I didn't want to hijack that thread. I am using my right gears, but I don't know when to use the left.
How would you gear on a steep hill? I have the little rolling ones down, but I struggle on the steeper hills. I keep my cadence(?) the same, but as it goes on and gets steeper, I don't know what to do. Even going down, there is a point when I have to coast because I can't move my legs fast enough to keep up. Some of it might be me not being in great shape.
stupid questions? Sorry.
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Ooh, going downhill you can be in the big ring up front and really add some power and speed. Big ring can be used if you're standing out of the saddle up a hill, too. Also on the flats if you're really pushing a good speed and have a lot of leg strength (I can't recall if you have a compact double or a triple).
On a typical medium-paced ride I tend to fall around the middle gears on the rear cassette and either little or big ring up front (I have a compact double). I don't use the very easiest gears (little front, big rear) much unless I'm doing extended spinning up a hill or the 2 hardest gears (big front, little rear) except pushing it down a hill. The trick is to avoid the combinations that make the chain go sort of diagonal -- ie big-big, little little. They cause the chain to wear fast, sometimes it can end up rubbing on the derailleurs, and you also increase your risk of dropping or even breaking the chain.
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I should add that on my first bike (Cannondale Synapse with 105 triple) I couldn't actually see my rear cassette while riding. I like that I can see it perfectly well on my Supersix with a mix of Rival and Force. So it's easy to see if I'm in a good combination.
A basic understanding of the gear ratios helps with this dialogue even though this response varies somewhat from your question.
Assuming (of course) that your front gears are 53 & 39 and your rear gears are 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, & 21, you'll have the following gears to choose from while you're riding. See chart below.
The gear ratio describes the amount of rear tire revolutions for every 1 pedal stroke. For a 53/12, the rear tire will revolve 4.417 times for every 1 revolution of your feet. With a 2,000 millimeter circumference tire, the bike will travel 8,834 millimeters (8.834 meters or approx 29 feet if I did the math right) for every 1 pedal stroke.
Many novice riders stick to changing only their right gears up and down, and don't like the massive change in the gear when shifting the left gear.
By doing so, you miss out on the opportunity to utilize your other gears (big gear if you're naturally in your small gear, or vice versa).
To use both gears, consider this example....
As you're approaching a gradual hill from a riding flat, you're cruising along using your big gear at a higher gear ratio (say, for example, 53/14 or 3.786).
Your first gear change could be (would be) to 53/15, decreasing the ratio to 3.533. (right hand gear change only)
Soon after, you change to 53/16, decreasing the ratio to 3.313. (right hand gear change only)
After that, you can use your left hand gear to go from the big ring to the lower ring at the same time that you increase the resistence with your right hand gear 3 times. Therefore, it's left, right, right, right. The new ratio would be 39/12 which is 3.250 and is the next lower gear than you were in.
By doing this change smoothly, you now provide yourself every gear within the 39 front gear set to choose from so you can go up the hill without mashing the pedals and cranking up the hill.
By making slight gear adjustments, you prevent yourself from free-spinning early on the hill or slow-spinning half way up the hill.
By mastering this technique, you'll be able to conquer hills while maintaining consistent effort and while preventing over exertion to summit the hill which would require extended "recovery time" over the next mile.
After you summit the hill and you begin your descend, you switch back to the 53 and choose the resistence gear that works without freespinning (if there's a gear available).
Zoomy alluded to a "compact" gear set, which I believe is a 50/39 front gear and an 11 through 21 (or something like that). In essence, the concept is the same regardless of what gears you have.
(Long post, Sorry).
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Don't get hung up over thinking it.
With enough saddle time you will find what works for you.
Where I live it's mostly rollers. For the most part I will only use 3, maybe 4 different gearing combo's the entire trip. Other people I ride with will use several more. I power up hills, others spin...
What you want to avoid is being at the extremes of your gears...Front Ring(s) to the Largest and Smallest rear. The more you can stay in the middle the better.
Going back in history, we started with 7 gears (21 speed) and have progressed to what is most common today being 10 gears on the rear cog. For the standard rider this has pretty much eliminated the need for a 3rd ring up front...Yea! Tuning a triple crank sucks!!!!
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Thanks, everyone.This has been very helpful. I am starting to kind of get it. Knowing what I am doing with my hands seems to help the most. I have never used my left gear shift. I have been nervous to try it.
It may help to get a visual of what cross chaining is referring too. Put the front on the small chain ring and shift the rear cassette to the smallest cog. Now stand behind your bike and look down the chain. Next, switch the front to the big ring and the rear cassette to the largest cog. What you will see is cross chaining and thats what you should try and avoid.
The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff
You guys are being very helpful. I have been out looking at my bike and I am starting to get a handle on things. Sort of.
thanks. There is another bigger hill in my street that I need to conquer.