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7 Speed Bike Gears Explained – Everything You Need To Know

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It’s important to find the right bike for you, and 7-speed gear bikes are the perfect bicycle for many people.

One of my favorite bikes is a 7-speed hybrid bike, which I’ve had for about three years. It’s a 7-speed hybrid and is probably my favorite commuter bike.

In this post, I’ll share my experiences with 7-speed bikes, and in particular look at:

  • What a 7-speed bike is
  • 6 reasons why 7-speed bikes are a good choice
  • How do gears work, and what purpose do they serve on a bicycle
  • Who needs a 7-speed gears bike
  • How 7-speed bike gears work
  • Shifting between low and high gears
  • How to shift between gears on a 7-speed bike
  • 1-speed vs 3-speed vs 7-speed vs 21-speed comparison
  • Is it better to have more than 7 gears?
  • Drawbacks of a 7-speed bike
7 speed bike gears explained

What Is A 7-Speed Bike?

A 7-speed bike features one front chain ring and seven rear cogs, allowing the rider to shift between seven different gears.

The term “cassette” is used to describe this group of gears.

The cassette’s seven cogs (speeds) allow for that many ratios. The lowest gear will be number one, and the highest gear, number seven, is ideal for cruising quickly downhill or on the flat.

Most children’s bikes, hybrids, and city bikes these days have a 7-speed cassette.

They have a reasonably large selection of gears to choose from without being overly complicated to operate or maintain.

Commuters appreciate this since it saves them time and money.

If you’re looking to upgrade from a 3-speed or 5-speed bike and want to take on more challenging terrain, a 7-speed bike is a good choice. A 7-speed bike has a high gear for gaining speed on downhills and lower gears for conquering hills.

How Do 7 Speed Bikes Compare To Others?

Most bicycles contain anywhere from 1 gear to 24 gears. Usually, the most common bikes contain one of the following numbers of gears:

  • 1 gear
  • 3 gears
  • 5 gears
  • 7 gears
  • 18 gears
  • 21 gears
  • 24 gears
  • 27 gears (quite a modern development)

7 gear bikes are among the most popular from this list (along with 21-speed gears).

The advantage of a bike with fewer gears is they are super simple to maintain, and very simple to operate. The more gears you get, the higher the maintenance, and the more difficult to operate. However, higher numbers of gears give you more versatility in your ride.

As you can see, a seven-gear bike is towards the lower end – relatively simple, but still with enough speed options to make them versatile enough for most cyclists.

6 Reasons Why 7-Speed Bikes Are A Good Choice

Learning the fundamentals of bike gears and how the front chain rings affect pedaling will help you select the optimal gearing for your needs.

Here are five important reasons that make seven-speed bike gears the ideal gear choice, particularly for casual cyclists and commuters!

Easily Maintained

Commuters should get seven-speed bikes because they are extremely reliable and require little in the way of upkeep.

The ability to change gears quickly and easily when stopped at a light is one of the best features of these bikes.

Ideal for Rough Terrains

A 7-speed bicycle is more robust and can better handle harsher terrain and road conditions.

Commuters who regularly ride in cities with poor roads and plenty of construction work are going to love these bikes.

A Brilliant Mountain Bike

A 7-speed drivetrain gear is preferred by many mountain bikers because it reduces the risk of mechanical failure, increases efficiency, and allows for both moderate climbing and rapid descending.

That’s why a 7-speed drivetrain is standard on downhill bikes these days.

It may not be the best choice if you’re looking for maximum cross-country performance, but it’s hard to beat for dependability and pedaling efficiency!

Modifiable Cogs

The adaptability and versatility of the seven-speed transmissions make them a popular choice. Riders can change the gears on their bikes to meet their specific needs.

There is a slight learning curve associated with riding a 7-speed bike, but many riders report that the extra gears are well worth the effort.

Simpler to Ride

A 7-speed bike is more comfortable to ride since you can change gears more quickly.

Gears, both lower and higher, make for easier pedaling.

Bicycles with a wide range of gears make long rides more comfortable and challenging terrains like downhills and muddy paths more manageable.

Compact Gears

7-speed bicycles have greater room for protective accessories since the cassette gearing is fixed more closely.

In addition to facilitating faster gear changes, the gear improves jump clearance.

Top tip – for all you DIY boffins out there, it’s possible to build your bike from scratch online, giving you access to a wider range of gear options.

How Do Gears Work, And What Purpose Do They Serve On A Bicycle?

Bikes with lots of gears are a mechanical marvel.

They let you speed up and pass over different terrains smoothly, so you can climb a steep hill without getting out of breath

. Whether you’re pedaling up a steep slope or zipping through traffic in a big city, a geared bike is a huge time and energy saver.

For the most part, gears offer two types of assistance:

  • Going uphill on a regular bike requires maximal effort because you are traveling at the fastest speed. Geared bicycles are more efficient because riders can select a lower gear and pedal at a higher speed without exerting as much force or stress on the bicycle or themselves.
  • When traveling downhill at high speeds, it is recommended that you shift into the highest gear available to slow your pedaling rotational speed.

