Almost everyone begins learning to ride a bike that has just one gear on it. These one-speed bicycles are what children ride to and from school. Once children start to get into their teens, and for the vast majority of adults, the one-speed bicycle simply does not do the job anymore. That is why bicycles with multiple gears are the norm. Though most people have a bike with multiple gears, many do not really know how they work. Many others do not know how to use them correctly without getting that horrendous, grinding sound. This guide gives the lowdown on gears, how they work and how to use them.
What are Gears?
If you take a look at a bike with gears, you will see there are multiple sprockets in both the front and the back of the bicycle. These sprockets are the gears. Multiplying the number of sprockets in the front by the number of sprockets in the back yields the total number of gears that the bicycle possesses. For example, a common setup is to have two sprockets in the front of the bicycle and five in the back. Multiplying five by two together equals ten. This is the common ten-speed bicycle that almost everyone has ridden at one point.
The smaller the sprocket is, the easier it is to pedal for the cyclist. Shifting through the gears is accomplished through two mechanisms, the derailleur and the gear shift. Bicyclists operate the gear shift, which operates the derailleur, which moves the chain around the sprockets. Usually the left gear shifter will operate the front derailleur, and the right gear shift will operate the rear derailleur.
Gear shifts on bikes are normally numbered to let riders know which gear of the bike the shifter is set on. The smaller the number, the smaller the sprocket will be and the easier the bike will be to pedal.
How to Shift Gears
Though it seems like this should be a very straightforward process, there are many times that people out riding bicycles will hear the nasty sound of grinding gears when they shift through them. There are some easy ways to avoid this problem.
Generally, the more gears that you need to shift through, the faster you need to be pedaling. If you want to just make a small adjustment in the gearing, then just use the rear derailleur. This will just move the gearing by one step. However, the front derailleur will shift the gears by several steps at once.
This is the most common reason that people grind the gears. They are not pedaling with a fast rotation and try to shift the front gears. This results in a very jerky shifting action, and in severe cases can even derail the chain.
So always try to build up a good pedaling rotation rate before attempting to shift gears. This will ensure that the shifting goes smoothly, and avoid any bad incidents that can occur if the chain comes off the sprocket.
Author Bio: Adam is a professional road cyclist from Australia. His bike of choice is a Merida road bicycle because of their famous build quality. When he is not racing, Adam is kept busy by managing a local bicycle store that is one of the select few suppliers of Merida in Adelaide.