The Basics of Bike Gears and Shifting

The Basics of Bike Gears and Shifting

October 31, 2018

For casual cyclists, understanding the complex combinations of gears that make up modern bikes can be a daunting task. Sometimes, even more experienced riders struggle to shift gears smoothly or identify a torque that best suits the type of environment they’re currently riding through.

Some bikes, like cruiser bikes in Naples, FL, or fixed-gear road cycles, don’t have any gears to shift. These are often ideal for use in flat, urban environments, or on relaxed, well-paved trails. More challenging terrain, however, requires bikes capable of shifting gears.

Understanding bike gears

It’s important to understand the different types of bike gears and subsequent torque ratios before learning how to shift correctly.

Most modern street and mountain bikes include one, two or three chain rings on the front end of the cycle, and as many as seven to 12 gears on the back of the drive chain. To get a better sense of the different types of gears available on modern cycles, visit your favorite local store specializing in bike accessories in Naples, FL.

Cyclists use two shifters to maneuver the chain between these different cogs and rings. Generally, the left-hand shifter controls the front end of the drive chain, and the right-hand shifter controls the cogs on the back. Moving the chain across these rings and cogs controls the bicycle’s torque; this determines how much energy is necessary to move the bicycle forward. Smaller cogs and rings require less energy to operate, meaning that pedaling will feel easier; it also means, however, that the drive train will be leveraging less power overall.

Maneuvering the chain onto larger rings and cogs allows the cyclist to pick up greater speed and increase the smoothness of the ride. At higher speed, greater torque will actually reduce the amount of energy necessary to propel the cycle forward.

Learning when to shift

If you’re experimenting with riding a shifting bicycle, here are a few tips to keep in mind on when to shift gears to a higher or lower torque ratio:

  • Shift lower to climb: Before you begin climbing, shift your cycle to a lower (easier) gear. This will allow you to make the most of the energy you’re expending on your cycle.
  • Keep it high on flat terrain: When riding on flat terrain, or if you’re riding with a strong wind behind your back, stay in the higher gears for maximum torque and control.
  • Shift before the terrain changes: Always shift before the terrain changes, rather than during the terrain change. Shifting too late could cause your cycle to stall.

For more than a decade, Big Momma’s Bicycles has been a trusted source of bike accessories in Naples, FL. We’re proud to serve our local cycling community with high-quality equipment and gear. We also offer bike rentals for both residents and tourists, if you’d like to try riding cruiser bikes in Naples, FL. To learn more about our extensive inventory and rental offerings, reach out to one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives today.

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