Is A 3 Speed Bike Enough? (Explained)

A 3-speed bike is enough if you live in an area without flat roads and have to commute around town or to work in an up-and-down movement. 

3-speed bikes are the least among the multi-geared bike options. These bikes have low maintenance design and a simple aesthetic to make them look like single bikes.

Its internal hub is where the mechanics of this bike is placed. This keeps the unexposed part of the gear covered from elements. This enables the 3-speed bike to last longer without frequent repairs.

In this article, we’ll look at how a 3-speed gear hub works and how fast a 3-speed bike can go.

What Is A 3-Speed Bike?

A 3-speed bike is a multi-geared bike designed with the concept that all its moveable parts are fully sealed in the hub of its rear wheel to provide three gear ratios.

This design gives the bikes :

  • Sleek look,
  • Reduces maintenance, and
  • Makes changing speed as easy as turning your hand around your handlebar. 

You can navigate uneven terrain or rougher landscape with a 3-speed bike without exerting excessive energy.

The beauty of the 3-speed is that you can change gears by turning your handlebar away from you or towards you. 

By increasing and decreasing the gear, for moving uphill and downhill and also selecting the best gear for riding around. The higher the gear you select, the larger the gear ratio.

How Fast Can A 3-Speed Bike Go?

Riding a 3-speed bike on a flat road can see the rider hit between 19 – 26 km/h (12 – 16 mph). On uphill rides at a 5% gradient, you can hit a speed of 10 – 16 km/h. 

To achieve the top speed, you have to start by selecting the first gear and as you gain speed, you can increase it to gear two, and then you can proceed to the top gear to hit the speed limit.

You can change speed when your bike is stationary or traveling along the road. Continue to pedal and then ease pressure on the pedal while twisting the handlebar grip to change gears while moving. 

When you’re stationary, twist the grip and select your preferred gear and it will automatically activate when you start to pedal.

When To Choose A Three-Speed Bike?

Different bikes are built to serve different purposes. Even though the 3-speed has the simplicity of the single-speed bike, it is the best option if your commute involves hills. 

(i) Navigate Rough Terrains

The three-speed is built to offer a comfortable ride when you have to navigate through rough terrains and uneven landscapes. They are also good when you have to ride around the pavement of the city. 

(ii) Low Maintenance Concerns

You can also choose this bike if low maintenance is high on your priority list. You might love the experience of riding but you don’t like geared bikes. A three-speed bike is the best option for you because of its internal hub.

(iii) If You’re A Beginner

You can also choose a 3-speed bike if you’re not much of a pro. Since the 3-speed gear can be shifted even when stopped.

Shifts require less cable pull, the cables will last longer and give you fewer problems. For newbies coming from a 1-speed, a 3-speed bike is the best option for you.

Recommend 3 Speed Bike

Advantages Of A 3-Speed Bike Over A 1-Speed Bike

Owning a 3-speed bike over a 1-speed has many advantages. Once you have owned a bike with an internal hub, it’s usually difficult to return to any other gearing system. 

Some of the advantages of a 3-speed bike includes :

(i) Less Maintenance for the Internal hub

Riders prefer riding a 3-speed to a 1-speed because of its hub gears which are protected and the reduced maintenance it requires.

The sealed gearing protects the gear from any lubricant and wear and tear.

(ii) No Lubrication Needed

A 3-speed bike is the best option if you want to keep your hands free from grease. The incessant internal lubrication allows for smooth shifting between gears.

(iii) No External Derailleur or Gears

There is no need for a derailleur or rear wheel cassette because the gears are sealed in the internal rear hub. This reduces the number of working parts that can malfunction while riding. 

(iv) Offers More Range Than Single-Speed

Having a different range of gears will allow for easy migration within the cycling paths, inclines, and descents. You would not need much effort to move this bike around. 

(v) You’re Less Likely To Suffer Broken Chain

The 3-speed bike has all of its gears sealed in the hub which causes the chain to not constantly switch between gears which can lead to a jammed chain or the chain falling off.

Why Are Three-Speed Bikes More Expensive?

The 3-speed bikes are more costly than other multi-geared bikes because their internal hub cost more than the derailleur and rear gear system of other bikes. 

  • This internal hub is easier to adjust and requires less maintenance routine. 
  • The highly engineered design of the hub has many small parts, which means it cost more for a standard repair.
  • It takes more time and expertise to work on a 3-speed bike. If you want to get a 3-speed bike, you should prepare for longer servicing time.

Why Does The Three Speed Cost More Than The 7-Speed?

The three-speed bike cost more than the 7-speed bike because the internal gearing systems are more expensive and complicated than the 7-speed bike. 

How To Stop Brakes From Squeaking Without Taking Tire Off

The internal hub of the three-speed bike leads to less money coming out of your pocket for repairs caused by bad roads. 

The drivetrain of the three-speed lasts longer than the 7-speed and the hub is less likely to bump out of alignment should you suffer an accident than the 7-speed bike. 

The 3-speed bike is more reliable and easy to use. It allows you to shift from a complete stop to engaging the gear and you don’t have to worry about sloppy adjustments from gear to gear.

How Big Of A Hill Can A 3-Speed Bike Take?

The 3-speed bike is the perfect option for riding on flat grounds and a bit of a hilly incline. They’re perfect to take on nothing too big but just mellow hills. 

The three gears of the 3-speed bike work very well but it doesn’t just work that fine with big hills.

You can ascend the hills with the low gear on this bike as it helps you pedal a lot easier.

However, its low gear is not like the super low gear you’ll get from a 7-speed or 21-speed bike. This gear is easier and less fatiguing than the rest.

How Does A Three-Speed Gear Hub Work?

A three-speed hub makes use of a planetary gear system to get the gear ratio between the sprocket and the wheel. 

  • In this system, the planet carrier rotates while the sun gear is fixed. Pedaling this bike will cause the planetary gears to rotate which causes the ring gear to rotate.
  • When the rider selects a speed using the shifter, the shifter pulls on a cable connected to the cable lever. The cable lever then rotates.
  • The cable lever pushes on a pin that passes the axle. This pin is connected to the planetary gear and makes it move when the lever is pulled.
  • When the planetary gear system shifts, the ring gear and the planet carrier are engaged or disengaged from the wheel and the chain. This is what changes the gear ratio.

How Many Speeds Do I Need On My Bike?

The answer to this is determined by what you need a bike for. Bicycles are efficient machines so your daily activity determines the speeds you need.

One Speed Bike

If you’re looking to commute daily around your town and neighborhood, a one-speed bike might be perfect but if you come across a very steep hill, you might need to get off and push the bike with your hands. At this point, you need a two-speed bike.

Two Speed Bike

The one-speed bike might be annoying when you need to make a quick movement but the low gear is holding you back.

A two-speed bike is usually a fixie because you get two gears and a brake with no cable. 

Three Speed Bike

If the two-speed bikes don’t do it for you, then you might get a three-speed bike. Many people do not want to contend with fixing their bike chains and getting grease all over so the three-speed bike works nicely.

You can keep changing your bike type to match the speed type you need for your activity.


The choice of the type of geared bike you need depends on your riding needs. With a 3-speed bike, you can worry less about maintenance while experiencing a more comfortable ride. 

It’s also easier to shift gears with a 3-speed bike as you’ll be able to shift gears whether you’re pedaling or the bike is stationary.

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I’ve been riding (bicycles) my entire life and am passionate about everything that comes along with it. I wouldn’t call myself a true “roadie”. I’m just a guy that loves riding because of the pure joy it brings.

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