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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 11-09-12, 05:35 PM   #1
jshorr
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My bike arrived: some comments and questions

My bike, my first bike as an adult, finally arrived today. It is amazing.

Some comments:
  • I am out of shape. I rode six miles and feel like I'm going to die. Guess my doctor was right about me needing exercise!
  • Gears/shifters are a lot more complicated than the 10-speed I had in middle school

Some questions:
  • Is there a primer somewhere on shifting? I am really struggling to find one that makes sense to me. There doesn't seem to be an overall logical progression of gearing...
  • Pardon my lack of appropriate lingo... When I have the left shifter in the middle position and the right shifter all the way to the left, the chain seems to click when my right pedal is moving down. Is something not quite right, or should I not be using that gear combination?


Thanks, as always, for your sage advice and information!
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Old 11-09-12, 05:43 PM   #2
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Take a look at this thread:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...0-newbie-rider
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Old 11-09-12, 06:30 PM   #3
jshorr
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Here is where I am confused with these articles: they all say that 1 is the "easiest" gear (regardless of front or back) - so 1,1 is very easy, 3,10 is very difficult.

However, 1,8 is harder than 2,1...


(Sorry for how stupid I sound in these questions)
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Old 11-09-12, 06:46 PM   #4
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Plug your cog tooth counts into this calculator: http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/.

The results will tell you the relative "hardness" vs. "easiness" of each gear. Gear ratios are rarely sequential so you will probably find quite a bit of overlap for each chainring (the cog on your crank). Once you figure out how the ratios are arranged, then you can develop a shifting strategy.

Good luck

-G
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Old 11-09-12, 06:48 PM   #5
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Old 11-09-12, 06:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jshorr View Post
Here is where I am confused with these articles: they all say that 1 is the "easiest" gear (regardless of front or back) - so 1,1 is very easy, 3,10 is very difficult.

However, 1,8 is harder than 2,1...
To see how easy/hard a gear is, divide the number of teeth on the chainring in front by the number of teeth on the cog in the back. So if you have 48 on front and 24 on back, you have a mechanical advantage of 2 (= 48 / 24) - you turn the pedals once and the rear wheel rotates twice. If you have 32 in front and 32 in the back, you have a mechanical advantage of 1 (= 32 / 32), you turn the pedals once, the wheel goes around once.

A higher mechanical advantage means "harder" gear.

You'll notice that if you do this, that you might find that, as you did, that being in the smallest gear on the front and the smallest gear on the back (1,8) is indeed harder than being on the biggest gear in the front and the biggest gear in the back (2,1). This is because the mechanical advantage of 1,8 is bigger than 2,1.

The basic idea of shifting is that you want to keep spinning your pedals at a (somewhat) constant rate. If you find that it's too hard for you to pedal, you shift into an easier gear. If you are spinning too quickly, you shift into a lower gear.

In general, if you have a double crank, you'll find that when you are on flat or going down hill, it might make sense to be in the big chain ring in front and change the rear gears as necessary. When going up hill, it may make sense for you to be in the small chian ring up front and change gears in the back.

These things do take time to learn, but it is worth learning.

Good luck and ride safe,
Charles
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Old 11-09-12, 07:34 PM   #7
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cplager - thank you - this is exactly what I was looking for. It really helps me to actually understand what is happening.

In the meantime, while I learn this and develop a strategy, is the piece of advice I read on a thread here accurate: That (in general) I should use the right shifter to make my adjustments and use the left shifter in: 1 for uphill, 2 for level ground, 3 for downhill/high speed? I assume this is what you're getting to when you ask if I have a double crank (and, I think, I have a triple crank -- there are three sprockets on the crank...)
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Old 11-09-12, 07:43 PM   #8
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Yes. Use the smallest ring for climbing/uphill and the biggest for downhill/high speed. As a beginner though I would recommend using the middle ring + small ring only and getting used to doing more gradual adjustments on the rear derailleur. This will mean you pedal with more cadence (faster strokes) instead of mashing and develop better pedaling technique.
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Old 11-09-12, 08:21 PM   #9
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Yes. Use the smallest ring for climbing/uphill and the biggest for downhill/high speed. As a beginner though I would recommend using the middle ring + small ring only and getting used to doing more gradual adjustments on the rear derailleur. This will mean you pedal with more cadence (faster strokes) instead of mashing and develop better pedaling technique.
+1. You want to use the rear derailleur most of the time and switch the ring up front when you run out of gears.

If you have a triple, then many people like to ride most of the time in the middle ring. When you find that you've maxed out the rear gears, move the front chainring to the big ring; likewise when you hit the smallest gear and need to go down, shift into the small ring up front. On my bike, I have a 48/38/22 crankset and almost never use my granny (22T) gear unless climbing really big hills or pulling a trailer up big hills.

Please note that even though you have a 24 speed (3 * 8) bike, you don't want to use the small chainring up front and the small cog in the back (small-small - 1, 8), nor do you want to use the big chain ring in the front and the big cog in the back (big big - 3, 1). On some bikes, people have (mistakenly, in my opinion) made the chain too short so that bad things happen if you shift into big big.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 11-09-12, 08:55 PM   #10
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Gear shifting is really simple, but I can understand your frustration; new cyclists have trouble grasping the gearing concept. Most of the time, and definitely in your case, gearing does indeed overlap. So it makes sense that 1,8 is harder than 2,1. Just fiddle with the gears for a while and you'll eventually figure it out; it's like learning to type, eventually you won't even notice it.

Higher gears: downhill/high speed Medium gears: General use Lower gears: Uphill/Offroad/very slow speeds. Imagine it like a car: you don't want to switch into, say, 3,7 and start torquing like crazy. Notice how in a stick shift, if you shift it into 6th and let go of the clutch, the engine will stall and stop. Same with bicycles, you'll find that high gears are not good for starting off unless you have assistance, like gravity (downhill). Start in the lower end (on my bike I usually use 2,1 as a good starting point) and as you are accelerating, shift up, and up and up.

The goal is to keep a comfortable pedaling pace steady the whole time. If I'm at the the top of a hill and want to go down really fast, I start in 2,1, start pedaling like crazy while shifting up, and once I get to 2,7 (keep in mind my cassette's only a 7-speed), I immediately shift into 3,7, which seems to work fine for me. Most of the ratios will be different for you, so you will learn them as time goes on and after a while you'll look back and chuckle at the time where you were still a little bit confused about the whole thing. All you need to do is do what feels best. Don't be afraid to fiddle with all the ratios and learn everything. It's not that hard after a while (funny thing was, when I was learning how to use gearing, I had a really crappy mongoose that barely worked and had the WORST grip shifters)

Just my say on it.

Last edited by masterofsilence; 11-09-12 at 08:59 PM.
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