How Bicycle Gears Work & How To Use Bicycle Gears?

Bicycle Gears

Are you a cyclist looking to learn more about how bicycle gears work and how to use them? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

The number of bike gears depends on the type of bike and the type of gearing system. Generally speaking, the more gears a bicycle has, the more options you have for changing pedaling cadence and making riding easier or harder. 

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the mechanics of bicycle gears and explain how they work, how to identify them, and how to use them to your advantage.

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a complete beginner, this blog will help you get the most out of your bike. So, let’s get started!

What Are the Gears On a Bike?

The gears on a bike refer to the number of available gear combinations that a bike has. These gears are usually found on the rear wheel, although some bikes also have multiple gears on the front wheel. The gear ratios indicate how much effort is required to move the bike forward. 

  • Low gears (lower number gears) on a bicycle are used for climbing hills and other challenging terrains, as they require less effort to pedal. They have a smaller gear ratio, meaning the rear cog is larger than the front chainring. 
  • High gears (higher number gears) are used for descending and going fast on flat terrain. They have a higher gear ratio, meaning the rear cog is smaller than the front chainring, allowing for more efficient pedaling at higher speeds.

As a general rule, mountain bikes typically have between 12 and 30 gears, hybrid bikes usually have between 7 and 24 gears, and road bikes have between 11 and 22 gears. 

» You can also read my post: Single Speed vs Geared In Cycling

How Do Gears Work? Bike Gears Explained

Bicycle gears work by changing the ratio between the number of teeth on the front chainring and the number of teeth on the rear sprocket. This is known as the gear ratio. 

When you shift up a gear, the number of teeth on the rear sprocket increases, and the front chainring decreases, resulting in a higher gear ratio. This allows the bike to move faster with less effort. 

When you shift down a gear, the number of teeth on the rear sprocket decreases, and the front chainring increases, resulting in a lower gear ratio. This allows the bike to move slower with more effort.

Bike Gear Terminology

Front Gears/Chainring

A front gear or chainring is a sprocket located at the front of a bicycle. It is attached to the pedal cranks and rotates when the pedals are turned. The chainring transfers this rotational energy to the chain, which in turn drives the rear wheel. 

Larger chainrings will allow you to pedal faster but with less power, while smaller chainrings will give you more power but at a slower speed.

Rear Gears/Cog/Sprocket

The rear gears/cogs/sprockets in a bicycle are the components in the drivetrain that allow the rider to shift gears and adjust their pedaling resistance. They are usually located in the rear hub or the rear derailleur. 

The cogs are connected to the chain and the chainring, allowing you to shift gears and change the pedaling resistance. 

By shifting the chain to different cogs, the rider can adjust the pedaling resistance, allowing them to optimize their pedaling effort for different terrain.

Teeth/Tooth

The teeth/tooth on a bicycle is part of the chainring, which is the large, circular metal component that connects to the pedals of the bicycle.

The teeth on the chainring help to engage the chain, which allows the cyclist to pedal the bicycle and move forward. 

The teeth on the chainring are specially designed to hold and guide the chain, as well as to provide traction, allowing the chain to move smoothly around the chainring.

Gear Combination

A gear combination in a bicycle is the combination of front and rear sprockets (gears) that are used to adjust the gear ratio of the bicycle. This ratio affects the amount of effort required to pedal the bike and the speed at which it can be driven.

Gear Ratio

A gear ratio in a bicycle is the ratio of the number of teeth on the front chainring to the number of teeth on the rear cassette.

This ratio determines the mechanical advantage that cyclists have when pedaling, allowing them to pedal faster or slower depending on the gear they are in.

Top Gear

The top gear in a bicycle is a larger sprocket on the rear wheel of the bike, resulting in a higher gear ratio. This allows the rider to pedal faster and with less effort, allowing them to go faster over flat terrain.

Bottom Gear

A bottom gear on a bicycle is a gear combination that allows a cyclist to pedal at a low cadence with more torque and power.

Bottom gears are generally used for climbing hills, starting from a stop, or riding into a strong headwind.

Derailleurs

Derailleurs are components on a bicycle that allow the rider to shift gears. They are a system of pulleys and levers that move the chain from one sprocket on the rear wheel to another.

The derailleurs are operated by the shifters on the handlebars. Derailleurs are necessary for efficient pedaling and climbing ability.

Shifters

Shifters are the components on a bicycle that allow you to change gears. They are connected to the derailleur and control the amount of tension on the chain, which helps you to shift between different gears. 

Shifters are usually found on the handlebars and often come in either a twist shifter or a trigger shifter.

Cadence

A cadence in a bicycle is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute. It is typically measured by the number of times a cyclist’s legs make a full circle in a minute and is often used to assess a cyclist’s pedaling effort and efficiency.

