Last week, I wrote about bicycle saddles yet I’m probably more often asked about gears. Apparently, gears are as big a conundrum as the saddle. If you're worried about gears then the simple solution would be to get a bike without any gears at all. Hard work but you would get very fit indeed climbing hills. If you don't fancy the idea of a bike with no gears, you can keep yours in tip-top condition by following this simple advice.
Firstly, I'm going to assume that the concerns you have are about derailleur gears as they are fitted on the majority of modern bikes. Secondly, I can’t really teach you how to adjust your gears on this blog, but I can tell you how to avoid any potential problems.
Let’s start by taking the bike to the shop and making sure the gears are indexing correctly. Then, let’s make sure that they stay in good working order for as long as possible. It may seem obvious but you shouldn’t lean the bike against a wall or on the ground with it resting on the gears. That gear changer (jockey arm) will bend and your gears will not work properly.
I’d recommended that you don’t change gears in extremes if you want to keep the bike working smoothly. Basically, you don’t want to put the chain under any pressure. The chain is a fixed length so if you are in the big gear on the front and back then the chain is being stretched. Equally, if you move into a smaller gear at the front and a smaller gear at the back you have exactly the same ratio. Think about it; just add up the number of teeth on the cogs. The solution is to use the small gears on the back wheel with the big gear on the front or use the small gear on the front with the big gears on the back. This simple discipline will keep your bike out of the shop, and reduce your need for a new chain.
The other thing to remember with derailleur gears is that you don’t want to change gear under pressure. If you stand on the pedals climbing a hill it will not be possible to change gear without losing your chain. To change gear you should be seated whilst spinning the pedals. Get in the gear you need before you stand on the pedals.
Keep to these simple rules and you will keep the bike on the road with minimum gear problems. If you do have problems try searching the net before you go to the shop. Often bikes are easier to fix than you might think.
Written by: Brad