How can I tell how many speeds my road bike has? I have a Shimano Ultegra groupset. Thx

2 Answers 2


Traditionally 'speeds' meant the number of gear configurations available. This is the number of sprockets in the cassette (or on the freewheel for older bikes) multiplied by the number of chainrings - hence the iconic '10 speed racer' for a bike with 5 sprockets in the rear and 2 chainrings.

These days people tend to use 'speeds' to refer to just the number of sprockets in the cassette, and it seems to have come to refer to the technological advancement or quality of the groupset, as newer more expensive grousets have more sprockets and older or cheaper groupsets have fewer.

If you want to talk about the number of gear configurations you bike of groupset has, most people now write [number of chainrings] x [number sprockets in rear], e.g. '2x11' (spoken: 'two by eleven') instead of '22 speed'.

  • 1
    I think the emergence of triple chainrings is why marketers started referencing the number of sprockets on a cassette. It became a marketing issue when a cheap drivetrain with a triple started having more gear combinations than a more expensive drivetrain with a double chainring. This was especially problematic after years convincing everyone more gears = better quality.
    – Rider_X
    Dec 20, 2018 at 6:15
  • @Swifty - I think the format of this bit of Jargon is regional (You're in Europe, I'm in the US). I've always heard folks refer to it as chainrings x cassette cogs, not the reverse. Not that there is anything wrong with either format. It's pretty easy to tell which number is which since it's almost always true that the number of chainrings [0,1,2] is smaller than the number of cassette cogs [5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12]. Of course, there are usually exceptions to the rule.
    – Benzo
    Dec 20, 2018 at 15:36
  • @Benzo I'm in Europe and I've only ever heard chainrings x cassette cogs. Dec 20, 2018 at 19:30
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    @Benzo my comment has been incorporated into the answer so I’ve upvoted answer and deleted the comment. Maybe my comment was a bit confusing but it’s all sorted now
    – Swifty
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:59

Count the number of cogs/sprockets in the rear cassette. Number is equal to rear gears your bicycle has.

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