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Old 09-10-10, 06:16 AM   #1
khosch
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3 speed or 8 speed?

I am trying to decide between the Electra Townie 3i and 8i. I live where there are virtually no hills and I probably won't take the bike to other locations to ride. But I don't want to purchase a 3-speed and then wish I had gone for the 8-speed.

I would be interested in any thoughts, opinions or experience anyone might have in this regard. I haven't ridden a bike much in the past umpty-ump years, and the townies really appeal to me.
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Old 09-10-10, 09:34 AM   #2
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I find the gap between the gears of a three speed to be too large. Even without hills you may encounter head winds that will make an 8 speed worth having.
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Old 09-10-10, 09:43 AM   #3
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That's the main difference.... Likely the lowest and highest gears on the three-speed and the 8-speed are pretty similar. It's just that the jumps between are substantial. You might find yourself in gears that are too low or too high and nowhere else to go.
With my wonky old knees I just love gears.... The more the better.
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Old 09-10-10, 11:19 AM   #4
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The highest and lowest gear ratios on an 8 speed actually are quite a bit different than a 3 speed.

The steps between gears are closer, so that is good. And it does give you more options should you ever end up riding it in a hillier area.

Definitely nicer to have the 8 speed. Unfortunately that will usually cost you about $300 more.

All of that said, a 3 speed would likely do you well. They have been used for decades and in much hillier conditions than you describe. Note that millions of people get by fine with single speed bikes, so a 3-speed is already giving you more flexibility. If you get the 3-speed and find that you would like the gearing to be a little easier, you can have the rear cog changed out to a larger one.

If money isn't a big concern, then go for the 8 speed. No harm in going there. If you are watching your dollars, then the 3 speed will likely be just fine.
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Old 09-10-10, 11:21 AM   #5
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That's the main difference.... Likely the lowest and highest gears on the three-speed and the 8-speed are pretty similar. It's just that the jumps between are substantial. You might find yourself in gears that are too low or too high and nowhere else to go.
With my wonky old knees I just love gears.... The more the better.
8 speeds have about twice the range of a 3 speed. If the OP has any misgivings, and the extra coin for the 8 speed is not an issue, I'd definitely recommend the 8 speed. Much less chance for regrets that way.
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Old 09-10-10, 12:45 PM   #6
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I must have ridden thousands of miles on the Sturmey archer gear system in my youth and it never caused a problem. But I now prefer closer ratio gears and more of them and that is just on a ride into town.
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Old 09-10-10, 01:19 PM   #7
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Go fixie.
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Old 09-10-10, 03:14 PM   #8
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I have a Townie 3s and a 7 speed Jamis Boss Cruiser. The one I get the most all around use out of is the 7 speed bike. But I love my Townie and I have put a lot of miles on it - mostly around town.
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Old 09-10-10, 05:38 PM   #9
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I have two commuter bikes, one set up as a 1x9 deraileur with 11-34 cassette and the other a Nexus 8 IGH; plus I live in a fairly hilly area. So both bike have a similar total gear range, just over 300%; have sort of kept an eye on the gear-in ratios most often used- there are two, about 37 and 66. This is a 178 % difference, which very closely matches the range of 3 speed hub. IMO- a 3 speed hub would be fine provided it is in the range you need. The extra range of an 8 speed is nice for those days when everything just bogs you down.
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Old 09-10-10, 06:57 PM   #10
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Look at it the way I did when I was on the fence about a 3speed or a 7 speed........You can't use what you don't have. So it is with more gears vs less gears.






Oh yes, I got the 7 speed!!
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Old 09-11-10, 10:02 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the quick responses! I was leaning toward the 3-speed, but after hearing about your experiences I am going to get the 8-speed. I just have to wait a month or so; but it really is better to wait and get the better bike than to buy now just because I am so eager to get on the road. Everyone has always told me to be more patient, so I am trying to do that!

Thanks again guys!
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Old 09-11-10, 11:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
The steps between gears are closer, so that is good. And it does give you more options should you ever end up riding it in a hillier area.
Close steps between gears is good on the flats. Once you get into a cadence rhythm it's nice to have closely spaced gears so that you don't find yourself making the choice between a gear that feels a litle too hard and one that's too easy.

In the hills I like more widely spaced gears. They account for the momentum lost while shifting on the way up and for acceleration on the way back down.
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Old 09-11-10, 01:09 PM   #13
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Go with the three speed or dérailleur.The seven and eight speed are not that reliable if you ride a lot.I just sold my wife`s 7 speed and got her a dérailleur 21 speed.And did I say the dérailleurs are a lot cheaper.The in hub sounds good till you ride it day in and day out.Then you will find they are not what they are cracked up to be.SMHO
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Old 09-12-10, 06:45 AM   #14
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Go fixie.
Aww nuts! I was going to suggest that.

khosch, since you have few or no hills, you might find a fixie of single speed fun. The Raleigh One Way was a fine looking bike in'08.

With a flip-flop hub, you can have a fixed cog on one side, and a single speed freewheel on the other. The best of both worlds.
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Old 09-12-10, 08:09 PM   #15
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Go with the three speed or dérailleur.The seven and eight speed are not that reliable if you ride a lot...The in hub sounds good till you ride it day in and day out. Then you will find they are not what they are cracked up to be.
Rider Vin Cox has completed the Guiness recognised fastest bicycle ride around the world (18,225 miles in 163 days) using a Shimano Alfine 8 hub.

http://www.greatbikeride.com/index.php

http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/2010/0.../vins-done-it/

http://www.explorersweb.com/trek/news.php?id=19572
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Old 09-13-10, 01:35 PM   #16
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Rider Vin Cox has completed the Guiness recognised fastest bicycle ride around the world (18,225 miles in 163 days) using a Shimano Alfine 8 hub.

http://www.greatbikeride.com/index.php

http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/2010/0.../vins-done-it/

http://www.explorersweb.com/trek/news.php?id=19572
Yes but I said day in and day out riding with out a truck load of parts and a mechanic with you.
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Old 09-13-10, 09:51 PM   #17
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Irrespective of terrain, I like gears, lots of them, tightly spaced, e.g. 6%. If you can budget a little more money for the 8-speed, go for it. It's cheaper to overspend somewhat on more bike than you need than to underspend and then have to replace a bike which is less than you need or want.
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Old 09-14-10, 07:00 AM   #18
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Yes but I said day in and day out riding with out a truck load of parts and a mechanic with you.
Wow, you didn't even read the links before you responded with something foolish.
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Old 09-14-10, 07:03 AM   #19
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Yes but I said day in and day out riding with out a truck load of parts and a mechanic with you.
With plenty of my own experience to back it up, I'll put my faith in any of the currently available gearhubs on tour or anywhere. Your apparently negative experience is unusual.
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Old 09-16-10, 05:41 PM   #20
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As I understand it, internal hub gears have been used by the masses in Europe for decades, with nary a problem. Alas, the ten speed bike boom of the 70's pretty much killed it in America. But, as some might point out, the disadvantages of such gears are:

-A heavier rear wheel.

-Pretty impossible for the average home bike mechanic to repair, should they break internally.

-Much more problematic to fix a flat, unless you can find some of the old "dirt worm" style inner tubes and run them. For the unaware, this tube didn't make a ring. Instead, they were more like a "sausage",
sealed at the ends. When installing the tube, you simply overlapped the ends.

Pretty cool, other than that.
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Old 09-16-10, 06:49 PM   #21
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I fixed a flat on a bike with a Shimano "nexus" hub once. That was quite enough, thank you.
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