Gear Development/Roll Out

Gear development/rollout in a bicycle refers to the number of different gears available on a bicycle. Bicycle gears are often referred to as speeds, which are the number of different gear combinations available.

Most modern bicycles have anywhere between 3 and 27 gears. 

The more gears a bike has, the easier it is to adjust the speed or resistance of pedaling, allowing the rider to climb hills and ride faster on flat terrain.

Gear Inches

Gear inches is a system used to measure the effective overall diameter of a bicycle’s drive wheel based on the size of the front chainring and the rear cog. It is a way of comparing the gearing of different bicycle drivetrains.

The higher the gear inches, the higher the gearing, and vice versa.

Types of Bicycle Gears

Hub Gear

A hub gear is a type of internal gear system used on bicycles. It is housed within the rear wheel hub and is used to provide a range of gearing options to the cyclist. 

This type of gear system is usually considered to be more efficient than a regular derailleur system, as it does not require additional moving parts.

Hub gears are often found on city and touring bikes, as they provide a range of gears suitable for city riding or long-distance cycling.

Stepless Hub Gear

A stepless hub gear in a bicycle is a type of internal gearing system that allows riders to switch between an infinite number of gears without the need for a physical shift lever.

This type of gear system is often used in city or commuting bikes because it provides a wide range of gear and can be shifted while pedaling.

Derailleur Gear

A derailleur gear is a type of bicycle gearing system that uses a chain, cogs, and derailleur (a mechanism for moving the chain from cog to cog) to provide multiple gear options to the rider. 

The derailleur gear system is the most common type of gearing system used on modern bicycles, allowing riders to easily shift between different gears and maintain a comfortable riding cadence.

How Are Gears Numbered On a Bike?

Gears on a bicycle are numbered in order from the smallest to the largest. The lowest gear is the smallest cog, and the highest gear is the largest cog.

The order of the cogs is usually indicated on the bike’s shifter, with each number corresponding to the size of the cog.

How to Use Bicycle Gears? 

Here are the five steps to learning how to use bicycle gears.

  1. Understand the difference between the front and rear derailleurs. The front derailleur is located near the pedals and is responsible for shifting between the chainrings. The rear derailleur is located near the rear wheel and is responsible for shifting between the sprockets. 
  2. Understand the gear ratios. Each gear combination will result in a different gear ratio, which is the ratio of the number of teeth on the front chainring to the number of teeth on the rear sprocket. A higher gear ratio will be easier to pedal but slower, while a lower gear ratio will be harder to pedal but faster. 
  3. Use the right shifters. The right shifter will be used to shift the front derailleur, while the left shifter will be used to shift the rear derailleur. 
  4. Shift according to your terrain. When you are climbing a hill, shift to a lower gear to make it easier to pedal. When you are descending a hill, shift to a higher gear to make it easier to maintain speed. 
  5. Practice shifting. As you become more familiar with your bicycle and gears, you will begin to develop a feeling for when to shift. With practice, you will be able to shift quickly.

Which Gear On a Bicycle is the Hardest and the Easiest?

The chainring, which is the metal ring that the chain wraps around, is generally considered to be the hardest gear on a bicycle. The easiest gear on a bicycle is the one with the largest cog (or sprocket). 

How Many Gears Do I Need On My Bicycle? 

If you’re someone who commutes on your bicycle every day, you will need at least three gears. You’ll need to be able to shift up and down unless you’re traveling on flat ground the entire time. To not arrive sweaty at your workplace, you will need more gear so you don’t exert much energy pedaling. 

When Should You Shift Gears On a Bicycle?

The cadence is typically a good indicator. When the cadence becomes heavy, it’s time to downshift. This is moving to a lower gear in front or a higher gear in the rear, or a combination of the two. Another method is to anticipate. When you notice an ascent or slope terrain. When descending, you can either gear up and pedal to accelerate your descent, or you can simply freewheel. As you cycle more, you will become more acquainted with the gearing mechanism, and adjusting will become second nature to you.

FAQs

Which Gear On a Bike Is the Easiest?

The easiest gear on a bicycle is the one with the largest cog (or sprocket). This is usually the gear used when you are just starting and need to get going or when you are climbing a hill and need easier gear.

What Bike Gear to Use On a Flat Road?

High gears are great for descending and going fast on flat terrain. They have a higher gear ratio, meaning the rear cog is smaller than the front chainring, allowing for more efficient pedaling at higher speeds.

What Gear to Use When Going Uphill On a Bike?

Low gears on a bicycle are used for climbing hills and other challenging terrains, as they require less effort to pedal. They have a smaller gear ratio, meaning the rear cog is larger than the front chainring. 

Conclusion

This pretty much sums up the blog, and I have tried to explain the bicycle gears in detail and how to use them. Hopefully, it will help you. 

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