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So, a while back when I was rebuilding my vintage Shogun 6-speed, I realized that I only use 2- 3 gears on my commutes to and from school, crew, and other daily rides. The next day, I went to my local used bike parts dealer and bought a 10 speed cassette, the type that has the 3 screw- in pins on the back and plastic spacers, and tried different variations of 3 non- lockring gears; one large gear, one medium gear, and a medium- small gear, which with the required 2 lockring cogs makes 5 total cogs.

Anyway, what I was wondering about is if it is physically possible to have a gearset like this; would the gaps between gears be too big? Is there any way possible to make a 4- 5 speed gearset, and not have the chain fall in between gears or not be able to grab the next one at all?

Also, I'll upload pics soon.

  • Could be hard work for the derailerueruer to get up to the next biggest cog. It'll bind up if you shift too quickly, so be gentle on the shifting. Otherwise its worth a go. You can always revert if you keep the old parts in good condititon. – Criggie Sep 15 '15 at 0:51
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    What gears do you use? Even on the flats I downshift (having a 10 speed cassette) 2-4 gears every time I stop, then shift up when I get going. Fine gears are wonderful. A slight upgrade? Shift down one. Somebody in the way on the trail so you have to slow down? Shift down two. It's so much easier to get going again. Low gears are not for uphill-they are for low speed (which may be uphill, but there are other causes). You can mount a ten sped cassette and adjust the stops to only allow a few gears, why? The spacing may not match your derailleur and shifter as the spacing is narrower now. – Ross Millikan Sep 15 '15 at 3:56
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    Personally I think this is bonkers. You're saving a small amount of weight by reducing the gears, but you still need a RD mech. I suggest you borrow a 3 speed bike and try riding it for a week. Then you'll appreciate the benefits of more and closer gears. – Criggie Feb 10 '17 at 21:51
  • Five speed freewheels are still readily available. They still have the same disadvantages that made freehubs better in the first place. – armb Feb 13 '17 at 9:53
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Yes its totally possible. The single-cog version is one way to make a single-speed on a multispeed wheel.

enter image description here

The downsides are that you don't gain any lateral strength in the rear wheel because it is still offset, and that the single or fewer cogs are pressing into the freehub with far smaller area, so you're much more likely to damage your aluminium freehub. See How to prevent freehub body damage?

In your case you want a couple of gears but not all of them, so you would fit the 3-5 cogs you want, and then pack the rest with spacer as per the photo. Don't put spacers between the cogs. Aim to have the cogs so the middle one is in the middle of the freehub, which will give the straightest chainline.

Then adjust the high and low limit screws on your Rear Derailleur mechanism. Its quite possible they won't go in far enough, and you may need to find some longer screws with the same thread to do the job.

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If you really want a three speed with a simplified chain line, why not outfit your bike with a three speed internal geared hub, like a Sturmey-Archer? There are plenty of older ones three speed kicking around.

Contemporary IGHs include Shimano and Rohloff, which have more gears than you desire.

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