Shifting Bicycle Gears FAQs
First, having lots of gears on your bike gives you a wider range of gears. That means the lower gear is easier for pedaling up hills and the higher gear allows you to go faster down them. Secondly, the steps between the gears are closer. This arrangement increases your efficiency because you don't have to ramp your energy up and down so much when you change gears. Your power output will be more even, which help your stamina on a long ride. And with lots of gears, you'll be able to find that "just right" gear for any situation.
You have to anticipate your shifts a bit. However, once you get your timing down, it doesn't take but a second to shift your gears while going up hill.
An easy way to prevent those gear noises, is to shift the left side, only when you're in the middle numbered gears, on the right. Another way to say the same thing is, use your low numbered gears on the left shifter, with your low numbered gears on the right; similarly, use your high numbered gears on the left, with the high numbered ones on the right.
The same tip applies to road bikes. The difference on a road bike is that the gears aren't numbered, so you have to look down to see what sprockets the chain is on to determine what gear you're in. Running the inboard ring up front with the inboard cogs in back, and running the outboard rings with the outboard cogs prevents those gear noises. Expressed another way, avoid running the big gears in the front with the big gears in the back; and avoid running the small ones with the small ones.
Use the left shifter when you want to make a BIG change in how much easier or harder the bike is to pedal. Gear number one is for steep up hills, number two for flat ground, and number three for down hills. Get "in the ball park" with the left shifter, then fine tune on the right. Most of your shifting will actually be done on the right side.
You can certainly ride that way if you want to. However, expect to replace your chain, cassette and large chainring about once a year. This type of riding wears out the driver train quickly. See Transmission Wear (Does My Bike Need A Tune Up?)Moreover, fatigue sets in more quickly when you ride in high gear. Pedaling at a brisk pace, in an easier gear, increases your stamina over a longer rides. It's like weight training. You can do more reps with a lighter weight. Notice how fast the guys that race pedal.
Shifting your gears while standing still stretches the cables and strains the derailleurs. Remember, you have to be pedaling before the bike will change gears.
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Have a question about the world of bicycles? Whether it regards product information, technical issues, or riding the streets of Atlanta all you have to do is ask bicycle expert Mike Goodman, Intown Bicycles owner with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
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