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Old 05-27-09, 04:36 PM   #1
sapphire.sun
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7 Speed vs 21 Speed

Hello,

I am a casual bike rider needing some some buying advice.

My main question is: do I really need a full 21 speed bike? I live in Seattle WA and expect to ride mainly on paved roads and maybe packed dirt trails, avoiding hills where possible (only because of sheer laziness) but probably will encounter one or two in the city.

I am thinking of buying the Fuji Crossroads 4.0, which is a 7 spd. If I were to buy a 21 spd, I am looking at the GT Nomad Comfort. There's a $100 price difference, which is a significant chunk of change for me, and could use it to buy accessories like a good helmet, pump etc.

Any thoughts?

Thank you!
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Old 05-27-09, 04:46 PM   #2
masiman
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Having low gears is nice, especially in Seattle. If you are only riding occasionally and casually, 7 speeds might work ok for you.

If money is an issue, the used market can get you something nice for cheaper.
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Old 05-27-09, 04:55 PM   #3
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Depends on how many overlapping gear ratios you want. I have a 21 speed and my wife has an eight. She gets around alright.
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Old 05-27-09, 04:56 PM   #4
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The 7-speed probably has a 38T chainring and a 14-34 "Mega Range" freewheel. The 38x34 low gear would get you over many a hill.
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Old 05-27-09, 05:00 PM   #5
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I'm not familiar with the Fuji Crossroads but I'll guess that it uses hub gears. If so, then it's probably Shimano or Sram. Both are very good products and with proper adjustment will offer long-term hassle free use. For the 21 gears, most likely uses a rear cassette and triple chain-rings up front. Again, properly adjusted they'll work just fine. I found this type of arrangement awkward to use since getting from a high gear to really low gear requires a lot of shifting on the front chain-rings and rear cassette. If that doesn't bother you then it's "O.K." I agree that having a low gear is good. With a change to the rear cog on the 7 speed you should be able to get a nice balance between low and high gear ranges. I ride mostly older English bikes. My "road" bike of choice is a 1958 Raleigh club bike fitted with a Sturmey-Archer FW4 four speed hub gear. I can ride almost anywhere in my area, except for some of the steepest hills, that I used to use my TREK 1000 24 speed road bike for. As my dad would say. "ya pays your money and makes your choice". Enjoy whichever bike you select. PG.
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Old 05-27-09, 05:05 PM   #6
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Is this it?

http://www.fujibikes.com/LifeStyle/C...osstown40.aspx

44/34 seems a bit high for a bottom end in Seattle but it could work.
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Old 05-27-09, 05:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
The 7-speed probably has a 38T chainring and a 14-34 "Mega Range" freewheel. The 38x34 low gear would get you over many a hill.
I think OP meant Crosstown 4.0. I think Crossroads is a Specialized bike. In any case, it comes with the 14-34, but the chainring is a 44.

For a little bit more the Crosstown 3.0 has 21 speeds. An LBS should be able to order that if they do not carry it. MSRP is only $70 more.
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Old 05-27-09, 08:48 PM   #8
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Thanks!

Thanks to everyone for your helpful responses!

OK, so judging by the responses so far, I gather that it's a better to idea to get a 21spd.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-28-09, 01:31 PM   #9
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naw,... if you're a casual rider then 7 speeds is just fine. i ride faster club rides on a 9-speed (1x9) and have no troubles whatsoever keeping up or passing people with 20 gears or more. if you're just going about casually, hanging out with the family, then you just want to make sure your lowest gear is suitable for your riding style and the terrain (more gears doesn't necessarily mean a better hill climbing gear)---take the bikes for a test ride up a hill!! $100 extra dollars will get you a nice pump, some spare tubes, and other goodies that you'll be glad you have later on.
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Old 05-29-09, 08:50 AM   #10
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I'm in the same boat as sapphire.sun, trying to decide between 7 and 21 spd for casual riding. I too would try my best to avoid hills :-) but unfortunately I live at the top of a hill, so will always have that one big hill to get back up at the end of a ride. I was thinking the 21 spd might be better, but I'm getting from this discussion that the 7 spd might be just fine. the bike shop is not in a hilly area, so can't test the bike on a hill there to really know.

not being an experienced rider, I'm worried the 21 spd would be real overkill for me and I might be happier sticking to less numbers to figure out. :-) Can someone point me to a faq or thread that explains these gear ratios in very simple terms. I looked at some pages on the sheldonbrown site, but still got lost.

