Hub gears or derailleur gears: which is the better choice?

Nabenschaltung oder Kettenschaltung: Was ist die bessere Wahl?

Hub gears or derailleur gears: which is the better choice?

Both the hub and derailleur gears enable smooth shifting

When riding a bike, changing gears smoothly is very important. Both hub and derailleur gears enable high functionality and smooth shifting processes through the use of proven technologies. Derailleur gears can be found on all types of bicycles and E-Bikes, while hub gears represent an interesting alternative. Depending on the type of bike and intended use, a hub gear can take the riding experience on a trekking, city or e-bike to a new level.

Derailleur gears vs. hub gears: The differences

Rear derailleur

Derailleur gears are known for their open system. They consist of one, two or three chainrings on the crank and sprockets on the rear wheel, which together form the cassette. A chain connects the two components. The shift levers on the handlebars are connected to the shift cables that determine the position of the front and rear derailleurs. The best-known manufacturers of derailleur gears are Shimano and SRAM.

The most common rear derailleur combinations range from 1x10 (one chainring and 10 sprockets) to 1x12 and 2x11. With the latter combination, 22 gears are available. Electronic gears like Shimano Di2 or SRAM eTap are even more precise. You control the rear derailleur (and depending on the system also the front derailleur) via electronic signals.

Closed hub gear

In contrast to derailleur gears, hub gears are closed and the moving parts are hidden in the rear wheel hub. This means they are well protected from rain, dust, salt and sand. Modern hub gears have a so-called planetary gear. External moving gears (the planetary gears) rotate around internal gears (the sun gears), which are firmly connected to the axle. The gear selected determines which gear combination is used.

With hub gears, similar gear ratios can be achieved as with derailleur gears and you can even shift gears while stationary. High-end shifting systems have little to do with the historic 3-speed hub. The Canyon Commuter is equipped with a hub gear.

The following table summarizes the differences between derailleur gears and hub gears:


Derailleur gears

Hub gears





Crank, chain, sprocket, rear derailleur, front derailleur

Rear hub, rear derailleur, shift lever

Number of gears

Up to 22 gears

Up to 14 gears

Translation area



switching process

During driving








The choice between derailleur gears and hub gears depends on individual needs. Derailleur gears are more suitable for sporty driving and longer distances, while hub gears are recommended for everyday life and short distances.

Strengths and weaknesses of the two delivery systems

Advantages of derailleur gears:

  • Derailleur gears are generally cheaper than entry-level hub gear models.
  • Compared to hub gears, derailleur gears are between 500 and 1000 grams lighter.
  • Derailleur gears can be shifted while pedaling (i.e. under pressure).
  • The finer gradation allows for more efficient pedaling than with a hub gear.
  • Larger possible translation range.

Disadvantages of derailleur gears:

  • Derailleur gears are exposed to wind and weather, so there is a higher risk of corrosion than with hub gears.
  • Derailleur gears pick up dirt and dust from the road and require regular care and maintenance.
  • The cassette and chain need to be replaced frequently.

Hub gears and derailleur gears are similar in terms of performance. Hub gears show their strengths in different areas than derailleur gears with exposed components.

Advantages of hub gears:

  • The gearbox is protected from dirt and water, which means significantly less wear compared to derailleur gears.
  • In combination with a carbon belt drive there is no risk of oil stains.
  • Hub gears enable intuitive shifting for beginners.
  • The hub gear can be switched while stationary.
  • Automatic, stepless switching processes on e-bikes.

Disadvantages of the hub gear:

  • Compared to derailleur gears, hub gears are slightly more expensive and heavier.
  • With a hub gear, shifting under load is not possible.
  • The efficiency of hub gears is lower than that of derailleur gears.
  • The translation bandwidth is limited.
  • Changes to the gear ratio are problematic.

Overall, there is no clear answer when choosing between hub gears and derailleur gears, as both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. The selection depends on individual needs, such as budget, willingness to care, weather conditions, speed and area of ​​application.

Which shifting system is right for my bike?

In these cases, hub gears are the best choice:

Hub gears are a good choice for city bikes or commuter bikes designed for intended for daily use. They are also ideal for those who do not want to spend time on maintenance and upkeep. If you have a belt-drive bike, a hub gear can prevent oil stains from appearing on your clothing. In addition, you can shift gears particularly conveniently while stationary during frequent stops.

In contrast to derailleur gears, hub gears have a limited gear range and are less adaptable. They are therefore not suitable for frequent drivers or professional use. However, if you are looking for a bike for everyday use and prefer a low-maintenance option, a hub gear is the best choice.

