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Okay to leave in highest gear at all times, even while accelerating at slow speeds?

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Okay to leave in highest gear at all times, even while accelerating at slow speeds?

Old 05-29-11, 01:37 PM
  #1  
andrew61987
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Okay to leave in highest gear at all times, even while accelerating at slow speeds?

My Rockhopper's chain will jump off the smallest rear sprocket when in it's highest gear, (largest front chainring and smallest rear sprocket, it's a 24 speed). I've taken it back to where I bought it several times for a tune up but it's always done this. They say it's because I'm leaving it in highest gear when I'm going slow and start accelerating. They say I should never be standing up while pedaling in highest gear, especially at low speeds.

I've always done this on previous bikes and never had a problem. Did they feed me BS to get me out of the shop or am I a newbie for not knowing this?
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Old 05-29-11, 01:49 PM
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Probably your chain and/or your small sprocket is worn out and needs replacement.

If they were telling you that starting in top gear accelerates you too slowly, or that it could be too hard on your knees, that'd be less wrong, but still wouldn't be an appropriate reply to a mechanical problem. Your chain should not jump when you stand up to pedal no matter how odd your starting gear selection is.
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Old 05-30-11, 12:10 AM
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Nope, you're a newbie for not knowing.

Never start pedaling from a stop in the highest gear, always downshift when coming to a stop to avoid this situation beforehand.
The highest gear uses the smallest cog in the cluster, with the fewest teeth.
Therefore it will wear down fastest and is not able to handle heavy loads when worn (such as when standing on pedals).

Most new riders make the mistake of thinking, 'im moving slow now, i want to go fast, so Ill shift to a high gear and it will make me go faster'
this is the wrong causality
the gears don't directly control speed, they control force and acceleration.(review hs physics if needed)
for a given pedal stroke, the low gears provide the most force, therefore when you want to start moving be in a low gear and the high amounts of force gives the bike a good push forward.
Once the bike is moving at a desired speed, less force is needed to maintain that speed so you can then shift to a high gear, which provides less force but also lets you pedal at fewer revolutions(so you dont do the squirrel cage thing)

Think of it as a manual shift in a car... start in low gear, give it gas(pedal Faster), once youre fast enough then you can shift to a higher gear.

There's more to know but you can look that up online...


If you don't use anything except the highest gear why not just get a singlespeed/fixie bike? There'd be less to go wrong and it'd save weight...
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Old 05-30-11, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by andrew61987 View Post
Did they feed me BS to get me out of the shop or am I a newbie for not knowing this?
They're making excuses. Derailer limit screw is misadjusted, dropout is misaligned, something like that.

Of course the alternative is if you're so damn powerful that starting out in top gear seems like a good idea to you, then you might just be flexing your rear triangle so much that it throws the chain. Perhaps previous bikes were beefier back there.

Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
If you don't use anything except the highest gear why not just get a singlespeed/fixie bike? There'd be less to go wrong and it'd save weight...
+1. Having multiple gears is kinda pointless if you start from a dead stop in top gear.
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Old 05-30-11, 12:33 AM
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Could be a bent derailleur hanger.
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Old 05-30-11, 10:49 AM
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Interesting the different opinions on this. I'm a 3rd year engineering major. I don't need to review high school physics, and I never said I "im moving slow now, i want to go fast, so Ill shift to a high gear and it will make me go faster."

Sometimes, if I'm on flat land, I just like to get to top speed without letting off to shift. I've been doing this ever since I learned how to ride a bike, on at least 10 different "mountain" bikes and never ever had a problem until this Rockhopper. This is kind of irrelevant anyway, because even if I'm already moving at a pretty brisk pace and want to then accelerate even more, it will still skip. Anytime I'm putting even moderate power through it in that gear, at any speed, it's been known to skip. It has less than 1000 miles on it and I feel like I'm getting the runaround. Several people I know all do the same with their mountain bikes, just leave them in high gear around town on flat surface streets and when we get to the gravel park trails with lots of hills then the shifting starts. The derailleur has been adjusted multiple times by at least 3 different people and it's always shifted flawlessly.

Of course the alternative is if you're so damn powerful that starting out in top gear seems like a good idea to you, then you might just be flexing your rear triangle so much that it throws the chain. Perhaps previous bikes were beefier back there.
I'm not powerful at all. I'm under 140 lbs and I don't have any sort of strength or muscle training.

I'm kind of ready to just start throwing parts at it. I figured I would start with a chain, and if that doesn't work, a new small rear sprocket (can I buy one or do I need a whole new set?).
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Old 05-30-11, 11:08 AM
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I assume they know the basics of gear adjustment, and would have corrected a limit screw adjustment, or bent hanger. So I'd suspect simple chain and/or sprocket wear.

There's no reason that you can't start in the gear of your choice, if your legs are willing to put up with it. But chains and sprockets wear over time, and if you spend the majority of your riding time in any gear it'll wear faster than if you spread the wear across multiple sprockets. That's especially true with the smallest cassette sprockets which have fewer teeth.

Chain wear is also highest on smallest sprockets because the chain has to flex through a greater angle as it winds on and off, plus the smaller the rear sprocket the greater chain tension compared to the amount of wheel torque (acceleration).