And I'm still confused when you would use all these speeds. there seems to be a low gear for going up the hills; when would you use the higher gears.....speeding along a flat bike path or road?
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Old 05-29-09, 09:24 AM   #11
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More gears give you the ability to better control your cadence. Recreational riders generally spin anywhere from 50-80rpm. Avid cyclists will generally spin 100+. In any case the gears let you keep your cadence at your best performing level. If you spin slow and push too hard, your leg muscles will tire before you are out of breath. Spin too fast and you will run out of breath. Keeping in that happy range will let you ride farther and longer. Just make sure you have a low enough gear that will get you up your hills when you are tired.
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Old 05-29-09, 03:43 PM   #12
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I looked up the specs for the Crosstown 4.0 on the Fuji website. It has a 44 tooth chainwheel and a 14-34 rear casette and 700c X 35 wheels. The Sheldon Brown website, www.sheldonbrown.com/harris, has a gear calculator that shows a gear range of 35 to 85 gear inches for this bike. If you don't understand the concept of gear inches that may not make much sense but it does show that the gear range on this bike is very limited. It will make riding up a decent hill rather unpleasant, especially for a casual rider. It also limits cruising speed and downhill speed. Most modern bikes have 27 to 30 speeds. That allows the manufacturer to widen to upper and lower end on the gear range and to space gears close enough together so that you can usually find a gear that is comfortable no matter what conditions you encounter. Having a good gear set can go a long way to making your ride more comfortable. I'd go for the 21 speed over the 7 speed.
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Old 05-29-09, 04:27 PM   #13
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Thanks VegasTriker for the explanation! It helped solidify my decision.

So, just in case you are curious, I went to the LBS and ended up with a nicely priced used 2004 Diamondback Outlook (http://bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeS...1685&Type=bike) and swapped out the tires for some Michelin XC Road tires. It's an MTB, I know, but I liked the more upright geometry - kinda like a hybrid. It seems like if I really get into biking, I could upgrade the parts in the future, probably starting with the shifters.

So now onto the accessories...

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 06-01-09, 08:32 AM   #14
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if the range of gears is the same then you'd be OK - I find that on my 10-speed I have a few favorite speeds that I use. the only reason I like my converted hybrid triple crank is because it has a lower 1st gear - for hills - which my old steel bikes don't have.
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Old 06-07-09, 07:43 PM   #15
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MAN! There is TOO much to learn even for basic bike buying. I've posted a thread called Help me Support My Local Bike Shop. I've received great advice there and now, here I am, wondering 7 vs. 21 too.

The bike I like most is a Trek 7000 WSD. I'm looking for lower end obviously. So here's my question. Based on the SPECS below, does the 7 gears on this bike have a wide enough spread?

Wheels Wheels Alloy hubs; Matrix 550, 36-hole alloy rims Tires Bontrager Select Invert, 700x35c; 27tpi Drivetrain Shifters SRAM MRX twist, 7 speed Front Derailleur Shimano C102 Rear Derailleur Shimano TX51 Crank Shimano M151 48/38/28 w/chainguard Cassette Shimano 14-34, 7 speed w/spoke protector Pedals Nylon platform

OR IS THIS BETTER?
  • Drivetrain
    • Bottom Bracket: VP semi-cartridge bolt type
    • Derailleurs: SRAM ESP rear, Shimano C050 front
    • Shifters: SRAM ESP 3.0 twist
    • Chain: KMC Z-72
  • Wheels
    • Rims: Weinmann TM19 alloy 36 holes
    • Hubs: Formula alloy sealed mechanism front and rear with quick release
    • Spokes: 14 gauge stainless steel, 36 per wheel
    • Tires: 26"x1.9" Schwinn Approved city tread
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Old 06-07-09, 10:46 PM   #16
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For everyday, casual riding, the number of gears doesn't matter nearly as much as the range. As long as you have a gear low enough to get you up your steepest hill and another gear suitable for cruising, you'll be fine. You can coast downhill, so don't worry about the high end. A lot of people ride everywhere on singlespeeds.
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Old 06-07-09, 10:48 PM   #17
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OH! Thanks again to all for posting. I learned that I don't know how to read Specs and so when I saw 7 speed, I didn't notice the 3 on the other side, meaning 21 speeds

Figured out my confusion.
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Old 06-08-09, 03:19 AM   #18
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Your question 7 or 21 speeds?
My opinion on this is very biased- A bike with one chain wheel in the front and a rear cassette
[usually called 1x the number of gears on the rear cassette - eg 1x8] is especially pragmatic for commuting and utility riding. This set up has less maintenance and with a chain ring guard, you are
less likely to snag or soil your pants. A couple of good examples of this type of bike are Jamis 2
Commuter [focused at commuting, I have the Jamis 3 version of this bike as my winter ride] or a Schwinn Collegiate 7 [a female co-worker got one of these early in the spring- she likes it a lot and
had not been cycling in years- plus we live in a pretty hilly area]. 7, 8, 9 gears- will work just fine.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:50 AM   #19
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So just an update:

It's been about a month since I got my used 21spd and I have to say I'm sure glad I have the wider range of gears! There are some gears I'm partial to but I've definitely used gears in the upper and lower ends. I am sure if I were a lot more fit the 7spd would've been just fine but I'm not.

Can I just say what a great forum this is? Thanks for all your help!
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Old 07-14-09, 10:44 AM   #20
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Antother update!

I've been enjoying cycling so much that I sold the used bike I got and bought a '10 Specialized Vita. Really been liking it!
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