First things first the two gears at the pedals that determine how many revolutions of the rear five gears are made with one turn of the pedals.This determines how fast you will go (a bit over simplified). if you look at the crankset (the ones at the pedals) you will see that the largest gear is on the outside while in the rear the reverse is true, the smallest gear is the furthest out. When your chain is is on the largest gear in front and the smallest in the rear you are in high gear and this will ideally.give you the maximum speed per pedal rotation. Going to a smaller rear gear will give you fewer revolutions per pedal stroke but deliver more power to each revolution.. Us bike nuts make loud discourses on "cadence" which is how many pedal revolutions we make per minute and debate how to move up and down the gears to maintain that ideal "cadence. You do want to try to maintain a steady cadence, it is less tiring, so you experiment and shift up or down to maintain it. It is not an exact science, at my age of 76 my cadence will never match that of my partner Jodi since she is 28 years younger and takes spinning classes in the winter, With that being said as a 6 foot 195 pound male I can out power her at a lower cadence.
Having totally confused you now I will close with a simple way for you to enjoy your bike. For most recreational riding on flat terrain using the center rear gear and alternating the front two will suffice. On the bikeways on an 8 or 10 mile ride I seldom change gears since the terrain on the one I use is basically flat. Give this a try and get back with me with any questions or comments. Check out the Spark team Slow Riders for a group of recreational, commuter and fitness cyclists.
8/22/13 8:40 P
Hi, all. I grew up loving to ride my bike. I had a fixed gear bike. Somewhere along the way, it got left behind in a move. Later, I bought a used bike that was a ten speed. I do think it needed a tune-up, because the gears were very hard to shift. My husband took care of that for me.
I was SO excited to be able to ride again. But I had SO much trouble. I tried a few times, and still could barely ride a mile. I came home so frustrated and exhausted.
In hindsight, I had NO clue how to use the gears, and I think I was in the upper gears, if not up at ten, the whole ride. So, I keep asking, I keep complaining about my bike. I think I have it figured out now. The left side has two settings- forward and back. That influences the right side, which has five. So if the left is forward, the right side is 1-5. If the left is back, the right side is 6-10. Right?
I still have trouble knowing when to shift, it all seems so mysterious to me. But now that I actually understand the gear shifts, I hope to have better luck riding. I should be able to stick to 2 or 3, MAYBE 4? The only trouble is that my last attempts and my difficulty getting answers that make sense to me have given me a lot of anxiety. I live in a neighborhood that's relatively flat. A ball would roll down the street, but you couldn't pop a clutch. I am relatively in shape, I think. I'm not obese, I can carry my 40lb toddler and finish an exercise video. The bike is the right size, balls of my feet on the ground. But just talking about going for a ride brings me to tears. This is not a normal level of anxiety for me.
My husband used to bike the MS 150, and he doesn't seem to "get" the trouble I'm having with a geared bike.