I don't understand how or when to use the various gears on my bike



trainercb

New Member
Aug 26, 2012
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I have a 90's Specialized Sirrus with the gears on the tube under the handlebars. I was told at the local bike shop that everything is in perfect order and working confdition. My question is, I have no idea how to operate them. There is a left lever and a right lever. When do I change them? How do I change them? I've tried changing the gears hwile riding, and the pedals skip and the chain makes a terrible noise.

Also, when walking alongside the bike, if I lift the front wheel of the ground and hold the bike by the handlebars, the back wheel will not spin. When I set the front of the bike down, the back wheel will spin again. I checked the brake and it is not in contact with the wheel.

I do not know if this is because I am completely new to cycling and have only ridden the bike once. I do know that the LBS checked everything on the bike and said he has never seen such a classic bike with almost no ware and in need of nothing..
 

Conniebiker

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Jan 1, 2005
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Right shifter would control the rear, Left front. Ultimately the selection of gear is by feel, but pulling the right toward you(always with pedal motion) will make it easier. Opposite for the left in most cases. The left shifter(front) will need a bit less use than the right(rear), since the rear is more for the fine-adjustment. If they do not click when moved, you have the non-indexing type where you will move the lever plus or minus until it is centered and quiet for each gear. That is fairly easy once you know what you are hearing/feeling.

Not sure about that rolling thing, though. Easier shown than told I guess.
 

alienator

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
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Post a pic of your bike. Lifting the front end while walking shouldn't stop the rear wheel from turning unless there's a brake cable issue or something else amiss.
 

Myosmith

Member
Apr 27, 2011
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Right = Rear
Left = Front


gears on the tube under the handlebars
If you have downtube shifters moving the levers toward the front of the bike will select the smaller sprockets (front or back) and visa versa.

Big ring in front, small sprocket in back = high gear (speed but less power)
Little ring in front, large sprocket in back = low gear (power to climb hills, buck wind, etc. but less forward speed compared to the rpm of the pedals)

If you are new to shifting move the left lever to the forward position while pedaling. This will put the chain on the smaller front sprocket (aka chainring). Now go on a leisurely ride where there are few obstacles and little or no traffic and practice shifting the right lever only through one gear (sprocket) at a time, pedal for a while in each gear before shifting again. If there are three chainrings in the front, use the left lever to select the center chainring when performing this exercise.

You will notice that the rear sprockets make changes in gear ratio in small increments and therefore are used for making fine adjustment to speed vs cadence (the rpm at which you spin the pedals). The front chainrings are larger steps and are used less frequently when you need major changes in gear ratio, such as when climbing hills.

If you notice pedaling is getting harder, such as when going uphill or into a headwind, shift to a lower (larger) rear gear by moving the right lever toward the rear of the bike just enough to hear and feel a shift. After you get better at it, you will be able to shift through multiple gears rapidly to get to the one you want. For now just go one gear at a time and then shift again if needed.

If you are pedaling quite fast with very little resistance, then shift to a higher (smaller) gear by moving the right lever toward the front of the bike.
 

Dave Pace

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Aug 3, 2012
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I don't mean to be an **** here, but doesn't your instruction manual tell you what does what on your Bicycle? As far as when to use the gears, that you will have to figure out for your self. Yes you want to use lower gears to go up hills, but no one can tell you exactly what gear to use. That will be all on you and what gear you feel you need to be in. Don't get me wrong. i would love to help you but this is just 1 of those things that you would need to learn for yourself. The only advice I can give you is you want to try to change gears b4 you get the heavy load on it. If you see you are going to go up a good hill. Downshift to a lower gear right b4 you start going up.

Really the only advice is to just ride your bike and you will learn what gear is for what situation on your bike.
 

Yojimbo_

Well-Known Member
Apr 17, 2005
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Who needs a manual to figure out how tube shifters work? All you do is.....you take your bike out for a ride and you change the gear and see what happens.
 

Dave Cutter

Active Member
Jan 15, 2012
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I know many [if not most] of us rode bicycles when we were kids. But NOT all the kids rode bicycles all that much. And the post sure reads like an adults so childhood cycling could have been a long time ago. The OP may have a steep learning curve to deal with. It might be helpful if the OP could seek out an experienced cyclist to show him/her the ropes.

I remember after my son broke his arm on the skateboard his mother bought him.... I hired a teenager to teach him how to ride a skateboard. A few bucks and a couple hours made a big difference. And was the only way I could think of to get him back on the horse [sorta speak].

If you were to hire a kid for a cycling lesson make sure the kid rides a road or mountain bike.... not a BMX cyclist.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Yojimbo_ said:
Who needs a manual to figure out how tube shifters work?  All you do is.....you take your bike out for a ride and you change the gear and see what happens.
+1. To the OP: you're not going to hurt anything by riding about and trying different things with the shifters.
 

Dave Pace

Member
Aug 3, 2012
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Originally Posted by alienator .


+1.
To the OP: you're not going to hurt anything by riding about and trying different things with the shifters.
I think that is how I met my wife./img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif
 

trainercb

New Member
Aug 26, 2012
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I am new to cycling. The manual is long gone. It's pretty obvious that I could go out there and just play with the gears. The reason I posted on here, is because when I change the gears, the chain makes all types of weird noises and the pedals seem to skip the first 3 or 4 full rotations. I didn't know if this was normal, and didnt know if I was doing it correctly.

Thanks for all the "just ride your bike and change the gear" comments. Real helpful.
 

alienator

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
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trainercb said:
 I am new to cycling. The manual is long gone. It's pretty obvious that I could go out there and just play with the gears. The reason I posted on here, is because when I change the gears, the chain makes all types of weird noises and the pedals seem to skip the first 3 or 4 full rotations. I didn't know if this was normal, and didnt know if I was doing it correctly. Thanks for all the "just ride your bike and change the gear" comments. Real helpful.
There are plenty of other cycling forums to visit if you didn't get the answer that you wanted here. Sorry if honesty put you off so much. Did you bother checking YouTube?
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by trainercb .

when I change the gears, the chain makes all types of weird noises and the pedals seem to skip the first 3 or 4 full rotations. I didn't know if this was normal, and didnt know if I was doing it correctly.
Try backing off on the pedals a little when shifting - still keep pedalling, but more slowly. Some of the older derailleur systems don't do so well when being shifted under load, like going up a hill (some of the newer mechs groan as well).