Gear Vs Non-gear Cycles : Which Is Better For You?


Are you excited to buy a new bicycle? In case you’re still having a hard time choosing between gear and normal cycles, I’m going to help you out. Don’t worry, this is quite a common dilemma faced by individuals choosing a new cycle.

When we compare gear vs non-gear cycles, we can see that both have their benefits and drawbacks that you need to evaluate for choosing the right one. Regardless of whichever bicycle you decide to go for, you’ll find plenty of good cycles to choose from.

Among different types of cycles, the whole concept of a geared cycle is new to you, here’s a quick overview of how it works. Traditional gearless cycles have only one speed ratio, and the speed depends solely on how fast you pedal.

On the other hand, there are several chainrings and cogs among which you can move the chain in geared cycles. This chain shifting is referred to as changing the gear, allowing you to change the cycle’s speed ratio.

But, which is a better choice? Let’s compare.

Gear Vs Non-gear Cycle

Gear Vs Non Gear Cycle Differences

Point of DifferenceGear CycleNon-gear Cycle
DesignA geared bicycle is comparatively more complex in design.Non-geared cycles feature a more minimalistic and simple design. 
Ease of use/ ComfortGeared cycles allow you to ride more comfortably by maintaining your cadence better.Gearless cycles are easier to use, but take much more effort on rough terrains and long distance.
Speed and AccelerationIn a geared cycle, you have several speed ratios to choose from and can accelerate quicker.Non-geared cycles have only a fixed speed ratio and acceleration depends completely on pedalling.
Distance CoverageYou can cover much longer distances on a geared cycle.Gearless cycles aren’t that great for long-distance cycling as you’d tire out faster due to the effort it takes.
Type of road/terrainWhen riding on rough terrain, geared bicycles are a much better choice. You can ride gearless cycles on flat surfaces like roads with ease, but they aren’t very good on rough terrains.
Repair and MaintenanceAs geared cycles are more complex and have more parts, they’re harder to maintain and costlier to repair.Easy maintenance is one of the biggest advantages of a gearless cycle.
Adult/kid suitabilityGeared cycles are better suited for adults as kids may have some trouble figuring out the gear switching.The simple operation makes gearless cycles more suitable for kids.
Weight lossWhile gear cycles take less effort to ride these, it also means you lose less weight.You lose weight faster when riding gearless bicycles, as they take much more effort.
PriceNaturally, geared cycles are more expensive due to their versatility and complexity.Gearless cycles are more budget-friendly.

When Should You Choose A Gear Cycle?

Well, this depends on whether your cycling habits call for one. If you’re an adventurous cyclist like me and love going on long rides, a gear cycle is what you need. The same goes for cyclists who tend to take on challenging terrains and could use some help with reducing muscle stress and fatigue.

A gear cycle (mountain bike)

Advantages Of Gear Cycles Over Gearless Cycles

  • You can accelerate quicker on a gear cycle and adjust your speed more efficiently by changing the gear. This is especially helpful when there’s a change in the terrain or the slope gradient. A gear cycle allows you to move uphill with relative ease, reducing the effort you have to put into pedalling.
  • You’ll be far less likely to suffer injuries and sprains when riding if you’re on a gear cycle as you can adjust its speed and your effort.
  • The fact that you can ride a gear cycle for longer without tiring out would allow you to cover longer distances.

Disadvantages of Gear Cycles Compared To Non-gear

  • Gear cycles are costlier (starts at ₹6000) than Non-gear cycles (starts at ₹4500).
  • Besides the initial costs, you’ll also have to shell out more on repairs and maintenance compared to a gearless cycle. For example, a power brake set of a non-gear cycle can cost you under ₹300, whereas, a good disk brake system of a gear cycle is priced over ₹1000.
  • Children might find gear cycles to be too complex and have a difficult time adjusting the gears properly.

When Is It Better To Choose A Non-Gear Cycle?

A non-gear cycle is a fine choice for individuals who’d mostly be riding it on city streets and for short distances. After all, you don’t really need multiple speed ratios if you’re only going to use the cycle when travelling to work or college. Whether you’re buying the cycle for an adult or a kid matters too – in the case of the latter, you might want to go for a non-gear cycle.

A non-gear cycle

Benefits Of Normal Cycles Over Gear Cycles

  • Normal cycles are much simpler and hence, easier to ride. This is why they’re a better choice for kids.
  • These cycles are much budget-friendlier, both in terms of price and long-term maintenance costs.
  • You’ll find it easier to lose weight riding a gearless cycle than one with gears.

Limitations Of Non-gear Cycles

  • As there’s only a fixed speed ratio, it’s harder to maintain an ideal cadence on a gearless cycle.
  • Cycling on rough terrains can be quite tiring and cause a great deal of muscle strain.
  • Comfort isn’t really a strong point for these cycles, especially when cycling for long durations or on harsh terrains.
  • When covering long distances, you’d have to make more frequent stops to rest if you’re riding a gearless cycle.

