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Noob Question - Shifting Gears

Old 10-11-15, 06:44 AM
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Noob Question - Shifting Gears

I just recently got my first bike with gears. I googled and from what I found it seems that I have stem shifters on it.

I understand that these are not optimal, but it's what I have for now.

I took her out for 27 miles yesterday and worked on learning to shift gears, but still not sure if I'm doing this right and I don't really want to strip my gears by not doing this correctly.

I am humbly asking for advice on how to use these correctly.

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Old 10-11-15, 06:50 AM
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I think if you remember to only shift while pedaling and don't shift when the pedaling is pressured like when climbing a hill, then
you prolly won't do serious damage. Your hands will find the 'sweet spot' and muscle memory will make it easier over time.
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Old 10-11-15, 07:24 AM
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Left shifter is for the front, sort of "high range" for down hill or flat with tailwind and "low range" for uphill and headwinds.

Look up the road, and when a hill is coming, shift the front on the small, easy chainring a bit ahead of time. Then shift the rear as needed.
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Old 10-11-15, 07:36 AM
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You're not going to strip your gears.

Big chainring at the front - high gear, harder to pedal but you go faster. Small chainring low gear, easier to pedal, good for hills.

Its the opposite at the back, the big sprocket is the easy one, the smallest one the hardest. So the easiest gear, for hill-climbing etc., is small ring at the front, big sprocket at the back.

As avidone has suggested, just back off the pedalling pressure a bit - but don't stop pedalling - for a smoother shift. Those are friction shifters, they aren't indexed, so you'll need to get used to the "feel" of how far you need to move the lever to get the chain to shift across a single cog. Just mess around experimenting for a day or two, you'll be surprised how quickly it becomes second nature.
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Old 10-11-15, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by YogaKat
I am humbly asking for advice on how to use these correctly.

One little tip: i had an old bike with stem shifters (eventually replaced them with bar top shifters). Anyway, this isnt exacly stem shift related, but on older bikes especially, you can run into an issue called "cross chaining". This is where you try to shift the front and back cogs onto opposite sides (example: shifting onto the outside ring in front and inside ring in back) entering into the large/large or small/small cog combo. You'll notice that it can be very tricky to shift into a cross chained position....on my old bike I absolutely can not move to the large chainring (outside front) with any amount of force if I'm already in the large cassette cog (inside back)

Anyway, its an easy fix...just don't try to get in those positions. You don't even really need them, since the large/large and small/small gear combinations are somewhat redundant because you'll always be able to find a slightly higher or lower gear.
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Old 10-11-15, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by avidone1
I think if you remember to only shift while pedaling and don't shift when the pedaling is pressured like when climbing a hill
I read this post before heading out today and it was very helpful.

Originally Posted by chasm54
You're not going to strip your gears.
Big relief to hear this.

All the explanations on this is really appreciated, thank you all.

Today what I found seems to match up to what has been said here and it is getting a bit easier now to figure out where I'm supposed to be. I'm still deciphering/studying what has been posted since some of this terminology is new to me, please bear with me.

Something else I found was that if I changed gear on the rear and got some "crunching?" type noise that adjusting the front gear a bit seemed to bring it back to quiet. Am I doing this right?
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Old 10-11-15, 10:15 AM
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Just practice shifting.... it will become second nature and with a derailleur bike you need to keep pedaling to shift.

With IGH, you can shift gears even if you're stopped.
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Old 10-11-15, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by YogaKat
Something else I found was that if I changed gear on the rear and got some "crunching?" type noise that adjusting the front gear a bit seemed to bring it back to quiet. Am I doing this right?
Yes.
As you shift the rear, the chain moves inward and outward, which sometimes causes it to rub the front derailleur cage. When you adjust the front a bit to fix that, you are "trimming" the front. Good that you figured that out. If you glance down briefly at the chain and front derailleur you will see the chain rubbing one side of the FD cage.

I have seen some front derailleurs worn through from the chain being allowed to rub against it for miles & miles.
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Old 10-11-15, 11:14 AM
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Since the terminology is new to you, an elaboration on [MENTION=13460]Homebrew01[/MENTION] 's explanation. The mechanisms that actually shift the chain from one cog to the next are called derailleurs (the French are literal-minded, they derail the chain). The front derailleur is the small sort of rectangular cage that hovers above the chain. You'll see that as you work the shifter that cage moves right and left - it's just a brute force mechanism that pushes the chain off one chainring and onto the other.

