Category Archives: FAQ

How many gears?

I can safely say our bikes are the biggest bikes equipped with the Shimano Alfine 11 in Toronto. The other day, I saw what is probably the smallest one (which also happens to be red): this Tikit folding bike which belongs to jnyyz.

“How many gears does it have?” is a common shot in the barrage of questions I get when chatting to passersby about the Bullitt. The answer is 11, though you can’t see them because they’re inside the hub of the back wheel. The Alfine 11 uses planetary gearing, wheels-within-wheels, if you will. It’s more expensive than traditional external gears and derailleur, but with the parts more protected from rain, snow, and salt the drive train lasts longer and requires far less maintenance – simply change the oil every three months and tweak the cable when it starts making funny noises. But the main advantage of internal gear hubs for what we do at Red Riding Goods is that you can shift gears while not pedalling (eg, when stopped.) Occasionally I’ll have to come to a sudden stop or will forget to downshift. When carrying a heavy load, especially uphill, it would be impossible to start if stuck in a high gear, but with the Alfine 11 it’s no problem. And I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a sucker for the so-called “rapid-fire” ability of the shifter, which lets you shift two gears at once with extra pressure. It’s an elegant hub that makes riding the Bullitt even more fun.

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