Here’s a Guest Post from Jenna Boister about how to change gears on a bike
Even if you have legs the size of Hulk Hogan’s, riding your bike uphill is still not an easy feat. Biking isn’t governed simply by flat-out leg strength; it requires technique too. This is where shifting gears the correct way comes is essential. Changing gears correctly is the ‘secret’ to covering longer distances and more tedious terrain without overexerting yourself. This post will explain how to change gears on a bike correctly and safely.
Now, while a lot of bikes are limited to a single gear and a fixed gear ratio, there are many with multiple gears. Such bikes feature a wide range of gear settings (that go from low to high), since bikers vary in strength, fitness level, and bike usage. But generally speaking, lower gears allow for an easier climb uphill and are ideal in start-and-stop environments and while driving in traffic. When you’ve got a need for speed, gradually shifting to higher gears is naturally the way to go; but those are just the basics.
Here’s a video that explains the important basics of how gears work, and how to use them:
Next, let’s take a more in-depth look at various common gear shifting situations and how to change gears on a bike the right way.
Flat roads don’t require as much gear-shifting as other terrains. It only comes into play when talking about efficiency, or covering a lot of ground with as little effort as possible. To do that, start off in a pedaling speed that’s comfortable for you (perhaps around 90 rpm). You shouldn’t be going too slow or too fast.
Then maintain that speed until you’re about a third of the way through your bike’s rear gear set. Once you’re at that point (it should be the third gear if you have the usual seven-, eight-, or nine-gear rear set), turn up the front gear by a notch instead of the rear. Afterwards, revert back to increasing the rear gears as you go faster. Once you’re in the last third of the rear gear set, increase your front gears once again.
Long Uphill Climbs
For the majority of casual bikers who don’t bother with changing gears, uphill climbs are punishing. In truth, such strenuous rides can be made easier by learning how to change gears on a bike correctly. Begin by getting into the gear that you’re most used to (which is most probably around 90 rpm, as mentioned earlier) while you’re still riding over flat terrain; continue with that until the cadence starts to slip. Once that happens, ease off the pedals and shift into a lower gear.
You may not need to change gears that often when riding downhill, but proper gear shifting is still required if you want to ensure a safe descent. Generally the way to go is to stay in a higher gear in order to have better control of the bike as you descend.
It may be more exhilarating, but it’s best not to shift to a lower gear when going downhill unless it really is speed you’re after! Remember, your safety is your foremost priority here. So staying in a higher gear is suggested, especially when the path downhill is full of rocks, bumps, and other obstacles. After all, you know that saying “slow and steady wins the race!”
Now that you know the correct technique to change gears on a bike, choose a bike trail which has a varying degree of ups, downs and flat terrain, and try it for yourself!
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