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How Mountain Bike Gears Function 

How mountain bike gears work and continue to get increasingly more complex. Today's bikes have up to 27 different gear ratios.

Mountain bikes make use of a combination of three different sized sprockets in the front of the bike and nine in the rear that produces the gear ratios.

The concept backing all of the different gears is to enable the rider to be able to crank your pedals on their bike at a steady pace no matter what type of slope you are riding your bike on.

how mountain bike gears work

This can be better understood if you imagine a bike that has only one gear. Every time the pedals are rotated one turn, the wheel in the back also will rotate one turn.

If the bike's rear-wheel has a 26-inch diameter, then a 1:1 gearing with one full turn of the pedals will result in 81.6 inches of the ground being covered by the wheel. When you pedal at a 50 RPM speed, this means your bike will be covering more than 340 feet per minute.

That is just 3.8 MPH or the equivalent of a speed that you could walk. That is good when you are trying to climb a steep hill. However, it is bad for going downhill and for the ground.

You need to have a different ratio in order to go faster. You need to have a 5:6:1 gear ratio in order to ride at 25 MPH downhill at a 50 RPM cadence.

A bike that has many gears provides you with numerous increments ranging from a gear ratio of 1:1 to 6:5:1 to allow you to pedal at 50 RPM at all times, no matter what speed you are traveling at.

On a regular 27-speed mountain bike, there are six gear ratios that are very close to one another so that you do not notice a difference between them.

how mountain bike gears work

When using the gears, bike riders have a tendency to select a front sprocket that is suited for the slope that they are currently riding on and then stick to it.

However, it can be hard to shift the front sprocket under a heavy load. It is a lot easier to shift between the rear gears.

When you are trying to crank up a hill, the best thing to do is to select the smallest sprocket located on the front and then shift in between the nine rear gears that are available.

The more speeds that are on your back sprocket, the greater your advantage will be.

Overall, gears are critical to mountain bikes since they dictate what your overall speed will be. Without any gears, you cannot build up speed and you cannot pound the pedals.

The gears are what move the pedals and make it possible to help you build your speed up.

Mountain bikes have different kinds of gears that are available. All of them help you build up great momentum as long as you use them properly.

What Are Mountain Bike Gears Good For? 

What makes mountain biking so fun is that the bikes come with numerous gears, so even when you shift to the lowest gear, you can still make your way up the mountain without any problems. It might take all day to do it, but it is possible.

Many years have passed since the 10-seed bicycle was the ultimate in biking sophistication in terms of gears. Today, particularly when it comes to mountain bikes, there are bikes available with as many as 27 speeds.

What do all of these gears help with? Simply put, they make it possible for you to pedal at an identical cadence, no matter whether you are riding cross country, downhill, or uphill.

However, the major reason why there are so many gears on mountain bikes is to help you climb up the mountain.

The main thing that you need to keep in mind when you are shifting your gears is to always shift while you are pedaling. If you don't you will end up stripping the gears on your bike.

Front Derailleur

There are two parts to bike gears. In the front, there are three different chain-rings. The left-hand gear shifter controls them. That is why 3 different numbers are available to choose from on your gear shifter that determines which of the three front rings on the chain is going to rest on.

how mountain bike gears work

The chain is moved from one ring to the next by the derailleur that is attached to your bike's gear shifter.

Pedaling is quite easy whenever the chain is on the granny gear or the smallest three chain-rings. The second chain-ring is used for off-road, level riding, while the largest or third chain-ring works well when you riding on pavement.

You can definitely use just these three gears if you want to. However, if the right-hand shifter is used, you can take full advantage of all of the increments of gears that are available.

Rear Derailleur

The chain-ring on the back is a cog set that features seven to nine speeds, depending on the number of speeds your bike has (21, 24, or 27). These cogs are all different sizes.

The smaller cogs allow you to pedal quite easily but not at a very fast speed, while the bigger cogs let you go further with every downward stroke on the pedal.

The key is to do plenty of practicing. Take your bike out to an empty parking lot or someplace where you won't need to worry about people.

how mountain bike gears work

Then shift the gears from one to the next, so that you become familiar with all of them and see how hard or easy it is to pedal while you are in that gear.

New bikers might be wary about shifting gears. It was always problematic to shift gears during the olden days - when there was only one pair of levels mounted in the center to work with.

However, gear shifters these days are the twist type, which makes them easy to use and so you don't need to be scared of shifting. You will not harm your gears as long as you pedal as you are shifting.

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