How to use bike gears
Many people today prefer multi-speed bikes over single-speed bikes. And this is not surprising, because they make it easier to drive through various hills. And if you have purchased one of these bicycles, we suggest reading our article, which will help you understand the gears.
Learning to understand how and when to change gears
It’s not so easy to immediately understand when to switch. But over time, this knowledge will come. Until then, keep on reading our guide to help you for sure.
If you are just getting on the bike and starting to ride, choose a low gear. Often the first cadences you make are the hardest because you need to pick up the optimal speed. Each time you start driving, change the gear to one of the lower gears to get back to speed faster and easier.
Also do this when you need to completely stop the bike and then start pedaling again. For example, you stopped at a traffic light, and then you need to quickly go further.
When you know you will stop shortly, it is also a good idea to downshift to make it easier for you to get started next time. Especially if you need to leave some difficult place.
As your speed increases, don’t be afraid to upshift. After all, when you go fast, you will realize that pedaling becomes too easy. And this means that you need to increase the gear. this will help you move more efficiently and faster. In fact, the process will look like this: You change gear and notice that pedaling has become more difficult, but your speed is getting higher.
If for your trips you have chosen a flat terrain (for example, city streets with small hills), then use the so-called medium gears. That is, do not let yourself go too easy or difficult. let there be balance. This is very convenient because it allows you to develop the necessary speed and cope well with bumpy roads. For example, you have an eighteen-speed bike. Use the second in front and third in the back for a comfortable and optimal ride.
Remember to downshift when approaching high hills. This is important because without such a transition, you can simply get stuck. After all, it is almost impossible to ride a bicycle up a hill in very high gear if you are not a professional. Therefore, reduce gears to the point where you find it easy to climb a hill.
Note: At first you may find climbing a hill very strange and slow. And besides, it is not very convenient. But if you learn to keep your balance, everything will be fine. You will get used to it and will be able to climb hills of different heights without much effort.
Likewise, shift into high gears if you are going to descend on a flat road. If you want to develop a tremendous speed downhill, then engage a high gear. But remember that with such a high-speed movement, you need to be very careful, since if you move incorrectly, you can damage yourself.
When changing from one gear to another, do it carefully so as not to damage your joints. Sure, getting the best out of your bike is fun and challenging, but always be on the safe side. You don’t need to pedal too hard if you don’t want your joints to be under a lot of stress. Otherwise, over time, you will get painful sensations, and even the most real problems with joints.
And in no case choose gears in which the chain can become crossed. What does this mean? And the fact that when changing gears, you can see that the chain is sometimes located in a diagonal position. This is not a problem if you change gears correctly. But if you admit cases when the chain runs either along the largest or the smallest stars in front and behind, then you can be sure that it will wear out in the shortest possible time.
How to use gears correctly
It takes a little practice to master gear shifting. We advise you to heed our recommendations and do everything as follows:
- Remember what the right and left switches are responsible for. If you want to shift into reverse gear, then use the right switch. And vice versa. This is very convenient and will help you to quickly bring the switching process to automaticity. Also know how these mechanisms work. The derailleur moves the chain from side to side to catch the new gear. This applies to forward gear. As for the rear, it has its own switch, which, thanks to the handle, also moves from side to side.
- If you want to pedal more easily, then downshift. Yes, you can change gears on your bike to make it ride easier or harder on a wide variety of terrains. And if, for example, you need to drive and make a minimum of effort, then a low gear will help to do this. You will start pedaling quickly and easily, but the bike will go slower.
There are 2 methods for downshifting:
- switch to a smaller sprocket in front;
- switch to big star at the back.
- If you want to drive better, but also harder, change to a higher speed. This can be done in a similar way to the situation described above, only the other way around. You shift into a high gear, which means that you will go faster, pedal less often, but it will be harder for you to do it.
Here, too, there are 2 methods of upshifting:
- switch to large star in front;
- switch to smaller star at the back.
