Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Detroit, MI USA
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I have 21 speeds on my old Diamondback (a '93 Topanga). I routinely use only 3 gears. Largest chainring plus the 3 middle cogs on the back (starting, cruising, speeding up). It is fortunate that I only use 3 gears because the Shimano Exage Deraillers fitted to this bike are junk.
It is mostly flat around here. I tend to vary my cadence to change speeds. When heading up hills, I try to push the cruising gear as far as I can, while remaining seated, downshift and push that while still remaining seated, and as a last resort stand and concentrate on applying power throughout the stroke and pulling my knees up. I rarely meet a hill or overpass that I can't spin up seated. I have been thinking I should practice accelerating up hills (currently I have a *very* difficult time with this).
The only time I drop off the large chainring, is if I find myself in gravel, mud, or sand. This is not often because I am a commuter not a trail rider.