Start by checking your chain for stretch (pin wear), using a 12" ruler. If the pin to pin distance over 24 links is over 1/16" more than the theoretical 12" (24 x 1/2" pitch) your chain is worn. Given the fact that slips in high it's safe to assume the cassette is also toast.(yes you usually have to replace the entire cassette since loose sprockets are hard to come by).
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Old 05-30-11, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I assume they know the basics of gear adjustment, and would have corrected a limit screw adjustment, or bent hanger. So I'd suspect simple chain and/or sprocket wear.

There's no reason that you can't start in the gear of your choice, if your legs are willing to put up with it. But chains and sprockets wear over time, and if you spend the majority of your riding time in any gear it'll wear faster than if you spread the wear across multiple sprockets. That's especially true with the smallest cassette sprockets which have fewer teeth.

Chain wear is also highest on smallest sprockets because the chain has to flex through a greater angle as it winds on and off, plus the smaller the rear sprocket the greater chain tension compared to the amount of wheel torque (acceleration).

Start by checking your chain for stretch (pin wear), using a 12" ruler. If the pin to pin distance over 24 links is over 1/16" more than the theoretical 12" (24 x 1/2" pitch) your chain is worn. Given the fact that slips in high it's safe to assume the cassette is also toast.(yes you usually have to replace the entire cassette since loose sprockets are hard to come by).
+1 on this. Interestingly, if the chain is worn and you
replace only the chain, it usually makes the problem worse.

I run into this pretty routinely at the coop, where people
replace a chain that's obviously shot, but give no thought
to the cog teeth it must engage. So do the cassette
(actually not a whole lot more expensive than some of the
8 and 9 speed chains nowadays).

http://bicycletutor.com/chain-wear/
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Old 05-30-11, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
But chains and sprockets wear over time, and if you spend the majority of your riding time in any gear it'll wear faster than if you spread the wear across multiple sprockets. That's especially true with the smallest cassette sprockets which have fewer teeth.

Chain wear is also highest on smallest sprockets because the chain has to flex through a greater angle as it winds on and off, plus the smaller the rear sprocket the greater chain tension compared to the amount of wheel torque (acceleration).
Crucial points there. I've prematurely worn middle chainrings from not wanting to double shift front and back. Those aluminum 32s wear faster than steel 24s or aluminum 42s.

So you're doing the right thing to save your chainrings, but the wrong thing to save your cogs. Try running in the 14T cog more and spinning a bit more. Maybe get a bigger big chainring if you want higher gearing and can find one on sale.
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Old 05-30-11, 12:09 PM
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Yeah, you should be able to crank at as much power as you can muster without any skipping.
There are a couple of possible reasons why your bike is doing this - worn cassette cog and/or chain, wrong cassette lockring, or shifting misaligned due to derailleur hanger alignment, end-point adjustment, or cable tension.

But riding like this makes no sense, no matter how many of your buddies also do it. My 60 year old aunt rides everyewhere in her highest gear, too, and no matter how smart she is, this practice makes no sense.
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Old 05-30-11, 01:44 PM
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Lets say I wanted to replace the chain, cassette, and freewheel mechanism. How would I go about knowing what parts to purchase and ensuring compatibility?
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Old 05-30-11, 02:02 PM
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Do you have reason to believe your freehub body needs replacing?

What year is your Rockhopper?
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Old 05-30-11, 02:37 PM
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It was purchased new from LBS for Christmas 2007. I guess it could be an 06, 07, or 08 in that case. I'll have to find the paperwork...

About the freehub, I suppose it's the only other thing that could be causing a problem so I was going to look at the cost.
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Old 05-30-11, 02:50 PM
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The chain and cogs will wear at the same rate so that shouldn't cause it to slip or ghost shift. If the Der. hanger isn't bent then I would look into adjusting the Der. http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...nts-derailleur
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Old 05-30-11, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by andrew61987 View Post
I've been doing this ever since I learned how to ride a bike, on at least 10 different "mountain" bikes and never ever had a problem until this Rockhopper.................It has less than 1000 miles on it and I feel like I'm getting the runaround.
Hmmm, Mines a 2011 and it was throwing the chain off the smallest chainring, it was getting chain suck, and somehow or other the dork disc got fractured. The LBS replaced the bike but even the new one wanted to suck the chain, but I caught it before it got jammed up. I got out two repair manuals for reference and carefully made a full adjustment to the front derailler. Then I flushed the chain about 3 times with Break Free CLP (apply BF, ride lightly, wipe, repeat) to get the cosmolene out of it. I think that cosmolene makes the chain stiff and sticky and it picks up excessive amounts of grit which causes the chain to run stiff. Also, I don't have a lot of faith in the mechanic at that bike shop.
So far I haven't had anymore problems but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Someone else posted about shifting problems with their Hard Rock. Kind of makes me wonder.
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Old 05-30-11, 06:53 PM
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If you have a quick release rear axle is the skewer straight?
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Old 05-30-11, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by andrew61987 View Post
It was purchased new from LBS for Christmas 2007. I guess it could be an 06, 07, or 08 in that case. I'll have to find the paperwork...

About the freehub, I suppose it's the only other thing that could be causing a problem so I was going to look at the cost.
I don't see how the freehub body could be affecting things in this situation. Looks like there were 6 different Rockhoppers in 2008 and 7 in 2007. Some 8-speed, some 9-speed.
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