We live in an ever increasingly technological world where even once simple decisions are now complicated. If you want to get back to the simple life then perhaps the 3 speed bicycle is for you - one gear for climbing, one gear for descending and one gear for cruising.
The 3 speed bike is designed around the concept that all moveable gears are fully sealed in the hub of the rear wheel.
This design reduces maintenance, gives your bike a streamlined look and makes changing speed as simple as twisting your wrist on the handlebar grip.
All bikes are designed to perform best in certain situations and the aim of this guide is to introduce you to the world of 3 speed bicycles designed specifically for cruising, fitness, commuting or a combination of all three.
Best Men's 3 Speed
State Bicycle Co.
Elliston 3 Speed Deluxe
Best Women's 3 Speed City Bike
State Bicycle Co
Azure 3 Speed Deluxe
Best Men's Beach Cruiser
Classic 3 Speed
Best Women's Beach Cruiser
Table of Contents
How do 3 speed bikes work?
The beauty of a 3 speed bike is that the gears are 'hidden' in the hub of the rear wheel. To change between speeds simply twist the right handlebar grip towards you or away from you to select the best gear for cruising around town, uphill climbing or downhill descending.
The higher the number, the bigger the gear ratio. To set off you should select the first gear (number 1) and then as you gain speed change up to gear 2 (number 2) or the top gear which gives the fastest speed (number 3).
You can change speed either when the bike is travelling along or stationary. To change gear when the bike is moving continue pedaling while easing pressure on the pedals and twist the handlebar grip to select the gear required. When stationary simply twist the grip to select the required gear and it will automatically change when you push off.
With a twist of the wrist that incline will feel much easier as you shift down, and with the wind at your back twist in the opposite direction, up into second or third gear, where the extra gearing ratio will soon have you cruising along at top speed.
Obvious advantages of a 3 Speed Bike
The advantages associated with owning a 3 speed bike are endless and once you have owned a bike with an internal hub it is difficult to go back to any other type of gearing system :
Internal hub requires less maintenance
Cyclists prefer hub gears for their cleanliness and reduced maintenance. The gearing is fully sealed from the environment in lubricant which reduces wear and tear and almost never needs maintenance.
No routine lubrication required
If you like to keep your hands free from grease then a 3 speed bike will be the perfect choice for you. The constant internal lubrication of the gears allows for problem free smooth shifting between gears.
No external gears or derailleur hanger
As the gears are sealed in the internal rear hub of the wheel there is no need for a derailleur or cassette attached to the rear wheel. This vastly reduces the number of working parts that can potentially go wrong while cruising around the city.
Your chain is less likely to fall off
As all gears are safely sealed in the internal hub the chain is not constantly switching between gears which means that it is unlikely to fall off or get jammed up.
Allows you more range than a single speed
Having a range of gears allows easy navigation of city cycleways, inclines and descents. With a minimum of effort you will soon be fully exploring your local area.
Increased safety with twist grip shifting
You never need to take your hands off the handlebars to change speed - simply twist the handlebar grip to increase or decrease speed.
Change speed when stationary
Perhaps the best reason to buy a bike is that you can change speed either when the bike is travelling along or stationary. This means no more crunching gears as you jump on your bike and start pedaling.
Best 3 Speed Bikes (City/Commuter Bikes)
Hopefully by now having read this guide you have a clearer understanding of the advantages of owning a 3 speed bike - ease of use, stylish look and, perhaps most important of all, less maintenance compared with an externally geared bike.
Now comes the tricky task of choosing the bike which best suits your needs, so let us try to guide you with what we believe are currently the best 3 speed bikes available in the U.S.A.
Best Men's City Bike: State Bicycle Elliston Deluxe
Launched in 2009 the State Bicycle Company could be considered the new kids on the block. With a goal of introducing premiere quality elegant bikes The Elliston truly upholds the aims of the 3 founding Arizona cycling addicts.
The State Bicycle City 3 speed - The Elliston is a beautifully engineered machine featuring mustache handlebars and a frame mounted bottle opener!!!
The Elliston has a choice of Shimano or Sturmey Archer hub and shifters and the retro style of a flat-black bike with chrome accents is not just aesthetically pleasing but the price point is also amazing value for money.
The styling is Dutch / European inspired and if you want to stand out from the crowd. It is the perfect campus bicycle, daily commuter, or weekend runabout.
Great Men's City Bike: Pure City Classic 3 Speed
The Pure City Classic 3 Speed is designed to elegantly transport you across the city.
Designed with the city rider in mind the Shimano Nexus Internal 3 Speed Freewheel Hub is also available in the 8-speed external gearing option.
The relaxed urban geometry of the Hi-Ten steel frame includes a versatile rear rack and fenders as standard.
The additional final inclusion of a bell means that if you purchase this bike you are ready for whatever your city can throw at you !!!
Best 3 Speed Hybrid Bike: Sixthreezero Explore your Range
The Sixthreezero Explore your Range is another exceptional hybrid 3 speed bike for both your urban commute and to escape the city.
