I feel really daft asking ... But ...

Philly8mt
Philly8mt Posts: 552
edited January 2013 in Road beginners
Hi All

After enjoying food too much and having to give football a miss due to injuries I have purchased a Specialized Allez as my first road bike in a bid to lose a few pounds and give me a new interest. Due to illness the last few days I've not yet been out on it! Anyway, tomorrow morning is when it happens!

I've practised (within my flat) with the clipless pedal/shoe combo and think I'll be ok .. But ..

The one thing that still baffles me is gears! I've checked out loads of stuff on you tube etc etc but where do I start? I was under the impression that I should start with chain as close to the left of my bike as poss I.e small ring on the front and large cog at the back? Then I read on here someone doing completely the opposite?

I'm 41 and fully conversant with cars, washing machines, ironing ;) etc etc

What is it about bike gears that's scaring me so? Am I just worrying too much?

Anyone want to give me the idiot of idiots guide to what I should do?

Many thanks ...
Still thinking of something clever to say!

Comments

  • paul_smith_srcc
    paul_smith_srcc Posts: 247
    edited January 2013
    It's not a car so you don't to start at one and change through to twenty as you get up to speed, you will probably find you can start in the same gear on the flat that will take you upto 13-15 mph before you need to change.

    As rule of thumb keep the chain as straight as you can, so smaller chain ring use the larger sprockets, larger ring the the smaller rear sprockets, that will help keep the transmission running smoother and last longer, also keep it as clean as you can as that will also help with those two points as well.

    Paul
  • Philly8mt wrote:
    I'm 41 and fully conversant with cars
    Bigger chain ring = higher gear.
    Smaller rear cog = higher gear.

    Other than that, bike gears work the same way as car gears - the higher the gear, the more times the wheel goes round for every rev of the the crankshaft - and hence the more torque required to turn the crankshaft against a given resistance.

    The only reason people tend to disparage using the big chain ring with the big sprocket, and and vice versa, is because the chain gets pulled sideways at an angle, which causes more wear.

    But just experiment with lots of combinations - you won't damage anything in just a few miles. And you'll soon discover that several gearings can be achieved with more than one combination of chain ring and sprocket.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • muzzan
    muzzan Posts: 203
    Hi,

    Yes, the largest sprocket on the back & the smallest on the front is the easiest gear to push. As you go to smaller sprockets on the back it will get harder, and obviously if you go onto the larger sprocket at the front it will get harder also. The trick is to find a comfortable pedaling speed (cadence) and then adjust the gears as the road changes to try & keep this pedaling speed the same (roughly).

    A little bit more detail is that to determine how "hard" a gear is to push relative to the other gears on the bike you can divide the number of teeth on the front cog by the number on the back cog (known as the gear ratio), ie

    front: 34
    back: 28

    ratio: 1.21

    front: 50
    back: 11

    ratio : 4.55

    If you do this for all the gear combinations on the bike you will see there is quite a bit of overlap between the smaller and larger front cogs, this is why a lot of people are nearly always on the larger front cog & only move to the smaller one for steep hills.
  • flasher
    flasher Posts: 1,734
    You should be able to pull away from a standing start with the chain on the big (front) ring and somewhere in the middle of the cassette (rear).
  • You'll know if the gear is too easy or hard, just try and keep the cadence steady, around 80-100rpm. A bit more than one turn per second is probably a good guide imo. Be careful if you're going to try and pull away in your very easiest gear, as it's meant for going up big hills, and you might lift the front wheel if you push hard.
  • Philly8mt
    Philly8mt Posts: 552
    Thanks guys for the responses.
    It would seem that there is more than one way of approaching this! So I guess (as suggested) it's just a case of rule 5 and get out there!
    :D
    Still thinking of something clever to say!
  • ForumNewbie
    ForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    So that you are starting on not too easy or too hard a gear, I would recommend small ring at the front and one of the middle rings at the back. I nearly always start of that sort of gear on the flat. Once you are moving you can adjust up or down as required. I wouldn't get too hung up on ratois and stuff at this stage. Once you are moving just move up and down the gears to get used to the different gears.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,540
    Flasher wrote:
    You should be able to pull away from a standing start with the chain on the big (front) ring and somewhere in the middle of the cassette (rear).

    What if you are starting on an uphill slope? Far better to start off in a nice low gear and change up as you get going than to try to push off in too high a gear. Even with a gentle push off in a TT it isn't always easy to get a big chainring / mid sprocket combination rolling.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    As it's quite possible to ride a bike without using the gears - see some women on their shiny new 21 speed jobby from Evans during the summer, or trendy metropolitans on fixies - the start point is that gears aren't that important to begin with, not in the way that they are in a car or a m/bike. Ergo it's pretty easy to ride a bike without getting the gears wrong unless you're on a bit of a climb, then it's surely a case of trial & error, seeing what works & what doesn't. Our man the OP has already told us he's au fait with all things mechanical so in reality it should take no more than a couple of rides to sort himself out using high & low ratios on the rings & the different size cogs on the rear. Suck it & see is the best advice - what happens if I do this, or this, or - whooops - this?
  • flasher
    flasher Posts: 1,734
    Pross wrote:
    Flasher wrote:
    You should be able to pull away from a standing start with the chain on the big (front) ring and somewhere in the middle of the cassette (rear).

    What if you are starting on an uphill slope? Far better to start off in a nice low gear and change up as you get going than to try to push off in too high a gear. Even with a gentle push off in a TT it isn't always easy to get a big chainring / mid sprocket combination rolling.

    Of course if it's an uphill slope then you use an easier gear, the OP never mentioned this however, and that's who I was answering.
  • Pross wrote:
    What if you are starting on an uphill slope?

    Er, turn the bike around and start in whatever gear you like?
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