Giant Avail 5 Bike - anyone advice on how to operate the gears????

(16 Posts)
SerendipityAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 09:54:25

I feel a bit foolish writing this thread but I am at my wits end with my lovely Giant Avail 5 bike, bought last year. I basically dont know how to operate the gears correctly efficently and have often had problems mid cycle where the gears have "slipped" on me, or where I'm "mid gear" and I've been unable to get the bike back on track, horrible clicking sound etc. I know some of you biking experts will be horrified by my ignorance of the basics of gear changing, but I really need some help! I have 2 duathlons coming up this month so need to get this major problem sorted! Or has anyone else had the same type of problem?

SummerLightning Fri 01-Mar-13 09:59:36

It sounds like you gears might need adjusting? The cables can stretch and they can get out of alignment. Or it could just need a good clean. If you don't feel confident adjusting them yourself, take it to a bike shop? Is it the front or rear gears or both?

SerendipityAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 10:03:53

Summer - I've had the cables adjusted, wheels checked etc, brought the bike back to bike shop this week following another slippage incident. Bike shop guy has said the bike is perfect I honestly think its me - its both gears !

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 01-Mar-13 10:12:11

I think you should get shop to have another look, and show you how to use them!

A couple of thoughts:

Changing gear while put pressure on the pedals never works very well eg on a hill.

Opposite gears never work that we'll eg smallest ring on front /biggest on back

Also, if you are using gears near the opposites the chain will often rub on the front derailleur cage making a rattling noise

Make sure you are properly selecting the gear - if the gear lever kind if clicks into place with each gear (it usually does for the back gears) try over shifting very slightly and let it click back into the right place.

If gear shifters don't click into place (front gear shifter often doesn't) Make sure you are putting it into gear properly, you will also need to keep adjusting the front gear when you adjust the back to avoid aforementioned rubbing on front cage.

Thistledew Fri 01-Mar-13 10:13:51

What do you already know about gears? Are you ok with the general principles -

Chain ring (front gears) small ring for lower speeds, big ring for faster.
Cassette (rear gears) bigger sprockets for slower speeds, smaller ones for faster.

Aim to keep your cadence (number of revolutions of the pedals per minute at at least 80), so change up and down to a gear that allows this.

You should change down several gears at a time if you are slowing, to enable you to pedal off comfortably, but only change up sequentially, unless you are going down hill.

Avoid having your chain at too great an angle- on your 8 speed cassette, when you are in the small chain ring you should use gears 1-6 (1 being the biggest sprocket) and in the big ring, gears 3-8.

If you are more or less doing this and your gears are not indexing (moving) cleanly from one to the next, or if the gears are slipping as you are riding along, or if they are clicking no matter what gear you are in, then you need to take your bike to your local bike shop and ask for a gear service, as they are malfunctioning.

SummerLightning Fri 01-Mar-13 10:21:15

Are you changing gear when you have a lot of pressure on the pedals as this can sometimes make it slip? Try and change gear early and try an easier gear and spin a bit more? Otherwise don't really know what to suggest!

SerendipityAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 10:22:46

ItsAllGoingToBeFine and Thistle - Superb information there - thank you so much! And my knowledge of gears is minimal Thistle, I'm a total numpty

I also think I might bring the bike to another bike shop as I think the other shop just want to get rid of me every time they see me. Theres quite a lot to learn, I guess going out on the road and experimenting is my best option

Thistledew Fri 01-Mar-13 10:51:43

When you say the gears 'slip', what do you actually mean? Can you describe when this usually happens?

Do you mean that you are pedalling along, and the chain tries to jump to a different gear without you moving the shifters? Or is it that you can't make a clean move when you do change gear?

If it is the chain slipping to a different gear, or failing to move cleanly when you are in the lowest few gears, it is likely to be a bent rear hanger (the piece that attaches your rear gear mech to the frame).

