Tips and advice on gear usage

chill_8_7
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Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby chill_8_7 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:34 am

Hi guys,

Thanks for the info and support at viewtopic.php?p=1452752

I ended up buying a Merida Speeder 20D and started commuting to office since last week. Obviously been ages, so more or less by the time I reach, I am like flat out.

The one thing that I would like some help is on gears. I know it is dumb, but I have never been used to gear cycles before and all the Google in the world isn't helping, as by the time I think what to change, it doesn't make any sense to change it. And at times I feel like I the pedals spin way more than I want to.

So the question for me, what is the best gear combination when going uphill, downhill and straight stretches. I am definitely not looking at going fast, but at least conserving as much energy possible and having less difficulties.

Thanks.

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bychosis
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby bychosis » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:59 am

Over time it will become more natural.

General rules of thumb:
Try to keep your cadence (pedal spinning) up and don’t keep stomping/mashing the pedals in a high gear.
for uphill change just before you have to and ease off the power while the chain shifts.
Use the front gear that suits your terrain the most. Big for flat/fast, middle for undulating, small for when you run out of gears up hill.
Use the third of the back gears to match the front. Big ring up front, smallest at back. Middle ring up front, middle third of cassette etc.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

human909
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby human909 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:24 pm

Above pretty much covers it. I'll add a tiny bit more:

It will over time become natural. Practice changing often. Change down as you come to a stop so you are in the right gear to start to accelerate. Likewise when approaching hills change down BEFORE you really need to.

Use the rear gear set for minor changes and the front ones for bigger gear jumps. Ideally you should also avoid cross chaining which is where you are on high gears (big cogs) and the front and low gears (big cogs) at the back. Or vice versa.

Regarding pedaling speed. Those new to cycling or those who are just out for a leisurely bike ride often pedal slowly with higher gears. More experience cyclists and those who are after higher speeds use lower gears and pedal more quickly. Overall do what is comfortable, but do recognise that if you want to ride efficiently and fast then your natural comfortable pedaling speed is probably a little on the slow side.

chill_8_7 wrote:I am definitely not looking at going fast, but at least conserving as much energy possible and having less difficulties.

Whether it is a super high gear or a super low gear you will largely use the same amount of 'energy' for a given speed&incline.** However if you stay on a too high a gear you will burn out you muscles much faster. Too low a gear will just mean pedaling at a pace that is not practical.

(Cadence is the term used for pedalling speed. It is basically rpm.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadence_(cycling)

**The efficiency can vary slightly and can vary from person to person. Very important for competitive stuff, not really important for regular riders.

fat and old
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby fat and old » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:25 pm

Play with them. Seriously. Use them heaps until you're in a gear that feels good to you. Up and down. Over time you'll get stronger and change them less, but for now just use them all and see what feels good. There's no rules on what to use, no police to enforce a certain pedal speed. Just you and your body telling you yeah, that's it. :)

human909
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby human909 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:17 pm

fat and old wrote:There's no rules on what to use, no police to enforce a certain pedal speed.


Unless you are in NSW. Then pedaling furiously is illegal!

NSW
Road Rules 2014
Current version for 1 July 2018
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
245–1
(1) The rider of a bicycle must not ride the bicycle:
(b) furiously,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


fat and old wrote::lol: :lol:

Come on...it was there for the taking.....



:P

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Mububban
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby Mububban » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:44 pm

chill_8_7 wrote:The one thing that I would like some help is on gears. I know it is dumb, but I have never been used to gear cycles before and all the Google in the world isn't helping, as by the time I think what to change, it doesn't make any sense to change it. And at times I feel like I the pedals spin way more than I want to.


I'm teaching my son this as he's got his first bike with more than one front chain ring :)

Yep, with 3 gears in the front, and 8 gears on the back, I'd only ever use 4 of your 8 rear gears depending on which front gear you're in. So in the smallest easiest "granny gear" front gear (1?), use gears 1-2-3-4. In your middle front gear (2), which is good for most casual riding, use gears 3-4-5-6, and if you're going fast in your big front gear ring (3), use 5-6-7-8.

