I am young...and dumb... so I want to ride fixed gear as all the other cool guys do. But without the trouble of having too high of a gear when starting away from a traffic light.

So is it possible to have a rear derailleur with a two- or three-speed cassette and one front gear, while still having a fixed-gear set up?

I thought of 48 in the front and something like 17-22-37 on the rear cassette?

Thanks in advance

  • 2
    I thought all the cool guys rode 1X these days!!
    – Max
    Jun 8, 2018 at 17:10
  • I've called this a duplicate of my own earlier question because the answer there is your best bet (hub gears, which would give you a much wider range than you could accommodate even by stopping, changing the gear, and retensioning the chain). Honestly though, practice is what you need if it's standing starts you're worried about. I've only ridden fixed once but was happy pulling away in a gear that I could spin up to 40km/h. With a derailleur I'd normally start in a much lower gear.
    – Chris H
    Jun 8, 2018 at 18:21
  • 3
    All the other cool kid fixie hipster riders would scoff at you as you would be committing fixie blasphemy
    – Nate W
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:41
  • 1
    @max but fixed/singlespeed is 1x on both ends for increased coolness.
    – Criggie
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:48
  • Another daft idea, this time from Sheldon Brown: sheldonbrown.com/bichain-fixed-free.html (it sounds very hard to ride). Note that Sheldon had many years of experience in building bikes, and a very well-equipped machine shop with the skill to use it. A half-baked imitation of this would likely end in pain.
    – Chris H
    Jun 9, 2018 at 19:57

4 Answers 4


There is a Sturmey-Archer solution for you: S3X Silver

Just to copy the information available on their page:

Silver 3 Speed Fixed Gear Rear Hub


  • 3-Speed fixed gear with gear ratio of 160%
  • Gear steps of 20% and 33%
  • Threaded driver compatible for non-fixed 3-speed conversion with standard single speed freewheel
  • 6061 Aluminium hub shell
  • Available with 32 or 36 spoke holes
  • Compatible with 1/8'' 13 to 22 teeth sprocket
  • Compatible with 3/32'' 12 to 22 teeth sprocket
  • High-polish anodised finish
  • Weight - 980g

Gear Ratio

  • Overall Range - 160%
  • Gear 1 - 62.5% (Gear 2 - 37.5%)
  • Gear 2 - 75% (Gear 3 - 25%)
  • Gear 3 - 100% (Direct Drive)

I have no idea whether the price won't be a deal-breaker for you.

Nevertheless - good luck.

EDIT: A few words of explanation for those who say it is not possible to have such kind of gearing or a clutch is necessary.

Sturmey-Archer hubs are the internal planetary type of gears that (as some already mentioned) do switch decently under a load (however my experience with SA freewheel hubs are that it's much better not to put the load on the hub while shifting).

And yes, you'd have to abruptly change your cadence when shifting but your muscles, whatever strong they are, have some inertia and flexibility and can accommodate the change.

  • Have you ever ridden one of these? If all three gears are fixed, it seems like you would end up with issues as the pedals start moving faster/slower as you switched between gears. unless there is some kind of clutch mechanism to disengage the gears while you are switching. Also, going from one gear to the next seems like it would put some major stress on the gears if there is no clutch.
    – Kibbee
    Jun 8, 2018 at 19:47
  • 1
    Gear hubs shift decently under load, if you've ever ridden a Brompton you'll know. Like shifting a motorbike without the clutch, you'll just have to ease the pressure for a short moment as you move the lever.
    – Carel
    Jun 8, 2018 at 19:51
  • You don't need a clutch to shift a manual transmission -- it's tricky, but you can drive a stick shift car without using the clutch pedal. Due to extenuating circumstances, a co-worker on mine had to do that from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in his truck (which is still fine years later, afaik). I've done it a decent amount of time out of necessity on a motorcycle as well.
    – Batman
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:27
  • @Kibbee - as someone who had driven 1000+ km in a manual car using clutch only for starting (my throw-out bearing was dying and we desperately needed to get to the destination) and riding motorways as well I must strongly disagree with you. And Batman's coworker's ride is legit. By the way, with the new clutch (once the transmission was out I've decided to replace the whole set) the car is still doing great. As the forces on a bicycle are much, much weaker than on a car, shifting without a clutch is totally possible.
    – Mike
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:04

No, this is not possible. Derailleurs require freewheels.