- Learn to shift gears on the road. That is, practice. She will help you thoroughly understand this issue. You just start changing gears and learn how to do everything correctly in one trip! At the same time, study on a flat road, where it will be safe for you. It is advisable to choose a park or something similar.
Remember that you will hear clicking sounds as you shift gears. And this does not mean that some detail has broken. This will indicate that you are doing everything right. Distinctive sounds inform you that the gear has been changed. And do not forget that you only need to change gears while driving. Because the chain can only catch new stars when it is taut. And she stays in this position only during pedaling.
How to find out the number of gears
First you need to figure out what gears your bike has. With the help of our advice, you can easily do this:
- Count the number of gears at the base of the pedals. To get the hang of changing gears on your iron horse, you need it to be equipped with sprockets. It is very easy to check their availability. It is enough to look at the pedals, in the center of which there will be one or several rings with teeth on the outside, which enter the chain. These are called chainrings. And it is them that need to be counted.
Most bicycles have 1 to 3 chainrings.
- See how many sprockets there are on the rear wheel. After you have examined the pedals, you need to look at the rear wheel. You will see a chain running from the front sprockets, one row of different rings located in the center of the wheel. These rings will be the rear sprockets.
Count their number. And if your bike has gears, there will be more rear sprockets than front sprockets. Some bicycles have up to 10 pieces.
- Finally, to figure out how many gears your bike has, you need to multiply the resulting 2 values. That is, multiply the number of front sprockets by the number of rear sprockets. The final figure is the number of gears on your iron horse.
For example: You have 3 stars in the front and 6 in the back. It turns out that the bike has 18 gears (3×18). In another way, they can be called speeds, because we are talking about the fact that the bike is high-speed.
Another point: if your bike has only one sprocket on both sides, then it only has 1 gear (1×1). That is, it has a so-called fixed gear. And if your bike is like that, then you will not be able to switch gears on it, because it is one-speed.
When you encounter strong winds en route, select a lower gear. Yes, you will move a little slower, however, it will be easier for you to overcome the wind for a long time.
The difference in size between the front and rear sprocket determines how hard you need to pedal to drive. For example, if both the sprocket and the sprocket have the same dimensions, then with each pedal rotation the rear sprocket will rotate 1 time. On the other hand, if you prefer a large chainring at the front and a small chainring at the rear, then the rear wheel can rotate several times at any pressure on the pedal. This will give you the opportunity to gain excellent speed, but it will require more effort.
If you see an elevation, always change gear in advance. No need to press gears in a hurry just before lifting. this increases the risk of injury.
When going uphill, do not use the lowest gear.
And most importantly, don’t be afraid to master the bike with all its mechanisms. Once you learn to understand the gears, driving it will become much more enjoyable and convenient.
Why bike speeds are needed
In cars, gear shifting is necessary to reduce engine load and save fuel when driving conditions change.
Gear shifting in a bicycle transmission serves the same purpose: to reduce pedaling effort and reduce cyclist fatigue. If you ride slowly several times a week along a standard route, then the load on your muscles is more or less uniform and there is no particular need to change gears. However, if you are driving on tough, rough terrain at high speed or enjoying long rides, it is extremely important to keep an eye on choosing the right gear. To determine the desired transmission, you need to know about such a concept as cadence.
Cadence is the number of revolutions of the pedals performed by the cyclist in one minute. For example, they say: cadence 90. They mean driving at a pace of 90 pedals per minute. There are also concepts such as high, low and optimal cadence:
Low cadence. you do a low RPM but still pedal effort. It is unsafe to ride at this pace for a long time due to the enormous stress on the heart and joints.!
High cadence. you pedal very quickly. The load on the legs is small, but there is little sense from such a ride. it is not very pleasant to move at a snail’s speed.
The optimal cadence is the pedaling tempo that is convenient for you personally, allows you to drive far and for a long time without getting tired. You ride for pleasure, but at the same time your muscles and joints are not overloaded and train endurance. For an amateur, the optimal cadence is 60-70 at the beginning of the season, and after a couple of months of continuous riding, you can pedal with a cadence of about 90-100. Athletes who do regular training are able to maintain an optimal cadence greater than 100.
