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  1. #1
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Newbie with a shifting question

    I introduced myself the other day in the introduction forum. Since I'm 58 I guess I should also introduce myself here as well. I think I'll be spending most of my time here.

    Brief history, my wife has had many health issues in the last few years. For her 52nd birthday last month she wanted a bike. I live in Austin so we have as many local bike shops here as we do churches. So we went to our neighborhood shop and they were able to fit her with a nice comfort bike which fits her perfectly and is a pleasure for her to ride. (She's had back fusion). While we were there and while they spent 3 hours with her making sure everything was just perfect for her, I was sucked in. I ended up getting a nice Hybrid for myself which they also set up to fit me perfectly. I love the bikes and love the shop!

    Anyhow, her bike (Raleigh Venture) is pretty straight forward. Seven speeds with one shifter. My bike (Raleigh Misceo) isn't quite so straight forward. I haven't owned a bicycle in over 45 years and it was a Stingray clone of some sort. Don't remember but it had one speed.

    And yes, I've searched and understand bigger and smaller gears and their purpose both front and back. My question though has to do with the numbering on the controls. If I'm in 2 in the front and 5 in the back, then downshift to 4 it seems like it is a higher gear. Most motorized vehicles this would be a lower gear. Is this normal? I didn't know if maybe I am missing something and I can't find where anybody has already asked this question and saving me from the embarassment.

    I have to go pick up a couple of kick stands this afternoon and was going to ask the guys at the LBS. But hell, might as well ask here in case someone who is new like me has the same question but is also afraid to ask. Which of course sparks another question, why no kick stands? They can come in handy and these aren't race bikes.

    Thanks for the help and especially for the sticky for 50+ newbies. I read every post!
    Russ Lane
    ATX
    "I'm old and I'm slow"

  2. #2
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    There are complicated gear charts for using both front and rear to shift exactly from one gear to the next. I don't bother with them. I just shift on the back most of the time to maintain a reasonable cadence. If I am going up a very steep and long hill, I may use my small front ring as a bailout gear, or the big one when blasting down the other side.

    As far as the numbers on the shifters, just ignore them. What matters is that you are pedaling at a comfortable speed and effort. So just keep it in the middle ring on the front and use the rear as needed to maintain a comfortable cadence.

    The thing to avoid is using the extreme small-big gear combinations. The chain is then at an extreme angle and the derailluer might not be able to handle the extra slack or tension.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  3. #3
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    Sounds like you found a gem of a shop. Support them.
    IMHO, forget the numbers, just don't forget which way to move the levers to make it harder or easier. It will become instinctive after a while.
    Kickstands aren't put on the bike by the manufacturer, they are an extra put on by the bike shop. Yes they do come in handy, but IMHO, they are more of a PIA than anything else.

  4. #4
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    Front: smaller gear = easier & vice versa
    Rear: smaller gear = harder & vice versa

    I'm not seasoned enough to know if numbering systems are the same on all bikes but you can figure it out from there by observation.

    Also the thing to avoid is called cross-chaining. You have 3 in the front and at least 8 in the back, you don't want to make your chain have to bend from the innermost front to outermost rear. It'll cause wear, noise, the chain can skip, and it's going to break stuff (most likely to go first is your rear derailleur).

    So here's what you do, and you'll have to figure out what you like best: section the rears to only use the lower 4, middle 4, and higher 4 with their LOCATIONALLY respective front gears. Meaning if you're on the smallest front gear, you use the largest 4 in the rear. If you reach the 4th in the rear & want to go faster, bump the front 1 larger (which is equivalent to about 2 'harder' on the rear), then you can keep incrementing the rear (you can also drop 1 in the rear so your gand total increase in effort steps is 1 rather than 2). Generally you'll find yourself in the middle ring in the front for most relaxed riding.
    Last edited by brandini; 06-05-12 at 01:28 PM.

  5. #5
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texasplumr View Post
    But hell, might as well ask here in case someone who is new like me has the same question but is also afraid to ask. Which of course sparks another question, why no kick stands? They can come in handy and these aren't race bikes.
    I've owned bikes without kickstands for 6-7 years. My new bike, a recumbent, came with a kickstand. It's handy and I liked it a lot. However, I keep forgetting to flip it up. On Saturday I had a long ride with a roughly 6-7 mile section where it's slightly downhill and with a tail wind. It was a proper bombing run and I took it as fast as I could.

    When I came up to a stoplight finally, a very nice young lady rolled down her window and told me I left my kickstand down.

    I'm not sure but I think I could have killed myself.

    Now I'm considering taking the dumb thing off.

    BTW, agree with the others. Don't worry about the numbers. The more advanced shifters don't even have them, and after a while you won't bother with them.

  6. #6
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Don't worry about numbers, your legs will tell you when you are in the right gear.

