gears - no-one ever told me this before!!!

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Donna, 26 Apr 2010.

  1. Donna

    Donna Active Member


    Firstly excuse my wording - Im just new ha ha

    Im new to cycling and love it!! I have a Carrera Subway 1, 21 gears and ive just found out that when using the largest cog at the front, i shouldnt use all 7 gears on the back!

    On googling this topic, says I should really stick to the middle cog on the front. The problem I have with this is that I ride always on the highest gear, (might drop down 4 gears at very most on hills 'cough', ok inclines then) and if I rode on the middle cog I would feel I was frantically pedalling and getting nowhere.

    What do i do, I dont want to damage my bike??
  2. killiekosmos

    killiekosmos Über Member


    Hi, you don't have 21 gears - you have 3 ranges of gears (as you have 3 chainrings at the pedals). Think of these as three sets for:
    - mainly uphill rides
    - mainly flat rides
    - mainly downhill rides

    Now, at the back you have a cassette with 7 cogs. With your chain on the smallest (inner) ring at the pedals (low gears for hills) you have 6 useable gears. The smallest gear at back should not be used as the chain will be running at an angle and rub/wear faster.

    Similarly, with the chain on the biggest (outer) ring at the pedals (high gears for speed) you also have 6 useable gears but thus time you would avoid the biggest (inner) cog at the back.

    On the middle ring all 7 cogs should be useable.

    You seem to be cycling quite fast so try using the biggest chainring and see how you get on at the back!

    I hope this helps.
  3. If you're happy on the big ring at the front then stick with it,I personally just wouldn't use gear 1 or 2 at the back because of chainline.Middle ring I use all back gears except 1 and 7.
  4. OP

    Donna Active Member

    mmmmm.....not sure.....ok then, i ride on the biggest chainring at the pedals and the ??? hardest one on the back 90% of the time, BUT I read that I should predominently use the middle chainring on the front, BUT this would make me feel like im pedalling like mad and getting nowhere, should i just stick to what im doing or learn to ride on the middle chainring, and i dont cycle fast think my last average was 10 mph - dont laugh!!!

    Thanks :evil:
  5. Mark_Robson

    Mark_Robson Senior Member

    Hi Donna, try and stay on the middle chainring, and watch out for the glass on the wagonways. :evil:
  6. Think most beginners would be told to use the middle ring so they can concentrate on just changing gears at the back to make it easier.Seems strange if you only do 10mph yet are in top gear most of the time,unless the bike is quite low-geared.
    Do whatever feels best Donna,if your knees start playing up you might want to go lower gear and pedal faster to reduce strain.
  7. OP

    Donna Active Member

    i know the Waggonways are awful, and I got lost at weekend ha ha -through tunnel and along to Shields, which was much shorter than i though it would be, ferry, Shields, Whitley, up to Seaton Sluice, then I thought I would join the track at Seaton Delaval and go back to Shiremoor then home, only ended up at Whitley Bay High!! what a laugh, well it increased my time out anyway!!!

    Thought I might try the river loop next weekend!
  8. killiekosmos

    killiekosmos Über Member

    OK, we've sorted out the gears. Next step is you need to decide what your pedalling rate (cadence) is. Some cyclists like to 'spin' very quickly in lower gears while others prefer a lower spin rate and a higher gear (for the same speed).

    It is generally better to practice towards a higher cadence rate but it takes bit of getting used to. Try it by dropping down one gear and pedalling faster. The effort should be easier but your legs go faster for the same speed.

    Have a look at the cadence of other cyclists when you are out.
  9. OP

    Donna Active Member

    Yeah i like to pedal less for same speed ha ha I will try and lower the gears, just seems like hard work though :evil:
  10. Mark_Robson

    Mark_Robson Senior Member

    Just find a balance that suits you. The main things are to have fun and get fit. :evil:
  11. I started cycling last year,and a friend of mine commuted in with me,he was always saying I should be in 'big ring' and pedal slower like him,but it didn't feel comfy for me.I was probably peddaling twice as fast as him but obviously in a lower gear so we went the same speed.
  12. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Resistance is futile! Moderator

    Within reason, the faster you pedal, the less strain on your knees. Aim for a cadence (pedalling rate) of about 90 rpm or so. It feels fast to start with, but it'll soon feel comfortable, and your knees will thank you for it!!
  13. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Whatever pedalling rate is comfortable for you.

    When people go to the gym and the PTI puts them on the upright exercise bike, they are advised to pedal at 80 revolutions per minute.

    I've been around 80 rpm all my cycling life and 90 feels like over-reving.

    There are pros and cons for pedalling slowly.
    1/ Higher pressure, low revs builds muscle bulk. Handy for when the hills appear.
    2/ Legs move up-and-down less often, therefore reducing thigh friction.

    1/ At first, knees and upper legs will suffer Delayed Onset of Muscular Soreness ( perfectly natural ) after a ride. This means the muscle is growing.
    2/ You will wonder why the bike has so many low gears.
  14. Globalti

    Globalti Legendary Member

    Hi Donna, I used to live in Gosforth so I have a soft spot for the N.E.

    It sounds to me as if you are making the common mistake of pushing too high a gear and mashing your knees. You ought to be in the middle ring most of the time and turning the pedals at about 70 rpm, this will reduce the strain on your joints and ensure that rather than build up muscle bulk you build up cardio-vascular fitness. Also what kind of tyres are you using? If it's knobbly MTB tyres, invest in some slick or semi-slick street tyres about 1.6" wide and pump them up to the maximum pressure shown on the sidewall, you won't believe how much faster it makes you.
  15. GrasB

    GrasB Veteran

    Nr Cambridge
    Just a thought but what are the chainrings on the bike? If it has an MTB style 44/32/22 then being on the top chain ring may well be the best option for general riding, though I'd not be expecting a casual rider to be pushing a near 100" gear & not over-stressing their legs.
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