People riding bicycles are commonly seen pedaling erratically or making painfully slow progress, barely able to keep the bike in motion. If only these people knew how to use their gears correctly, their lives would be simpler.
To ride like a great cyclist, you need to learn how to shift gears at precisely the perfect time and what bike gears to use on flat roads.
So, what bike gear to use on flat roads? Generally, the middle gear is best for standard terrain on a flat road. The rule of thumb is to choose the hardest gear you can pedal at a comfortable cadence or about 90 RPMs faster. Also, you can switch to the middle gear if you need strength but not enough to ride on undulating roads. Mix the middle chainring with a triple rear cog to bike ride smoothly on a flat road.
Furthermore, the middle gear is the most comfortable when riding on a level or flat road. There is some resistance while pedaling, but it isn’t too much.
And combining the middle belt ring with one of the middle gears on the rear sprocket will provide the smoothest riding on flat roads.
If you generally bike to work, I encourage you to read this article about the 9 Best Commuter Pedals, where you can discover how to pick the bike that fits you best.
Exactly What Do Bike Gears Do?
One of the greatest improvements to cycling is the development of gears, which enable riders to go at higher speeds, conquer steeper inclines, and have a much more pleasant experience overall.
To maximize efficiency, you should shift gears according to the terrain and weather conditions to remain roughly inside that range.
The output of your pedaling effort is proportional to the gear you’re using. There is a sweet spot in cadence (how rapidly you spin your pedaling) at which you’ll be most functional and how much power your muscles can create.
Your cadence is one of the essential factors in deciding how fast and how far you can go on a bike. So it is reasonable to spend a little time experimenting and ensuring that your rpm suits you.
But what RPM? RPM stands for Revolutions per minute, and it measures the number of rotations of the wheel per minute. For example, 90 RPM means your pedaling speed is equivalent to 90 rotations of the wheel per minute.
While there are other options for shifting gears on bicycles, the external drivetrain is the most prevalent.
Does Having Have Option For Different Gears Change Your Biking Experience On Different Terrains?
Different terrains call for different gearing, and that’s why having gears on your bike can make a big difference in your biking experience. On flatter terrain, you can use lower gears to pedal faster, while higher gears help you power up the hills on hilly terrain. Having a range of gears to choose from gives you the ability to adjust your pedaling to match the terrain, making your ride more enjoyable no matter where you go.
Every bike has different gears to ensure a comfortable and steady cadence, regardless of the terrain you are riding on. Most bikers find 90 RPMs to be the most comfortable and efficient.
But, what is a good RPM for cycling? Generally, a good cadence in cycling is between 80 to 100 rpm. Most beginner bikers often pedal around 60 to 85 rpm. In comparison, experienced cyclists usually pedal between 75 to 95 rpm, and pros bikers can maintain over 100 rpm or more than 110 rpm during sprints.
You might also enjoy reading: Different Kinds Of Cycling: 9 best options with their benefits!
Which Bike Gear Should You Use On A Flat Road?
Middle gear is the most comfortable and efficient choice when traveling on level ground or flat terrain. After a steep climb or downhill, shift into medium gear to maintain a comfortable cycling pace with enough resistance. If you insist on staying in a higher gear on a flat, you’ll have to put in a lot more effort to cover the same distance.
To have a safe and enjoyable trip, you must first choose the right gear for the conditions you will face. You’ll be a better rider overall if you take the time to learn how your bike’s gears function and your bike’s chain will last longer.
The ability to change gears quickly and smoothly may save you time, effort, and money. Learning to shift gears on a bicycle can allow you to ride more smoothly, save energy so you can go for longer rides, and reduce the need for costly repairs by keeping your chain in excellent shape.
But to understand more, you might need to study each gear more elaborately. Each bike has three gears: low, medium, and high. Read on to understand them.
- The Sequence of Low, Middle, and High Gears: Low, medium, and high are the three categories available.
- Transmission in Low Gear: The ideal climbing gear is low. Bikes with a low gear ratio may be achieved using a bigger rear cassette with a smaller chain ring. Riding uphill or against a headwind is a breeze with this low gear.
- If you’re riding a bike, it will help you stay going when the road suddenly rises. With this gear, you can scale nearby summits without expending too much energy.
- The Middle Gear: The middle gear is best for everyday use on flat roads. You may choose the medium gear if you need a little more power but not enough to handle the roller coaster ride that is undulating roads. Use a triple rear cog and the middle chain ring for a relaxed ride on flat roads.
- If you are just learning how to ride a bike, it is recommended that you start with the bike in third gear. Flat ground is also suitable for bike riding. You can change gears without stressing yourself about finding the perfect one.
- Shift into high gear: If you want to go faster, shifting to high gear will assist. High gear may be used for both ascending and descending.
- If shifting too high with modest throttle input, you may match the big sprocket (front gear) to the smaller rear cogs. You can cover a lot of ground with each pedal stroke.
- On a smooth road, you should use the middle gear. Cyclists often choose this style since it eases their workload at the pedals.
- A rider’s terrain, pedaling style, and other factors may all be considered by the variable gearing of today’s electric bikes.
- Optimal Gear Ratio on Flat Roads: When deciding on the ideal gear ratio, you must consider your leg strength, personal preference, altitude, and other aspects. If the ground is steep, a low gear ratio might cause your legs to go at a very high gear.
- You may need to push your bike up a steep slope if the ratio is too high. A 2.6 to 3.0 is necessary for a flat road with smooth surfaces.
- If your cadence is 90 RMP, you’ll be able to go at a speed of 30 km/h. The maximum speed you may get in the lower range is 34 km/h.
- A ratio of 2.7 to 2.8 is recommended for beginners. Your gear ratio may be changed after you’ve ridden your bike for a bit. You may use this information to determine whether a higher or lower gear ratio is necessary.
How to Choose the Appropriate Cycling Gear?
It’s recommended that you aim for a cadence of 80 to 90 revolutions per minute of the pedals while traveling over flat or undulating terrain, whether you’re riding alone or in a group. However, finding a calm stretch of road to practice biking at several cadences is a great method to learn your cadence and discover the perfect gear on your cycle.
One complete rotation of the foot is counted as one revolution. This is best counted while the pedal is at its lowest point.
It’s beneficial to try out several cadences to see which one sounds and feels most comfortable to you. The same holds for ascents; a cadence of 60 to 80 rotations per minute is often optimal.
Find another peaceful hill, and this time, try out several cadences to see which one gets you to the top of the hill with the least effort (and that tenner). You may then test out various inclines while keeping an eye out for your optimal cadence and the gear that will help you achieve it.
See also: Does Size Matter When Choosing a Bike? Find out how to choose your bike depending on your height.
When Should You Shift Your Gears?
The critical thing with shifting gears is anticipation. Always look ahead and anticipate how your speed will change and how you will likely need to change gears. Shifting gears is all about efficiency. When crossing a tight corner, you will most likely need to slow down and shift into a lower gear to accelerate out of the corner more efficiently.
You are anticipated to increase your effort when riding up a hill or into the wind, so in this case, shifting to a lower gear will make sense.
At the same time, if you need to stop at some traffic lights, shift into an easier gear to set off more efficiently when the lights turn green will be required.
See also: Do You Really Need a Chain Tensioner For Single Speed?
Things To Avoid When Shifting Gears
It is recommended to avoid shifting gears at a standstill with an external drivetrain. Always make sure that you pedal to perform smooth shifts and gradually change across the range of gears to find the right one.
Another thing you should also avoid is cross-chaining. Avoid being in a small-small or large-large sprocket-chainring combination if your bike has multiple chainrings. The extreme angles cross-chaining puts the chain at can increase wear and high loads on the drivetrain.
In contrast, you can shift hub gears or gearboxes at a standstill as they are usually quite sensitive to shifting under load.
Watch the video below to find out the most efficient cadence.
There is no ironclad rule, but in general, while riding on a flat road, you should select a gear that allows you to maintain a steady pace while maintaining a meter of about 90 revolutions per minute (RPM).
Riding on any terrain without proper knowledge about gears can be dangerous and cause knee injuries. Using the right gear for the terrain you are riding on is very important.