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Old 06-27-07, 10:21 AM   #1
Cries on hills
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Shifting a road bike

I'm finding that I'm using like 4 gears total as I break myself back into riding. My road bike has friction shifters, on the stem; and it just seems like too much of a hassle to crank up/down through the gears as I go. Is that normal?

Where the bike seems reasonably light, and the tires reasonably narrow, I don't seem to mind the hills quite as much. I use 1/1 (36 gear inches, 40t/30t) for starting and "tired" climbing; then seem to cruise at 1/3 (51 gear inches, 40t/21t) and crusing around 14mph. When I want to kick it up a notch, I go to 2/3 (67 gear inches, 52/21) at 18mph. Lastly, if I want to push my luck, I go top gear 2/6 (117 gear inches, 52/12 I think) and go upwards of 36mph (which hurts!).

Before you ask, my MTB has indexed shifting, and I'm quite used to banging through the gears on that. Actually, last ride I took on that, I pretty much used all 7 gears on the middle chainring (on-road only; 26 to 59 gear inches, not bothering on racing down hills).
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Old 06-27-07, 10:48 AM   #2
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I am also riding an old 10-speed bike (a Ross) with stem-mounted friction shifters. Where I ride it's pretty hilly, and I tend to stay in the small chainring a lot. With an old-tech bike like mine, you want to aviod cross-chaining, so I when I ride on the small (inner) chainring I stay on the (inner) biggest three cogs. When I get on a flat stretch, and want to kick it up, I go from the inner chainring/middle cog, to the (outer) big chainring and the (outer) three little cogs.

Does that make sense?

BTW, there's nothing wrong with friction shifters. I like the ability that they give to fine-tune the derailleur position to get rid of chain clicks. I'm buying a Surly Long Haul Trucker, and one of the reasons is that it DOES NOT come equipped with indexing shifters (it has bar-end shifters that can run in pure-friction mode).
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Old 06-27-07, 10:48 AM   #3
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Well, the theory of gear use is to allow you to use an efficient pedaling cadence at all times. Naturally, it's very hard to "spin" up a very steep climb, but for most hills you encounter you should be able to keep up a reasonable cadence. If you're really struggling, you need lower gears....

This is all dictated by conditions, of course. I normally ride a 2.5mile course around the perimeter roads of a local park. There are two hills on each side of the loop. I find that on my roadster, I can stay in the small front ring and use maybe 4 cogs around the whole thing.

If you're able to pedal comfortably with those gear choices, you're doing fine!

Most serious road riders find the stem-mounted shifters a pain; it's hard to maintain a good riding position. That's why most better friction-shift roadsters have them mounted on the downtube.
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