Changing gears makes it easier for you to maintain a constant cadence all the way, whether you are driving uphill, with a headwind, or racing on smooth asphalt. The cyclist must constantly monitor the maintenance of the cadence. For this, it is convenient to use a cycling computer with the ability to calculate cadence.
How to properly shift gears on a bike
The bicycle appeared as a fast means of transportation, but was designed for hardy riders and was far from comfortable. On the first balance bikes, the rider sat on the frame and pushed off the road with his feet, even such familiar things as pedals and a saddle did not appear immediately. Modern models, among other amenities, have a transmission that allows, if necessary, to change the effort on the pedals. Next, we will look at the design and explain the switching principle of the most common type of transmission. chain transmission. It is popular due to the relative simplicity of the device and undemanding maintenance.
Most beginners, when choosing their first bike, focus on the number of speeds, believing that the more gears, the faster the bike goes. But the speed of the bike is more dependent on the pedal effort, rather than the number of gears. A regular road bike with a single gear is just as fast as a high-speed road bike. So why do you need a lot of gears on a bike? We are going to answer this question and also find out important related points.
How to find out how many speeds a bike has
Nowadays, almost every bicycle is equipped with a gear shifting system. There are usually 6 to 33 gears. For road or mountain bikes, 18-27 gears are a reasonable norm. Often even city or road bikes also have gear shifters, for this type of bike 6-7 speeds are enough.
To determine the number of gears, you need to multiply the number of front and rear sprockets. For example, on the cranks of a bicycle there are 3 stars and on the cassette of the rear wheel you see 7 stars, such a bicycle has 21 gears. gears, up to 33, are needed in rare cases and require more careful handling and also significantly complicates and increases the cost of bike transmission.
Having considered the concept of optimal cadence, let’s move on to studying gear shifting techniques.
How to properly switch gears on a bike
We have already understood why it is important to maintain a constant cadence. But moving, for example, on the ground is much harder than on asphalt and so that the cadence on the ground does not decrease, the gear should be lowered on the ground. You need to know that shifting to one gear on the driving sprocket changes the effort on the pedals 2-3 times faster than if you shifted to one gear on the driven stars. Changing the chainrings drastically changes the load on the drivetrain and your muscles, so they are changed much less often than the rear sprockets.
The guide sprockets set the basic pedaling pace and must be shifted when driving conditions change rapidly. The small guide sprocket is designed for uphill driving and engages well before starting the climb. The largest sprocket is designed for high speed performance on quality surfaces or for descents. Usually there is a third star in the front in the middle, for standard driving conditions. Rear sprockets are needed to fine tune pedaling effort.
If you see a patch of sticky ground or a rise in front of you, you need to move to the smaller guide star in advance. You can do this just before the climb, and if the climb is small, you can lower the gear in advance and, by increasing the cadence, accelerate to pass the climb by inertia.
On descent, you can switch to a large guide sprocket for better acceleration.
Gear shifters are quite delicate mechanisms; if used incorrectly, they wear out quickly. You need to know some simple rules to keep your bike’s drivetrain working properly:
A strong diagonal chain skew is harmful and contributes to the rapid wear of the chain, and also requires expensive repairs with the replacement of sprockets. How to correctly combine combinations of asterisks is shown in the figure below. The larger the chainring, the smaller the chainring at the rear should be used with it. The two smallest chainrings should be used with the largest chainring. The two largest sprockets are designed to be paired with a small sprocket in front.
While shifting gears, you continue to pedal, but you should not apply too much pressure on the pedals. If you are shifting the front drive sprocket, generally reduce pedal effort to avoid jerking. Do not click gears. this will damage the switches. A simple rule of thumb: you can shift up to one gear in one turn of the pedals. Some equipment allows you to change several gears at once, but for a beginner, it is difficult to switch correctly in this way.
The professional shifts gears silently. Hear one light click when switching. great, you did everything right. If the gear changes with multiple crunching, sharp crackling, then one of two things: you are shifting incorrectly, or you have a worn out misaligned transmission.
