Understanding Bike Gears and Shifting

August 15, 2016 7:37 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re new to biking and want to take advantage of this fun and convenient method of travel, you’ll want to make sure you’re fully familiar with bike gears and what each gear does. Read on for some specifics, then if you’re in need of bike parts before you hop on a bike in Boca Raton, FL, visit our friendly, knowledgeable team at Bicycle Doctor Inc. – House Calls!

Gear basics

Bikes have gears so that you can pedal with overall ease regardless of terrain. The majority of bikes have from 7 to 11 gears in the back, while two or three chainrings can typically be found in the front.

As you bike, moving the chain from the smallest gear on the back of your bike to the largest gear greatly reduces the amount of pedaling effort.

You might also experiment with moving the chainrings in the front. As you shift to a smaller chainring, you’ll notice that pedaling will likely feel simpler there, while pedaling will feel more challenging when you shift to a larger chainring.

When should I shift?

Heading up a hill or into the wind? Select an easier gear for a smoother biking experience. If you’re on a flat surface or can feel the wind behind you, you’ll want to select a harder gear.

A good rule of thumb is to shift gears before a switch in the terrain. As you shift gears, put less pressure on the pedals, particularly on hills. Pushing too hard may cause the chain to fall off or skip.

What gear to use when?

Ready to put it all together and learn what combination of gears and chainrings to use for each type of terrain you may come into contact with? If you are riding:

  • On flat land: Make use of a small or middle front chainring and smaller gears.
  • Downhill: Switch to a large front chainring and the appropriate assortment of gears to get the job done.
  • Uphill or traveling into a headwind: Use a combination of a small or middle front chainring and a larger gear.

Other biking tips

  • Getting started: Remember that when you’re new to biking, looking down to see what gear is in use may help. As you learn the ropes, using only the rear gears and small or middle front chainring may feel most comfortable to you.
  • Make sure not to cross your chains: This puts unneeded stress on your bike’s hardware and makes it more challenging next time you need to shift gears. If your chains are crossed, this means one of them is overly slanted, whether it’s in the large ring at the front of your bike and the largest gear in the back or the small ring at your bike’s front and the small gear in the back.
  • Shifters: Now that you know what gear to use when, it’s useful to know which shifter to use to change which gears. The left-hand shifter is what you should use to change your bike’s front gears. The right-hand shifter, on the other hand, adjusts the gears in the back.

Need to pick up some bike parts in Boca Raton, FL, or have specific questions about your bike? Contact the experts at Bicycle Doctor Inc. – House Calls today!

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