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Bicycle Gears 101 – How to use Gears?

Bicycle gearing determines the relation between the cadence, the rate at which the rider pedals, and the rate at which the drive wheel turns.

Bicycle Gears 101 – How to use Gears?
Written by Editorial

Who doesn’t love Speed? It gives us all the thrills and chills.

Bicycle gearing determines the relation between the cadence, the rate at which the rider pedals, and the rate at which the drive wheel turns.

Gears help in two ways:

Before picking up a cycle with gears, one needs to Understand the fundamentals of how gears work. Most bikes have two sets of gears. Namely, the front gears called the chain rings and the rear gears called the rear cogs or sprockets.

Bikes generally have 1, 3, 18, 21, 24 or 27 speeds. Different types of bikes have different number of gears.

Spoke Herd brings to you some super quick beginner tips:

1. Practice Makes Perfect

You’ll be using your bike gears a lot, and the chances are you’ll get plenty of practice in as you ride anyway, but if you’re new to cycling, have just got a new bike or changed bike, then spend some time getting used to how the gears change.

2. Right = Rear, Left = Front

Most bikes will have two sets of gear cogs. The front set, known as the chainrings, will give you big changes in gear. The front derailleur that shifts the chain between these chainrings is controlled by the left gear lever (or shifter).

The rear cogs (or sprockets) together form the cassette, and the derailleur that shifts the chain up and down these is controlled by the right shifter.

3. Don’t cross the chain!

It’s really tempting to stay on one chainring, and just shift the gears at the back. That’s mostly fine, except for one thing. You really need to avoid using the opposite extreme ends of the gears.

It’s not a problem immediately (though it can make a racket), but over time it can wear out both your chain and gears, leading to costly repairs.

4. Anticipate the hill

When you are approaching a hill, get ready to start shifting down the gears as soon as the hill starts. That way, you won’t be caught in too hard a gear halfway up, unable to pedal, which means you might have to get off and walk.

It’s much easier to get up hills, particularly long or steep ones, if you shift to the easiest gear and spin your legs. Shifting to the right gear at the right time for you will take a bit of practice, so it’s better to go to too easy a gear then shift up than the other way round.

If you do find yourself in too hard a gear on a climb, try and ride sideways across the slope and change gear. If the chain is under a lot of pressure, like when you are pedaling up a hill, it can’t shift properly. Riding something flatter even temporarily will hopefully relieve the pressure enough to allow you to get to an easier gear.

5. Left = big changes, Right = fine tuning

If you’ve got a hill coming up, it’s quicker to shift down using the left shifter, which will shift the front gears, rather than the right which controls the rear gears. This will take you to an easier gear, and then you can fine tune using the rear gears.

6. Don’t shift too quickly

If you are accelerating down a hill or on the flat, it’s tempting to shift up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. On some bikes, this can cause the chain to jump off the gears completely, which means you’ll have to stop and put it back on, which usually means greasy black fingers. Shift gradually, making sure the chain has engaged with each new gear before moving onto the next one. Different gear systems will respond differently to get to know how sensitive your bike is to this.

In conclusion, practice makes perfect. Play around with shifting, and see how it feels to ride in different gears.

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