The Best 3-Speed Bikes (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
The best 3-speed bikes for low-maintenance riders and cruisers
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON February 19, 2021
You have a ton of choices when you’re buying a new bike. While it’s always important to think about the style of bike you want — mountain bike, cruiser, or an everyday road bike — it’s also critical that every bike rider consider the gears. You can choose a simple, straightforward single-speed bike or a more complex option with multiple speeds so you can change up your ride every time.
A 3-speed bike is a great option. It gives you more choices and more flexibility than a single-speed bicycle, but it doesn’t reach anywhere near the many options of seven, 21, or even higher-speed bikes. With a 3-speed bicycle, you can tackle riding uphill, downhill, and flat terrain. An all-around solid choice, we’ve rounded up some of the best 3-speed bikes available today.
A great choice for an all-around capable and smooth cruiser with extra stability.
- The 3-speed internal drivetrain is low maintenance
- Suits riders from 64 inches to more than 6 feet tall
- Built with a durable steel frame
- The frame may get bent due to shipping
- Adjusting the seat can be difficult
An affordable 3-speed for younger bikers who need lightweight and durability.
- Weighs just 17 pounds thanks to an aluminum frame
- Uses coaster brakes, which are safe for small kids
- Affordably priced for growing riders
- Thin metal parts may bend or dent easily
- Parts may snap off easily
A higher-priced cruiser with exceptional quality and wide versatility for any kind of bike ride.
- The low-profile, lightweight frame adds agility
- Can be customized with fenders, a basket, and more optional accessories
- Comfortable to ride even over long distances
- The seat can be uncomfortable for very long rides
- Instructions for assembly aren’t very clear
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Benefits of 3-Speed Bikes
- Internal hub gears. All of the gear mechanics are enclosed on a 3-speed bike, which keeps dirt and debris away. It also keeps your bike’s most important mechanisms clean, which reduces wear, tear, and maintenance.
- Increased gear range. A step up from a single-speed bicycle, 3-speed bikes give you more range, which in turn makes riding over different types of terrain easier. You’ll have no problem with hills, city streets, and sloping ground.
- Less maintenance. Thanks to the internal gear hub, your bike will stay well-lubricated and require less maintenance. This can also make your bicycle chain less likely to fall off, preventing further issues.
- Ability to shift gears while stationary. This benefit is especially important if you live or ride in an urban environment. A 3-speed bike allows you to change gears even when you’re standing still — which is super handy if you’re frequently stopping at signals, stop signs, or find yourself surrounded by traffic.
Types of 3-Speed Bikes
A utility bicycle is one that’s designed for all kinds of everyday riding, particularly running errands, commuting, and traveling around town. They’re a great choice for city or suburban streets, and utility bikes typically have mid- to heavyweight frames that are durable. Utility bicycles are usually built with an internal hub gear system, which is used for three-speed setups.
Cruiser bicycles are a popular choice if your bike riding style is more laid-back and comfort-focused. These three-speed bikes are built with heavy frames, balloon tires, curved backed handlebars, and other features that are designed for extra comfort while riding. They’re great for cruising long distances, and they’re particularly popular for those who like hitting the road and biking to relax.
Touring bikes are another option if you’re looking for a 3-speed bicycle. Designed for long journeys and a lot of riding, touring bikes are very durable and highly capable. You’ll get agility, solid speed, and the right structure to survive many miles. Though they tend to have a wide gear range, you can find 3-speed options within this category of bicycle.
A road bicycle is ready for any road — but it’s a great choice for riding on paved streets. A good option whether you live in a populated city or rely on your bike for frequent street riding, road bikes are workhorses. With 3-speed gears, they can also deliver speed variety to suit different environments.
Founded in Hermosa Beach in 2005, sixthreezero is known for its cruiser bikes built with California culture in mind. With an array of three-speed bikes, the brand makes durable and comfortable cruisers for every need. Models like the sixthreezero Ride in the Park Men’s 3-Speed Touring City Bike and the sixthreezero Men’s in the Barrel 3-Speed Beach Cruiser Bicycle are perfect examples.
If there’s one bicycle brand that everyone knows, it’s Schwinn. Founded in 1865 by Ignaz Schwinn, the company has more than 125 years of bicycle experience. And there are plenty of high-quality three-speed Schwinn bikes to choose from, like the Schwinn Mikko & Huron Adult Beach Cruiser Bike and the Schwinn Phantom Urban Cruiser Bike, two different cruiser choices.