Here’s a fantastic video that outlines exactly how gears work on bicycles:

Who Needs a Seven-Speed Gear Bike?

Where you plan on cycling should determine whether you opt for a seven-speed or a different geared bike.

While riding a 7-speed bike needs far more learning effort than riding a fixed-gear bike, getting the hang of it doesn’t take long at all.

A cyclist who frequently travels over rough terrain can benefit greatly from a bicycle with seven gears. Its primary function is to make the bike more flexible so that it can better handle rough terrain.

In general, a 7-speed bike’s lower gears make pedaling easier, but the higher ratios are more effective when descending.

A rider who encounters a variety of terrain would benefit from having a 7-speed bike rather than a 3-speed bike (or lower).

7 Speed Bike Gears and Their Operation

Gears are determined by the product of the number of sprockets on your rear drivetrain and the number of chainrings on either side of your crank arms.

What does that mean in English?

Well, a 16-speed bike consists of a 2x transmission with eight gears or sprockets.

A 7-speed bike consists of 1x transmission of seven gears or sprockets. This makes them less complicated than bikes with higher numbers of gears.

The 7-speed drivetrains commonly found on downhill bikes are designed to keep riders safe and comfortable on fast descents by eliminating the risk of loose chains.

Increasing the number of gears does nothing but make the range of gears and the mechanism for shifting gears more complicated once you get past the first easy gear.

Top tip – With 7-speed bikes, a high gear is when the chain is on the smaller gears, and a low gear is when the chain is on the bigger cogs. (Source)

How to Shift 7-Speed Bike Gears

The seven-speed has a single-gear shift but otherwise operates similarly to other gear systems. With a 7-speed bike, you must do the following to make a gear change:

  • Look at the right side of the handlebars for the gear-shifting mechanism. Typically, this is accomplished using a lever or a twist mechanism mounted on the grips of the handlebars.
  • Start by riding the bike for a few minutes to gain a feel for the tension on the pedals, and then, while still pedaling, shift up or down a gear.
  • It is important to keep an ear out for the derailleur’s engagement. Since the chain jumps from one gear to the next on a 7-speed bike, you will undoubtedly hear the derailleur shift.
  • After making a gear change, keep pedaling for a few seconds to get a feel for how tight or loose the pedals are.
  • The shifting process should be repeated until the rider achieves a comfortable level of pedal force.
  • Then, based on the conditions or your personal preference, you can select higher or lower gears. When climbing steep hills, for instance, it’s common practice to shift down to reduce engine RPM and improve comfort.

Here’s a fantastic video that demonstrates how to shift gears on a 7-speed internal gear bike:

1-Speed Vs 3-Speed Vs 7-Speed Vs 21-Speed

Here’s a quick comparison table of one pro and one con for each of the four following bikes:

  • 1-speed
  • 3-speed
  • 7-speed
  • 21-speed
Type Of BikeProCon
1 Speed bikeSimplest bikes to ride and maintainAlmost impossible to climb hills or deal with unusual terrain
3 Speed BikeGenerally much cheaperLack of versatility in riding ability on different terrain
7 Speed BikeEnough versatility to take on most terrainsMore maintenance than simpler gearing systems
21 Speed BikeExcellent versatility, and ability to take on all terrains and range of speedsA longer learning curve in finding out how to use the gears

Bigger, The Better; is it Better to Have More Gears?

Bicycles’ rising number of gears is largely a result of advertising. All the extra gears are mostly unnecessary.

There were only ten gears on the bike I used to ride when I was a kid. Then, later on, bicycles had 15 speeds, soon followed by 18 and finally, 21.

Now, we are at number 27.

Should there be so many gears? No. What’s crucial is a set of gears that can handle most situations.

Gears that allow you to coast down easy inclines while still pedaling up steep ones are essential. If your gear range is sufficient, you don’t need as many gears.

When shopping for a bike, don’t base your decision on how many gears it has.

While it’s true that bikes with more gears typically have a greater range than those with fewer speeds, this isn’t always the case, and even if it is, you may not require the maximum range.

You only require a respectable amount of range.

Consider it this way: if you’re not allowed to drive at 250 miles per hour, there’s no point in getting a car that can go that speed. Quantity does not always equate to quality.

To get a feel for a bike’s gear range, you should take it for a spin up the steepest hill you anticipate riding up and down as fast as you’d like on a somewhat flat surface.

You may not even need gears if you live in a particularly flat region. Or even as few as three might do the trick! (Source)

7 Speed Bikes – 3 Drawbacks

Gear Maintenance Issues

Although seven-speed bicycles are relatively simple, they are not as simple as bikes with only one gear. These are the simplest to maintain.

Compatibility Issues

Another major problem is that not all brands of shifters and derailleurs work with 7-speed bikes.

If you’re thinking about improving your bike down the road, this could be a major issue.

Also, 7-speed bikes aren’t as common as other types of bicycles. Because of this, finding the ideal bicycle for you can be challenging.


Sometimes it seems to be the case that 7-speed bicycles may cost more than other versions. This is certainly not always the case, but it is sometimes.

If you’re looking for a bike within a limited budget, then a 7-speed bike might not be the ideal option for you.