Really stupid question

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by Juju, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. Juju

    Juju Guest

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    So I've got this bike. It's a piece of crap, really. $10 off Craigslist (yes, I am that poor-->college student), but it's Still miles better than the Walmart thing I had before.

    Problem is I have no idea how to work the damn thing.

    Sure, pedal, steer, get places exponentially faster than walking (very helpful in getting to class).
    But I have no idea how to change gears. Instead of the circular-type levers on the handlebars with the convenient little numbers I have these two little stick things below the handlebars on the vertical pole bit. ...Terminology? What terminology.

    I've tried fiddling with these levers and have managed to get myself down to the lowest gear combination possible. But how do I get back up again?
    If I pull the left lever forward/down it changes gear, but then the lever automatically springs back into upright position, changing back again.

    Help? (And no laughing at my complete lack of knowledge. Well, ok you can laugh, but only if it's a jolly good chuckle)
     
  2. Grape Ape

    Grape Ape Younger than Hack Tavern Member

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    You have an old school friction type shifter. They are sweet because they make you one with the bike. Plus as you shift you put the chain where it needs to be not where the click adjustment thinks it needs to be.

    Now the trick. Look on the levers there should be a screw holding the lever to the mount. You need to tighten the screw up enough so that it holds the lever where you put it. Don't overtighten it, you don't want to fight it into position just want enough pressure on it to hold in place.

    The screw you need to tighten is circled in red in the attached pic.
     

    Attached Files:


  3. Juju

    Juju Guest

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    So does the angle of the lever relate to the gear that it's in? Or is it an "all the way down all the way up" thing?

    Thanks for the help Grape!
     
  4. HandsomeRyan

    HandsomeRyan ♥'s Bicycles

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    Nothing wrong with errr... "economically disadvantaged" bikes. Any bike is better than no bike at all!

    As GA mentioned, these are known as "friction shifters" as opposed to "indexed shifters" that you mentioned you were more familiar with (the ones with the numbers on them).

    What you have are specifically known as Stem Shifters because, oddly enough, the shifters are mounted to the stem of the bicycle. These kind of shifters are great for a budget ride because although they aren't as "nice" as indexed shifters, they are very simple in their operation so they don't break as often and if they do, they can be easily repaired by someone with minimal tools or mechanical knowledge.

    Your bike probably doesn't look exactly like this but the picture gives an idea of some of the bike part names. (this bike has indexed shifters built into the brake levers so ignore the fact that it doesn't have stem shifters like your bike does)
    [​IMG]

    To use the shifters, you need to be pedaling at the same time as you move the levers. If the bike is stationary and you try to shift it the chain never actually jumps from cog to cog and the lever will spring back just as you describe.

    Begin by finding a safe area to ride in that is free of traffic or other obstacles. Hop on the bike and pedal slowy in a straight line. As you pedal, move the right shift arm slowly but smoothly forward/down and you should feel the shifter on the back wheel hop from gear to gear. When you find a ratio you like, stop pushing the shifter and let go of it. If the chain is noisy or skipping back and forward between two gears you may need to push or pull the shift lever a little bit more to get the chain centered over thee gear you wish to ride in. It takes a bit of finesse to stop the shifter at exactly the right spot each time but practice makes perfect. You can do the same thing with the other shift lever to adjust the front gears (known as chainrings).

    In Summary-
    • Only shift when you are pedaling.
    • Use finesse with the levers. (slow and smooth)
    • Practice in a safe place since you'll likely tend to want to look at the shifters rather than the road ahead until you get comfortable with them.


    Correct. The angle of the lever relates to what gear you are in. If you want to better understand the mechanics involved, hang the nose of the saddle of your bike over a tree limb so the bike is suspended off the ground. Crank the pedals with one hand while pushing/pulling the shifter lever with the other. This will allow you to watch what the shifter is actually doing and give you a better understanding of how friction shifter work.

    I hope I've explained this without being too wordy. If anything is still unclear or you need additional assistance don't hesitate to ask. We all started somewhere.

    Happy Pedaling.
     
  5. BigBlueKnight

    BigBlueKnight Guest

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    once you get that screw tightened basically you just have to practice and get a feel for the bike and the shifter. i have one of these and it was a pain at first but once u get the hang of it. its really not too bad.
     
  6. RoyEveritt

    RoyEveritt Brit

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    I got back on my old bike on Tuesday for the first time in years and the non-index shifters seemed odd for a few minutes, but not for long. In some ways they're easier because you don't have to worry about setting them up exactly right.

    Practise somewhere safe and you'll soon get confident.
     
  7. whyeyebike

    whyeyebike New Member

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    Couldn't agree more!!!!!!
     
  8. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    I've bought all my bikes at garage sales. It's cool I love my bikes.
     
  9. whyeyebike

    whyeyebike New Member

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    I actually spend a lot of time on my Saturday morning rides looking at yard sales trying to find a good diamond in the rough bike; but I haven't found anything yet. I will keep looking though.
     
  10. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    No such thing as a stupid question. Just stupid people with questions.
     
  11. sandlynx

    sandlynx sandlynx

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    I really like the garage sale route too. Many people selling bikes at these sales don't know what they have nor the real value. You can pick up nice frames and components for a song. Especially if you're doing a rebuild on a "classic" bike, this is place to look for retro components. The cheapest bike in my stable turned out to be my winter workhorse, and it has those thumb-shifters we've been talking about. How much did it cost? $0.00. The police department gave it to. So, don't knock a cheap bike. They can be stripped, rebuilt, and turned into a nice piece.