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Hi everyone,

I just bought my first MTB (trek 4300). I'm gonna use it mostly to ride around and have some fun on some road/trail routes nearby my house here in Costa Rica, nothing fancy yet as the last time I was on the saddle was nearly 12 years ago on my old bmx. Switched to Dirtbikes since my dad had a crush on MX since childhood and I got into it too. I've been pretty sedentary for the last 2 years so I decided to go with MTB as a way of having fun as well as getting back in shape. I was wondering, I know I'm probably not gonna need much shifting but I do wanna get an idea on what would be the proper use of it mostly for climbing since I've read the wrong gear can put more strain on the components and may be cause some damage. Nothing really critical performance wise, just some pointers on what are the do's and dont's on the matter.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

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The main things I can think of, regarding shifting, are below. Obviously, the normal actions of keeping the drivetrain clean and lubed apply ;).

1. Try not to cross chain. Examples of cross chaining would be small front gear (small chainring) and small rear gear (smallest cog), or largest chainring and largest cog. It puts the chain at weird angles and can cause cause your derailleur to skip, chain suck or other accelerated wear.

2. Shift early. When you see a hill coming up, shift while you still have some momentum, and can smoothly shift down. If you try to shift when you have a lot of stress on the drivetrain (while you're starting to go uphill in too high a gear, for example), your bike either won't shift, or if it does you'll cause additional wear to the teeth on the cogs/chainrings, and to your chain.
 

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Vaginatarian
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sonicsuby said:
The main things I can think of, regarding shifting, are below. Obviously, the normal actions of keeping the drivetrain clean and lubed apply ;).

1. Try not to cross chain. Examples of cross chaining would be small front gear (small chainring) and small rear gear (smallest cog), or largest chainring and largest cog. It puts the chain at weird angles and can cause cause your derailleur to skip, chain suck or other accelerated wear.

2. Shift early. When you see a hill coming up, shift while you still have some momentum, and can smoothly shift down. If you try to shift when you have a lot of stress on the drivetrain (while you're starting to go uphill in too high a gear, for example), your bike either won't shift, or if it does you'll cause additional wear to the teeth on the cogs/chainrings, and to your chain.
I would add, shift alot, you want to keep your momentum up so dont be afraid to shift, up & down
 

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Number one thing to remember about derailures is when you really need them, they don't work all that well. What I mean by that is when your legs are burning trying to stomp down a gear on a climb, the strain on the drivetrain will make the derailure almost useless. How to prevent this? Shift early.

Basically, the holy grail of mountain bike pedalling is spinning perfect circles at a set rpm through all terrain- up, down, cornering, etc. To do this you have to anticipate what lies ahead on the trail and shift for it about 30 feet (depending on speed) beforehand. It will feel weird spinning a too easy gear for a second, but once your cadence falls in on the hill you will thank yourself.

Also- front gears shift worse than rear gears. People are going to jump down my throat and tell me my bike isn't tuned well (it is), but rear gears will always be easier to adjust. Use your front gears to make big adjustments early and use you rear gears to make micro adjustments from there.
 

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the steeper the hill the easier the gear, the big ring for long fast descents , little ring for long slow climbs , middle ring for most stuff, try to keep a smooth fast cadence most of the time.
 

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local trails rider
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Dont shift too early either. If the terrain (and your fitness) permits, stay in a higher gear until your cadence (rpm) actually starts dropping. Looks like many tend to shift down so early that they almost come to a stop before the climb starts. I like to keep up the momentum (if my fitness and skill permit...).

Shifting up is easy: shift when you feel you cannot spin fast enough. Just avoid "crossing" the chain, as sonicsuby said.
 

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To add to what the previous posters have already said, once you have ridden for a while and learn the trails, you will instinctively know what gear is best for the terrain you will be riding in.

When you first start out, you find you are constantly switching gears to find out which is best but after some experience, you will find yourself going to the right gear at the right time just because you instinctively know yours and the bikes capabilities.

Ride on!
 

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It may be tempting to use the "granny gear" (smallest ring up front), but you get a lot of chain slap when in first on the front set. Try to stay with the second ring whenever possible. Usually a beginner can tackle something in the second ring up front and maybe 3rd gear in the back. If it's too hard, drop down to the granny gear, but in time you'll probably find yourself staying at the second up front for most things.

Also, as 9.8m/s/s said, the front doesn't necessarily shift all that well. You have to be pedaling at a good rpm to shift smoothly to a larger ring up front. If your controls click, you may have to push past the click to get it to catch, too. If I'm not pedaling at a good rpm, I usually have to click once and then nudge the control a little more to actually get it to jump up onto the next highest ring.

I usually find it works best.. at least on my bike.. to shift a gear at a time. Say you're going from 6 to 4 in the rear.. I'm talking about going from 6 to 5, then 5 to 4, rather than double-clicking to drop from 6 straight to 4. Not to say I don't do it at times, but it seems less jarring to do it a step at a time.
 
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