Without a freewheel any reverse force on the cranks would tighten the chain on the bottom crank-to-hub run, which would collapse the derailleur and create a mess of loose chain on the top hub-to-crank run, then the chain would come off of the chainring, which would jam the chain and rear wheel and cause a crash.

  • Follow-up question: What about a front derailleur and a 3x crankset?
    – HAEM
    Jun 8, 2018 at 20:13
  • @HAEM and a chain tensioner with a lot of capacity (something normally built in to a rear derailleur). That probably isn't compatible with fixed gears either. But you've given me an idea
    – Chris H
    Jun 8, 2018 at 20:33
  • A derailleur like chain tensioner would be needed to take up chain slack when on smaller rings - same problem. Jun 8, 2018 at 20:35
  • Could be done with a tensioner on both sides, but there would be a long time transitioning between drive and brake. It would have the weight and complexity of a derailleur with none of the benefits (in particular, the 'Hipster Cool' factor)
    – mattnz
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:57
  • (edit: looks like a couple of people were faster than me) A setup without cage, like Cambio Corsa, would work. A bonus of Cambio Corsa would be that the wheel would be ejected at slightest mistake, so if you actually manage to shift while moving, everyone in the know knows you have bike handling skills of a demigod.
    – ojs
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:43

You may try this: put a three-speed freewheel on the rear hub. If you want to use another gear you loosen the axle nuts, move the chain on another cog of the three available. Then you re-align the wheel, retension the chain and re-tighten the nuts.

The chain line might not be too straight but in a way you have re-invented Campagnolo's very early Cambio Corsa, without both the quick release and the shifting arms. It will work with a freewheel pack only, of course. enter image description here

And you may also need some kind of device mounted over the chainring on the seat-tube that keeps the chain from falling off. Those fork-like thingies existed in the old days when there were no FD to do that job.

BTW, there are no fixed multi-speed 'cassettes'.

Let us know if you've tried it out.

Edit: The 17-22-37 rear might not be workable. The wheel would have to move back and forth way too much to accommodate for the chain-slack. I'd rather have a 17-19-21 or similar.

  • While it's always tempting to publicize the Cambio Corsa (which I myself only found out about a few weeks ago), I'm not really sure your approximation to it really solves the asker's problem. They want to be able to change gears while on the move, which your proposal doesn't allow. Jun 8, 2018 at 18:15
  • @DavidRicherby: IMHO it's the only way to come close to what he wants to do, to have more than the 2 cogs of a flip hub at your disposal. The other would be a ... derailleur bike! Anyway, the real cambio corsa was an attempted suicide machinery in the way it worked, just imagine riding downhill an Alpine road on a bike with a lose rear axle.
    – Carel
    Jun 8, 2018 at 19:44
  • 1
    I winced at the point where I had to imagine reaching towards the whirling spokes of my back wheel to operate the mechanism! Jun 8, 2018 at 21:59
  • I believe that Cambio Corsa was supposed to be used only before climb and at the top.
    – ojs
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:48
  • 1
    Surly sells 2-speed fixed "cassette" under the name Dingle. I'm not aware of more speeds.
    – ojs
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:48

A Schlumpf drive puts a two-speed gear set between the chain ring and the bottom bracket. I don't know if you can use it with 1/8" chainrings, or if you'll be restricted to 3/32". Like some other ideas here it's not going to be cheap.

The Wikipedia article I've linked above is a nicer summary than anything on the manufacturer's own website.

  • 1
    I think I have seen a price of around $1000 for it if I remember right. That would make it the most expensive by far.
    – Nobody
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:33

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