The Basics of Bicycle Gears
By Joan Bishop Denizot
Bicycle gears are used by riders to help them conquer that uphill climb or pedal with ease or increase speed on a flat terrain. Using bicycle gears however, can be tricky; but, with practice and focus, one can be just as good as the pros.
First, if you are a newbie on the bike, you might want to be familiar with their bicycle gears. To understand and get a feel of how each gear works, you can practice shifting up and down as you bike on a flat road. As you pedal forward, try using each set of hand controls and feel the pedals as you try out shifting the gears. You might find these helpful:
Left hand for front gears. The controls of your front gears are located on the left handlebars. The left hand controls the derailleur which is a metal loop that shifts the chain from side to side to catch a front gear. Get to know which mechanism your bike uses in shifting gears. These may either be a grip shifter that works by turning the wrist, small levers above or below the handlebars that are shifted using the thumb, or large levers that are found next to the handbrakes and are worked with the finger tips.
Right hand for rear gears. It pays to remember Right for Rear. The mechanism for the rear gears is almost always the same as that with the front gears. However, the rear gears have their own derailleur.
Now that you know where your gears are and which ones control or shift them, you might want to remember these basics:
� Gear Down. Shifting to lower gear makes you pedal easier and quicker but doesn't give that push further and does not get you far. Shifting down can be done either by shifting to a smaller gear in front or by shifting to a bigger gear in the rear.
� Gear Up. Shifting to a higher gear makes pedaling harder but gives you the power to push your bike further and faster. To gear up, you can either shift into a bigger gear in front or shift to a smaller gear in the back.
� Shift while you pedal. It pays to remember to shift only when you are pedaling forward. If you shift while pedaling backwards or while on a stop, the chain might not be tight enough and may rattle or fall off.
Remember that no one gets it perfectly the first time. Keep on practicing and keep on riding.
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