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Old 08-24-09, 05:13 AM   #1
oldguy387
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Front Deraileur question

How many REALLY use the front deraileur? I ride a Trek 7.3 FX (24 speed) and find that I can keep the chain on the high gear sprocket and just use the nr. 3/4/5 rear cogs for most of my riding. Am I riding/using my bike correctly? I am 62 and not out for speed. Thanks.
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Old 08-24-09, 05:46 AM   #2
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If you're riding on flat terrain, that's probably all the gears you need to use. But if you have to negotiate big/steep hills, then the middle ring and big cogs in back are your knees' friends.
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Old 08-24-09, 05:50 AM   #3
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As long as your cadence is where you want it, then your doing fine. I have a relatively narrow comfort zone when it comes to cadence so I'm shifting a lot.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:36 AM   #4
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Find some hills.
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Old 08-24-09, 09:17 AM   #5
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Back in the days when men were men and bike frames were steel we had two sprockets on the front and five on the back. In order to get a reasonable range of gears for riding even rolling hills it was necessary to make use of every possible gear combination.

Today we may have 9 or 10 cogs on the back. That makes it possible to have both closer spacing between gears and a wider range of gears for hilly terrain.

I generally tell new riders to think of their bike as having 3 gear ranges that correspond to the front chainrings. The middle chainring is used for riding on relatively flat ground. Within that gear range you may select the rear cog that best suits the wind and road conditions. The small front chainring is useful for climbing steeper hills and the big front chainring is reserved for downhill and tailwind duty.

Depending on where and how you ride, you may never feel the need to shift front chainrings.
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Old 08-24-09, 11:40 AM   #6
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I messed up my front shifter some years back and used the front DR only for awhile. Worked OK, I have a wide cadence range however.
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Old 08-24-09, 01:12 PM   #7
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If you're comfortable, do what works. My sister keeps her old Miyata in the small chainring and the smallest cog no matter what I tell her about chain wear or finding similar gears without running across the driveline. She just says "it feels right."
Like the other posters, though, I suspect you live in flat country. If you were riding with me, in the Sierra with 7500-foot passes all around, you'd learn to use that front shifter pretty quickly.
One precaution: We're about the same age, and about at the age where knees start to show wear and tear. If you're pushing hard at a low cadence (less than 75-80rpm), you might consider shifting down to maintain 90-100 most of the time. Knees withstand fast spinning with a light load better than they do slow pushing against a heavy load.
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Old 08-24-09, 01:24 PM   #8
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Road bike and I have compact cranksets on the front with 50/34 chain rings. I use both. On the rear and I have 12/27 and I use the lot.

Tonight I went out on the Tandem and rode in the middle chain ring of 36 and I have an 11/32 on the rear. The difference between each gear felt so vast that I only used 3 of them.
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Old 08-24-09, 02:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldguy387 View Post
How many REALLY use the front deraileur? I ride a Trek 7.3 FX (24 speed) and find that I can keep the chain on the high gear sprocket and just use the nr. 3/4/5 rear cogs for most of my riding. Am I riding/using my bike correctly? I am 62 and not out for speed. Thanks.
For puttering around its what ever appeals to you. If you like a fast pace then you'll use them all. I use all the ratios (which is different than all the gears) available even in the N Florida rolling hills as I like to keep moving as fast as I can and never coast unless I've over-run my highest gear. It has little to do with age (I'm 70), more with how one likes to ride.

The age factor though makes lower gearing more effective, so I gear my bikes lower than a younger fit person might want. Casual bikers tend to pedal too slowly. A cadence of around 80 will be less fatiguing for the same speed & distance than 50 to 60 once you train for it. It also provides a better cardio workout. I ride typically around 90.

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Old 08-24-09, 02:48 PM   #10
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The question is not how many gears you use; the question is whether you are pedalling at a smooth, steady cadence that's comfortable for you.

If you're in a flat area, with no wind, a narrow gear range is fine. If you find yourself having to struggle (up a hill, or against the wind) you should be shifting into a lower gear....likewise, if you are headed down a steep slope, you should get a higher gear so you can maintain your momentum.

Sounds to me like you live somewhere flat.

As for me, I use a wide range of gear on every ride - lots of rolling hills, some steep climbs, some steep descents.
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Old 08-24-09, 02:53 PM   #11
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One point I discovered from my wife's riding. She eschewed the granny gear I put on her new bike for the longest time. Finally, we hit a big enough hill that she actually had to use it. But, guess what? The chain popped off!

Moral of the story: Even if you don't use it every day, try it every once in a while to make sure it still works and is in adjustment...You may actually need it some day.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:27 PM   #12
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I run a 2x6 setup on each of my road bikes and shift both derailleurs frequently. Two of the bikes are set up with half-step gearing, with a tight 3-tooth drop in front, and the other two have 1.5-step gearing, with an 8- or 9-tooth drop in front. My mountain bike has a 1.5-step-plus-granny ringset (48-40-28 or 48-40-24), and I have never needed the granny on-road, but it does come in handy on offroad climbs.

My guess is that you are not using your gears to their full potential, even if you live in the flatlands, unless you also never have any significant headwinds or tailwinds.
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Old 08-24-09, 09:21 PM   #13
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Were I ride, I'd call it mostly flat, with a few rolling hills. I did ride the route of 20 miles a few times in the 50t ring, shifting only the back. Although I do have a 11 x 32 rear cassette, and used all selections. However, as mentioned earlier, it's easier on the knees to spin faster, and I was told my cadence is too low, so I've been dropping down on the front a lot more. On my trail bike, I only have 1 ring at the front. Deraileur was removed. The trail is flat.
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