Firmstrong focuses on designing high-quality three-speed cruiser bikes right in Hermosa Beach, Calif. With a special emphasis on the rider experience, Firmstrong bikes deliver everything from comfort to exceptional materials. Options like the Firmstrong Urban Man Beach Cruiser Bike and Firmstrong Chief Man Three Speed Beach Cruiser Bicycle show off the brand’s great bikes.
3-Speed Bikes Pricing
- $200 to $450: The most budget-friendly 3-speed bikes fall in this price range. You can find great options for kids as well as affordable bicycles for adults for under $450.
- $500 to $900: Consider the middle of the road, 3-speed bikes that cost between $500 and $900 offer a great mix of quality, performance, and long-term durability.
- $1,000 and up: This is the top-tier price range for 3-speed bikes. You’ll find the highest level of quality and the most perks if you opt for a premium bicycle.
Most 3-speed bikes focus on comfort above all else — and that’s because many 3-speed models are cruisers or utility commuters that are meant to carry you for long distances. Whether you’re riding around town at a leisurely place or rely on your bike to get to work, you’ll want to think about your comfort. Perks like well-padded seats and extra-large wheels can offer you more comfort on lengthy rides.
Tires and Wheels
The tires and wheels of your 3-speed bike are equipped to determine how smooth it rides and how capable it is on different types of terrain. If you’re riding primarily on paved streets and roads, you’ll want slimmer wheels for agility. If you tend to ride over various surfaces, you may want tires with better tread and increased thickness so they roll smoothly.
Don’t forget about the handlebars — they can affect everything from your comfort to your braking ability to how you shift gears. Cruisers tend to have longer, curved handlebars for easy reach. Utility bikes will have shorter handlebars with easy-to-twist gear shifting. Consider which style is the best fit for your biking needs so you’re always comfortable on the go.
- No Lubrication Required. Thanks to the enclosed internal gear hub found on 3-speed bicycles, you don’t have to worry about greasing or lubricating your bike’s gears regularly. You can skip this maintenance and trust that the internal hub is keeping everything moving smoothly with the right lubrication.
- Match Gears to Your Needs. Don’t forget that your 3-speed bike will be able to adapt to different needs and biking conditions. One gear is for climbing inclines, one gear is for descending hills and slopes, and one gear is for cruising smoothly. You can easily match your gear to your pedaling speed and save yourself some physical effort along every ride.
- Versatility. Thanks to their versatile gear choices, 3-speed bikes are great for tackling uneven or changing road topography. If you might encounter hills and slopes, this is a great bicycle choice to adapt and easily shift between just a few gear choices as you ride.
Best 3-Speed Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- 3-speed bicycles offer great versatility, but they aren’t equipped for off-roading or mountain bike trails. They’re best used on city streets and roads for everyday riding.
- You can reduce your pedaling effort and physical exertion by using all three gears at different points of your ride. 3-speed bikes can adapt, so let them help you do exactly that.
- A 3-speed bike is agile, but most of these bicycles do have more weight than folding or single-speed models. Keep this in mind if you’re choosing a 3-speed for your daily commute.
- Though they can adjust and adapt, 3-speed bikes aren’t built for high speeds. You won’t be able to shift gears to ride faster or pick up your speed. Instead, they help lessen your physical effort.
Q: Is a 3-speed bike enough?
For most people, a 3-speed bicycle will offer enough — particularly if you’re looking for versatility. A 3-speed will handle your everyday city streets, and they can make inclines and descents easier. If you’re looking for extra speed or off-roading capability, higher-speed options are a better fit.
Q: Is a 3-speed bike good for hills?
Yes, a 3-speed bicycle is a great choice if you're riding a route with hills. The different gear options will allow you to adjust for inclines, downhill rides, and regular flat terrain.
Q: Should I get a 3-speed or 7-speed bike?
This depends on your riding style and where you plan to take your bike most frequently. A 7-speed bike is better for rough road conditions, like bumps, steep inclines, and challenging trails. A 3-speed bike is better for paved roads and slight hills.
Our choice for the best overall 3-speed bike is the Schwinn Mikko & Huron Adult Beach Cruiser Bike, a bicycle that’ll deliver no matter where you’d headed on lengthy rides. The Adept Family Lightweight 3 Speed Kid’s Bike, meanwhile, is a good value pick — and a great choice for kids. Which 3-speed bike tops your list?