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  1. #1
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    Gear Shifting Help

    Hello everyone,
    I'm new here and even though I'm not 50 (46 years old) I thought that posting my question here might keep me from getting picked on in other forums. I'm afraid a 20 year old might look at my question and start laughing. :-) Just got myself a new Trek 1000C WSD (for women). Have been practicing getting used to the cleats - been riding up and down the street looking like an idiot - unclipping left, right etc. Ha!! These things are very scary. Anyway, I'm having difficulty with the gears - seems like I only have 5 gears when I know I have more than that - I just don't know what I'm doing. I can't seem to get into the larger gears or I notice clicking noises at certain levels. I was into a nice coast this morning and as I tried to get into the upper gears to pick up some more speed I didn't do it - found myself in low gears spinning my legs like crazy!! Same thing happened yesterday and before I hit the road tomorrow it sure would help to have some insight on what the heck I'm doing wrong.
    Thanks!!
    Kathy

    p.s. I just love this bike!! :-)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Trek Al's Avatar
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    The shifter on the right works the rear derailleur. Press the long bar to the left and it shifts the chain to the bigger gears while the smaller bar (underneath the long one) shifts to smaller gears. Shifter on the left works the front derailleur. Pressing to the right moves the chain to the bigger gears. The smaller lever drops the chain down to the smaller gears. Just play around with it until it makes sense.

    Al

  3. #3
    Burnt Orange Blood Longhorn's Avatar
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    I had trouble with this at first, too. My bike didn't have numbers on it, though my current bikes do. In the front (controlled by the left) big means harder, smaller means easier. In the back, (controlled by the right) small means harder, big means easier.

    So in your example, if you want more speed, you need to click the smaller one on the right or the bigger one on the left. The clicking noises may come from not fully engaging the gear. When it happens to me, I either try again or click back to the previous gear and then try again.

  4. #4
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    You dealer who sold this to you should (and still can) demonstrate this to you while you have your baike mounted on a trainer in the dealers shop.

    Shame on your dealer.

    Take your bike back and ask for hlep.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  5. #5
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    And Kathy......those 20 somethings are a mixed bunch-- some, we suspect, are almost nice 8-) while a few, you're right, can be pretty full of themselves. I'm not sure what 50Plussers are full of, but you're most welcome to hang out here with any questions you might have, experiences to relate, or eventually, some of your own answers to some new rider's questions!

    Keep riding regularly and in a short time shifting will be second nature. Then you'll start riding "no hands" while peeling a banana! Enjoy!

  6. #6
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roesslk
    Hello everyone,
    I'm new here and even though I'm not 50 (46 years old) I thought that posting my question here might keep me from getting picked on in other forums. I'm afraid a 20 year old might look at my question and start laughing. :-) Just got myself a new Trek 1000C WSD (for women). Have been practicing getting used to the cleats - been riding up and down the street looking like an idiot - unclipping left, right etc. Ha!! These things are very scary. Anyway, I'm having difficulty with the gears - seems like I only have 5 gears when I know I have more than that - I just don't know what I'm doing. I can't seem to get into the larger gears or I notice clicking noises at certain levels. I was into a nice coast this morning and as I tried to get into the upper gears to pick up some more speed I didn't do it - found myself in low gears spinning my legs like crazy!! Same thing happened yesterday and before I hit the road tomorrow it sure would help to have some insight on what the heck I'm doing wrong.
    Thanks!!
    Kathy

    p.s. I just love this bike!! :-)

    Great that you're going clipless, although when you said "riding up and down the street" I hope you tried on grass first! Softer to fall on. I started going clipless at age 52 and fell twice in the first day or two when I forgot how to unclip in a panic, and again a week later when I forgot I was clipless. Try to remember to unclip before you reach a full stop.
    Others have given you advice on accessing all gears so I won't comment on that
    Robert

  7. #7
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Clipless is not so confining despite everyone's initial apprehension over being "trapped". Out this morning on Old Trusty with quill pedals, clips and straps. Had 'em strapped down nice and tight! Threw the chain halfway up a steep hill. There was no twisting out. In fact, there was no leaning down, flipping the buckle and getting release either. All there was was me flopping over sideways onto the pavement. Securely attached to my good olde fashioned pedals.

    Moral: Clipless is good, just practice-- like your shifting--getting in and out until you don't think much about it anymore. As for me, I'm ordering those spd's.

