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Beginner Bike Gear: How To Use Gear On Your Bike

Beginner Bike Gear: How To Use Gear On Your Bike [Explained]

Bike Gear

The bike, as great as it is, can be a little confusing to use at times. This is especially true when considering how to use your bike gear. With so many variations of gear assemblies, things can seem complicated – especially for beginners!

Sometimes, we just need a little help. This includes learning how to get the most out of our own bike’s gears, as well as knowing when to shift and even which gear we should be using.

Understanding Bicycle Gear

Knowing how to use your bike gear can be tricky, especially if you’re just starting out on a bike or haven’t ridden a bike in a while.

But getting the most out of your gear and knowing when it’s best to change it can be a transformative skill that helps make riding easier.

Figuring out how to use your bike gear can also improve your overall efficiency, and most importantly, you can enjoy riding your bike!

What are the gears on a bike for?

The gears on the bike allow you to maintain a comfortable cadence (the rhythm and rhythm of your pedaling) at different speeds.

This allows you to access more varied terrain on the bike due to the range of gears. For example, the higher the freewheel of the chain, the easier it is to go uphill.

How to use gears on a bike
In order to properly use the gears on your bike, you need to figure out which mechanism will change your gears.

There are many different types of shifting mechanisms. These can include:

Twist Grip Shifter
down tube shifter
rod end shifter
flip-flop shifter
Integrated road shift and brake levers
All of the above gear mechanisms will be operated by your hands. The next step is figuring out how to use your bike gear at the right time.

Usually when climbing, you want to put the bike in a lower gear. This will allow you to pedal more easily to get over hills. Conversely, if you want to pedal fast on flat roads, it’s best to shift your bike into a high gear.
Bike Gear 
How a Beginner Should Ride a Geared Bike
First, beginners should familiarize themselves with the gears on the bicycle to understand how to use the bicycle gears. Since you can only change gears while pedalling, this is an important practice technique.

After that, the focus should shift to how to use the bike gear at the right time. We’ve covered an example – switching to an easier gear when going uphill to help make the climb more comfortable.

Beginners should try not to worry too much about being in the right gear all the time! Over time, it becomes second nature.

Which gear is easiest on a bike?
The easiest gear on a bike usually depends on the type of bike you ride. However, a hybrid bike with 7 gears will have the “simplest” gear on top of the cassette, which is on the rear wheel.

If your gear’s shift mechanism shows numbers, the same “easiest” gear on the flywheel will be referred to as gear “1”. This gear is great for climbing and/or slow riding.

Gear 1 high or low on the bike?
A “1” gear on a bike is a low gear: so is a gear on a car. This gear is best for climbing, riding on difficult terrain and riding slowly.

Such gears may also be referred to as “simple” gears.

7 Speed Bike Gear Explained

The 7-speed bike has a chainring in the front (the circular part where the chain sits, to which the crank and pedals are attached) and 7 gears in the rear. This set of gears is called a “cassette”.

Because the flywheel consists of 7 gears (speeds), it provides 7 different gears. These range from 1st gear (the easiest gear) to 7th gear (which can be called “high gear” and is best for fast downhill or flat riding).

7-speed cassettes are often found on city bikes, hybrid bikes, and kids’ bikes. It offers a wide selection of gears and is not complicated to maintain or use. Therefore, it is very popular among commuters.

How to Use a Shimano 7 Speed Shifter

In order to use the standard Shimano 7-speed shifter to shift gears, you need to depress the main shifter with your finger while riding forward, every time you want to shift into a lower gear.

You should press the other shifter (which tends to be smaller) with your finger to shift to a higher gear.

For most types of shifters, there will be two shifters/shifters to change the gears in the back, which will take you into higher or lower ranges.

What’s the difference between a 1-speed and a 7-speed bike?
1-speed, commonly called single-speed, has only one gear at the rear, so only one gear is available. This type of bike is low maintenance, simple and easy to use.

It’s not an easy bike to ride up steep inclines. However, it is the perfect bike to use in the city or town.

