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Gearing strategies....

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Gearing strategies....

Old 09-10-09, 11:33 AM
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wunderkind
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Gearing strategies....

Looking for the combined experience of fellow commuters when it comes to gearing strategies.

On Flats:
I usually cruise with largest chainring (48t) and 2 smallest rear sprockets.

Heading towards a moderate hill:
Shift up the rear sprockets at base of the hill. Up to about maybe the 3rd largest sprocket depending on incline.
If I run out of breath I would gear down to the 2nd chainring.

Plateau and down:
Shift the to the small sprockets (as long as my legs are ok) to maintain cadence. Once at plateau, I get ready for the downward speed by getting up to the largest chainring again.

I've tried in the past to mash the power gears, but I then realised that there's a reason for all the gears. Now it's about maintaining my cadence as smooth as possible.

Would love to know if there are other strategies that I can learn from too.
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Old 09-10-09, 11:39 AM
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My "strategy":

Turn the cranks. If it's too easy, pick a taller gear. If it's too hard, pick a shorter gear. If I run out of gears and it's still too hard, stand up.
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Old 09-10-09, 01:06 PM
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My strategy:

Pedal. If it's too hard, man up. If it's too easy, I'm doing it wrong.
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Old 09-10-09, 01:36 PM
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I'm assuming that you are using a decent cadence.

The strategy will be different depending on the size and length of the hill.

Keep in mind that the front shifts much more slowerly than the rear.

If I'm hitting a long/steep uphill, I will shift the front down and also shift the rear up when it's easy to do (ie, when it's flat). That way, I can do quick rear downshifts as needed.

Note that, since I ran my gears through a gear calculator (www.sheldonbrown.com), I know exactly where my gears are.

If the hill isn't that long, I might just shift the rear. If the hill is real short, I might just stand. If it's rollers and the hill is short, you can often apply a bit more speed on the downhill/flat before the uphill and avoid shifting entirely.

Last edited by njkayaker; 09-10-09 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 09-10-09, 01:44 PM
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Your hunches seem pretty correct on the gearing. But I think there are varying approaches to using gears and it depends on what you are after. Is it an easy ride, fitness, cycling skills, something else?

Oddly enough I think if you really really want to understand gearing, ride a bike without them. A fixed gear or a single speed bike, and ride it for a like a year. When you get back on your geared bike you will be a changed man, for the better IMHO.
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Old 09-10-09, 08:06 PM
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i have 4 rules:

1. go as fast as possible.
2. if hill is too big, downshift - dont stand.
3. never drop below 90rpms.
4. stop being a pu ssy, your going to be late for work.
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Old 09-11-09, 08:24 AM
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Try and keep your cadence the same by using gears or more effort. I try to mimic what Sheldon Brown says,
'If you had a perfect bicycle, with an infinite number of gears, you would always be pedaling at the same cadence, with the same amount of resistance to the pedals. Of course, the bike would go slower uphill, and faster downhill, but your legs would not know the difference.'
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Old 09-11-09, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
Looking for the combined experience of fellow commuters when it comes to gearing strategies.

On Flats:
I usually cruise with largest chainring (48t) and 2 smallest rear sprockets.

Heading towards a moderate hill:
Shift up the rear sprockets at base of the hill. Up to about maybe the 3rd largest sprocket depending on incline.
If I run out of breath I would gear down to the 2nd chainring.

Plateau and down:
Shift the to the small sprockets (as long as my legs are ok) to maintain cadence. Once at plateau, I get ready for the downward speed by getting up to the largest chainring again.

I've tried in the past to mash the power gears, but I then realised that there's a reason for all the gears. Now it's about maintaining my cadence as smooth as possible.
Would love to know if there are other strategies that I can learn from too.
Yep, cadence is everything. Change gears so you keep within your target cadence. For me, that means constantly shifting. From a stop, I always start in my lowest gear, get it spinning up to my desired cadence, then staying in the saddle, I shift up as I increase in speed.

As you brake or slow down, downshift. It may sound like its complicated but after you do it for a while, its second nature.
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Old 09-11-09, 06:13 PM
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^ yeah I shift alot. When approaching stops, I will down shift just to prep for acceleration.

Try and keep your cadence the same by using gears or more effort. I try to mimic what Sheldon Brown says,
'If you had a perfect bicycle, with an infinite number of gears, you would always be pedaling at the same cadence, with the same amount of resistance to the pedals. Of course, the bike would go slower uphill, and faster downhill, but your legs would not know the difference.'
In the automotive world that is called Continous Variable Transmission (CVT). In a nutshell, it has infinite gearing. Then drivers get all weird because it is so darn smooth. So some car companies like Nissan added "fake" gear ratios to simulate gear change.
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Old 09-11-09, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
On Flats:
I usually cruise with largest chainring (48t) and 2 smallest rear sprockets.
Assuming a cassette where the 2 smaller rear cogs are 14 tooth or less, you should be flying at 25 mph or more. That's impressive. If you are going a lot slower than that, start working on your cadence and the rest will come.
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