This bike features a lightweight but sturdy ergonomic aluminum frame and the adaptive 3-speed gears gives the necessary power and speed to conquer any urban environment.
The frames are designed to keep your posture perfectly aligned which reduces pressure on your back, shoulders and, especially important when covering rougher terrain, your wrists.
The hybrid tires are designed for both speed and durability which allows confident riders to fully adventure into suburban terrain.
Brooklyn Bicycle Bradford 3
Brooklyn Bike Co. recently updated their range of city bikes to add the 3 speed model. The company have used their custom skinny tubes to reduce the total weight to between 28 - 30 lbs.
Combined with a neutral geometry the Bradford 3 provides a perfect balance of swiftness and stability.
The bike is available in a range of sizes from small to large and a choice of 2 colors - Ivory and Army green. The steel frame and fork allow for a very stable ride and the external mounts for carrier racks means that the bike is versatile for all occasions.
If you are looking for a daily commuter the Brooklyn Bicycle Bradford 3 could be the bike for you. The bike is beautiful, rides great and with a combination of a classic diamond frame makes for a perfect choice of city bike.
SE Bikes Tripel 3 Speed Bike
The SE Bikes Tripel 3 Speed Bike is designed to highlight beautiful styling combined with elegant craftsmanship.
The weight of between 28 - 30 lbs is consistent with the other bikes featured in this guide which given the High-Ten steel frame is genuinely impressive.
The caliper brakes offer a strong and safe ride which keeps the bike connected with the road. This allows for excellent acceleration and the Tripel is a fantastic option for both commuting to work or enjoying a more leisurely ride around the city.
Best 3 Speed Cruiser Bikes
Cruiser bikes are designed specifically for a more casual style of riding. Featuring a more upright riding position and 26" wheels fitted with 'balloon' style tyres cruisers are designed for comfort and enjoyment.
Sixthreezero Around The Block 3 Speed Cuiser Bike
The Sixthreezero Around The Block 3 Speed Cuiser Bike from Sixthreezero is a modern take on the classic beach cruiser. If your aim is to cruise with the family this bike will definitely suit your needs.
Featuring an ergonomic frame with classic lines the AroundtheBlock is ideal for casual or uptempo rides around the neighborhood. The Sixthreezero range is crafted with rider comfort at the forefront of the design process. The frame geometry and pedaling position ensure a pain free enjoyable ride for all.
The beach cruiser features 26" wheels for a more laid back style of riding. Fitted with 2" semi-slick cruiser tyres this cruiser is suited to rides across varied terrain giving total control even on the bumpiest of roads. The stylish Matt-black or Matt-grey livery will blend in perfectly to all environments.
Micargi Tahiti 3 Speed
The Micargi Tahiti 3 Speed is a cool looking 3 speed custom beach cruiser with matching fenders, alloy rims, stainless steel spokes and white wall tires.
Manufactured from Hi-Ten steel the frame and forks ensure a stable ride while the steel chrome-plated cruiser bend handlebars complete the elegant finish.
To increase the level of rider comfort the bike is fitted with a Micargi extra padded cruiser saddle as standard. The Shimano coaster brakes and front and rear safety reflectors ensure a safe and secure ride.
3 Speed vs 8 Speed Bikes
Surely an 8 speed bike has to be better as it has more gears I hear you say. Well actually, sometimes more is not often better, especially when you are riding around the city or cycling to the store.
With a 3 speed bike you have everything you need - one gear for climbing, one gear for descending and one gear for cruising. If speed is your thing then perhaps an 8 speed bicycle would suit you as they have the potential to be pedaled much faster due to their higher gearing ratio.
Most people, even with a larger choice of speeds, usually cycle in 2 or 3 gears so with an 8 speed bike you have a much more complex system, with more moving parts that has the potential to leave you needing a mechanic on your commute to work.
With 3 speeds you can seal the moving parts away from the outside environment inside the hub of the wheel and not have to worry about keeping them constantly lubricated.,
3 Speed vs Single Speed Bikes
Single speed bikes are naturally lighter than their 3 speed counterparts. This is primarily due to a lack of parts which makes them ideal for maneuvering in and out of traffic and being able to easily carry and store them.
The 3 speed bike has a major advantage over single speed bikes which can be summed up in one word - versatility.
With a 3 speed bike you have one gear for climbing, one gear for descending and one gear for cruising. With a twist of the wrist on a multi-gear bike the incline of the slope can easily be matched with your pedaling speed, which minimizes effort.
So, if your planned cycle has a varied topography a 3 speed bike is the clear winner and definitely the better option.
Whichever 3 speed bike you decide to go with a few things are for sure:
- 3 speed bikes offer more range than single speed bikes
- The Internal hub requires less maintenance
- No routine lubrication required of gears
- Increased safety with twist grip shifting
- Most importantly they are stylish and fun to ride.
Please comment below to let us know your ideas on 3 speed bikes and whether you have found this guide useful.