    Remember Kathy.....everyone here has been down the same learning curve as you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek Al
    The shifter on the right works the rear derailleur. Press the long bar to the left and it shifts the chain to the bigger gears while the smaller bar (underneath the long one) shifts to smaller gears. Shifter on the left works the front derailleur. Pressing to the right moves the chain to the bigger gears. The smaller lever drops the chain down to the smaller gears. Just play around with it until it makes sense.

    Al
    Ah, ok, I had things a bit off. When I got the bike the guy told me how to do the gears but what he told me, specifically in regards to the left, was incorrect. I'll play around a bit tomorrow. Thanks Al!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannyGear
    Clipless is not so confining despite everyone's initial apprehension over being "trapped". Out this morning on Old Trusty with quill pedals, clips and straps. Had 'em strapped down nice and tight! Threw the chain halfway up a steep hill. There was no twisting out. In fact, there was no leaning down, flipping the buckle and getting release either. All there was was me flopping over sideways onto the pavement. Securely attached to my good olde fashioned pedals.

    Moral: Clipless is good, just practice-- like your shifting--getting in and out until you don't think much about it anymore. As for me, I'm ordering those spd's.

    Remember Kathy.....everyone here has been down the same learning curve as you.

    Oh my gosh - that must have hurt and I hope you're ok. I'm so paranoid of falling that right now it seems to be taking away from the good times I could have. Same thing happened when I went skiing this past winter. I don't know when I became so fearful - used to be so fearLESS!! Ha!! Funny - when I went to get the bike I had this guy as a salesperson. When it was time to buy some shirts and shorts, he felt I would "do better" with one of the women salespeople. He brought over a gal who had fallen and had broken her elbow. She had already had two surgeries and two pins in it. She had a brace holding it all together. She was a sweetie and said she had evey intention of getting back on her bike as soon as she was given the ok. I kept looking at the brace and I just kept thinking "I hope I don't fall!!" :-)

    Tomorrow my youngest son, who is 11, wants to take a short ride with me. How cool - it was his idea.
    :-) Well, have a great evening and an even better tomorrow everyone!!

    Kathy in NJ

  10. #10
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Crashes are very rare if you are reasonably cautious....I've been in more fender benders with my car than my bike. Fearing a crash is so distracting it may incline you towards somewhat more chance of having one. People riding close together in groups and becoming competitive or becoming careless, and people who are grossly unaware of their surroundings, are far more prone to crash. Go out, have fun, stay aware, wear helmet/gloves, use good judgement and you'll do fine indefinitely...have fun tomorrow.

    (I'm fine except for my dignity.)

  11. #11
    fmw
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    My wife went through the same thing. I ride with her about 3 to 5 times per week. She has a MTB - based hybrid bike. I would ride behind her and tell her to move the left up a gear or the right down a gear. It took her about 4 rides to get the hang of it and now she shifts often and properly. Perhaps you can get someone in the neighborhood to ride with you and provide that sort of input.

    One thing I would advise to start is to stay in the middle chainring in the beginning all the time (assuming you have a triple.) I'm talking about the gears right by the pedals. Then you will only have 9 or 10 or however many gears to worry about. Those are the ones on the rear wheel that you control with your right hand. After you get that under control you can then add the other two chainrings to the mix and be shifting with the best of them. Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    New to biking and Clipless? Hate to say it but clipless does cause a few problems, but is the way to go. Glad you got the gearing sorted, but just a tip on that front. When going uphill and putting in pressure on the pedals- it may not be that easy to change gear. Can't explain it easily, but the chain is stretched into a straight line and no matter how much you try and change- it won't go. If you ease off the pedal pressure just a bit, the gears will change. This is more noticable on the front sprockets. Practice makes perfect, so get out on the bike and ride.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    New to biking and Clipless? Hate to say it but clipless does cause a few problems, but is the way to go. Glad you got the gearing sorted, but just a tip on that front. When going uphill and putting in pressure on the pedals- it may not be that easy to change gear. Can't explain it easily, but the chain is stretched into a straight line and no matter how much you try and change- it won't go. If you ease off the pedal pressure just a bit, the gears will change. This is more noticable on the front sprockets. Practice makes perfect, so get out on the bike and ride.
    Yeah, I know what you're saying in regards to clipless. Before I got the bike I had seen many people in spin class with the clip ins and they had often raved about how much better they were to spin in. I figured that going with the shoes was the way to go. I have the pedals that came with the bike and at first thought of just putting them back on. But then, as I improve my strength and stamina I figured I would want the cleats and would have to get used to them anyway. I'll just keep practicing. :-)

