Many modern bikes come with 27 gears - which is more than you’ll need for city riding, says Jones. In the city, five to eight gears should be sufficient, although more may be useful if you’re riding in a hilly area. A higher number of gears costs more, adds weight, and increases maintenance issues.
Gears come as part of a groupset
. This includes everything making up the gears
(front and rear derailleurs, cassette, chain, cranks and shifters) as well as the brakes. What’s important to know is that each groupset manufacturer makes different grades (from entry-level to pro) for both mountain and road bikes (commuter bikes can fall into both categories).
As the grades improve, groupsets get lighter, have more gears, are more durable and perform more efficiently. But it’s unlikely the average commuter will notice much difference between low-end and high-end groupsets, Jones says. Provided you keep your gears clean and look after them, the shifting of lower-end groupsets should continue to perform.
– where the gear system is inside a covered chamber, unlike the external derailleur system – are a good option for commuters. They’re low maintenance and gears can be shifted while stopped. On the downside, they make it fiddly to remove the wheel in the case of a flat tyre and add weight.