Hub or derailleur gears on an e-bike?

When choosing between hub gears and derailleur gears on an e-bike, there are a few factors to consider. Thanks to powerful mid-motors and heavy batteries, weight plays a smaller role in e-bikes. Therefore, the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems affect e-bikes differently.

GRUNDIG city bikes with a mid-engine are available with both chain and hub gears. The Precede has a hub gear and a carbon belt that is particularly low-maintenance and designed for user-friendliness. The Commuter, on the other hand, has a derailleur gear that is ideal for commuting to work. The Canyon Roadlite has a 12-speed rear derailleur for sporty riders and is equipped with a super-light integrated Fazua RIDE 50 EVATION electric motor that allows particularly fine adjustment of speed and cadence.

In trekking e-bikes, the support of the motor compensates for the slightly lower efficiency of the hub gear and the slightly higher weight. The comfortable off-road performance is complemented by the continuously variable Enviolo hub gear and a carbon belt. When touring, you benefit from an easy-care bike and can ride off without having to check, clean or oil the chain.

Overall, the choice between hub gears and derailleur gears on an e-bike depends on individual needs and preferences. The transmission requires less maintenance and offers a comfortable driving experience, while the derailleur offers a wider range of gears for sporty rides.

Related Posts:

SUV e-bikes: hub gears or derailleur gears?

The new Pathlite SUV e-bike offers a practical combination of hub gears and carbon belts that ensure maximum comfort and flexibility. A derailleur gear is ideal for a sportier ride. It offers reserves on different terrain and in steep sections, which is particularly advantageous on long and varied rides.

The switching option for city bikes

Both chain and hub gears are suitable for city bikes. However, the hub gear scores points in city traffic for its reliability. In contrast to derailleur gears, a hub gear hardly wears out and requires little maintenance. A hub gear in combination with a belt drive is ideal for avoiding dirty trouser legs and making the city or commuter bike the perfect city companion.

Another advantage of hub gears on city bikes is the ability to shift gears while stationary. You can always start in the right gear at traffic lights or before going uphill. In city traffic you often have to brake suddenly. With a hub gear you can quickly and effortlessly select the optimal gear to continue your ride.

For riders with a focus on speed and fitness, the Roadlite or Roadlite is the right bike with excellent derailleur gears. If there is a lot of traffic while driving, the speed of the derailleur becomes more and more important.

Which route is optimal for trekking bikes?

The choice of gearshift depends on various factors, such as the desired area of ​​use and driving style. On trekking bikes, derailleur gears are more dynamic and efficient because they can optimally adjust the gear ratio. In contrast, hub gears are more comfortable and easier to use, which is particularly suitable for city or e-bikes. However, mountain bikers and road cyclists prefer derailleur gears due to their efficiency and performance. Ultimately, the gearshift should be tailored to the individual needs of the driver to ensure the best possible driving experience.


Whether you choose a hub gear or a derailleur gear depends on the intended use and personal preferences. A high-quality gearshift enables fast, reliable and comfortable driving. My Bicycle Dealer's guide provides useful details on the types of manual transmissions. If you value performance and view your bike as sports equipment, you would be better off with derailleur gears.

Frequently asked questions

What are the disadvantages of an e-bike hub gear?

An e-bike hub gear is heavier and more expensive compared to a derailleur gear. It is also less efficient and has fewer gears available. Repairing a hub gear is usually more expensive than repairing a derailleur gear.

How does a hub gear work on a bicycle?

A hub gear is a closed gear system in which all gears are housed in the rear wheel hub. Shifting is done by turning the shift lever on the handlebars and gear changing is done by moving the shift drums in the hub.

How many gears does a hub gear have?

Depending on the model and manufacturer, a hub gear can have between 2 and 14 gears. However, most hub gears have 7 or 8 gears.

How high is the efficiency of a hub gear?

The efficiency of a hub gear is slightly lower than that of a derailleur gear. This is because the power is transmitted in the hub via several gear ratios, which leads to energy losses.

What is the difference between a derailleur gear and a hub gear?

The main difference between a derailleur gear and a hub gear is the type of gearing. While a derailleur gear is an open gear system in which gear changes occur by moving the chain on different chainrings, with a hub gear all gears are housed in the rear wheel hub. Derailleur gears are generally lighter, but they also show higher wear and tear and require more maintenance.

Which route is best for an e-bike?

The best translation of an e-bike depends on individual needs and the driver's preferences. A hub gear typically requires less maintenance and is easier to use, while a derailleur gear is lighter and more efficient. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of both types of circuits and choose the circuit that best suits your needs.