Choosing Between Hub Gear and Derailleur Gear: Which is Better?

Hub Gear vs. Derailleur Gear: Making the Right Choice

Hub Gear vs. Derailleur Gear: Making the Right Choice

The selection of bicycle gears is vast, leaving riders pondering over a crucial decision: Should they go for hub gear or derailleur gear?

These two gear systems are the most common variants used in bicycles. In this article, we delve into the disparities between these two gear systems and assess their suitability for specific requirements.

Understanding Derailleur Gear

Derailleur Gear
Image source: Pixabay

Derailleur gear is the most prevalent gear mechanism found on bicycles. In this system, there are typically variously sized chainrings on the crank.

Using the shifter on the handlebars, the rider can activate the derailleur, which moves the chain from one cog to another. The front chainring often consists of up to three individual chainrings.

The chain connecting the crank to a graded sprocket on the rear wheel is responsible for gear shifting. A derailleur mechanism, instead of a front derailleur, adjusts the appropriate gear ratio at this point. Generally, derailleur gears offer a wider range of gear ratios.

The number of gears is determined by multiplying the number of chainrings by the individual sprockets. However, the space within the frame is often limited for these components.

Hence, narrow chains are used for many gears, albeit with higher wear compared to regular chains. Prospective buyers should consider this aspect when opting for a higher number of gears.

Pros and Cons of Derailleur Gear

One significant advantage of this gear system is its low maintenance requirement. Individual components can be easily replaced to optimize gear ratios, enhancing uphill riding significantly by changing the rear cassette.

Riders find pedaling much easier, thus enjoying a genuine cycling experience, especially when using the smallest rear cog to achieve high speeds.

Fundamentally, this gear type features straightforward technology that has been tried and tested over many years. This simplicity allows even amateurs to maintain the entire gear system themselves. Spare parts are readily available almost everywhere.

Compared to its positive attributes, there are very few negative experiences associated with derailleur gears. One notable drawback is the higher wear of individual components.

Most moving parts are exposed, making them susceptible to external factors like weather and dirt. However, replacing chainrings or cogs is straightforward. A minor drawback is the limited functionality while riding, as gear shifting can only occur using the shifter.

Also read: Bicycle Valves: A Comparative Guide on Function and Use.

Choosing the Right Oil for Gear Maintenance

Derailleur gear systems are available for various budgets. A low price doesn’t necessarily indicate inferior quality. With regular maintenance, a budget-friendly gear system can function flawlessly for many years.

Wear and tear can be significantly delayed with appropriate oiling. This applies to all components crucial for pedal propulsion. Those seeking long-lasting enjoyment from their bicycle should dedicate time to cleaning and maintenance.

Given that all gear components are constantly in contact with each other and exposed to weather and dirt, special oils can be applied to the hub, chainrings, chain itself, and front and rear cogs.

Suitable products are available in stores. Correct usage is essential to avoid damage, as improper lubricants may dissolve the manufacturer-applied grease layer from the chain.

Understanding Hub Gear

hub gear
Image source: Pixabay

Hub gear comprises a planetary gear mechanism running in oil or specialized grease directly within the hub of the rear wheel. Due to its enclosed design, this gear system is virtually maintenance-free. Gear shifting occurs directly within the rear hub instead of utilizing a front derailleur.

The chain must transmit power from usually just one chainring on the crank to a gear on the rear wheel. Combining it with a belt drive as an alternative to power transmission eliminates the need for constant maintenance, making it particularly appealing for daily commuters.

Hub gears are slightly heavier than derailleur gears, which is why they are less common in sports bicycles. However, they are incredibly practical for city bikes or e-bikes, where the additional weight is negligible.

Advantages of Hub Gear

Hub gears have been tried and tested over the years, boasting mature technology available in all price ranges and a wide selection. Cyclists typically pay only marginally more for hub gears than for equivalent derailleur gears.

In addition to the aforementioned maintenance-free feature, cost savings are another positive aspect of hub gears. Cyclists save not only time but also money. Worn components or maintenance products do not need constant repurchasing.

Another advantage of hub gears is the rider’s choice between a freewheeling hub and a coaster brake. With a freewheel, the crank can rotate backward, while the coaster brake increases braking options. Compared to derailleur gears, hub gears also allow for gear adjustment while standing.

Disadvantages of Hub Gear

Of course, hub gears have their drawbacks. The gear system with a planetary gear is heavier and generates higher internal friction resistance while riding, significantly noticeable during cycling.

Despite the minimal maintenance required, components can still malfunction. Repairing them is often challenging. In case of a defect, cyclists usually have no choice but to send the hub back to the manufacturer.

Additionally, replacing the handlebar shifter along with the gear cable is complex and often requires specialized knowledge. Unlike with derailleur gears, the gear ratio of the hub cannot be altered.

Choosing Between Hub Gear and Derailleur Gear

Is derailleur gear superior to hub gear? This question cannot be answered definitively, as highlighted in our article. Instead, it depends on factors such as whether a lightweight racing bike or a sturdy mountain bike is being used.

The decision between the two gear systems also hinges on the rider’s needs and preferences regarding gear shifting. Each cyclist develops an individual sense in this regard.

Before making a purchase, it is advisable to clarify the combination of riding and shifting preferences. Only then can the appropriate gear system be selected for the bicycle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post
How to Brake with Your Brakeless Fixie Bike: 5 Methods and Tips

How to Brake with Your Brakeless Fixie Bike: 5 Methods and Tips

Related Posts