24 Speed Bike Gears Explained


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The gears on a bike can be thought of as different speeds for the same bicycle. For example, a bike whose top gear was 21 would be a 21-speed bike.

Likewise, lower numbers on a cycle would represent lower gears, whereas higher numbers represent higher gears.

A 24-speed bike would have 24 gears. They usually come in the form of eight cogs in the rear cassette, with 3 shifter gears.

There are quite a few things going on with 24-speed gears, including lots of mechanics and terminology. In this article, I’ll go through exactly how 24-speed gears work, all the moving parts, and everything you could possibly need to know about.

24 Speed Bike Gears

What Do The Numbers On Your Gears Mean? 

Well, for starters, even if you are not a cycling enthusiast, you must know that all bikes aren’t the same. If your bike has only three gears, the process would be more direct than any other; you’d see only one shifter that would be labeled as 1-2-3. 

However, it starts to get more complicated with 10 speeds or more. In these cases, you’d have two shifters.

For instance, if it’s an 18-gear bike, you’d have a gear on the left labeled 1-2-3, and the bike gear on the right is labeled 1-2-3-4-5-6. That way, for each number on the left, you’d get six different speeds (adding up to a total of 18).

The left gear shifter works by changing the ring near the pedals, whereas the right shifter works by shifting the chainring near the rear wheel.

The sizes for a given number would vary for each gear. For example, on the left shifter, the largest ring would be 3, and the smallest would be 1. But, on the right shifter, the biggest ring is 1, and the smallest is 6.

What 24 Gears Look Like

24 gear bikes normally have 3 shifters on the left, and the gears on the right will be numbered 1 to 8. The gears go from low to high, so 1 is the lowest, and 8 is the highest for that particular chainring.

If you take a look at the actual gears themselves (the cogs that move the chain), then you will often see 8 rings on the rear shifter, and 3 on the front.

Why Do We Need Gears?

Now, knowing what these numbers mean, you may be wondering why you would even need them.

In essence, gears help contribute to a comfortable experience for the rider. You can adapt to different gradients and terrain by simply changing gear; this isn’t really possible on single-geared bikes. 

For instance, when descending steep hills or cycling at fast-paced speeds, you may want to choose a  higher gear, as that would result in the smoothest ride; this would be achieved with the smallest rear cog and the largest front chainring size. 

On the other hand, if you combine the smallest front chainring size with the biggest rear sprocket, you would get the lowest gear. This setting would be ideal for going up steep routes or technical terrain.

However, to be clear, you should know that gears don’t determine the complete ability of bikes.

Sure, they can make the bike more adaptable, but this doesn’t mean that cycles with 30+ gear options would guarantee record-breaking speeds.

Instead, velocity depends upon efficiency, range, and your ability to choose the right gear for the right moment.

If you’re still confused over what the right gear may be, it’s worth considering the example of a car.

Like automobiles, bicycles at a lower gear would benefit from steep hills, accelerating from rest, or smoother transitions into higher gear options.

Likewise, if you use lower options when speeding, it can result in more “fuel” consumption from the increased required energy.

Overall, the result of gears is more precise, smoother, and more mechanical bicycling. This is achieved by moving the chain onto larger or smaller sprockets through small changes in gearing options.

In essence, a bike with more gears would only benefit you in more precise adjustments.

As a result, professional cyclists would utilize them to fine-tune their pedaling speed for a given gradient or terrain, with a more accurate tuning resulting in lower energy costs. 

Using 24 Speed Gears

24 gears are at the upper end of what most riders would ever possibly need. At this point you have all the options you could ever want to fine-tune your ride, particularly:

  • How to ride down slopes
  • How to tackle a range of gradients
  • How to ride over a range of terrain (depending on the type of bike)
  • Helping with moments of cruising and rest on the bike while it’s still moving
  • Allowing you to mix up periods of intense effort with lighter recovery at other times
6 gear chainring
Lower numbers of gears are normally just as effective for everyday cyclists

Types of Gears Used On 24 Speed Bikes

As you might have guessed already, there are two types of gear on your typical bicycle: the crankset (front gear) and the cassette (rear gear).

So, to get a better perspective on the mechanics of bike gears, the following are details on each type:

Crankset

The crankset, also known as the front gears or chainring, consists of numerous crank arms with the front gear set. These cranksets can either be double or triple sets of chainrings. 

However, with recent technological advancements, most single chainrings have become mainstream.

In particular, single-chained bikes are favored by cyclocross riders and mountain bikes because they have niche applications that work for those categories.

Moving on, if you’re considering the mechanics of a crankset, the innermost chain would always be the smallest. And, as brushed upon earlier, choosing the smallest chainring would always result in the easiest pedaling.

On the other hand, if the chain moves further away from the center of the bike, it would get harder to pedal, but you’d exhaust more energy to go faster.

You would identify a chainring based on its size or position. For instance, if it’s the most sizable ring, it’d also be the outer ring.

In addition, the smallest ring on bikes usually has a unique name known as the “granny gear” or simply “granny.”

Cassette

If the gears are on the rear wheel, they could also be called “cogs.” And, you would often find them attached to the back wheel and placed in ascending order. 

Contemporary bike models would include around 8-11 cogs in their cassette, with the largest cog closest to the wheel.