    Kathy in NJ

  14. #14
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Some folks are not aware that when you clip out (and in) of clipless you only do one foot at a time, and when you clip out you generally only do one foot, period, unless you are getting off of the bike, and then only when you are completely stopped. Generally you should choose the foot that feels best to you and use that foot all the time. Then you learn to shift your weight to that side of the bike at the same time (or you fall!)

    I.e., when I am coming to a stop, I always unclip my right foot a sufficient distance prior to coming to a stop so that I will be ready to put my foot down as needed. When you start, you clip one foot in ahead of the other. For example, when at a red light, always keep one foot clipped in ready to go, etc.

    Also, I unclip that same foot whenever I am around kids or other danger on a multi use path (MUP), or going through gravel or any other place of danger.

    So far, in about 25,000 miles and seven years of riding, I have only fallen twice due to the clipless, and that was the first month I had them. Actually, I have only fallen four times for any reason (knock on wood).
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-07-05 at 07:55 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  15. #15
    TREK 2300 owner rickkko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roesslk
    Hello... I can't seem to get into the larger gears or I notice clicking noises at certain levels. I was into a nice coast this morning and as I tried to get into the upper gears to pick up some more speed I didn't do it - found myself in low gears spinning my legs like crazy!! ...
    Kathy

    p.s. I just love this bike!! :-)
    My girlfriend (56) has a Specialized Dolce Comp (a WSD type setup). She too has a tough time getting into the higher gears, I'm talking about shifting her LEFT (front derailleur).

    It takes a LOT of push on the silver lever to get the chain to move to the larger front sprockets. I think you might be having the same problem.

    Also you said, "I was in to a nice coast...as I tried to get into the upper gears...I didn't do it..."). Did you pedal while trying to shift? Generally you can't shift well unless you are pedaling.

    I don't mean to sound elementary but my girlfriend had very little experience riding so simple tips like that were new to her. She's got it down pretty good now execpt its still hard/uncomfortable for her to push that left silver brake lever inward to shift up to higher gears.

    ..rickko..

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickkko
    My girlfriend (56) has a Specialized Dolce Comp (a WSD type setup). She too has a tough time getting into the higher gears, I'm talking about shifting her LEFT (front derailleur).

    It takes a LOT of push on the silver lever to get the chain to move to the larger front sprockets. I think you might be having the same problem.

    Also you said, "I was in to a nice coast...as I tried to get into the upper gears...I didn't do it..."). Did you pedal while trying to shift? Generally you can't shift well unless you are pedaling.

    I don't mean to sound elementary but my girlfriend had very little experience riding so simple tips like that were new to her. She's got it down pretty good now execpt its still hard/uncomfortable for her to push that left silver brake lever inward to shift up to higher gears.

    ..rickko..
    Hi there - yes, I was pedaling while shifting - I was pedaling like mad!! Reminded me of a hamster when it gets a bit hyper on a wheel. The problem was that I was told incorrectly about the left gears - I was told the left shifted downward. When I went out for my ride this morning I figured it out and was quite happy!! Oh, and I appreciate hearing anything that someone with experience finds "elementary". I am, at this point, a bit clueless and am learning by trial and error (and with some help here). Thanks!!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by roesslk
    ..unclipping left, right etc. Ha!! These things are very scary..
    Hi roesslk!

    I'm glad you like your new bike. Aren't they fun? As for your clipless pedals, allow me to suggest (to the profound dismay of everyone else on this forum) that you consider ditching the "scary" clipless pedals altogether. You'll be far more comfortable and safe with a plain old flat pedal that you're not strapped or clipped to in any way. This type of pedal is called a "platform pedal," and they are God's gift to bicyclists.

    Racers, those who climb mountains, and fools need clipless pedals. Even in those circumstances, the verb "need" is debatable.. But I digress..

    Try cycling with platform pedals. Your efficiency won't decline noticably, you'll be FAR safer, and you'll enjoy your new bike even more! Just try it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Hi roesslk!

