Bikes have developed into well-manufactured and individualised machines that provide each rider with a different experience. From what we used to know as a two-wheel, simple mode of transport has grown into a wide-range of options with several gear choices.


Whilst it might sound complicated and unnecessary to have up to 27 gears on a bike; they are all there for a reason in the aim enhance the rider’s experience depending on the environment and conditions.


Let’s take a look at what they all mean:


Is one enough?


The simple answer is… it depends. But the late and famous bicycle expert, Sheldon Brown, once said that one gear is all that any rider needs. If you wanted gears, many may argue, then why not buy a motorcycle? However, they serve the purpose of making riding simple for any rider, beginner or veteran.


Are two enough?


If your lifestyle is, “get on the bike and go to the café for a quick meet-up or rush over to the newsagents”, then a two-gear bike should be just the thing. Melbourne city cycling isn’t exactly a technical course compared to the Scottish Highlands, so a two-gear will easily see you tackle the occasional hill.


Are three enough?


Three gears are what many people consider the “perfect” number that suits both the everyday rider and the pro, because it has the speed, the pull and the stamina needed for straight, flat roads, uphill challenges, and of course for quick navigation around the city streets.


Are 27 enough?


When is enough, enough? Well, having 27 gears requires the ability to match the gear to the conditions. Depending on the type and incline of the surface, weather conditions and your intended speed, this will allow you to dictate your entire riding experience. If you’re going for a cycle on a more technically advanced track, for example, a mountain course, this type of versatility and range will be perfect.


What’s the best choice for me?


It all depends on the biking lifestyle you have and the amount of control you’d like to have in regard to the bike’s performance in different conditions. If your lifestyle during the week is riding to work on normal suburban Melbourne roads, then a one or two-gear bike makes sense. If, on the other hand, you’re an experienced rider who tackles difficult conditions and different speeds, perhaps buying a more comprehensive bike with more gears is your perfect match.


If you’re not entirely sure which bike to go for, speak to a professional or head into local Melbourne bike store.

March 15, 2022 — Thomas Mercier