Gears How the heck do you use them

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by professionalman, 2 Jun 2008.

  1. professionalman

    professionalman New Member

    I have just bought a new bike and have what is said to be 21 gears.

    On one side of the handlebar I have 1-3 on the right hand side 1-7

    what gear ratio should I start off on and if going down hill/up hill what should i change too.

    Your advices would be most welcome!
  2. Hello proman,
    Start by using the middle one of the front rings and the middle one of the rear cogs.
    ie: 2 and 4 say...
    Generally you will try and pedal at quite a fast 'cadence' - faster than you think.
    Experiment on the flat with your right hand levers, getting used to the ease or difficulty of pedalling.
    Move back to the middle cog at the rear and select either 1 or 3 on the left levers - see what difference it makes...particularly when you select 3 - the biggest front 'ring'.
    You'll find plenty of encouragement and advice from many with more experience than me but persevere - everyone starts somewhere, and that's better than not starting at all!;)
  3. mr_cellophane

    mr_cellophane Guru

    I have 15. I start on 2/3, work up to 2/5 then change to 3/4 and 3/5.
    I rarely go down to 1 and have never used 3/1,2 or 3.

    Start with what feels comfortable to move off in, shift up as you pick up speed and down when it gets hard going.

    It is not like a car 0-10 1st gear, 10-20 2nd gear, etc....
  4. Keeno

    Keeno New Member

    Derry, N.Ireland
    Hi m8

    Im new to this game as well so ive learnt a bit by trial and error. I always start off with the front gear on 2nd and the rear on the largest gear. As you move off and get a bit of speed going, move the gears gradually down to the smallest.

    On my usual run atm I have a pretty long hill to climb so I drop the front gear to the smallest cog, making it easier to pedal. When I want to go fast on a flat section I sometimes have the front gear on the largest cog and the rear on the smallest, meaning more rear wheel revolutions with every turn of the pedals.

    Im sure someone on here will explain it much better than myself ;)
  5. PrettyboyTim

    PrettyboyTim New Member

    To be honest when you're starting off, you might as well not bother with changing the gears on the left side of your handlebars. Just leave them in 2nd, which will select the middle cog on the front cogs next to your pedals.

    You'll probably find then that you've got a pretty good range of gears by just selecting gears 1 - 7 on the right side (which will change which cog gets used at the back of your bike)

    So assuming you've got yourself on the middle ring at the front (gear 2 on the left gear lever), when you first start off from stationary on your bike, you probably want to be in one of the first three gears on the right. As you gain speed, you can change up gears if you want until you get one that feels comfortable to you.

    You may have noticed that you can't really change gears when you're stationary (or at least, if you do a horrible grinding noise is likely to come from the bike as you start off) so before coming to a stop, it's worth changing down your gears again to make things easy for yourself when you next start off.

    Once you're happy with using the gears on the right, you can start using the ones on the left if you wish. The gears on the left 'adjust' the gears on the right, so 1st gear on the left makes all the gears at the right easier to pedal with (but slower) and 3rd gear on the left makes all the gears on the right harder to pedal with (but faster). This is how you get 21 gears - three versions of each gear at the back.

    You'll probably find therefore that you can spend much of your time in 2nd gear on the left, except when you're going up hills (when you may prefer 1st gear on the left) or going down then (when you may prefer 3rd gear on the left)

    I find when riding that I very rarely use 1st gear on the left, but then London is fairly flat. I tend to start off in second gear on the left, second gear on the right, then go up the gears as I speed up. If I wish to go fast, I'll normally change up to third gear on the left as I'm about halfway up the gears on the right, but the way you handle your gears is pretty much down to your personal preference.

    Oh, and as mentioned above, don't select 1st gear on the left and 7th gear on the right, or 3rd gear on the left and 1st gear on the right, as it'll wear things down a lot more quickly. (Although don't worry if you do it now an then by accident - it's not going to suddenly break things, just wear them down if you do it a lot)
  6. briank

    briank New Member

    On the contrary, Keeno's on the money there. The straightforward practical advice of all responses so far will, I hope, be helpful, but the key IDEA is what Keeno says about the number of turns of the pedals compared to the number of revolutions of the rear wheel. The parallel with car gears is relevant: in a lower gear your engine turns faster for the same road speed/turns of the driving wheels, in a higher gear the engine is turning more slowly for a given road speed. And, just as on a bike, you use a lower gear to accelerate or climb a steep hill, a higher gear for downhill or spinning along the flat - with a tailwind:smile:

    Depending on your profession proman, you might find it easy to reflect that if your chain is running over a front[B chainring which has the same number of teeth as the rear sprocket, then your pedals and your rear wheel must be turning at the same speed: that's a 1:1 gear. Any other gear ratio can be similarly expressed, and the higher the ratio, the higher the gear. And if you can be bothered to do the arithmetic you can work out the ratios available when you move your chain across the different sized sprockets.
  7. Desert Orchid

    Desert Orchid Senior Member

    Ibiza of the North
    If your legs hurt change down.

    If you're out of breath change up.

    and if your legs hurt and you're out of breath,

    then you're on for a personal best ;)
  8. Landslide

    Landslide Rare Migrant

    Called to the bar
    Hi professionalman, welcome to the forum!

    Hope you find the following helpful:

    Firstly, a quick glossary:
    Sprocket - one of the small cogs attached to the rear wheel. (The cluster of sprockets is often referred to as a "cassette" or "block")
    Chainrings (or simply "rings") - the larger cogs at the front of the chain. (The rings and the crank arms (to which the pedals attach) comprise a chainset)

    Try to keep your chain running in a straight line, parallel to the frame. This should lead to less sideways strain on the chain, more efficient transmission and prolong the life of your components.

    If in gear 1 on your left shifter (innermost and smallest front chainring ), try to stick to e.g. gears 1-4 on your left shifter (innermost and largest rear sprocket will be gear 1).

    If in gear 2 on your left shifter (middle chainring), try to stick to e.g. gears 2-6 on your left shifter (middle spread of the rear sprockets).

    If in gear 3 on your left shifter (outermost and largest front chainring ), try to stick to e.g. gears 3-7 on your left shifter (outermost and smallest rear sprocket will be gear 7).
  9. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    A couple of general rules, more guidelines really:

    a. Avoid extreme gear combinations e.g. far left at the front, far right at the back. This loses a lot of mechanical efficiency and doesn't do the chain much good in the long run.

    b. This leads to the idea of using the big cog at the front with the right hand three or four at the back, the middle one with the middle three or four and the left hand with the left hand three.

    "But hang on" I hear you cry, "that means I'm not using all the available gears!" Not the case. There is a lot of overlap between gear combinations and so a 24 speed system is probably in fact a 12 speed or similar system. If you want a book which explains everything about your bike have a look at "bicycle technology" by Rob van den Plas. It's very informative and useful.

    The alternative is to one day get an upmarket hub gear system e.g. the 14 speed one from Rohloff which has fourteen true gears and has the range of about a typical 24 speed derailleur system. Expensive but far more reliable and the chain stays in a straight line.
  10. dantheman

    dantheman Über Member

    good advice.....
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