    Just make sure to back off the power a bit when you shift to give the derailluer a chance to do it's thing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member GrandaddyBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texasplumr View Post
    And yes, I've searched and understand bigger and smaller gears and their purpose both front and back. My question though has to do with the numbering on the controls. If I'm in 2 in the front and 5 in the back, then downshift to 4 it seems like it is a higher gear. Most motorized vehicles this would be a lower gear. Is this normal? I didn't know if maybe I am missing something and I can't find where anybody has already asked this question and saving me from the embarassment.
    Dang, all those gears make my brain hurt just thinking about them. Ok, if your are at 2 in the front that is probably where you will do most of your riding depending on how flat or hilly the country is. If you are at 5 in the back and you move to 4, 3, 2 or 1 then you are moving to a larger rear cog (more teeth) as the number on your shifter gets smaller. Your pedaling will be getting easier. If this was a manual gear shift in a pickup truck the numbers would be reversed you would be going to 1, 2, 3 and then 4. The engine would be working less (pedaling easier) with each shift as the number increased. In you truck/car you would say you were shifting to a higher gear but on your bike you would say you were going to a lower gear. You are the engine when you are on your bike. So as the shifter number gets smaller the pedaling gets easier and you would say you were going to a lower gear ratio, because you (the engine) would be working less. In you truck/car you would say you were going to a higher gear (but a lower gear ratio - normal 1:1 for 4th gear).

    God, now I am confused.

    So I think the answer to your question, “Is this normal?” the answer would be yes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandaddyBiker View Post
    Dang, all those gears make my brain hurt just thinking about them. Ok, if your are at 2 in the front that is probably where you will do most of your riding depending on how flat or hilly the country is. If you are at 5 in the back and you move to 4, 3, 2 or 1 then you are moving to a larger rear cog (more teeth) as the number on your shifter gets smaller. Your pedaling will be getting easier. If this was a manual gear shift in a pickup truck the numbers would be reversed you would be going to 1, 2, 3 and then 4. The engine would be working less (pedaling easier) with each shift as the number increased. In you truck/car you would say you were shifting to a higher gear but on your bike you would say you were going to a lower gear. You are the engine when you are on your bike. So as the shifter number gets smaller the pedaling gets easier and you would say you were going to a lower gear ratio, because you (the engine) would be working less. In you truck/car you would say you were going to a higher gear (but a lower gear ratio - normal 1:1 for 4th gear).

    God, now I am confused.

    So I think the answer to your question, “Is this normal?” the answer would be yes.

    Makes sense, somehow. That's what I thought it was but wanted to be sure. Thank you.

    It wasn't an issue until Saturday when we went to a place called the Velloway which is a nice 3 mile paved trail. There is one section about half way through that has a very tight turn followed immediately with a very steep hill. I started downshifting I thought and ended up pushing the bike up the hill. I'll be ready next time!

    Thanks for all the responses!
    Russ Lane
    ATX
    "I'm old and I'm slow"

  9. #9
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    No one that I know personally has ever numbered their gears, at least not in anything but gear-inches. Calling your lowest gear 1 and your highest 30, or vice versa, doesn't seem to occur to anyone, maybe because it's so rare that riders use them sequentially, unlike drivers who almost always do. The need to label them isn't there, so they don't get labeled.
    Craig in Indy

  10. #10
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    Oh, oh, oh!!! I know the answer, in simply way. That's what the bike shop owner spent so much time explaining and having me practice. LOL!!! The way he simplified it, it just suddenly clicked in my head. I'm no longer scared of my 21-speed. However, I'm not sure the Raleigh bikes have the twist controls. Let me try to explain it, in my simple terms, meaning, my understanding.

    My normal riding is in 2nd on the front which is my left control and 3rd or 4th on my rear which is on my right control. When I get to an incline, I just start switching my right up to a higher number (up to that 7 on my right) that maintains my cadence. If I start to hear a clicking sound, it's time to change the front gear (the one on the left). I can go either up or down and it won't hurt my derailleur, as long as I'm still pedaling. Well I haven't had to go into 3rd yet.

    That's my very simple basic understanding. It works for me. Bottomline was, move the gears but ride where I am comfortable. Of course, I'm suppose to remember the "Don't do list" which includes pedaling backwards while trying to change gears.

    I'm gonna suggest you go back to your LBS and ask questions. If they want your business, they will work with you and explain things to your understanding. I'm sure that bike shop really appreciated your business but anyone can sell a bike. What they really want is your return business, a loyal customer. Now, make them work for your business.
    2013 End of Summer Goal: Return to NC's Dismal Swamp State Park trail

  11. #11
    Senior Member Durockrolly's Avatar
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    Must be a union plumber if you're buying two bikes at a time!!!
    Welcome to the forum!
    Been chatting to a 14 year old girl online. She's funny, sexy and flirty. Now she tells me she is an undercover cop! How cool is that at her age!?