The 7-speed bike is great for riding on a variety of terrains and is especially useful for commuters who want something easier and less sweaty.

7-speed bikes are not as easy to maintain as single-speed bikes. There are more moving parts that require regular TLC, which can mean more parts needing to be replaced in the long run.

21 Speed Bike Gear Explained
Unlike 7-speed bikes, 21-speed bikes have 3 sprockets on the front of the drive chain. These three different chainrings allow the use of a 7-speed cassette to create triple gear ratios.

The 7-speed cassette is still there, it just adds three different chainrings up front to make 21 gears. These front gears also have another handlebar shifter on the opposite side of the handlebar from the rear gears.

These new chainrings have a wide range and are especially useful for those looking to go uphill more often or ride on different terrains. Two smaller sprockets provide a lower gear ratio.

Interestingly, the 21-speed option has become less popular recently. However, it is still a good option for those looking for a wide gear range and is common on hybrid bikes.

What is the difference between 7 speed and 21 speed
As we’ve covered, the main difference between the 21-speed and the 7-speed is that the former has a wider gear range thanks to the addition of a chainring at the front.

However, the 21-speed will contain more components (triple chainring and front derailleur), making it more complicated to use. It’s also expensive to maintain and weighs more than a 7-speed.

The 7-speed is easier to use because there is only one sprocket, which means there is only one shifting mechanism (the 21-speed has two, one for the front gear and one for the rear). Also, it is lighter.

The main downside to choosing a bike with a 7-speed setup is the smaller range of gears available.
Bike Gear 
How many gears do I need on my bike?
It will depend on your riding needs. These will include where you ride, how your experience is and your fitness.

Riding in hilly terrain means you need more gears and lower gear ratios. In flatter areas, you might be able to ride a single-speed bike, or even a stationary bike.

Stronger, more experienced riders may be more interested in larger gear ratios. These will be best for tackling steep climbs and a variety of terrain.

Commuters who want to bike to work on a regular basis may want to look at lower-maintenance options. 7-speed bikes are a popular choice here. There are still plenty of gears that benefit from easy and quick maintenance, or repairs on the go.

In general, it depends on individual needs and preferences. I always recommend trying out a few different speed options on the bike, either through a bike shop or rental.

Does a bike need 21 gears?
If you plan to ride steep hills, or ride a variety of off-road terrain, your bike will probably need 21 gears. If you’ve just returned to your normal workouts, you may also want to have more range.

Overall, it really depends on where you plan to ride and how you ride. But for city or bike lane use, most 7-speed bikes will have adequate gearing.

Does the number of gears on a bike matter?

The number of gears does matter because they can determine what your bike can and cannot do. For example, if you want to do a lot of road riding in hilly areas, but only have a single-speed bike, this will cause problems.

Again, it really depends on where you ride, and what style you ride!

Is 3 gears enough on a bike?
If you’re cruising in fairly flat areas, three gears may be more than enough. On the other hand, having only 3 gears can be a problem.

This is because the lack of range with only 3 gears limits your ride and is not suitable for riding in hilly areas.

Would it be better to have more gears on a bike [pros + cons]
Having more gears seems like a good solution in terms of versatility, but there are pros and cons.

To figure out which gears are suitable for riding on flat roads, it would be a good idea to start with a 7-speed bike. You may find that you personally need more or less range.

Generally speaking, either a 7-speed or a 3-speed bike can maintain a comfortable rhythm and speed on flat roads. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.

What gear to use when cycling uphill
When riding a bike uphill, you need to use a lower (easier) gear. This will make your travel slower and maintain a comfortable rhythm

Going uphill requires more effort to maintain the same speed. So a lower gear ratio will provide more comfort and hopefully make climbing less tiring and a little easier!

When should you shift gears on your bike?

As a general rule, you should try to change gears just before changing speeds, or when changing the terrain or slope you are riding on.

A good tip is to shift gears in anticipation of a climb. This really helps bring your power into the climbs, as you don’t have to let go of the pedals to change gears mid-climb.

Likewise, shifting gears when driving fast at a higher cadence will help make the shifts feel smoother and quicker as well.

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