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  1. #1
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    newbie gears how to use gear Q

    Hi all,

    My newbie question is how does one effectively use the front derailer gears? My last bike was a five speed cruiser .

    I'm used to the simple biggest to smallest depending on speed/hills.

    The hybrid bike I am thinking about has 24 gears :confused:

    What is the proper way to use the front derailer? Is it a simply linear when using the "biggest" with the "smallest" up front do you shift the front derailer and go all the way to the smallest in the rear to get to the next gear?

    Does this make any sense?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I can't offer a scientific/mathematic explanation, I can however share what works for me. Generally speaking, I leave the front derailer on the middle chain ring and shift the rear to whichever cog will allow me to comfortably maintain aprox 60-70 RPM on the pedals. If you are descending a hill and want to develop maximum speed and momentum in order to climb another one, then shift the front to the largest chainring and shift the rear to the smallest cog and pedal like mad! If you begin to lose that momentum on the ascent, shift back to the middle chainring up front and then shift to easier gears on the rear if necessary. The large chainring up front and smallest cog on the rear also works well for long, strait stretches of road. Finally, if you are facing a very steep incline and have no momentum built up, shift to the smallest chainring up front and the largest cog in the rear. This will give you the lowest possible gearing and the greatest mechanical advantage, but will move you the shortest distance per revolution of the pedals. In conclusion, I wouldn't worry about proper shifting sequence too much, but rather concentrate on keeping your RPM's as high as you can comfortably maintain. Some of the other guys might have more exact and specific instructions, but this system works for me.
    A man's actions influence his attitude as much as his attitude influences his actions.

  3. #3
    suitcase of courage VegasCyclist's Avatar
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    welcome to the forums...

    as for shifting, you really do not want to be in a big (front) small (rear) combo it, will most likely cause the chain to rub on the front derailleur.

    Basically (if the cranks are a triple) you will have three options, the smallest front gear (called the granny) will be used for hills, and climbing, the middle, will (probably used the most) is for flats and light climbing, while the large is used for downhills or fast flats..

    shifting is a sort of thing that once you get used to it, you really don't think about it too much, and it comes as a natural response to the terrian you are riding on. (at least it does for me )
    -VegasCyclist
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  4. #4
    Senior Member (Retired) gmason's Avatar
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    Directly answering your second question: no - the gear succession is not a linear path of 24 successive ratios in any form. There is a lot of overlap. What you need to do to understand what you have is to use one of the many gear calculators available. Here are a few:

    http://www.campagnolo.com/sviluppo.php

    http://www.panix.com/~jbarrm/cycal/cycal.30f.html

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/index.html

    As to how and when to use them, the answers already provided, and many more that I am sure will come, will give you ideas.

    Cheers...Gary

  5. #5
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    The purpose of gearing is to allow you to pedal at your chosen cadence (pedalling speed), with your chosen pedalling force, through a whole range of conditions (gradient, wind, road surface).
    Triple chainsets give a much wider range than single systems, but still permit fairly close spacings between the gears.
    There is quite a lot of overlap between the 3 rings. You can measure exactly which gears are duplicated by working out the gear ratios, or in cycling terms the "gear inches" (see Sheldon link).
    The usual way of operating gears is to use the middle ring for flattish conditions, using the whole range of cogs at the back.
    As you reach a steep hill, you can move to the small "granny" ring, and shift to a smaller rear cog (to find the start of the overlapping ratios), then you will be ready to gear down as the hill gets steeper.
    On downhills, you will find yourself in the middle ring , in the smallest rear cog. If you are pedalling too easily and want to go faster, change to the largest ring, and if neccessary, shift to a larger rear cog to find the point of overlap, then shift to a smaller cog as neccessary.
    You should avoid crossover gears which stress the chain, this usually means the 4 smallest cogs with the small ring, and the 4 largest cogs with the large ring. With the middle ring, the gears at the extreme of the range can be duplicated with a straighter chainline, using the small or large chainring, so it probably better to use those.
    Triples are not difficult to operate if you are used to a 5 speed bike, and its easier to use them, than to explain their use.

  6. #6
    Grounded Inkwolf's Avatar
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    Originally posted by VegasCyclist
    welcome to the forums...

    as for shifting, you really do not want to be in a big (front) small (rear) combo it, will most likely cause the chain to rub on the front derailleur.
    Correct me if I'm getting confused, but isn't it the other way? You don't use the smallest front cog with the smallest back cog, or the largest front cog with the largest back cog?

    Because the biggest front with the smallest rear is your fastest gear, and the smallest front with the largest back is your easiest gear...

  7. #7
    suitcase of courage VegasCyclist's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Inkwolf
    Correct me if I'm getting confused, but isn't it the other way? You don't use the smallest front cog with the smallest back cog, or the largest front cog with the largest back cog?

    Because the biggest front with the smallest rear is your fastest gear, and the smallest front with the largest back is your easiest gear...
    yes you are right, my error
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  8. #8
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Until you become fully comfortable with the gears, treat the middle chainring as "normal," and shift the rear derailleur as necessary to obtain a comfortable pedaling cadence. (I recommend ~90 RPM, which some folks find a bit fast, but which is easy on the knees.) To climb a steep grade, drop into the small chainring; to descend a steep grade, try the outer chainring. On a 3x8 (24-speed) setup, avoid using the two inner cogs with the outer chainring and the two outer cogs with the inner chainring, plus any other combinations that run roughly or noisily.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  9. #9
    Pat
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    Well, in the old days of 10 speed bikes, people paid real attention to gear progression. When you have only 2 chain rings and 5 gears on your rear cluster, you have only 10 combinations and you need to be able to know how to use them.

    But nowadays, you are talking about 24 gears. You really will not have 24 functional gears. For example, you should not use your smallest rear cog with your smallest chain ring or you largest rear cog on the largest chain ring. You can shift your bike into one of these and see why. The chain goes on a diagonal which produces more wear and tear on the components.

    Shifting the front derailler or the chain rings tends to be less efficient than shifting on the rear derailler or the cogs. So most people try to do the vast majority of their shifting with the rear derailler.

    As people have said, when you are climbing a steep hill, shift into the small chain ring and then fine tune on the rear derailler until you feel comfortable. On more normal stuff, stay in the middle chain ring. And when you feel like going fast, shift to the big ring.

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