You could probably use 5 gears safely, but more than that and the chain starts bending sideways and makes horrible metallic scraping sounds, and it can kill your chain to be stressed out while also being bent sideways.

Changing a front gear up or down will feel like changing 2-3 gears at the back of the bike. Change before you need to, particularly when going uphill, because it can take a few turns of the pedals to change front rings and you don't want to stall going uphill.
Also, don't change gears when you're pushing really hard on the pedals, eg when going up hill and standing on the pedals for maximum power. You can bend the teeth of your gears.

On a more technical note, gear numbers can vary a lot between bikes. The number of teeth on each gear will help you decide gearing on future bikes.

Your bike has either 48-38-28 or 42-34-24 on the front (possibly the latter). The big 42 up front is for going fast, the 34 is the general purpose gear, and the small 24 tooth gear is for going up hills.
And 11-32 teeth on the rear gears - 11 for going fast, 32 for going slowly up hills.

As a kid it took me a while to figure it all out, being opposites (front - small = easy, but rear - small = hard/fast) :D Keep practising and you'll get the hang of it.
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fat and old
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby fat and old » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:35 pm

human909 wrote:
fat and old wrote:There's no rules on what to use, no police to enforce a certain pedal speed.


Unless you are in NSW. Then pedaling furiously is illegal!

NSW
Road Rules 2014
Current version for 1 July 2018
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
245–1
(1) The rider of a bicycle must not ride the bicycle:
(b) furiously,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


fat and old wrote::lol: :lol:

Come on...it was there for the taking.....



:P


:lol:

Jmuzz
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby Jmuzz » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:31 pm

Mostly what you like the feel of.
Remember that higher cadence with less torque is generally less stressful on knees.

If you want a number then 80 cadence is usually the recommendation. His is like a car which likes 3000rpm as it's sweet spot. But like cars people are different someone might be a 1000rpm diesel another might be a 8000rpm motorcycle.

Best to have the front on the small sprocket before the start of a steep hill, because it tends to be messier to shift the front so you don't want to get caught unable to downshift or losing the chain on a steep hill, especially if you are clipped in (coming to a stop and falling over is very embarassing).

The chain doesn't like to have a big angle in it so avoid inside-outside sprocket combinations and vice versa.

3x front is a bit of a headache and you just tend to start skipping a lot of gears because it sucks to constantly resynch the rear, eg mostly leaving rear in the middle and just making big front jumps.
That's why it has been ignored by race bikes and the idea of 1x front with 12 or 13 speed rear is gaining fans.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:27 pm

Jmuzz wrote:If you want a number then 80 cadence is usually the recommendation.

I recommend 90.
A range between 80 and 100 is best.

human909
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby human909 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:51 pm

No really. Cadence depends significantly on the level of output you are aiming for. If you are commuting to the shops at 15kph it would normally be ridiculous to be spinning at 90 on flat ground.

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g-boaf
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby g-boaf » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:56 pm

chill_8_7 wrote:Hi guys,

Thanks for the info and support at https://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/view ... ?p=1452752

I ended up buying a Merida Speeder 20D and started commuting to office since last week. Obviously been ages, so more or less by the time I reach, I am like flat out.

The one thing that I would like some help is on gears. I know it is dumb, but I have never been used to gear cycles before and all the Google in the world isn't helping, as by the time I think what to change, it doesn't make any sense to change it. And at times I feel like I the pedals spin way more than I want to.

So the question for me, what is the best gear combination when going uphill, downhill and straight stretches. I am definitely not looking at going fast, but at least conserving as much energy possible and having less difficulties.

Thanks.


Uphill the trick is to be in an easier gear at the start of the climb so that your legs don't give up half way. Small little hills you can probably just punch your way over them if they are short enough, but if you are facing over 14km or more at 6% gradient (or worse), then you've got to be pragmatic about it. Although you might feel fine for 5km, what about at 10km - by then you might be all sorts of bother.

