With the growth of technologies, that’s no longer strange to see the bicycle manufacturers launch the bikes equipped with more gears which used to be old 6-speed till the latest 11-speed gears. With those options available, how you should utilize it for smooth pedaling?
Multi-speed gears allow us to ride further and even faster with comfortably efforts despite the road conditions. Every cyclist has his/her own ideal cadence which also known as pedaling strokes per minute which normally between the range from 60 to 90 strokes per minute. To maintain the constant cadence, you need to shift gears that rely on different situations such as speed, slope of road, performance at that time and etc. Once you find the ideal pace, you can ride as far as you can, as longer period as possible.
Below are some tips and tricks that work fine for me, hopefully the same goes to you as well.
Tip 1: Pedaling Forward When You Shift Gear
Please note that you need to be pedaling forward when you shift gears. The chain has to be moving forward in order for the derailleurs (front and rear derailleur) to “shift” the chain from sprocket to another sprocket. If you are pedaling backward while shifting gears, that’s possible the chain might drop off the sprocket and you may get oily hand to put it back on (refer to Figure 2).
Tip 2: Pedaling Speed – High Gear or Low Gear?
Generally start pedaling in a low gear (for example, leave the front gear level at 2 while rear gear at 5) and change to higher gears (front gear level at 3 while rear gear at 7) as you ride in faster speed. If you are going uphill, shift to low gear in advance before you have to push your muscle real hard so you can keep up the ideal cadence. You may shift the front gear to 1 and rear gear at 1, 2 or 3 and this would help to increase stamina and benefit yourself in endurance ride, but also bear in mind that the tradeoff is you are going to be slower.
Pedaling slower than your ideal cadence is kind of wasteful of energy as well as exposing to the risk of getting your knees hurt or muscle strains due to pushing way too hard.
Tip 3: When Is Not An Ideal Time to Shift Gear?
As mentioned in Tip 2, shift the gear in advance before you go uphill or if you make it at the steep hill this will give pressure on the pedals and you might exposed to the risk of not be able to shift gear, not to forget that it will shorten the lifespan of the bicycle chain and drive train.
Tip 4: Shift to Lower Gear Before You Stop
Remember to shift back to lower gear before you stop and it would help you in an easier gear to start out again and!
Tip 5: Avoid the “Crisis-Cross” Gears
Always remember to avoid the gears that make the chain cross over at extreme angle for example front gear level at 1 or 3 with rear gear level at 9, these gears considered not a preference as it easily wear the chain and sprockets.
Tip 6: Shift Both Front and Rear Gears At The Same Time
Efficiency of shifting gear does help for consistent pace, you may consider shifting both gears at the same time instead of shifting the rear gear only after finished shifting the front gear or vice-versa which takes longer time to complete the whole sequence of actions. The most important thing is the resistance of pedaling would not be that significant, for example your current gear is front 2 rear 4 and when you shift both gears together it would be front 3 rear 3 (refer to Figure 3 and 4).
Tip 7: Shift the Front Gear to Middle When Down Hill
My mountain bike comes with 3 front chain wheels and for unknown reason, I experienced before the chain has higher possibility to slip off the chain wheel if I were using either front gear level at 1 or 3 which is the most inner and the most outer chain wheel, probably because of the bumpy terrain??
I would advise to use the middle chain wheel when downhill as it gives better flexibility to shift to lower gear if you need to go uphill in a sudden or shift to higher gear when come to flat terrain.
Last but not least, practice makes perfect and enjoy your ride!