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Newb needs lesson in shifting

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Newb needs lesson in shifting

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Old 04-21-08, 12:51 PM
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axxxxe
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Newb needs lesson in shifting

Hi everyone!

I'm a newb to mountain biking - just got my first bike in 20 years last week (Specialized FSR XC Expert - it was on sale). The day I bought it I rode the bike for a few hours in the woods behind the house, some trails, some off-trail. No big climbs and no standing on the pedals. After about 3 hours I noticed that shifting into higher speed gears had become less positive.

Over the next 3 days (riding an hour each day) shifting got progressively worse with the sensation that the rear derailleur was constantly tempted to change gears - as thought the chain kept catching on something. Yesterday I tried a bigger ride in the mountains with some substantial climbing and after an hour the bike was basically unridable - the chain slipping and catching in the rear derailleur at least once for every crank revolution.

I took the bike to the shop (where I bought it) today and they said the chain is basically destroyed - many bent and jammed links. The mechanic said 1) there's no way you should have been able to wreck the chain in 10 hours of riding, especially as a newb (and an out-of-shape one at that!), so the chain was probably defective - here's a new chain BUT 2) don't shift gears under heavy load - this will wear and damage the chain.

My question: what is proper technique for changing gears? How much and for how long do I need to unload the chain for gear changes? Is the technique different for changing gears up vs. down or with the front vs. rear derailleur? What do I do on a climb with varying slope - must I unload the chain for every gear change even though I'm still somehow powering up the hill?

Thanks for any tips or advice! :-)
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Old 04-21-08, 01:39 PM
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Ease up the pressure on the pedals but don't stop turning them. I would recommend not changing gears on hills because, especially as a newb, you'll be more likely to be hammering to pedals on a hill. Try to find a gear that you're able to do the whole hill in; it may require more effort in some parts and less in others but you'll find it.
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Old 04-21-08, 01:41 PM
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Try to anticipate your down shifts in a climb, and shift while you are spinning your feet fairly easy, as compared to the times you are mashing the pedals hard. Also watch you cross chaining, (small front small back, or big front big back ring combinations are hard on chains) that can wear a chain quickly.
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Old 04-21-08, 03:28 PM
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Zan
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think ahead. what you're probably doing (forgive me if i'm wrong) is that you hit an incline, think "damn, this is harder than it looked!" and shift into an easier gear. don't shift while the bike is under load. instead, anticipate the difficulty of the hill coming up.

shift into an "easier" gear before you get to the hill. even shift down more than one, if you want - no worries. this will increase your cadence, but lower the load on each push of the pedal. if you find you shifted down too much, you can shift up. you would have to have a fast cadence to do this, though - we're not leg pressing here at 60 rpm.

you'll figure it out as you ride more.

now, you may question what is a good cadence, since you're a "noob." Well, i'm sure different people here will give you different answers, but for mountain biking i say nothing less than 80rpm. i aim for 90 - 110 when i ride (roads or trails). usually after a hill, i shift into a lower gear, increase my cadence, and give my legs a "break," so to speak.
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Old 04-21-08, 05:22 PM
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The rear shift works much better under load than the front shift, so try to be in the front gear that you'll need before you actually need it. Remember that at the rear, you shift by moving the slack side of the chain, while at the front, you're moving the side that's under tension.

What may have happened to your chain was that you continued riding with a poorly adjusted shifter. Something clearly was wrong, and you kept on forcing it.
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Old 04-21-08, 05:40 PM
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Asian Sensation
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not to hijack, but how do you like the fsr xc? i was thinking about getting one, is it pretty comfy?
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Old 04-21-08, 05:47 PM
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Should be a nice bike. New riders seem to look out at the trail a foot or two in front of their tires. If you look at a fast rider he or she will have their head up scanning 100 yards up the trail. When you learn to look further up the trail, you will thrash on your drive train less. Have fun.
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Old 04-23-08, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for the good advice everyone! A question about cross chaining - if I use the middle front chainring, can I use the whole range of rear chainrings? Or should I only use the small rear with the big front and the big rear with the small front?
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Old 04-23-08, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Asian Sensation View Post
not to hijack, but how do you like the fsr xc? i was thinking about getting one, is it pretty comfy?
I find the bike very comfy, but I'm a total noob, so no idea what's typical these days. The suspension seems to work very well for what I've done so far. I was pretty shocked at how comfortable it is to ride over bumpy/rocky terrain. Brakes are also very nice.

I had planned to buy an XC Comp, but the store didn't have them in my frame size, so they gave me an XC Expert for just a little bit more $.
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Old 04-23-08, 06:36 PM
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during the first few weeks or so the cables will stretch considerably. take cable stretch into consideration and adjust it. if it isnt shifting promptly then it needs to be tightened.


the smallest front sprocket is nice for extreme climbs or just going ultra slow.

the medium sprocket is nice for climbing medium grades and going at a decent cruising pace.

the biggest one is for speed.

also beware of cross chaining.
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