The more you ride, the more it will make sense. If you feel like you are spinning away like mad and not going anywhere, click up to a bigger gear. If the gear feels too difficult to turn over, grab a smaller gear. If you are on a big hill and already in the smallest gear and suffering - then if conditions allow, you can try riding a zig-zagging path from side to side, that will make it a little bit easier. It might stave off having to get off the bike and start walking.
Last edited by g-boaf on Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:06 pm

human909 wrote:No really. Cadence depends significantly on the level of output you are aiming for. If you are commuting to the shops at 15kph it would normally be ridiculous to be spinning at 90 on flat ground.

Im happy to disagree on that. But people can ride however they like.
If they want to ride around a cadence 30 in the wrong gear, why should I care? I dont.
Not gonna argue about it on this thread. The OP has plenty of good advice above.

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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby human909 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:25 pm

Derny Driver wrote:Im happy to disagree on that. But people can ride however they like.
If they want to ride around a cadence 30 in the wrong gear, why should I care? I dont.

Except quite clearly you do care if you believe 80-100 is ideal and 30 means you are in the wrong gear.


Check out the cadence. If you don't recognise that different levels of exertion generally have different optimal cadences then you have your head in the sand.

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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby Duck! » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:45 pm

Jmuzz wrote:3x front is a bit of a headache and you just tend to start skipping a lot of gears because it sucks to constantly resynch the rear, eg mostly leaving rear in the middle and just making big front jumps.
That's why it has been ignored by race bikes and the idea of 1x front with 12 or 13 speed rear is gaining fans.

3x is very useful with fewer rear gears because it allows a very decent overall range without compromising the middle where you really want a nice progression through the most-frequently used gears. 1x mega-cassettes is mainly gaining traction because one particular manufacturer could never sort out their front shifting, and everyone else swallowed the kool-aid......

With a 3x, you'll spend most of the time in the middle ring; the chain will comfortably flex across the full width of the cassette from that ring. An 11-28 cassette will give a good spread without opening the jumps between ratios too badly. Big-range cassettes with only eight sprockets leaves big holes in the range, which can leave you lurching between gears, hunting for one which isn't there.

The only gear combination that really stresses the drivetrain is big ring to big rear sprocket, as it does yamk the rear derailleur around a fair bit. Small ring-small sprocket tends to cause annoyance mor than anything else, because the chain can catch on the pick-up ramps on the middle ring, depending on the size difference between the small & middle. There's a slight increase in chain & cassette wear from less contact area, but there's a lot less fundamentally damaging stuff than at the other extreme.

Now, the nuts & bolts of riding..... As others above have said, as a general rule, the accepted optimum cadence range is between 80 & 100 RPM. The exact figure will vary for each person, but that's the range to aim for. The key to riding faster is to train the muscles to work faster, not harder. Mashing a high gear at a low cadence does little more than wear out the drivetrain, and increase the strain on your muscles and joints, increasing the risk of injury. Using a lower gear at a higher cadence puts less strain on the drive components and your body; you're using aerobic fitness rather than brute strength. If you've got reasonable general fitness, 80rpm shouldn't be too difficult to maintain, and it shouldn't leave you gasping for breath. But if general fitness is low, start at a comfortable rate in a gear that doesn't give too much resistance. Increasing cadence - muscle speed - will leave you feeling puffed, as the heart and lungs are working harder to keep the muscles supplied with oxygen and nutrients, but as they get stronger you'll be able to maintain higher cadence for longer.

Using the gears is a mix of being aware of the terrain you're riding, weather conditions and your feel what is happening with your legs. If you need to slow down for a corner, drop a gear or two before the corner so you're in a lower gear to power out of the corner. Same deal with traffic lights; shift down to a lower gear to make it easier to take off, and shift to progressively higher gears as you accelerate, aiming to keep close to your optimal cadence. Same with hill; as gravity takes hold and tries to pull you down, work down to the lower gears, keeping your cadence comfortable. If you can see you have a sharp kick ahead, begin gearing down before you get to it.

