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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-03-10, 03:06 PM   #1
J-Jo
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changing gears

Hi everyone. I have just got my first bicycle in a long time. The LBS I got it from said that they had already checked it over and everyhting was good to go. My problem is with the gears. I don't think that I am not really understanding. I can go up hills ok so that isn't my problm. When I am on flat ground or going down hill it is almost like my pedaling isn't serving a purpose? Almost like the front tire is off the ground and I am pealing. Does anyone have any ideas what could be going on?
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Old 05-03-10, 04:47 PM   #2
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Start off by reading this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears.html

Using the large gear in the front allows you to go faster but will require more power. In the back, the large gear is EASIER and will require less power. So, the "easiest" setting would be the small gear in the front and the largest gear in the back. The "hardest" (capable of highest speed) is the large gear in front and the small gear in back. If all of this is too confusing, use just 1 gear in the front and adjust the rear. If you have 3 gears in the front then be careful about using the both the large gears or both the small gears at the same time... the bike is not meant to work in this manner (and your chain may pop off).

If going downhill is too easy, shift the rear to a smaller gear. If that is still too easy, switch the front to the large gear. Experienced cyclists (who are in shape) tend to keep the front in the large gear and only use the smaller gear for climbing.
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Old 05-03-10, 04:50 PM   #3
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What kind of bike is it? Are you even changing gears?
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Old 05-03-10, 04:52 PM   #4
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If you are on the largest crank gear and the lowest cassette gear and your pedaling and your not picking up speed, then your spinning out. What kind of gearing do you have on your bike?
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Old 05-03-10, 04:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Start off by reading this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears.html

Using the large gear in the front allows you to go faster but will require more power. In the back, the large gear is EASIER and will require less power. So, the "easiest" setting would be the small gear in the front and the largest gear in the back. The "hardest" (capable of highest speed) is the large gear in front and the small gear in back. If all of this is too confusing, use just 1 gear in the front and adjust the rear. If you have 3 gears in the front then be careful about using the both the large gears or both the small gears at the same time... the bike is not meant to work in this manner (and your chain may pop off).
+1. Great advice. I just recently read up on changing gears and all and changed the way I ride. I use the middle gear on the front, and switch between the gears in the back as the terrain changes/I get tired. Here in FL where things are mostly flat, I pretty much stay in the middle front gear, only changing to the large front gear when I'm going all out. I pretty much never use the small front gear.
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Old 05-03-10, 04:56 PM   #6
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Did you get the Cypress?

cassette SRAM PG820 11/30, 8-speed
cranks Alloy 3-Piece, 28/38/48

That combo ought to be high enough to keep a newbie on the bottom ring for at least a few rides.

Go back to the LBS and have them give you a shifting lesson. That will do it.

If you did get the Cypress, that looks like a fun bike .
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Old 05-03-10, 07:13 PM   #7
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i believe it is called a CanyonRidge. I havent been changing gears because there is two different places to switch them and I know nothing about it. I am going to go read what you suggested right now!! Thank you for all the replies.
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Old 05-03-10, 07:48 PM   #8
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i also stick with the middle gear on front 75% of the time. flat or down grades ill hit the the large gear on front. on the rear i only use about 3 of the gears depending on the grade.
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Old 05-03-10, 08:05 PM   #9
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i believe it is called a CanyonRidge. I havent been changing gears because there is two different places to switch them and I know nothing about it. I am going to go read what you suggested right now!! Thank you for all the replies.
Find yourself a flat trail or road to ride on and practice shifting both sets of gears. On most bikes the shifter on the left controls the gears up front, while the shifter on the right controls the rear gears. These things are made to use, and you're not going to hurt anything by practicing on a level area. You'll quickly find out which is easier, and harder to turn the pedals. The gears are there to use, so don't be afraid to use them. It will make riding more enjoyable once you figure them out.
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Old 05-03-10, 10:02 PM   #10
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Assuming your bike has a triple-ring crankset (the left hand-gear changer should show 3 gears) put it in gear #2 and leave it there for the time being. Just use the right-hand gear changer for now. Practice going up and down the gears as you ride. Lower numbered gears are great for going up hills, riding into the wind, or just for cruising slowly and enjoying the scenery. Higher numbered gears are for keeping your speed up once you get there; in other words, start off in a low gear and once you feel like you're pedaling too fast, change to a higher gear.

One thing to keep in mind is that you want to maintain a steady cadence, which is the number of revolutions made by your pedal strokes. Try to be consistent by finding a comfortable pace, where you're happy with the frequency of your pedal strokes, and adjust your right-hand gears as necessary to maintain that pace.

After you become comfortable with running through all of the right-hand gears you can consider using the left-hand gears. Gear #1 is considered the "granny" gear and is usually used for climbing hills, especially when loaded down with bags of groceries, camping gear, school books, beer, etc. Gear #3 is usually used for when you're pedalling too fast in the highest gears on your right-hand shifter, like going down hills, or when you're feeling particularly strong and the wind is at your back. Keep in mind that when your using gear #1 on the left-hand shifter, make sure the right hand shifter is in the lower gears (#1-4). The opposite is true for gear #3 on the left-hand shifter: Use it for the right-hand shifters higher gears (#4-7 or 5-8 for an 8-speed cassette). This will lessen stress on the chain and help you to avoid "skipping" gears.

The majority of my riding is done in the middle ring (gear #2 on the right-hand shifter). My bike has 8 speeds on the other shifter and that gives me enough range for 95% of my everyday rides. In the future if you graduate to a racing-type of bike and join a riding club you may find yourself with a double-ring crankset and spend most of your time on the big ring, but by that time shifting problems will be a non-issue for you. Have fun and ride safe!
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