Beginners question re pedalling

Smithbat

Getting there, one ride at a time.
Location
Aylesbury
Okay here is a stupid yet genunine question. My last bike which I rode 20 years ago only had 3 gears if I remember rightly and I never used them. When I started on my new bike about 3 weeks ago I went every where in number 2 as I found the others too hard. As I am getting a bit fitter I am moving up into 3 and now mostly 4. So my question is this. Is it better to pedal slower in a higher gear ie 4 or 5 or faster in a lower gear ie 2 or 3?
 

ScotiaLass

Guru
Location
Middle Earth
Okay here is a stupid yet genunine question. My last bike which I rode 20 years ago only had 3 gears if I remember rightly and I never used them. When I started on my new bike about 3 weeks ago I went every where in number 2 as I found the others too hard. As I am getting a bit fitter I am moving up into 3 and now mostly 4. So my question is this. Is it better to pedal slower in a higher gear ie 4 or 5 or faster in a lower gear ie 2 or 3?
I'm no expert but I was told to go one gear lower than was comfortable. This way your muscles don't tire out too quickly.
I just go with what's comfortable and suited to where I'm cycling at the time, other times I'll push it a bit harder.
I was told cycling in a higher gear builds muscles, while lower gears burn fat.
 

Berk on a Bike

Veteran
Location
Yorkshire
What gear are you in at the front? You'll have a choice of two or three. When I started I spun and spun in the easiest front gear. Now I never use it. The more you ride, experience different terrain and know your ability, the more it'll click which gear to be in.
 
OP
Smithbat

Smithbat

Getting there, one ride at a time.
Location
Aylesbury
What gear are you in at the front? You'll have a choice of two or three. When I started I spun and spun in the easiest front gear. Now I never use it. The more you ride, experience different terrain and know your ability, the more it'll click which gear to be in.
I don't mean to be thick but what do you mean at the front? My bike is very basic, it only has 6 gears.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Some bikes have gears at the front by the pedals as well as at the back.

Pushing hard on the pedals isn't meant to be good for your knees, though I don't find I can spin quite as fast as some suggest is best. But I'm one who changes gear very frequently as I go down and up hill, probably too often.
 
OP
Smithbat

Smithbat

Getting there, one ride at a time.
Location
Aylesbury
Some bikes have gears at the front by the pedals as well as at the back.

Pushing hard on the pedals isn't meant to be good for your knees, though I don't find I can spin quite as fast as some suggest is best. But I'm one who changes gear very frequently as I go down and up hill, probably too often.
Oh I see, thank you I didn't know that

the simple answer is which ever gear is comfortable for you at any given time.
Sounds like a plan, thank you
 

BigCoops

Well-Known Member
Location
Staffordshire
Pick a gear that gives you some resistance but which you can turn relatively easily. This should change depending on the terrain your riding on.

If your rear gears are sprocket based, the bigger the sprocket the easier the gear, if you think in car terms, the biggest rear sprocket is 1st and then the gear gets higher (and harder to pedal) as the sprockets get smaller, however, this reverses if you have sprockets at the pedals, these work with the bigger the sprocket , the harder the gear.

If you have both front and rear sprockets, it's not advisable to 'cross' the chain, meaning big sprocket at the front with bigger sprockets at the back is not good, as it can over stress the chain.
 

Slioch

Guru
Location
York
It's all about finding the cadence (the rate at which your legs spin round, or revolutions per minute) that is right for you - it's different for every cyclist. You use your gears to maintain that cadence as much as possible, using lower gears when going uphill and higher gears when going down.

As always, Sheldon Brown explains it far better then I can. Here.

Also, try Googling on "cycling cadence". There's loads of information out there for you to read through.
 

Citius

Guest
Dammit! Oh well, at least I'm out doing something and not sat on settee!
Definitely. What I should have said was that cycling burns fat, not cycling in 'lower gears' specifically. You won't burn any more by using a lower gear. You won't really 'build muscle' by riding in a higher gear either, for that matter. Cycling is not really about building muscle anyway.
 
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