The more gears your bike has, the more carefully you should monitor the cleanliness and condition of the sprockets and chain. The limitation on physical dimensions forces designers on bicycles with a large number of gears to use thinner sprockets, chains and some other parts. All gaps in multistage transmissions are smaller, and parts are more compact, therefore, the sensitivity of this design to contamination is higher, and wear is faster.
In the end, I would like to say that if you are going to buy a high-speed bike, then you just need to learn how to use the gear shifters correctly. Indeed, when skating, you apply physical effort, and the correct technique not only gives you pleasure from the process, but also safely strengthens your body, increases your endurance. Gain experience and gear shifting will take place on a subconscious level, and you will stop wasting energy.
This article provides basic knowledge of manual transmissions. Material generally not applicable to planetary hub systems and other automatic bicycle transmissions.
What is gear shifting for?
Riding on a flat road, uphill or downhill requires different efforts from the cyclist. On a single speed bike, there are no options, since there is only one gear. And those who have experience riding a single speed bike know how difficult it is. But in the case of a multi-speed bike, new possibilities appear. you can adjust the load. On a bike equipped with multiple gears, for example, it is much easier to ride uphill. Let’s figure out how the gearshift occurs.
Correct star combinations
Choose speeds based on the terrain and your physical capabilities, and so that the chain does not tilt. You can make sure that there are no distortions simply by looking at the chain. If it moves parallel to the frames of the front derailleur, then the selected speed is optimal. Skew occurs when the chain is on the front large chainring and on the rear, also large.
Biking Uphill Understanding Gear Ratios
Let’s see which sprocket combinations are applicable for a bike with three chainrings and eight chainrings. The main principle is simple: it is necessary that the combination of front and rear sprockets is always approximately in the same vertical plane.
The large chainring is matched with 4-8 rear chainrings. This combination is optimal when riding on a flat road.
The middle chainring is matched with the 3rd to 6th chainrings. This combination is suitable if you are riding on lightly rough roads, or if you want to give yourself more physical activity while riding on a flat road.
The small chainring is matched with 1 to 3 rear chainrings for uphill climbing. In this case, much less effort is required from the cyclist when pedaling, but more frequent pedaling.
Incorrect combination of front and rear sprockets, leads to a strong misalignment of the chain, shortening the life of not only the chain, but also the derailleurs.
Types of speed switches
There are two main types of speed derailleurs. external and internal shifting.
What is gear shifting
The essence of switching speeds is to drag the chain from one star to another. Various combinations of front and rear sprockets allow you to adjust the cyclist’s load. But first, let’s turn to the bike drivetrain.
How to Bike Uphill without Getting Tired
The transmission is all the parts and assemblies of the bicycle that provide the transfer of energy to the rotational movement of the rear wheel. The transmission consists of a carriage, a system of connecting rods, a chain, sprockets or cassette (or ratchet), front and rear derailleurs, as well as shifters (they are also sometimes called shifters).
Gear shifting occurs through the shifters located on the steering wheel. Using the rear derailleur shifter, located on the right handlebar, the chain is thrown between the rear sprockets, and using the front derailleur shifter (it is on the left on the steering wheel) between the front sprockets.
Most multi-speed bikes have three drive sprockets and six to eight driven sprockets. The fore stars are counted from small to large, and the rear stars, on the contrary, from large to small.
Cycling gear shifting
Internal switching mechanism
City bikes often use an internal gearshift mechanism that is hidden inside the rear planetary hub. Planetary hub bikes have only one chainring and one sprocket. The number of speeds / gears of the planetary bushings is usually from 3 to 7. The planetary hub has a rather complex internal structure.
Pluses of planetary bushings: they withstand adverse weather and road conditions well, since the mechanism and all its parts are enclosed in a case and, as a result, are reliable and durable; you can switch speeds without pedaling.
Cons of planetary bushings:. heavy weight;. very difficult repairs, impossible in field conditions.