Using gears properly will make cycling more enjoyable, efficient and safe. Today, most bikes come equipped with up to 18 gears, and you’ll need to know how to use them correctly and get the most out of them. In this article, you’ll find out the five essential tips on how to use your bike gears to maximize efficiency and make cycling even more fun.
1. Understanding Your Gearing System
Types of Gearing Systems
Bikes come with either a single-gear system, a derailleur system or an internally-geared system. The derailleur system is the most common type, and it works by having two cogs – a cog at the rear and a cog at the front. By shifting the gears, the chain is moved between the cogs and this produces different gear ratios.
Number of Gears
Most bikes will have a total of 18 gears, with 8, 9 or 10 on the front cog. The front cog is known as the chain-ring, and is the bigger set of gears. The rear cog is known as the cassette and here you’ll find the smallest sprockets and most of the gears. As you move up the gears, the chain-ring will move from the smallest to the largest.
Pulleys and Cable
The gears are shifted by a cable and a set of pulleys. The cable is connected to the shifter (usually on the handlebars) and this is then pulled by the shifter, which moves the pulleys, which move the chain and shift the gears.
2. Correctly Shifting the Gears
Getting the Right Gear Ratio
When you’re in the right gear, you’ll be spinning the pedals relatively quickly and with reasonable effort. On the other hand, if you’re not in the right gear, you’ll have to either pedal too quickly or put in too much effort. To get the right gear ratio, it’s best to pedal in the same gear for a few revolutions and then switch up or down a gear as necessary.
Changing Gears Uphill and Downhill
When you’re riding uphill, it’s best to shift the gears down, so that you can spin the pedals more quickly and with less effort. Conversely, when you’re going downhill, you want to be in a bigger gear, so you’re not spinning your pedals too quickly.
Using the Right Shifter
When you’re shifting the gears, it’s best to always use the right shifter. This means that the left shifter should be used to change the gears on the chain-ring, and the right shifter should be used to move the chain on the cassette.
3. Pre-Ride Maintenance and Lubrication
Cleaning the Chain
Regularly cleaning your chain is essential in keeping your gearing system in top condition. This means that you should give your chain a thorough clean at least once a month, preferably every week. To clean your chain, use a brush and some bike-specific cleaning solutions.
Lubricating Your Chain
In order for your chain to move smoothly and shift correctly, it’s important to lubricate it regularly. Lubrication helps to keep the chain from rusting and prevents the links from becoming too tight. When you’re lubricating your chain, make sure to use bike-specific lubes and apply it to the clean chain.
Inspecting the Cables
Cables can wear out over time, so it’s important to inspect them regularly. To inspect the cables, start by lightly pushing on the cable and shifting the gears. If the cables are worn, they’ll need to be replaced. It’s a good idea to replace the cables at the same time as you replace the chain.
4. Resources to Help You Learn More
If you want to learn more about how to use your bike gears, there are a number of books available that can help. The most popular is The Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair by Tom Cuthbertson. In this book, you’ll find all the information you need to keep your bike in top condition, from bike setup and repair to gear shifting and maintenance.
You can also find plenty of information about your bike gears online, from simple tutorials to more detailed guides. A few of the most popular websites for learning about bike gears include Park Tool’s website, Bike Talk and Bicycle Gear Calculator.
For a more visual approach, there are plenty of video tutorials available online. YouTube is a great resource for getting all kinds of bike maintenance tips, and some of the most highly recommended videos include How to Shift Gears on a Mountain Bike by Global Cycling Network and Bike Gears Explained by GCN Tech.
5. Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting Tips
Not Adjusting the Derailleur
Sometimes, the derailleur becomes off-center and this can affect your ability to shift the gears properly. To fix this, you’ll need to adjust the derailleur so that it’s back in the correct position.
Using the Wrong Shifter
When you’re shifting the gears, it’s important to always use the right shifter. This means that the left shifter should be used to change the gears on the chain-ring, and the right shifter should be used to move the chain on the cassette.
Using the Wrong Gear Ratio
Another common mistake is to use the wrong gear ratio. For example, if you’re going uphill, it’s best to shift the gears down, so that you can spin the pedals more quickly and with less effort. Conversely, when you’re going downhill, you want to be in a bigger gear, so you’re not spinning your pedals too quickly.
People also ask
What is a bicycle gearing system?
A bicycle gearing system is composed of a drivetrain, which includes the chain, derailleurs, shifters, sprockets and other components, and a gearing system, which includes the chain rings and cassette sprockets. Together they create the gear ratios that allow you to ride your bike faster or slower.
How many gears do most bikes have?
Most bikes come equipped with up to 18 gears, and you’ll need to know how to use them correctly. The front cog is known as the chain-ring, and is the bigger set of gears. The rear cog is known as the cassette and here you’ll find the smallest sprockets and most of the gears. As you move up the gears, the chain-ring will move from the smallest to the largest.
How can I make sure my bike gearing is working properly?
The best way to make sure your bike gearing is working properly is to do regular maintenance on your bike. This includes oiling your chain and making sure the cables are in good condition. You should also inspect your gears regularly and make sure they are in the right position and are spinning correctly.
Using your bike gears correctly is essential in getting the most out of your cycling experience. The five tips in this article should help you understand the basics of how to use a bike gearing system and make sure they stay in top condition. By taking the time to learn how to use your bike gears correctly, you’ll be sure to have many enjoyable and efficient rides.