have a significantly higher gear ratio of up to 500% and are therefore ideal for almost any terrain. Demanding recreational cyclists and even competitive athletes will have fun with it.

3. Questions and interesting facts about the bicycle gearshift

3.1 Which combinations have been established for switching over the past few years?

The attentive reader may have noticed that nowadays many combinations are possible with the circuit. Profirad.de gives you the most established ones from our point of view:

DerailleurHub gear
1-speed bike (without gearshift)1-speed bike (without gearshift)
2 * 8-10 speed racing bike with two chainrings at the front and 8-10 speed cassette at the rear3-speed, 5-speed and 7-speed bikes with hub gears
3 * 7-10 speed bike with three chainrings at the front and 7-10 speed cassette at the rear9-speed or 14-speed bike with precision gear hub

There are also 1-speed bicycles that do without a gearshift completely and a 3 * 7-speed bicycle with a combination of 3-speed gear hub and 7-speed derailleur.

3.2 How important is the number of gears?

Basically, the number of gears determines how many different ratios you can set individually. However, you should not be fooled by the 27-speed gearshifts in derailleurs. You can use perhaps 18 courses effectively, the other combinations often overlap each other. With the hub gear, however, each gear has a different gear ratio, there is no overlap here.

The number of gears alone does not say anything about the suitability of the bike in mountainous and steep terrain. The transmission ratio is particularly important for this. This is ideal if you can still easily pedal over inclines in the lowest gear and can just pedal along in the highest gear on descents.

3.3 Gear hub or derailleur?

After the error with the gears has been cleared up, the question still remains for some of you: should I now use a derailleur or would I prefer a hub gear? At this point we would like to return to the beginning of our guide: When making a decision, always consider the following three aspects:

  • Which translation? If you are more at home in flat terrain, a few courses may be enough for you. However, you definitely need several courses, especially in mountainous terrain.
  • How important is low maintenance to you? In principle, a gear hub requires less maintenance than a derailleur. However, should you decide to use a derailleur, it is extremely important. that you care for and maintain your bike regularly. Because when dirty, the normally higher efficiency of the derailleur drops below the value of the hub gear, which means that one of the greatest advantages of this gearshift disappears.
  • How important is ease of use to you? Older people in particular find it easier to operate a gear hub because it is more “intuitive”. With a derailleur system, on the other hand, you have to coordinate four switches on two levers.


3.4 How do I adjust my derailleur perfectly?

The following videos, which are also suitable for the “layman”, answer this question. Video number 1 is about that Rear derailleur on the back of the bike:

Video number 2, on the other hand, takes care of that Derailleur at the front of the bike: