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10 Speed Bicycle and Shifting Gears

by
author image Dan Harriman
Dan Harriman began writing professionally in 2009 and has a varied background in marketing, ranging from sports management to music promotion. Harriman holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with an emphasis on strategic communications from the University of Kansas and earned the International Advertising Association's diploma in marketing communications.
10 Speed Bicycle and Shifting Gears
Shifting into lower gears makes climbing hills easier. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Bicycles have a come a long way since their beginning, with some road and mountain bikes featuring more than 20 gears. For many years, 10-speed road bikes dominated the racing circuits and were considered the most technologically advanced but are now, for the most part, obsolete. The gear cassette on a 10-speed consists of five gear cogs on the rear wheel and two chain rings on the front wheel, making it possible to shift into 10 different gear combinations.

Benefits of 10-Speeds

Ten-speed and other multi-speed bicycles enable you to tackle inclines more easily, as well as maneuver down declines more rapidly. Higher gears increase pedaling resistance and are typically used on declines, while lower gears decrease pedaling resistance and are useful for inclines. In both instances, your normal pedaling cadence is affected. The key is to use gears that do not force you to waste energy but allow you to maintain your desired riding speed.

Pedaling While Shifting

The chain must be moving forward when you decide to shift gears. Only through a forward motion can the chain move sideways along the gear cogs. It is best to shift while you are sitting and pedaling at less than full power, as the chain transitions more smoothly when there is some slack in its tension.

Left and Right Shifter

The left shifter on your bicycle's handlebar shifts the chain along the two chain cogs on the front wheel, while the right shifter on the handlebar shifts the chain along the five chain cogs on the rear wheel. Instead of memorizing each gear, try to visualize the chain changing on the gear. This helps you become more in tune with the bike and choose optimal gear combinations. Avoid gears that cause the chain to rotate at extreme angles. These wear out the chain prematurely.

When To Use Which Shifter

A basic rule to remember is that when you require a big change in gears, use the left shifter. For only moderate gear changes, use the right shifter. This guideline is useful if you are a beginner with multi-speed bikes and are not familiar with which gear combinations to use when a gear change is needed. It is unlikely that you will use every gear combination available to you. Over time, you will learn which combinations suit your riding style best.

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