    I'm glad you like your new bike. Aren't they fun? As for your clipless pedals, allow me to suggest (to the profound dismay of everyone else on this forum) that you consider ditching the "scary" clipless pedals altogether. You'll be far more comfortable and safe with a plain old flat pedal that you're not strapped or clipped to in any way. This type of pedal is called a "platform pedal," and they are God's gift to bicyclists.

    Racers, those who climb mountains, and fools need clipless pedals. Even in those circumstances, the verb "need" is debatable.. But I digress..

    Try cycling with platform pedals. Your efficiency won't decline noticably, you'll be FAR safer, and you'll enjoy your new bike even more! Just try it.
    Why don't you suggest she get a Landrider, so she won't even have to worry about shifting? Platform pedals are no safer than clipless pedals for someone that can multi-task well enough to safely operate a motor vehicle.

  19. #19
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Racers, those who climb mountains, and fools need clipless pedals. Even in those circumstances, the verb "need" is debatable.. But I digress..

    Try cycling with platform pedals. Your efficiency won't decline noticably, you'll be FAR safer, and you'll enjoy your new bike even more! Just try it.
    I guess one of the things I enjoy about bicycling (and most activities) is learning the more advanced skills - simply how I am. If I have a computer, I like to learn and practice all I can, as much as I can. If I have a bike, I like to ride it in the way that the more advanced riders ride.

    I guess this is simply personal preference, and I don't feel that I am a "fool" because I do this. And besides, I enjoy riding clipless.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Come on,peeps, she's got a Trek 1000C, which means it's got Sora shifters. I LOVE those things !!!! When shifting the front to a bigger gear, you need to remember to sweep the left brake lever all the way to the right, and HOLD it there until you feel the chain move to the bigger gear. Pushing the lever on the inside of the brake hood with shift the chain to a smaller gear. On the rear, pushing the right brake lever to the left will shift to bigger gears (make you go slower or climb hills). You push the lever to the left until you feel the chain shift to the next gear. If you push it all the way to the left, it should shift over two gears. Pushing the thumb lever on the right brake hood will drop your chain to a smaller gear, or make you go faster. Do not try to shift both the front and the rear at the same time, as this can cause problems with the chain getting stuck between gears(don't how this happens, but it does), or bouncing on the teeth a bit and falling off the gears altogether.
    Is there an archway somewhere in your house, maybe where you can see the TV? Sit on your bike in that archway and practice clipping in and out of your pedals. After a bit it will become natural to do it, and will be just as fast as other types of pedals. You need a bit of tension on the pedal setting, so that your foot doesn't come out of them when you don't want it to, like when you're standing up to sprint at 20+ mph.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    ...and I don't feel that I am a "fool" because I do this...
    Sorry - I typed that with tongue in cheek. No animosity was intended, nor any slur. I've developed the highest respect for all youse guys and would not want to insult you in any way. We've agreed to disagree on clipless.

  22. #22
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Speaking as the guy above who flopped over while strapped into my not often used clipped platforms, let me say accidents can happen anytime, any equipment. I've slipped off unclipped/unstrapped platforms because of hitting a sharp bump and banged myself up. I've fallen over at a train crossing while helplessly clicked into clipless on my new, unfamiliar recumbent. I've never had any accidents caused by being snapped into my Look clipless. But maybe someday.....

    Roesslk, the point DnvrFox and FarHorizon and I would all agree on is that being familiar with your gear is the key....friction or indexed, clips or not, STI or dt shifters...they all become instinctual after a while-- you don't have to think about it much-- you just do it. The more often you ride, the better you get.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Sorry - I typed that with tongue in cheek. No animosity was intended, nor any slur. I've developed the highest respect for all youse guys and would not want to insult you in any way. We've agreed to disagree on clipless.
    Okay.

    One further point. Riding clipless is one more step in my bicycle and me becoming "one." A fused object conquering time and space!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  24. #24
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    In short, I can gess 2 causes of noise when you change gears: the combination of gears makes the chain to be too "crossed", or you apply too much force while making the change. (Another possibility is that the derailleurs might be misadjusted)

    GETTING THE CHAIN "PARALEL" TO THE FRAME
    If you have, a bike with three chainrings (30, 42 and 52 teeth) and a cassette of 8 sprockets, (of 26, 21, 19, 17, 15, 14, 13, and 12 teeth) you should avoid to engage the two smallest prockets (12 and 13) and the small chainring (30) at the same time.
    That's because the chain should be always as paralel to the frame as possible, otherways it would be rather "crossed". If this happens, it had 3 consequences:

    - The mecanic eficiency decreases (as much as from a 95% to a 75%)

    - The chains wears more quickly as it only would be working on one of its flanges.