And as [MENTION=13460]Homebrew01[/MENTION] says, sometimes the chain is at an angle (for example if you're in the big chainring at the front and the big sprocket at te back - this is called cross-chaining) and rubs against the front derailleur, which needs to be shifted slightly out of the way, or "trimmed", to stop the clattering.

Sorry if this is overdoing the explanations, but nobody is born knowing this stuff....
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Old 10-11-15, 12:21 PM
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Thank you all for the information. I figure if I'm going to ride it, I should know how it works.
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Old 10-11-15, 12:27 PM
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Learn to plan ahead, downshifting before you get to a hill or before your come to a stop. That way you can easily make your shift without doing it under load, and be in the right gear to take on the hill or take off from the stop.

Learn to pull back or forward on the right lever (rear derailleur) far enough to get the chain to move to the next cog, then trim the derailleur by moving slightly in the other direction so the chain doesn't go tick-tickety-tick on the cog.
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Old 10-11-15, 12:28 PM
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Count the teeth in the rear cluster of cogs, each, and the chainrings in front.

simple math gives you the gear ratio.. that will tell you the relative size of each gear combination.

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator this is a math converter you can input the data into.
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Old 10-11-15, 12:36 PM
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For front, pulling the shifter tightens the cable to shift to to larger ring. For rear, pulling the cable also shifts to the larger sprocket but for lower gear. Don't shift too fast or the chain will fall off and then you'll have to learn how to put it back on. Make a little hook out of a coat hanger and keep it in your emergency kit.
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Old 10-11-15, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Count the teeth in the rear cluster of cogs, each, and the chainrings in front.

simple math gives you the gear ratio.. that will tell you the relative size of each gear combination.

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator this is a math converter you can input the data into.
Knowing the gear inches or any other measurement is good information, but not a requirement to knowing if you are in "THE RIGHT GEAR" for current conditions.

The ease or difficulty of pedaling you physically experience combined with which gear (terms for front and rear toothed gears is chainring=front & cog=rear) the chain is running will simply help you to get in the zone that gives you the greatest benefits (moving forward) with the least / most comfortable amount effort.

Example of shifting into the best gear(s) ahead of making a full stop (you cannot shift without pedaling):

1). Front on largest gear and rear on largest gear. (That causes "cross chaining" which is harder on the equipment and is not advised)

2). Front on smallest changing and rear on largest (Easiest to pedal combo) or somewhere in the middle in the rear. If you have it on the smallest in the front and smallest in the rear you are again cross chaining. Again not the best combination.

As you put more time riding selecting the best gear combination will quickly become engrained and second nature for you.
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Old 10-11-15, 07:48 PM
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There are plenty of videos and tutorials online. Google "how to change gears on a bike" and you will get lots of hits. Probably look more at articles that talk about shifters on the downtube since what you have is the same type of shifters, just in a different location. There have been many good posts in this thread with good advice. The best advice, IMHO, is to try to shift in advance when you see a hill coming. Try to keep your cadence (turning rate of pedals) higher rather than waiting until you can't pedal any longer before shifting.

Another thing that it took me a while to learn in preparing for a big hill. If you down shift in the front, you can offset that by upshifting the rear cassette one or two gear. They leaves you with roughly the same cadence, but you are on the lower front ring and ready to downshift the rear.

A 27 mile ride is a great ride! Keep up the good work.
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Old 10-12-15, 02:06 AM
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A couple things I would add
1. AFAIK, the shifters all adjust tension with just a screw. All the ones I've had have a d-ring or such that you can adjust by hand. But if there hasn't been a lot of maintenance, they may be kind of frozen, and you don't want to overdo the force and break off the d-ring. My preference was to tighten the shifter just enough that it wouldn't move on its own and no more, so it was easy to push/pull.

2. As far as shifting, I would say typically when you shift the back from a bigger to smaller cog as you move the shifter the chain falls onto the smaller gear and you are good to go. But shifting to a bigger cog you may need to slightly "over shift" to get the chain to "jump up" and and then ease off until it is nice and silent. Note that there is no need to go "one at a time", but smoothness counts.

As other posters already advised it is typical to have to adjust the front derailleur position a little to stop any rubbing.

3. Unlike indexed shifters, there isn't any thing to prevent over-shifting except the limit screws on the derailleurs so make sure you have these set correctly.

So as you get experience, it is OK to move the lever a bit slowly and get a feel for things. Over time you will be able to accurately and quickly shift up/down one two or three cogs with minimal adjusting.

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Old 10-12-15, 05:33 AM
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I'm loving all of the great replies and taking notes. Great information here.
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