What Is a 3 Speed Road Bike?

Bicycles or bikes have been around for over a hundred years now. At one point, they were the only method of transportation; however, with the advent of motorized vehicles, they almost became obsolete.

With the recent trend of a more environmentally conscious stream of thinking, more people are switching back to bikes as their main method of transportation. The realization has led to an increase in the demand for all kinds of bikes.

However, the most common bikes that people use are road bikes. People ride these bikes on the road as they are designed for this.

Bicycles have come a long way ever since their introduction. They’re more complicated now and have a lot of mechanisms that make them easier to ride.

Eurobike 21 Speed XC550 Road Bike 54 cm Frame 700C L Rim Regular Spoke Wheels Road Bicycle

One of these mechanisms is having multiple gears and pedal-assist functions in the case of electric bikes. Most people use road bikes to ride them on roads, and city folks can mostly ride alone.

However, the city landscape isn’t linear either. Thus, it isn’t always easy to ride bikes with only single speeds.

In this article, we will talk about what a 3-speed road bike is and why you should buy it?

What Is a 3-Speed Road Bike?

A road bike is designed to be ridden on paved roads. Sometimes, road bikes are called racing bicycles. They are also lightweight, enabling them to go at a higher speed than other bikes.

All bikes can be single-speed or 3-speed bikes. A 3-speed road bike has multiple gears so that it can switch between speeds. The categorization of speeds is in the following ways: low, medium, and high.

3-speed road bikes have a special gear system and derailleur. They enable the rider to switch from one speed to another depending on the bike’s speed.

Other road bikes, such as the single-speed road type, can only travel at one speed and don’t have an elaborate gearing system.

There are also road bikes that have an 8-speed system, and these bikes are more sensitive to changes in the bike’s speed. 

Vilano Tuono T20 Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed Disc Brakes, 700c

However, 3-speed road bikes are the most common among the two. The reason behind their ubiquity is that they provide enough options without being complicated.

Three-speed hubs have been around since the early 1900s, so it’s not a new technology. Thus, it’s interesting to note the way that this technology has adapted to include road bikes.

Why Choose a 3-Speed Road Bike?

The simple fact is that not everyone is lucky enough to live in an area with flat terrain. Even if you do, there’s a real chance that the location of your commutes has some highs and lows. If this is the case for you too, you might want to choose a 3-speed bike instead of a single-speed one.

3-speed bikes are the condensed version of multi-geared bikes. Multi-geared bikes are heavier, and thus, they don’t help the rider accomplish very high speed if this is what they want.

However, they are effortless, like single-speed bikes. They have a simple aesthetic as well as a low-maintenance design. It works using an internal hub that houses its mechanics, protecting all the moving parts from the elements.

This factor enables 3-speed bikes to last a lot longer than they normally would without the need for additional repair, which 8-speed bikes and multi-geared bikes generally require.

Common sense dictates that if you need your bike to move forward, you’re going to have to move the pedals. However, we also know that a single-speed bike runs only on pedal power.

This attribute means the rider’s speed is completely dependent on them and controlled by how fast and hard they pedal.

However, with a 3-speed bike, you can ride your bike more efficiently. You can go quickly without having to pedal quite so hard.

This fact means you can enjoy your ride without having to put in too much effort. The multi-speed bikes are especially helpful when you’re faced with an ascent or a descent. Ascents are always more difficult.

In a single-speed bike, you’d have to pedal quite hard to make it to the top. However, in a 3-speed road bike, the shifting gears mean you can go up the hill or on a bridge while maintaining your pedaling at a steady effort and just changing up the gear instead.

You can also add tension using these gears when you’re on a steady flat road. It lets you have more control over your trajectory.

Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike with Integrated Shifters

Read How to Convert a Mountain Bike to a Road Bike

Single Speed vs. 3-Speed Bikes vs. 8-Speed Bikes

Many people like single-speed bikes as they’re easy and manageable to ride. However, if you’re someone who uses their bike as a way to commute, the single-speed bike doesn’t offer you a lot.

3-speed bikes are better for those who commute long distances and have many hills in their way.

3-speed bikes allow for versatility so that these riders can switch between various gears so that they don’t sweat it out on the way to work. 

People use their bikes for many reasons. If you want something cheap and simple that works the way you would think a normal bike does, a single-speed bike is ideal for you. However, if you want something versatile that doesn’t require much maintenance, pick a 3-speed road bike.