Detailed Comparison Between Gear And Non-gear Cycle

As an avid cyclist myself, I always put in a lot of research before purchasing a bicycle. Thankfully, all the extra effort I put into it has paid off in more ways than just helping me choose the right cycle every time.

When comparing gear vs normal cycles, staying assured that you’re making a well-informed decision, especially when buying something expensive, guarantees much-needed peace of mind.

I personally always prefer gear cycles over the gearless ones, when it comes to cycling. Regardless, I’m going to share my knowledge regarding their differences to help you decide between the two.

Design And Mechanism

You’re likely familiar with the design of gearless cycles since they’re a common sight on Indian roads. These are simple, conventional bicycles without any special features to control the speed.

On the other hand, geared cycles have multiple cogs attached to the rear wheel and up to three chainrings of different sizes connected to the pedal. Major changes in gear ratio are made by switching the chain from one chainring to another while switching the rear cogs helps with minor changes.

Ease Of Use

In terms of ease of use, gearless cycles are the clear winner. The reason is rather obvious – the lack of gears means you don’t have to worry about making any adjustments to the speed ratio. Just pedal slower or quicker, depending on how fast you want to go. It may take you some time to get used to switching gears on a geared bicycle and knowing when to do it.

The Degree Of Comfort

Now, this is one of the biggest advantages of gear cycles. Being able to adjust their speed ratio ensures a more comfortable ride, especially when covering long distances.

For instance, A lower gear helps you accelerate quickly and move uphill with relatively less effort. Besides, switching gears depending on the terrain and the necessary speed allows you to maintain a cadence that would put minimal stress on the muscles.

Speed and Acceleration

In regards to speed, the difference is rather clear. You don’t have any speed ratios to choose from when riding a gearless cycle, and it all depends on how fast you’re pedalling.

On the other hand, switching the gears on a geared cycle changes the ratio at which the wheels turn per pedal stroke. For instance, when riding on a 2:1 gear ratio, each pedal stroke would result in 2 wheel rotations and thus ensure a higher speed. Setting the cycle to a lower gear, on the other hand, can ensure quicker acceleration.

Distance Coverage

Comfort isn’t the only perk of reduced muscle stress when riding a geared cycle. You can also ride for longer before fatigue sets in. Besides, you’ll be far less likely to injure your legs as your muscles have to bear less strain. This is the main reason why I choose geared cycles over gearless ones. When going on long cycling trips with friends, geared cycles are manifold better.

Type Of Road/terrain

When deciding between geared and gearless cycles, the type of road is another factor you need to think about.

Do you often go cycling on rough terrains or uphill slopes? Or are you simply looking for a bicycle for daily commute purposes?

In case you’re only going to ride the cycle on city streets and other flat terrains, non-gear should be alright. Contrarily, geared cycles are far better for difficult terrains as you can ride more comfortably and adjust the cycle’s speed ratio.

Repair And Maintenance

Repair and maintenance costs are important factors to consider before buying any vehicle, and bicycles aren’t an exception either. You’d always want to make sure you are fine with the costs associated with your cycle in the long run.

Non-geared cycles are generally easier to maintain as they generally have fewer components for you to look after. For the same reason, they’re also much cheaper to repair than geared cycles.

Compatibility With Adults And Kids

While geared cycles are usually a better option for grownups, it’s a different story for children. Kids may find the whole process of switching gears too confusing and complex. If you’re buying a bicycle for your kid, you might want to go for a gearless cycle instead. They can switch to geared bicycles once they’re more accustomed to cycling.

Weight Loss Exercise

Now, riding a gearless bicycle takes more effort, but that’s not entirely bad. The more effort you have to put in, the quicker you lose weight. If you’re planning to take up cycling as a weight loss exercise and maintain your body shape, you might find this to be non-gear cycles to be a better option.

Price & Affordability

Ultimately, you also need to consider your budget for the new cycle. Geared cycles are more expensive than non-geared ones due to the additional components adding to the costs. If you’re on a tight budget, you might find it easier to settle for the latter.

So, Which One Would Be Your Preferable Choice?

Although I prefer gear cycles, it’s ultimately you who needs to choose between gear cycle vs non-gear cycle before making your purchase based on your requirements. Now that you have a clearer idea of the pros and cons of either option, you should hopefully be able to make the right choice.

In case you’re leaning towards buying a gear cycle, don’t worry, the extra cost is absolutely worth it. Check out the best normal and gear cycles, and depending on which one you prefer, choose the one that suits your needs the most. You may also like to watch the following video to conclude your decision:

YouTube player

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