  12. #12
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Hi. I hope no one minds that I haven't qualified for membership yet, but I saw the thread title and wanted to share a thought:

    Instead of thinking of numbers, think inside (towards the hub/BB) and outside (away from the hub/BB). Inside = slower and easier; Outside = faster and harder. As long as you avoid cross-chaining, you can use any combination you want to get the gear ratio you need for the conditions.

    That's it. Don't over think it.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  13. #13
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    If no one has mentioned it, your new cables will stretch and will need adjusting.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    Yes, after a dozen rides with changing gears and braking(probably should be at least 30 minute rides) go back to the LBS and have them readjust the cables for stretch. My LBS included this in the price of the bike--in fact, my LBS includes lifetime adjustments and annual checks and tune-ups with bikes purchased from them.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikey Mikey View Post
    Yes, after a dozen rides with changing gears and braking(probably should be at least 30 minute rides) go back to the LBS and have them readjust the cables for stretch. My LBS included this in the price of the bike--in fact, my LBS includes lifetime adjustments and annual checks and tune-ups with bikes purchased from them.
    My LBS suggested bringing the bike back in for tune-up within 30-90 days. Their suggestion was to make it closer to 90 days. It is free with the purchase of the bike.
    2013 End of Summer Goal: Return to NC's Dismal Swamp State Park trail

  16. #16
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    That'll work too. Just do bring it in to have it adjusted after a bit.

  17. #17
    USMC Veteran qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Welcome to you and your wife into bicycling! Get your wife interested in the forum too. 50+ is a great group of people with lots of good information. BTW we love pictures here and you need to post a first ride report, with pics and your choice of PIE following the ride. We love PIE!!!!!

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  18. #18
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, but I can't resist this.

    What do you get when you combine GrandaddyBiker with nuttygrandma?

    = nuttyBiker.

    Thank you.

  19. #19
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso
    Instead of thinking of numbers, think inside (towards the hub/BB) and outside (away from the hub/BB). Inside = slower and easier; Outside = faster and harder. As long as you avoid cross-chaining, you can use any combination you want to get the gear ratio you need for the conditions.

    That's it. Don't over think it.
    This is the simplest way that I can think of explaining the gears. Most riders I know find a front/rear gear combination that works for them and don't usually stray from it unless they are climbing or wanting to go faster. On longer rides, you may want to drop to a lower gear so that it becomes easier to pedal and rest your legs for a while.
    HCFR Cycling Team
    Ride Safe ... Ride Hard ... Ride Daily

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  20. #20
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Durockrolly View Post
    Must be a union plumber if you're buying two bikes at a time!!!
    Welcome to the forum!
    Ha ha!! No, independent plumbing contractor until 5 years ago when I took a job with the City as a plumbing inspector. The best career decision I ever made.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    If no one has mentioned it, your new cables will stretch and will need adjusting.
    Thanks. Yes, they told me this when I bought them and they do it as part of the purchase price. As well as tune ups the first year. The LBS has been more than helpful.
    Russ Lane
    ATX
    "I'm old and I'm slow"

  22. #22
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Hi. I hope no one minds that I haven't qualified for membership yet, but I saw the thread title and wanted to share a thought:

    Instead of thinking of numbers, think inside (towards the hub/BB) and outside (away from the hub/BB). Inside = slower and easier; Outside = faster and harder. As long as you avoid cross-chaining, you can use any combination you want to get the gear ratio you need for the conditions.

    That's it. Don't over think it.
    Thanks. I tend to over analyze everything. The numbers threw me off but it makes sense to me now. I wish they hadn't even put them on there but I'll ingnore them and just think of gears from now on.
    Russ Lane
    ATX
    "I'm old and I'm slow"

  23. #23
    Senior Member Texasplumr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    Welcome to you and your wife into bicycling! Get your wife interested in the forum too. 50+ is a great group of people with lots of good information. BTW we love pictures here and you need to post a first ride report, with pics and your choice of PIE following the ride. We love PIE!!!!!

    Bill
    There are only two kinds of pie that I like.....Cold and hot!
    Russ Lane
    ATX
    "I'm old and I'm slow"

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    I'm sorry, but I can't resist this.

    What do you get when you combine GrandaddyBiker with nuttygrandma?

    = nuttyBiker
    Thank you.
    You trying to matchmate here,eh? You should leave that alone, stiking your nose into that wiminfolks territory, it'll lead you into dangerous areas lad. Now go for a ride and clear your mind of such foolishness.

  25. #25
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    It would've been worse if I had included this in the post:

    What do you get when you combine GrandaddyBiker with nuttygrandma?

    = nuttyBiker

    Where can you find nuttyBiker?

    = A&S

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