Cycling How-tos: How to Use Gears to Your Advantage
We all have already seen a cyclist pedaling too hard, literally breaking into a sweat, but is going nowhere with his speed. You might be wondering, what are these cyclists doing wrong? Well, the answer to that question–is gears.
Fortunately, some bikes today already have a great range of gears. These gears will allow you to ride through long distances and challenging trails without using up all your energy–all you have to do is master which one to use based on your riding situation.
What are bike gears?
Biking gears enable us to ride quicker, climb hills more quickly, and have more fun while cycling. They're mostly found on various bikes, such as cross-country, enduro, and downhill bikes, but some commuter bikes also have gears, albeit with fewer levels.
Gears turn your pedal effort into a specific output at your steering wheel. Your muscles can only create so much force, and you'll typically be most efficient at a particular cadence (the rate at which you spin your pedals).
Like cars, you have to change your gears depending on the road conditions in which you're. Terrains, cemented streets, and downhill or uphill roads require different gear levels.
How do you shift from one gear to another?
Shifting gears varies depending on your bike's design, so it would be best to consult with your manufacturer about this.
You have to push the lever found in your handlebars to activate the shifters in most cases. This method is applicable mainly for road bikes or those with downward angle handlebars. If you have a different kind of handlebar, then you probably have grip shifters in which you'd have to use the dial in your handlebar.
Your shifters are linked to a cable that is protected by a casing. The cable tightens and loosens as you click through the gears, delivering more or less effort to the derailleur. The cable then moves your chain up and down on the cassette or chainrings.
How to know which gear to use?
Knowing which cycling gear to use is more straightforward than most people think. The key is anticipation. You have to know what kind of road you will encounter, this is why it's best if you have a good front light for greater visibility.
The lower your gear is, the more loose the chains of your bikes are. "Downshifting" or going for a lower gear will allow you to cycle uphill with the least resistance. In short, you have to use low gear when climbing uphill so it can make your pedaling easier.
On the other hand, higher gear provides more resistance on your bike chains, making it perfect for going downhill. This resistance will prevent your bike from going in a freewheeling movement, resulting in accidents.
Apart from the steepness, road angle could also determine the appropriate gear. When approaching a tight bend, anticipate slowing down and shifting into a lower gear so you can accelerate out of it more quickly.
Similarly, if you must stop at a set of traffic lights, shift into a lower gear so that you may accelerate more quickly when the lights turn green. And just like with cars, don't shift gear when you're about to come to a complete stop. Make sure you pedal slowly to change gear before you halt smoothly. It would also be best if you have a brake light.
Lastly, if you're riding on a flat road, it would be best to start in middle gear. This way, you can quickly shift to a lower and higher gear for speed. Consequently, it would be best to start with higher gear for a more uneven terrain for better grip control.
You might need a little time to master your cycling gears. But just like any other activity, if your body has already developed muscle memory for it, shifting gears would be a ride (not walk!) in the park for you.