Gears, and How To Cycle up Hills (and Down Again)

Cycling uphill is considerably easier if you are fitter and carrying less weight, that includes bodyweight, your bike weight, and the weight of your luggage. With lower gears, and going to practice to use them - hills are not a huge issue for your everyday cyclist.  With this said, you should be advised that gears on a great deal on bikes don't go low enough for most people to ride up particularly steep gradients, without overly struggling. If you do live in a hilled area, you should take care in selecting your bicycle.

Know your bicycle gears - do your research!

The range of gears varies widely from one bicycle to the next? Gear size is determined by the size of the chainring - and the size of the sprocket on the back wheel - as well as the diameter of the back wheel. It can be indicated by the terms of ‘gear inches’ or gear development.

Let’s begin with a  little history lesson...

In the days of early cycling, cracks were attached to a bike's front wheel. A revolution of the crack meant there was one revolution of the wheel. This is why the penny-farthings evolved, a bigger wheel meant that riders could travel much faster. Gear size and diameter were the same - a 48-inch wheel meant a 48-inch gear. 

These days, however, a chain is used to drive the rear wheel, this means that you have  a48 tooth chainring driving a 24 tooth sprocket, the rear wheel will turn two times for each other a crank rotation. A 26-inch wheel turning twice there, therefore, the same as a 52-inch wheel turning only once. It is the same gear., what gear inches are, the effective wheel diameter of the chain. If you need additional information, pop into your local bike shop Bangor, and get specialist help.

Gear development, on the other hand, can tell you the distance of the bicycle’s travel capability in a certain gear for only one revolution of the cranks. It is, therefore, the effective wheel circumference.

You can calculate gear inches yourself! It's all a case of dividing the number of teeth on the chainring by the number of teeth on the sprocket. This is then multiplied by the diameter of the wheel in inches (700c wheel is 27 inches about).

In calculating gear development, this figure can be multiplied by and converted from imperial to metric.

So, what gear should you be using on hills there's a little self-testing in powering up hills in too high of a gear. You might hear some hardcore racing cyclists shout that no one needs a sprocket larger than 25 teeth or that no one really needs a triple chainset. What they actually mean is that they do not want one. You, however, as a beginner likely do. 

There are some rules of thumb for selecting a bike

Unless you live somewhere flat, say for example London or Amsterdam, any commuter bike will make use of a bottom gear lower than say 40 inches. This rules out a lot of road bikes and many bikes that have around three or fewer gears

Novice cyclists might change gear too late, they pedal slower and slower in the same gear and then at the last second try to downshift, this is not a good way to change gears. You want to anticipate gear shifts and proactively change gear.


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