The gear would also be labeled from the inside and increase moving out. This means that the larger the cog, the lower the gear number.

As a result, if you’re looking to cycle slow but without much resistance, you’d aim for a lower gear as that would correlate to a larger cog.

Vice versa, more sizable gear numbers would result in smaller cogs, making your bicycle much faster but at the cost of more energy.  

What is a Drivetrain?

Most bikes on the current market work using external drivetrains. This encourages a lightweight, simple, and efficient system. 

In essence, they work by changing the gears on a cassette through a rear derailleur.

The derailleur shifts up or down the cassette depending on the chosen gear number. When the gearset is changed, the derailleur forces the chain against a ramp or step that forces them onto smaller or larger sprockets.

Likewise, some bikes may also have front derailleurs that shift chains between the chainrings attached to cranks. These gears in front have more significant jumps for more efficient changes between the ranges of your bike’s given gears.

They can change between different terrains and environments much quicker. These would include variations between flat terrains, high speeds, or low-speed climbing. 

Similarly, you can often find drivetrains with one to three different chainrings; these are appropriately named single, double, or triple chainsets.

They can have up to 11 sprockets on their back wheel, with variations of 12 and 13 existing for only top-tier bikes.

What are Hub Gears?

Hub gears are a more recent invention. They are ideal for riders looking for a maintenance-free and durable drivetrain.

They can have service intervals ranging between 2,000-2,500 miles, with the internal hub ideal for lower maintenance-inclined instances. 

With the conventional design of gear sets, derailleurs are often exposed and are liable to damage.

But, hub gears counteract this by packaging everything in a neat manner inside your rear wheel. This provides better coverage to your delicate gear sets, especially during harsh winter months, when they’re the most susceptible to impairment.

Unlike conventional drivetrains, these hub gears can have systems ranging from 3 to 14 gear sets. This offers a variety of terrains to adapt to, ensuring accessibility and comfort for riders. 

However, with that being said, there are still drawbacks to hub gears; the most significant disadvantage being weight.

Due to it being a small and compressed box on your rear wheel, the multiple metal parts can make it quite heavy. As a result, this discourages a lightweight design.

It can cause it to be much harder to deal with certain aspects of repair and maintenance. For example, puncture repair is more difficult with hub gears than conventional designs.

An Electronic Drivetrain

With the advances of modern society, many bicycles have also chosen to adopt electronic components. These are done by gears that use metal or Bowden cables to actuate their chainrings. 

In theory, they’re pretty basic.

Instead of cables, they simply have gears shifted by electronic motors. One of the main reasons for this is their efficient constituency. 

When it comes to machines, you do not face human or mechanics errors. Contemporary cables may slope or stretch over time, whereas electronic drivetrains ensure nothing but consistent and accurate shifting under any consideration. 

Trim Feature

The trim feature is a new installment present in some contemporary road bikes that enable the micro-shifting of derailleurs.

These can have niche applications for numerous instances.

For example, if you’re riding on the largest chainring and approaching the more sizable cogs on the cassette, micro-shifting would move the front derailleur to encourage more space.

At the same time, this would also eliminate rub and the possibility of a cross chaining zone. 

Do You Need 24 Gears?

Honestly speaking, I believe the ever-increasing number of gears is just large-scale marketing hype.

Most often, these extra gears aren’t even needed. Yet, companies still just keep adding them for the sake of better advertisement.

In reality, you really just need a good basic range of gears. These would include gear sets that are low enough for rigid and technical hills, while they also need to be high enough for smooth rides downhill.

If you have an ideal gear range, no other numbers would matter.

I think that 24 gears is definitely the upper limit of what is necessary. I would never recommend going higher than this.

But 24 gears is definitely all the gearing you would ever need for your cycling goals.

I’d also say that in essence, you should never buy a bike based on the number of gears it has. Though vast gear sets would increase the bike’s range, there’s no actual use in having the most sizable range possible.

Why Do Some People Still Choose Single-Speed Bikes?

As I said earlier, gears aren’t the ultimate solution to the best biking experience. You don’t need them by any means, and there are still many people who know this and choose single-speed bikes.

For instance, these can be ideal options for commuters living in flat areas; they require little maintenance and don’t have complicated mechanics whatsoever. 

Similarly, you may see them be used by racers or hill climbers, as they would encourage lightweight designs for fewer complications on already technical terrain.

On a multiple-geared bike, this is much more challenging. They require accurate precision to find the right gear and change them appropriately.

Conclusion

So, what you really need is a range that is just enough.

This can be compared to buying a car. For instance, there’s no use in buying a sports car that can go 250 mph if you can’t drive that fast.

With that being said, you should know that there’s no way to find the most ideal gear range. The only way to actually find this out would be to experiment.

Take the geared bike out for a test drive and find out its limits and abilities. When going downhill, you should experiment with how fast you can go to find out whether a different gear range would do you any better. 

In contrast, if you live in a flat area, you may not need gears at all. If not, you could instead make do with just three gears. Though these lower-geared bikes aren’t what you would call ideal for steep hills, they are enough for you to get by. 

But, if you have a bike with fewer gears and are looking to make it more adaptable, you could even increase the number of gears through a bike shop.

Over there, they can change both your rear and front rings to provide you with a wider range. 

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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