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How & When To Change Gear On Your Bike | Beginner Cycling Tips

How & When To Change Gear On Your Bike | Beginner Cycling Tips

– Today we are talking about bike gears. Now, they might sound complicated but if you learn to use them properly, can make a significant difference. – Hang on, Heather. I’m really sorry but what on earth is so complicated about bike gears? – Mark, I don’t want to
be the one to point out, but you are currently cross chaining and there is a hill that
we’re about to go up, so you might want to change that. – It’s a little bit harsh, Heather. I was actually just about to
put it into my small ring. – Well, if you don’t know
quite what we’re on about here, don’t worry, we’re going to be explaining everything about gears to help
you ride more effectively. (upbeat music) Let’s start by taking a
closer look at the gears. Now, the front set of gears
here by the right hand pedal are the ones that can make
a significant difference. Usually hear them called the chain rings, and a bike can have one, two, or sometimes even three chain rings. And the chain is then shifted
between the chain rings by the front mech, which
is found just above here. And that’s then controlled by shifters, usually on the left hand
side of the aero bars, the base bar or the handlebars. The smaller the chain
ring, the easier the gear. – But over at the rear of the
bike we have the cassette, which has more cogs,
meaning more gear choices, and therefore smaller
changes between the gears. Now I’ve currently got
an 11 speed on my bike, meaning 11 cogs, but
you may have a 10 speed, a nine speed, an eight speed,
or maybe even a 12 speed if you’ve got a nice
fancy one on your bike. Now, unlike the chain rings,
actually the smaller cog, which we have here, is
actually the hardest gear, meaning the most resistance. And the largest cog here
is the easiest gear, meaning the easiest resistance. Then below that we have the
rear mech or derailleur, which allows us to shift
between those cogs and gears. And that is all normally
operated and controlled by controls on the right
hand handlebar or aero bar. (upbeat music) – Okay let’s look at
how you actually change between the gears, because
there is a certain knack. I mean you could just
bulldoze your way through from your biggest cog to your
smallest cog in a few seconds, but your bike components
aren’t going to thank you. – No, they’re not, and
you also do run the risk of jamming your gears in the process. So instead, you should try
to change one gear at a time, slowly picking your way up
or down through the gears and making sure you pedal
between those changes. Now, you’ll also notice
quite a big difference if you actually ease off the pedals ever so slightly while you change. And I know that might
sound really quite odd, particularly when you’re
trying to push hard and you’re going up a hill, but you will actually
really notice the difference with a bit of practice. Now I’m not saying fully come
off the gas or off the pedals, but just a well timed release
of pressure on the pedals will make a world of difference. – Yeah, and the best
way to figure this out is to go and experiment. So find a nice quiet road
that’s just undulating, and practice changing
gear and then changing the amount of pressure you
put down at various points. (upbeat music) Whilst we’re on the
topic of shifting gears, there’s something you want to avoid, and that’s cross chaining, which Mark demonstrated
nicely in the intro. Now not only is it a big no-no in cycling, it’s actually because
it’s also going to be ruining the components of your bike. – Yeah it is. Now what’s happening when
you’re cross chaining is, well you might be in your
largest chain ring at the front and then your largest cog at the rear, which is obviously your easiest gear. Or, the opposite, you could be in your smallest chain ring up front and then your smallest cog at the rear, which is your hardest gear. So essentially the opposite. So what’s happening here is you’re putting your chain through quite a large angle, which is going to potentially stretch it, you might damage the components, and also the risk of dropping
or slipping your chain. – Well now we’ve covered the
basics and the ground rules, it’s time to look at how
to optimize our gears, and that leads me on to cadence. Cadence is measured in
revolutions per minute, otherwise known as RPM. And finding the right RPM will in turn help you to ride better. – Yeah, now in short, the
higher or the harder the gear, the higher the resistance. And generally speaking,
unless you’re absolutely flying along when we’re descending, that’s going to mean that
our legs are going to turn over more slowly. So less leg revolutions per minute and therefore a lower cadence. But alternatively, if we’re
in a lower or easier gear, it’s going to have a weaker resistance and therefore our legs
are, generally speaking, going to turn over more quickly, we’re going to have a higher cadence. – Yeah well cadence is
