A gear is a component within a transmission device that transmits rotational force to another gear or device. A gear is different from a pulley in that a gear is a round wheel which has linkages ("teeth" or "cogs") that mesh with other gear teeth, allowing force to be fully transferred without slippage. Depending on their construction and arrangement, geared devices can transmit forces at different speeds, torques, or in a different direction, from the power source.
The most common situation is for a gear to mesh with another gear, but a gear can mesh with any device having compatible teeth, such as linear moving racks.
A gear's most important feature is that gears of unequal sizes (diameters) can be combined to produce a mechanical advantage, so that the rotational speed and torque of the second gear are different from that of the first. In the context of a particular machine, the term "gear" also refers to one particular arrangement of gears among other arrangements (such as "first gear"). Such arrangements are often given as a ratio, using the number of teeth or gear diameter as units. The term "gear" is also used in non-geared devices which perform equivalent tasks: Broadly speaking, a gear refers to a ratio of engine shaft speed to driveshaft speed. Although CVTs change this ratio without using a set of planetary gears, they are still described as having low and high "gears" for the sake of convention.
The interlocking of the teeth in a pair of meshing gears means that their circumferences necessarily move at the same rate of linear motion (eg., metres per second, or feet per minute). Since rotational speed (eg. measured in revolutions per second, revolutions per minute, or radians per second) is proportional to a wheel's circumferential speed divided by its radius, we see that the larger the radius of a gear, the slower will be its rotational speed, when meshed with a gear of given size and speed. The same conclusion can also be reached by a different analytical process: counting teeth. Since the teeth of two meshing gears are locked in a one to one correspondence, when all of the teeth of the smaller gear have passed the point where the gears meet -- ie., when the smaller gear has made one revolution -- not all of the teeth of the larger gear will have passed that point -- the larger gear will have made less than one revolution. The smaller gear makes more revolutions in a given period of time; it turns faster. The speed ratio is simply the reciprocal ratio of the numbers of teeth on the two gears.
(Speed A * Number of teeth A) = (Speed B * Number of teeth B)
This ratio is known as the gear ratio.
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)
For More Information and Pictures: Gear & Gear Ratio