Sooner or later you'll need to change chainrings. It's not the mission that some people would have you believe. As commented previously, a front shift is a relatively big ratio jump, so you usually need to correct the jump with a couple of shifts the opposite way at the rear. Sounds tricky, but it isn't. The key is to hit the matching shift lever on each side, so to downshift the front, pull the left side index-finger trigger once, and at the same time, pull the matching right side trigger twice. To shift up, use both thumb levers, again, one step on the left, two on the right.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby uart » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:38 pm

chill_8_7 wrote:The one thing that I would like some help is on gears. I know it is dumb, but I have never been used to gear cycles before and all the Google in the world isn't helping, as by the time I think what to change, it doesn't make any sense to change it. And at times I feel like I the pedals spin way more than I want to.


The best advice to any new rider regarding gear changes is simply to plan slightly ahead. Look at the terrain ahead and predict which way you'll need to start shifting so that you can do it slightly ahead of time. Shifting is easy when you are spinning nice and freely, and more difficult when you are straining under load.

The biggest mistake that I often see new riders making is to hit a hill and wait until they're straining like crazy at about one third of a pedal stroke per second before figuring out that they need to change down (at which point it is now very difficult to do so smoothly). That and rolling to a stop in their biggest gear without thinking that they are then going to have to start out in that wrong gear.

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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby RobertL » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:55 am

human909 wrote:No really. Cadence depends significantly on the level of output you are aiming for. If you are commuting to the shops at 15kph it would normally be ridiculous to be spinning at 90 on flat ground.


I read a study on cadence and efficiency once* that outlined the best cadence for levels of output. At highest output they looked at - 400W - they recommended 100rpm. At the lowest output - 100W - they recommended 60rpm.

So nanna pedalling slowly on her shopping bike is likely to be automatically selecting the most efficient cadence.

* can't remember where.
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby DrShifty » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:25 pm

You might also like to check out prices of a cadence meter. This will show your pedaling speed so you can learn where your gear changes are working best for you. It's tricky trying to estimate pedaling speed in varying conditions.

I use a Bryton Rider 310 cycling computer, which cost me less than $100, but they make the Rider 10 which is less again. Computers pack a lot of functions into a small body, more than you need, but keeping watch of cadence is my main interest when cycling.

Perhaps somebody makes a cadence sensor that talks to a phone app, which should be a cost effective way to get the info.

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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby AUbicycles » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:47 am

Much of the advice feels technical and complex but in practice it just needs practice.

As you naturally pedal, it is just changing gears so that you don’t pedal too fast or too slow. Different riders are comfortable with different cadences. When the hills get hard, it will still be hard but the trick is to plan ahead and change at the right time. Happy cycling.

chill_8_7
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby chill_8_7 » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:30 am

Thank you so much for all the input. Understood some and some hopefully will understand with time.

As of now settled with 2 and 5 for normal riding and for uphill I use 2 and 4 or 1 and 5 (when I feel I just want to stop and sit down). I am pretty sure the other riders would either think I am being too slow or straining out, but kind of wanting to get used to pushing myself, which will eventually down a few months time lead to me being comfortable riding the distance.

At least I am happy that I am riding approx 22 kms daily without stopping anywhere, considering that my last physical activity is quite a few years back.

Will check on the cadence meter and maybe play a bit more around with the gears to get a better understanding. Thank you heaps again!!!

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bychosis
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby bychosis » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:25 am

Just keep changing gears. Set the front gear to deal with the terrain. Big for flat/down/fast. Middle for general, little for a bail out up a really steep hill. Then keep changing the back gears up and down.

It is rare that I (or probably most regular cyclists) stick in the same gear for long. Slight rise change down one, descent, change up a couple to keep legs spinning at the same speed while the bike speed changes.
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Re: Tips and advice on gear usage

Postby djw47 » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:12 pm

If you're just riding casually, pedal in the gear that is most comfortable to keep the bike moving in the right direction. There's no reason to worry about the technicalities of cadence/efficiency/power output etc unless you actually want to improve your performance.
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