How to Use Gears on a Bike

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How to Use Gears on a Bike

Before bikes had gears, riders did a lot of walking on the uphill and braking on the down. They had little power over their machines other than the toil of their own legs. Thighs would be burning, calves straining, knees screaming in agony. Gears are intended to alleviate some of this discomfort, to return speed and control to the rider, and to make achievements go from few and far between to abundant. Today, almost every person who rides a bike uses one with gears; the trouble is, very few of us know how to use our gears properly. To that end, a bit of instruction is in order, after which buyers can find their perfect bike on eBay, gears and all.

An Explanation of Bike Gears

Bike gears are like the drivetrain on a car. They allow an operator to maximise the confluence of his own pedalling speed and the turning rate of the wheel. Bikes with a single gear present a fixed gear ratio: that is, there is no opportunity to maximise the rider's expended energy. Multiple gears, however, promote efficiency, control, and comfort by optimising pedalling speed, which is also known as cadence. In general, low gears are for going up hills, medium gears for flatter surfaces, and higher gears for going down hills.

Using Gears on a Bike

It should be obvious, but before shifting gears on a bike one has to determine where the gears are. On most bikes, gears are mounted on the handlebar, next to the hand grips; older bikes, however, may have gear shifts on the down tube. Additionally, some mountain bikes have twist shifters located at either end of the handlebar; as their name suggests, the rider must turn the gear shift to change gears. As with hand brakes, gears on the left side control the front wheel, while those on the right operate rear wheel shifting. As gear shift directions are non-uniform, a rider should experiment with which direction, forward or back, shifts into higher or lower gears. The lower the gear, the lower the gear ratio and the higher the resistance, meaning it takes fewer rotations to power the bike. Before attempting to shift, riders should take note: They must be pedalling and the bike moving to affect the shift.

At this point, the rider should take the bike out on the road or trail and experiment with shifting gears, taking note of which gear feels best on varying degrees of incline. There is no uniform rule as to which gear should be used when; rather, it is up to each individual to determine the levels that work best for them. One sign that the bike is in too low of a gear is if riders feel they are pedalling too hard and slow, making too little progress; alternately, if the pedalling is too fast and the resistance too low, the rider would do well to shift into a higher gear. The final, yet equally important, step is to take the bike out on hilly terrain. The constant shifting between uphill, downhill, and even surfaces means the rider has to shift back and forth a lot; there is truly no better way to become comfortable with gears on a bike than tackling a situation such as this. Riders begin to not have to think about shifting; they just do it automatically, in a way that feels natural to them.

Comparing Gears and Corresponding Bike Speeds

Different bikes have different numbers of gears, some as few as three and others as many as 27. Buyers want to look for bikes with a minimum of 18 gears if intending to use them for mountain or cross-country riding. Gear measurement depends on the degree of the gear and the associated cadence, or revolutions per minute, as follows:


60 rpm

80 rpm

100 rpm

120 rpm

Very high




















Very low





Other aspects affecting speed are air and rolling resistance. Air resistance increases exponentially as the bike's speed increases, most significantly when speed goes above 15 to 20 kilometres an hour; rolling resistance, on the other hand, is affected solely by the tire: in particular, its dimensions, pressure, and type.

How to Buy Bikes on eBay

People ride bikes for numerous reasons, including exercise, enjoyment, transportation, and saving money. Whatever your motivation, you have probably identified a bike with gears as the best option to meet your needs. Within eBay's Sporting Goods category, you can find a multitude of bike shops' worth of bikes from which to choose, whether your passion is mountain, road, or dirt biking. For a real bargain, do not forget to check eBay Deals' bikes and accessories. Once you have learned the importance and function of gears, as well as how to use them to maximise your ride, you are ready to take your new bike for a spin. Atop your dream bike, you are ready to pedal hard, shifting gears to maximise your energy exertion and achieve more.

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