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· Registered
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to all,

I am not sure what gears I should be using and when / where. For example: If you are approaching a hill do you use the middle gear front and middle gears back?

Heck!! I am not sure I even know how to explain what I don't know!!!

Excuse my stupidity here.
 

· Adventure Seeker
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5,123 Posts
There's not set of 'rules' on what gear to use. I try to keep a fairly constant cadence regardless of speed, save when sprinting. Search "Cadence" and you'll find many answers that vary.
 

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Peanya said:
There's not set of 'rules' on what gear to use. I try to keep a fairly constant cadence regardless of speed, save when sprinting. Search "Cadence" and you'll find many answers that vary.
Very true.

Keeping a steady cadence (aka RPM) is my goal. To help with this goal, I got myself a Cateye biking computer with a cadence read out. When you feel like you're in too low or high of a gear, shift to maintain a steady cadence. I just started road biking less than a month ago. This menthod really helped me zero in on my shifting skills. Hope that helps.
 

· NeoRetroGrouch
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g8keyper said:
Hello to all,

I am not sure what gears I should be using and when / where. For example: If you are approaching a hill do you use the middle gear front and middle gears back?

Heck!! I am not sure I even know how to explain what I don't know!!!

Excuse my stupidity here.
Ok, I'm guessing you have 3 chain rings in front and 7 to 10 cogs in back - doesn't really matter. The back shifts much easier than the front (because it shifts the bottom of the chain where there is no tension). The general goal is to pick the front chain ring that you can stay in most of the time. You then just shift up and down the rear gears to maintain the cadence/speed you want.

When you approach a hill (or any change of grade, wind, speed) you think about which chain ring will give you the range that will handle the hill. When you start up the hill, you start shifting to larger/easier cogs. Then at some point before you run out of gears in the back (requires practice to know when this is), you shift the front ring to a smaller/easier chain ring and, at the same time, shift the rear about 3 gears harder. This will make the overall effort equal to what it was in the bigger ring. Now you just shift up and down the back gears as necessary to negotiate the hill. At the top, you do the same in reverse - you may have to do the process twice and go all the way to the big ring for the downhill.

There is more, but just practice this and the rest will come along with it. You asked the right question, the hard part is knowing when to make the big shift. Most beginners shift too soon and lose the momentum before getting onto the hill. Of course, if you are too late and have a lot of pressure on the pedals, it may be difficult (or impossible) to shift.

Requires practice - even after years you can get better.

TF
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Turboturtle!! That is what I needed!! You hit the nail on the head as to what my issue has been. It's hard to decide the gears when I see a hill then half way up my legs are killing me and I have to stand and pedal hard to the top. I watch other guys up the same pedal and they pedal kind of fast and move kind of slow but sit the whole time.

Thanks!! I'll read this a few more times to get it down and try to imagine myself doing it. Then practice more tomorrow.
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
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13,390 Posts
Turbo is right as usual. It just takes some practice getting used to using all those gears, and the more you ride, the easier it'll get. One thing you might want to practice is to let up on the pressure you're putting on the pedals when yoou shift gears. That applies to up or down shifting. Most modern shifters will work all right under pressure, but they'll work better, and it's easier on the parts if you keep pedalling, but just let up on the pressure for a second or two.

BTW, You aren't stupid, and there aren't any stupid questions - especially on this forum. :)
 

· Colorado Springs, CO
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631 Posts
g8keyper said:
Hello to all,

I am not sure what gears I should be using and when / where. For example: If you are approaching a hill do you use the middle gear front and middle gears back?

Heck!! I am not sure I even know how to explain what I don't know!!!

Excuse my stupidity here.

To start out, try this:

If you have a triple front chain ring:

1) Big ring for downhill/cruising
2) Middle ring for cruising, slight uphill
3) Small ring for climbing

The reason you have gears is to be able to keep a constant cadence. Some people say that 91RPM is the perfect one, but mine turns out to be 88RPM. On a steep hill (like 7% grade for miles) you'll be shooting for 60RPM. Lower grades (2% to 4% for me before it gets "steep") I can do the middle front ring and a large gear on the back and keep around 70RPM-ish.

As you get better, your endurance and capacity for smaller gears will increase on the hills. Best hill training for me has been sessions on my spin bike a couple times a week. That focused cadence/hard work/interval stuff has done wonders to get my legs doing the hills right.

Also, you might want to look into getting a 28-12 cassette/.
 
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