I have a Windsor brand bike that has a Shimano Nexus 3 internal gear hub. Initially when I purchased the bike used it did not have the shifter. The chainring is 44 teeth and the cog is 22. It felt really light and seemed like a 2.0 gear ratio which is too low.

I bought the shifter parts and pin and setup the shifter. Now when I am on second gear which is supposed to be the direct drive gear from what I understand, the gear ratio seems much higher. And when I am on 1st gear, it feels similar to what it is without the ping and gear shifter installed. Why would this be given that the 2nd gear is supposed to be a "direct drive"? My expectation would be that on second gear I would have a ratio that translates to 2.0 and on 1st gear 33% less and on 3rd gear 33% more. Are my assumptions correct and why does it not feel that way.

What I really want to do is set up a gear ratio that is comfortable (say 44/16) by changing the rear cog to a 16t instead of the 22t. I would then remove the pin and gear switcher so that I can basically ride the bike as a single speed. If I ever feel like I need more or less power I can always reinstall the gearing.

2 Answers 2


There is a difference between the direct gear, and the default gear:

  • The direct gear is the one that basically locks the hub's body to the sprocket. The internal gear ratio is exactly 1, and transmission losses should be minimal.

  • The default gear is the one that gets selected when there is no shifter attached to the hub. It is selected by internal springs acting on the shift selection parts. This generally is not the direct gear, but rather the lowest or highest gear, depending on the brand.

In your case, the default gears seems to be the first gear, while the direct gear is the second gear.

Generally, you can forget about which gear is the direct gear, it's irrelevant for riding and servicing. The default gear is the one that you may get into uncomfortable contact to when your shift cable breaks, or similar. But that shouldn't happen with proper maintenance.

  • That sounds correct. That's exactly what I'm experiencing. In my case the default gear seems to be the lowest gear. So then if I was to change the sprocket attached to the internal hub from a 22t to say a 14t, then my default "feel", as in when the cable is broken, would be easier than an actual 44/14 ratio, right? That would allow me to be able to essentially have a comfortable single speed setup when the hub pin and cable are not attached.
    – mo_maat
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:49
  • Yes, that's correct. But why would you want to ride without the hub pin and cable attached? Oct 18, 2021 at 15:40
  • I just wanted to have the option of removing the extra contraptions like the shifter, cable, pin and little cup thing that attaches to the rear wheel. Just to have less stuff on the bike til I actually need the gearing. I mostly use it as a pseduo singlespeed anyways because I'm always in the middle gear.
    – mo_maat
    Oct 19, 2021 at 12:21

To clarify - your bike came with a 3 speed nexus hub, but the shifter was not on the bike? So you bought a shifter and cables/links and fitted them?

I suspect your gears were in the harder gear 1 when no cable was providing tension, so not a direct drive.

  • 1
    Yes, bought with 3 speed Nexus, no shifter. I bought and fitted the shifter. My gears must have been in the easiest gear, not hardest. The pedalling with no shifter felt like a low gear ratio in line with the 44/22 chainring/cog.
    – mo_maat
    Oct 18, 2021 at 4:34

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