    - THE CHAIN SCRAPES WITH THE FLANGES OF THE FRONT DERAILLEUR, WHICH IS PROBABLY THE CAUSE OF THE NOISES YOU HEARD as you were scaling gears. Actually you can see the chain and the flanges nearer and nearer -Always keep an eye on the road-

    These reasons leads us to avoid all these

    "FORBIDDEN COMBINATIONS":

    Chainring Sprockets
    30 with 13 and 12
    42 with 26 and 12
    52 with 26 and 21

    In my road bike (it has two chainrings and 8 sprockets) which still has old-style levers attached directly to the frame, when you are scaling gears with the small chainring, the chain begins to crape with the front derailleur before reaching a "forbidden combination". Then, you have to move slightly the left lever, just enough to move the front deraileur and stopping the noise, but without changing to the big chainring. My more modern hibrid bicycle with 3 chainrings and a chainring lever with fixed positions, lacks this flexibility, an you have to change gears as the noise appears.

    SHIFTING GEARS BETWEEN CHAINRINGS

    Now let's write the number of teeth of your chainrings and sprockets in the positions they have on the bicycle to have a clearer idea of the position of the chain, because the following can be confusing:


    Chainrings 30 42 52



    Sprockets 26 21 19 17 15 14 13 12


    Imagine you are in the small chainring (30) and in the 6th sprocket (14) and you want to engage a "longer" gear, the next sprocket is forbidden for this chainring so you have to move to the next.
    Then you'll have to to:

    - WHILE keeping pedaling smoothly, but WITHOUT MAKING FORCE ON THE PEDALS…

    - FIRST engage the medium chainring (42 teeth)

    - INMEDIATELY act on the right lever and engage a bigger sprocket 3 positions to the LEFT from the one you had engaged: the one with 19 teeth.
    If you avoid this step, you'll find the force you have to exercise on the pedals increases abruptly.
    In the other hand, IF YOU EXERCISE FORCE ON THE PEDALS AS YOU CHANGE GEARS (CHAINRINGS OR SPROCKETS) YOU'LL PROBABLY HEAR THE CHAIN'S GROANS AS IT CREAKS OVER THE DENTS OF THE WHEELS. (Of course this shortens the chain's and the sprockets' lifes, not to mention you can jam the chain in the front derailleur, which is a quite unpleasant experience as the pedalier would get blocked). Anyway the quality of the modern material has improved greately and whit the shifters fine tunned you should be able to change between sprockets very smoothly without almost stop accelerating. (Changing between chainrings is still a delicate operation)

    You have only to draw back two sprockets when you change from the 42 to the 52 teeth chainring because the difference of gearing between the 39 and the 42 is bigger:
    If I guessed right the number of teeth of your sprokets and chainring, you should change from the medium to the big chainring when you've reached the 14 teeth sprocket ( 3rd from the right), and then draw back to the one with 17 teeth; you can scale till the 13 and then change to the 15 but this would be a steeper change -actually the difference between 42/15 and 52/19 is even smaller-

    You will lose some speed on the process of gearing between chainrigs, so it would be a good idea to first overspeed your feet A BIT, as you would do with the engine of a car with manual gearing. Then, when you change gears, move your feet SMOOTHLY until you are sure the chain has engaged. NOW YOU CAN APPLY FORCE AGAIN WITHOUT RISK.

    IF YOU ACT ON ANY OF LEVER AND THE CHAIN FALLS BETWEEN TWO WHEELS WITHOUT ENGAGING ANY, the correspondient derailleur is probably misadjusted. Take it to the mechanic as this may be a dangerous event if it happens in the middle of the traffic or might be cause of losing of your balance and make you fall if you begin to pedal violently.

    I began using Look type cleats but now I'm very more satisfied with the SPD type: I find more lateral freedom on the feet and are softer when you try to free the feet (I keep them adjusted to the almost softer position) The only snag was I had to relearn to engage them as I wasn't able to find the position of the foot on the pedal. More over, now I can use mountain shoes and walk normally on the floor when I stop for a rest in a road bar.

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