If you wish to ride a mountain bike, one of the most important things to learn is how to change gears. With a little effort, learning gears can be as easy as pedaling. Outlined below is a beginner’s guide to gears on your mountain bike
Know the gears- Most bicycles have three chain rings and 7 to 11 gears. Moving the chain ring from the smallest cog to the biggest one can make your pedaling very easy. Changing it in between the chain rings in front will actually lead to more noticeable changes that will make pedaling very easy. Typically, low gears are good for climbing hence always switch for this gear combination as you are approaching a hill. This will enable you to climb the hill slowly will very little effort. Middle gear is ideal for every day’s terrain. It’s the perfect gear to use when cycling on a flat surface while the high gear is great for moving down hill.
Understand the mechanism- Take your time and learn the mechanism. Take a closer look at things such as the chainrings and the chain connecting them. If possible, wipe away any dry mud or old grease that might obstruct your view. Remember, it’s quite easy to learn how to balance a two wheeler than to learn how to change gears effectively. Once you have known what’s going on in the handlebars it would be easier to understand when and how to shift.
Know when to shift- The main reason why there are gears is to enable you to pedal more easily irrespective of the terrain is. Always change to an easier gear on flat terrains. However, if you are not sure, change before the road changes. When you change the gears go easy o especially if you are moving uphill. If you are pushing too hard, the chain might fall off. It’s also important to learn how hard or easy a gear is for the trail that you are going through. Remember, forcing the derailleur to shift under load can be very tough on components. Essentially, choose the gear that you will need while still pedaling on flat ground.
Try out the soft pedal approach- If you fail to anticipate or misjudge the gear then you need to try out the soft pedal approach. You can decide to pedal out very hard on one down stroke so that the momentum that you gain can allow you to soft pedaling on the next. Change immediately after the hard pedaling because this will ease the tension during the next few seconds to allow the derailleur to move easily.
Avoid cross chaining- While riding, you need to try as much as possible to avoid cross chaining. This means the chain being either on the front or the biggest cog at the back or a small ring up front and a small cog in the front. This will not only limit your option if you need to change again but will also stress the hardware.
Work with what’s best for you- it’s also a good idea to experiment with different gears and look for what makes you feel natural. For instance, the optimum credence for climbs is between 60 to 80 revolutions per minute. You can look around for a quite hill and ride it up using different cadences and see which one got you up with the least effort. More so, if your area is relatively flat you may not need any gears at all hence, you can think of disengaging them.
There you have it, a beginner’s guide to gears on your mountain bike. Study it carefully and you are good to go.