In history, the bicycle has a controversial past that is difficult to trace back accurately. Though, most modern approaches to the "first" bicycles were the fixed gear bike and the multi-geared bicycle.
First came the fixed gear bike, which allowed people to ride a two-speeder with accuracy and precision. For many, it was the thrill of the fixed gear bike's single gear which allowed for maximum maneuverability around the road.
However, as the fixed gear bike's infamous pastime in American history began to sizzle, the invention of the multi-geared bike arose. The purpose of a multi-speed bicycle was not to replace that of the fixed gear bike, but rather to complement it and to allow riders a different enjoyment and experience.
21-Speed Bikes Don't Have 21 Usable Gears
When buying bicycles, customers get allured into the "21-speed" advertisement on the bicycle. While the bicycle may be a 21-speed bike, often many only have 12 to 14 usable gears. These gears can be interchanged to help improve the rider's experience.
Using these gears can be tricky if you aren't knowledgeable in the field. Many riders, myself included, do not even know how to use their multi-speed gears when they first purchase it.
This guide will help with understanding the usable gears you have available. Also it will show how to use them to get a smoother ride depending on the terrain.
Checking with your bike manual is vital to understanding your bike. Most bikes have a left shifter in the front that control three (3) gears and rear gear clusters that have seven usable (7) gears. Some systems have eight (8) or more rear gear clusters for added strength and variety.
As you learn to shift using these techniques, it is vital that you never shift under pressure. Not only does this cause shifting issues, but it also has the potential to ruin the effectiveness of your drivetrain.
Using Each Gear to Provide a Different Riding Experience Than Your Fixed Gear Bike
On most riding experiences, your left shifter will be the least adjusted gear range. Your left gear shifter determines how much range of motion you will receive from your rear cluster gears.
Setting your left gear shifter on number two (2), the chain on the middle ring on the front, will allow you full range of motion with your rear cluster gears. The more range of motion with your rear gear clusters, the more effective you can adjust your seven (7) rear gears.
While climbing up hills, using number one (1) on your right gear shifter gives you more mobility and steadiness to handle the uphill terrain since it uses the largest rear sprocket.
Alternatively, setting the right gear shifter to number seven (7) for straight-road terrains is most efficient for you if you want to gain speed.
The sprockets on the right shifter begin decreasing in size from number one to number seven and should be used to go from a finer range (gear one) to quicker and agile one (gear seven). Using them accordingly varies on your needs when going through different terrains.
When to Use the First and Third Left-Gear Shifter
Using number one (1) and number three (3) on your left shifter (front) is best for extreme biking circumstances, where using a fixed gear bike would require extreme precision and accuracy.
When going up abnormally rough terrain and using your second left gear shifter and your first right gear shifter simultaneously isn't enough, dropping the derailleur to number one (1) will help give for an easier ride. The derailleur is dropped to the smallest front chain, which allows for less strain and more enjoyment going uphill.
Getting a harder gear for speed can usually be accomplished using the first gear on the left and the seventh gear on the right. However, certain terrains or competitions may require a harder gear for more speed. Using the third gear on your left shifter helps attain this. The front derailleur is placed to the largest front chain, giving you more power to pedal and gain speed.
Unlike the second left gear, the first and third gear cannot be used with a full range of gears. Certain angles can cause your chain to make shift problems and excessive noise.
Pair your first left shifter with rear gears one (1) through three (3) for a finer adjustment and your third left shifter with rear gears five (5) through seven (7) for a quicker movement.