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Gearing for beginners

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:02 am
by MattyK
Hey all. Finally around to looking properly at bikes for my daughter for her 6th b'day.

She's only been on a balance bike before so pedalling will be a new thing. While the simplicity (and lower cost) of a single speed is appealing, we live in a hilly area, so some range of gearing would probably be a good thing.

What are people's experiences with beginners learning gears? I figured it shouldn't be too hard to learn by just keeping it in one gear, then using the gears can be learned later.

Also what are people's experiences with reliability of the typical gear systems on kids bikes (eg 7-speed)? I'm pondering a 3-speed hub bike (eg Byk E450x3i) as a reasonably robust geared system.

Re: Gearing for beginners

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:55 am
by lobstermash
Our keenest rider (7) has a geared bike (7-speed). He's had it since Christmas and we're still teaching him which gear to pick for different terrain, basically by telling him which number to put it on and why. Our other kids are still on single speeds, which are pretty lightly geared, and it's hard to see the benefit of gears if you get the ratio right on a SS.

Gearing seems to be hard for kids to understand, and it's mainly that they get stuck in the mindset that 1 is slower and 7 is faster, rather than 1 is easier and 7 is harder. Being in the right gear is more critical for young kids because the bike usually weighs ~50% of their body weight. I guess 3-speed might be a little easier for learning about gearing.

Re: Gearing for beginners

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 11:18 am
by MattyK
Yeah, I remember doing the same thing first time I jumped on someone's 3-speed as a kid - "I'll put it in '3', that way I'll be going really fast!!!!" [struggles to get the bike moving from a standstill] :D

I remember struggling to get up a few hills on my BMX as a kid too, and we have just as steep a hill on our street, between our house and the nearest park... (and steeper the other way)

Re: Gearing for beginners

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 11:44 am
by bychosis
My boys had 1x6 20" bikes. One liked to go for a higher gear when up to speed then struggled to take off again, the other was forever spinning his little legs off in a low gear. They are slowly learning, but it generally takes me to tell them to change gears. They are both now on 3x7 24" bikes and so far I've told them to stick with the middle ring up front and they are getting the hang of the rear gears.

Def get some gears if you are in a hilly area. Tell your little one which gear to select and stick with it until she gets used to pedalling, then try to get her to stay in the most appropriate gear for the upcoming terrain.

You might find an IGH is better, you can easily change gears for them when they are a stopped, as opposed to having to pick up the back wheel and spin the cranks to change. My boys have basic tourney gears AFAIK and there is no drama once they are tuned up right.