You may think that since 3-speed bikes are so comfortable, an 8-speed bike will let you ride with even greater ease. You’re correct; if you have a lot of ups and down in your ride, an 8-speed road bike will bring more convenience.

However, like any feature, this too comes at a cost. 8-speed bikes are also much more tricky to maintain. These bikes have a derailleur with exposed parts that can get dirty and clogged.

These exposed parts are much more difficult to maintain, and thus, you should consider this aspect before buying an 8-speed road bike.

Schwinn Volare 1300 Adult Hybrid Road Bike, 28-inch wheel, aluminum frame, Blue

A 3-speed road bike is a median that allows you to have an easy ride while protecting your derailleur and ensuring convenient maintenance.

Read What to Look For in a Road Bike?

How Do 3-Speed Road Bikes Work?

One beautiful aspect of these bikes is that their gears are all hidden in the rear wheel’s hub. The parts are hidden, not exposed to the elements, and not susceptible to damage due to air exposure.

To shift between speeds, all you have to do is twist the right handlebar grip towards you or away from you to select the gear you’ll be traveling in.

You can decide after multiple tries which gear is best for you to cruise around in, climb uphill, and ride downhill.

Going uphill requires you to shift to a higher gear and ride downhill to a lower one. However, this might change depending on how you ride your bike.

You should start with the first gear. You can switch to the second one as you gain speed, and top gear allows you to go at your fastest. You can change gears regardless of the pace your bike is traveling in, i.e., you can change gears when your road bike is traveling at high speed or even when it’s stationary.

To change the gear when the bike is in motion, you have to keep pedaling while reducing the pressure on the pedals and then use the handlebar to select which gear you want to continue in.

If you’re not moving, all you have to do is twist the handle to pick the gear. This selects the gear which your bike will be in when you move next.

Schwinn Volare 1400 Adult Hybrid Road Bike, 28-inch wheel, aluminum frame, Red

3-speed bikes make riding a bike much more convenient for you. With the twist of the wrist, your ascent is now no longer feels insurmountable. With the right gearing, you’ll be cruising along at the perfect speed and not feel the burn of your climb.

Read 8 Steps To Clean Your Bike

What Are the Advantages of 3-Speed Road Bikes?

3-speed road bikes have many advantages, which is why they’re so popular. Once you’ve ridden a 3-speed road bike, it isn’t easy to go back to a single-speed one. We have discussed some of the most major advantages below:

1. Internal Hub Doesn’t Require as Much Maintenance

If you’re a cyclist who has ridden many bikes, you probably know that hub gear is preferred to other types of gear. They are clean and require less maintenance.

The gearing is also completely covered in lubricant, and so there isn’t much exposure to air. The lubrication ensures that there’s less amount of wear and tear. It also protects against any rusting due to the weather.

2. No Routine Lubrication Is Required

If you don’t like the consistent greasing that other bikes require, then a 3 speed-road bike is the perfect choice for you. The constant internal lubrication of the gears allows for problem-free smooth shifting between gears.

You don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty consistently or choking any parts due to a lack of lubrication.

3. They Don’t Have Any External Gears or The Derailleur Hanger

The gears are firmly placed in the internal rear hub of the wheel, so there is no need for the derailleur and cassette attached to the rear wheel. This casing and attachment leave a small number of working parts that can go wrong while cruising around the city.

Thus, you’re less likely to have damage in the middle of your commute. You can likely use a 3-speed road bike for a while since the parts don’t have a lot of wear and tear going on.

Hiland Road Bike 700c Racing Bike City Commuter Bicycle with 14 Speeds Drivetrain 55cm Black

4. Your Chain Won’t Fall Off

Due to all gears being in the internal hub, the chain isn’t constantly switching between the different gears, which means it’s less likely to fall off or jam.

The mechanism is novel for 3-speed bikes as it is for single-speed bikes since the chain here doesn’t have to switch between gears.

5. 3-Speed Gives You More Range

Having a greater range is very important if you want to use your bike for all possible events. A 3-speed road bike gives you more versatility which means that you can easily navigate all aspects of a city.

From the flat terrains to the higher terrain, you can explore it all. You won’t have to work quite hard to get around, and it would be more comfortable than a single-speed road bike.

