The Differences between Hub and Derailleur Gears

While looking through our catalogue of bikes you may have noticed bikes with hub gears and some with derailleur gears but what is the difference? and what is best for you? Sit down, strap in, let’s take a look


Unlocking the Gearbox
: Navigating the Differences Between Hub and Derailleur Gears

Cyclists, whether avid enthusiasts or casual riders, may be familiar with the perpetual quest for the perfect gear system. Among the numerous options available, the battle between hub gears and derailleur gears has been a longstanding debate. Both mechanisms have their own advantages and drawbacks, catering to different riding styles and preferences.

Derailleur Gears: The Traditional Shifting Marvels

1. External Presence: Derailleur gears, characterised by their external mechanisms, are the familiar sight on most bicycles. The system comprises a chain moving between different-sized sprockets, facilitated by a derailleur mechanism hanging from the rear dropout moved by a handlebar shifter + cable or electric motor.

2. Wider Gear Range: One notable advantage of derailleur gears is their ability to offer a very wide gear ratio and a greater number of gears to choose from. This allows cyclists to fine-tune their gearing for various terrains, making them an excellent choice for those who frequently encounter lumpy terrain.

rear derailleur gear
Derailleur Gears

3. Lightweight Performance: Derailleur systems are generally lighter than their hub counterparts, contributing to a more agile and responsive ride. This weight reduction can be particularly advantageous for competitive cyclists or those who prioritise speed and manoeuvrability. It’s not so important on electric bikes though

4. Maintenance Intensity: On the flip side, derailleur gears require more frequent maintenance. The exposed nature of the gear mechanism, chain and sprockets makes them susceptible to dirt, grime, and damage, demanding regular cleaning and adjustments to ensure smooth operation.

5. Precise Shifting: Derailleur systems excel in delivering precise and instantaneous gear changes. Cyclists can seamlessly shift through a range of gears, adapting to abrupt changes in terrain or pace with ease however unlike their hub counterparts, changing gear while stationary or pre-selecting gears isn’t an option.

Hub Gears: The Stealthy Internal Wizards

1. Concealed Elegance: Hub gears, in contrast, hide their complexity within the rear hub, providing a clean and minimalist appearance. The gear-changing wizardry happens internally, shielded from the elements.

2. Low Maintenance Bliss: Hub gears boast a lower maintenance requirement, as the enclosed system protects against external elements. This makes them an attractive option for riders who prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach to bike care.

shimano nexus hub gear
Hub Gear

3. Gear Changes at Rest: One distinctive feature of hub gears is the ability to shift gears while stationary. This convenience is particularly beneficial for city commuting, where frequent stops and starts are the norm.

4. Limited Gear Range: While hub gears are celebrated for their simplicity, they come with a trade-off – a more limited gear range compared to derailleurs. This can be a drawback for riders who frequently tackle steep climbs or desire a broader spectrum of gearing options.

5. Weightier Presence: Hub gears tend to add more weight to the bicycle due to the internal hub mechanism. This additional weight might not be a concern for leisurely ebike riders, but weight-conscious cyclists may find it less appealing.

Choosing Your Gear Ally:

Selecting between hub and derailleur gears ultimately boils down to personal preference, riding style, and the intended use of the bicycle. For those craving speed and precise gear changes, derailleur gears are the go-to option. On the other hand, riders valuing low maintenance, the ability to shift at rest, and a clean aesthetic might find hub gears to be their perfect match. Hub gears are ideal for urban riders that do short, stop-go types of journeys. Derailleur gears are almost exclusive for offroad riding.

Whichever camp you fall into, the most important aspect is to ensure your chosen gears align with your cycling goals and enhance your overall riding experience. Whether you’re conquering mountain trails or navigating city streets, the right gear system can make all the difference to your cycling journey.

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