very much a personal thing. Some cyclists prefer to
have a higher cadence, other are lower. But generally speaking, a
good kind of figure to aim for is somewhere between 80 and 95 RPM. And you’ll find that good
sports watches or bike computers should be able to measure this, and then you can display it so you know that you’re on track. – Yeah, now over time
you will get used to this and learn your cadence for yourself and not have to refer to
sports watches or computers quite so often. And could even get to the point that you’ll be able to adapt,
so as your cadence lowers you might be able to shift
quickly into an easier gear, or as your cadence gets higher
and you start to spin out, you shift into a slightly harder gear. (upbeat music) Well it’s all very well in theory but we all know that
out in the real world, out on the road, things
can feel a little bit rush. We don’t spot things coming, we don’t realize quite how long a climb is or maybe even how steep a climb is, so this is where we need to start looking ahead and being observant, and almost preempting those gear changes. So take this hill for instance, you shouldn’t just come into this hill, plow in in the same gear
that you were on the flat and just hope for the best, because what’s going to happen
is your cadence will lower and then you’ll end up grabbing your gears and shifting through a load of gears really quickly and really inefficiently, and potentially even jamming the gears as we mentioned earlier. Instead, you want to enter this hill, start preempting it and
preempting your gear changes. So as you approach the
hill, start changing gear. That may even mean shifting
into your smaller chain ring whilst you’re putting less
pressure through the pedals. And then as you come into the climb you can start shifting
through the rear cassette and through those smaller
gears incrementally as the hill gets steeper. – Well shifting through the gears isn’t actually just for the hills, you also want to consider it if you’re coming up to a junction or traffic lights, because say you’ve been steaming
along in a fairly big gear, you then come to a stop. Pulling away in a big gear is
going to be incredibly hard, so just think about it ahead of time and shift down a few gears. – Now the same applies for corners. Try to read the road ahead of you and change gear accordingly, rather than just heading into
a corner in the same gear and then struggling to
accelerate out of the corner. Instead, as you enter the
corner as I’m about to do now, just shift down a couple of
gears, go round the corner, and make my life a heck of a lot easier. – As we’ve already talked
about selecting your gears, choosing your cadence is very
much a personal preference. It’s not one size suits everybody, so it’s about finding out what suits you. – Yeah it really can take
a bit of trial and error, so what I suggest is you
head out and you try out a number of different
cadences until you find out whichever one suits your self. And what you’ll probably
find is that some cadences feel a lot more taxing than others, in which case you’ll probably want to avoid them going forward. – Yeah, and don’t forget you can also change the gearing on your bike. You don’t have to stick with what it came with from the shop. And say you’ve got a hilly
terrain race coming up, you might well want to
change your gear ratio. The easiest thing is to
change your cassette. Not that I’ve done it personally, but Mark has and we’ve
actually got a video on how to change your
cassette just down here. – Yeah and if you’d
like to compliment that and find a little bit
more about gear ratios, you can see our video
on gear ratios explained by clicking just down here. And don’t forget to like
this video and subscribe to the channel if you’re
not doing so already.

12 comments on “How & When To Change Gear On Your Bike | Beginner Cycling Tips

  1. I stumbled upon your channel recently and I have been binge watching all your videos!!!!
    As a newbie triathlete this was immensely helpful!!!!!!
    Keep up the great work GTN ♥️♥️♥️

  2. Can u make a video on fueling during the race with some DIY tips….what are allowed during the race and what not. Thanks.

  3. Loved the video. I've had much better wear from my bike since following your channel. My hill climbing has improved too. Going to take some do these tips and put them into practice.

  4. Could you share your thoughts on switching a bike to 1 by gearing for triathlon? Good, bad, bit of both?

  5. Mark, Heather, no need to own two full on TT bikes, you should stick with the P5X’s, and I’d be happy too look after one of these speedmax’s for you. So jealous of you on these great bikes. Awesome video too, thanks guys

  6. I've gone from bodybuilding to cycling, my gears aren't lined up, cycling clothes are made for stick insects, my ass hurts, I don't know what all the pedal clips are, and you need to be a millionaire to ride around annoying car users. Help!

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