6. Increased Safety With Twist Grip Shifting

Schwinn Fastback Carbon Road Bike, Fastback AL105, 48cm/Small Frame

If the gears change up wasn’t on the handlebars, most riders would have to slow down to switch the gears. However, since the gears are changeable using twist-grip shifting, it’s safer.

Riders don’t have to maneuver quite as much to shift their gears. This factor means that there are no sudden lurches due to a shift of focus. You’re also more likely to maintain your speed.

7. You Can Change Speed When Stationary

The best part about 3-speed bikes is that you can shift gears even when the bike isn’t moving. Due to this, people are more likely to slow down and then shift gears on their bikes.

However, to be safer, people can even come to a complete halt and then change their gears. This option allows them to be safe when they’re just starting.

You also don’t have to make it to a specific speed before you can shift gears, which means you’re not in trouble if you shift gears earlier or later.

8. They are Quicker

Single-speed bikes don’t let you reach the kind of speed that 3-speed road bikes can. If you’ve bought a road bike, chances are you want it to be quick and fast.  Road bikes are also called racing cycles for this very reason.

Schwinn Fastback AL Claris Adult Performance Road Bike, Beginner to Intermediate Bicycle Riders, 700c Wheels, 16-Speed Drivetrain, Large Aluminum Frame, Blue

The gearing on a 3-speed road bike will allow you to go much faster without having to put an extensive amount of effort.  These bikes are fast as they let you put in less effort for a greater range of speeds.

9. They are Versatile

Single-speed bikes also require you to stay in one zone. When it comes to single-speed bikes, you can stick to one type of landscape and terrain. However, with 3-speed road bikes, there are so many more territories that you can overcome.

Read How to Remove Rust from Bikes

Disadvantages of 3-Speed Road Bikes

Every bike which has its advantages also has its disadvantages. 3-speed road bikes are different from single speed-bike and even road bikes with a higher speed system. We have listed some of the cons below:

Schwinn Phocus 1600 Drop Bar Adult Road Bicycle, 58cm/Large Alluminum Step-Over Frame, Carbon Fiber Fork,16-Speed Drivetrain, 700c Wheels, Black

1. It Still Requires Lubrication

The internal hub means you don’t have to lubricate often, but you still have to lubricate it. This fact means that you will get your hands dirty. The gears require you to repair the system immediately when something goes wrong.

Thus, they can require more money and effort to keep them running than single-speed bikes.

2. The Gears Are Intricate

3-speed road bikes use a system of gears that all click into place to form an intricate mechanism. If there is wear and tear on even a single gear, the entire gear system fails.

You will have to replace the entire gear system, which means you can’t use the bike until this fix happens.

SAVADECK Carbon Road Bike, Warwinds3.0 700C Carbon Fiber Racing Bicycle with SORA 18 Speed Derailleur System and Double V Brake (Red, 52cm)

3. They Are Heavier

We also know that 3-speed bikes come with more parts compared to single-speed bikes or other bikes. The parts are heavy, and they make the bike heavier.

This fact means you can’t easily travel around with your 3-speed bike like you could with your single-speed bike. They are also harder to maneuver and are not portable.

If you’re buying a 3-speed bike only to store it, you should also know that they take a fair amount of space in storage.

4. The Gears Can Also Become Noisy

Since the 3-speed road bikes have gears in them, you also have to maintain the gears. If you don’t maintain these gears even for a short period, they will become noisy.

Single-speed bikes don’t allow this to happen as they don’t have a carefully crafted gear system.

Vilano R2 Commuter Aluminum Road Bike 21 Speed 700c

The noisiness of the gears can create a fair bit of annoyance for anyone who’s riding the bike. As well as for the people around them.

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Final Thoughts

A 3-speed road bike has a mechanism similar to that of any other bike. It has the slight exception of traveling at 3-speed ratios, which the rider can shift through with ease. The gear shift is on the handlebar, which means that you can switch through the different gears while riding.

You can also change the speed depending on what terrain you’re traveling in, i.e., if you’re in flat land, you’ll switch to a different gear compared to when you’re ascending a hill.

However, a 3-speed road bike isn’t as simple as a single-speed road bike, which means you will have to maintain it to a degree. It is very versatile, which means you likely won’t have to buy many bikes to complete your biking needs. Thus, you can save your time and effort by buying only one 3-speed road bike.