One of the common questions beginner cyclists ask is, how many speeds is my bike?
This simple question can sometimes be confusing. The main reason for this confusion is because cyclists (and even bike manufacturers) use the word Speeds and Gears interchangeably.
Let’s clear this confusion.
- Speeds refer to the number of cogs on the rear cassette.
- Gears refer to the number of gearing combinations available.
Today, the latest top-of-the-line road bikes come with 12-speeds. The latest Shimano Dura Ace/Ultegra Di2, SRAM Red/Force/Rival AXS, and Campagnolo Super Record groupsets are all 12-speeds.
The number of Gears is calculated by multiplying the number of front chainring (usually 2, sometimes 1) with the number of cogs on the rear cassette.
Gears = Number of front chainrings x Number of rear cogs
The table below shows the common gears and speeds configurations on bicycles.
|Type of Bike||Front chainrings||Rear cogs||Gears|
|Road, Gravel (1X)||1||11||11|
10, 11 and 12-speeds explained
Most road cyclists will often refer to their bikes’ drivetrain as 10, 11, or 12-speeds (10s, 11s, or 12s) with the assumption that they have two front chainrings. This would mean that they have either 20, 22, or 24 available gear combinations.
Sometimes, you’ll also hear cyclists referring to their bikes as 1X or 1-by, which means there’s only a single front chainring. Combined with a 10, 11, or 12-speed rear cassette, they’ll have 10, 11, or 12 available gear combinations. 1X is common for gravel bikes.
The triple chainring is rare for mid to top-of-the-line road bikes and is found in 7, 8, or 9-speed drivetrains, giving the cyclist 21, 24, or 27 available gear combinations.
Common drivetrain gearing set up
The table below shows some of the common drivetrain configurations found in road bikes today.
|Shimano||Dura Ace, Ultegra||R9200, R8100||12||24|
|SRAM||Red, Force, Rival||eTap AXS||12||24|
|SRAM||Force||eTap AXS 1X||12||12|
|Shimano||Dura Ace, Ultegra||R9000, R9100, R8000||11||22|