If it is the chain slipping from the large chain ring to the smaller, it is likely to be a bent or misaligned front derailer.

If it is the chain not settling properly on the rear sprocket and not changing up or down properly, then it is likely to be an incorrect cable tension.

I would disagree that pedalling up hill in too high a gear would be the cause of a chain skipping gears. Even your entry level Shimano components are easily able to cope with an adult out of the saddle going up a hill without bending to that extent. It is definitely a sign of the parts not being properly aligned.

SerendipityAlways Fri 01-Mar-13 11:32:56

Thistle - This slippage can happen in 2 ways. if I drive over a bump in the road, for example, the gears seem to "slip" and the bike then sounds like its mid gear and makes a clicking/rattling sound down at the rings. Its at this stage when I try to re-adjust it "back into gear" that I have problems, ie not being able to maintain it back in the correct gear, I can be cycling along, and then suddenly the gears change themselves mid cycle , so I'm suddenly in a much slower/faster gear. Very unsettling when you're cylcing. Im going out for a 20k cycle with a friend at lunch time and I'm actually a bit terrifed that I''l have the same problems again as my bike is so unpredictable. I do however feel a lot of this is down to my own ignorance of how the bike operates...feel a bit sad actually that I cant seem to understand/get my head around what should be very understandable..I feel a bit embarrassed that I know so little about my bike..

Thistledew Fri 01-Mar-13 13:56:57

That sounds like either your cable tension is not right or there is a problem with your rear mech.

Can you get someone to help you so that you can hold the rear wheel off the ground and turn the pedals whilst changing up and down the gears? If there is a continual clicking sound as you do so then it is likely to be your cable tension- the bike is continually trying to change gear as the cable is pulling the chain to a half way point between the gears.

If you do not get this sound, then it is likely to be a problem with your rear mech not keeping an even tension on the chain. You could try giving it a good clean - give it a scrub with a de-greaser, then lube it back up with a specialised bike oil (something that calls itself a wet lube, not WD40).

From what you are saying it is highly likely to be a mechanical problem with either your rear mech or the way your gears are set up. I really dont think it is an issue with how you are riding. I would definitely try going to another bike shop if I were you. I always like to use a local independent shop, but they do vary in quality. Alternatively, Evans cycles are ok. Avoid Halfords at all costs.

Don't worry about not understanding it. I have been cycling for 2 years and have learnt bits and pieces from when my own bike has needed adjusting. I still found anything to do with gears really daunting until last weekend when I went on a bike mechanics course and had an excellent lesson that completely demystified how gears work.

I also get exactly what you mean about problems with your gears knocking your confidence. I had a problem at the end of last summer with my rear hanger being bent. This meant that any time I went to cycle up a steep hill my chain would either come off or jump into a higher gear. It was only one horrible ride before I got it into the shop to be fixed, but it took me a couple of rides afterwards before I stopped feeling anxious every time I approached a steep hill.

SummerLightning Fri 01-Mar-13 15:32:09

Also check the chain hasn't got a stiff link - this can cause it to slip too - basically check all the links bend properly. I do think its probably something wrong with your bike rather than you? Do you have any friends who could help you take a look?

SerendipityAlways Sun 03-Mar-13 12:27:13

Thistle and Summer - Great practical advice ladies! I found a work colleague who is in a local cycling club and he did all the things you suggested above Thistle, holding the rear wheel off the ground and turning the pedals etc. he was happy there was nothing mechanical wrong with the bike and then spent 15 minutes giving me some super practical cycling tips, he told me to lay off using the left hand side gears too much and that I should be mainly using the right hand side gears for general cycles.

I have one very steep hill in my cycle so I'm going to go out on that before the duathlon on sat and practice changing the gears, its at the very start of the race so I dont want to be in trouble from the start! God, I'm nervous..

Thistledew Sun 03-Mar-13 12:54:36

When is your race? Very best of luck with it! I am aiming to do my first Triathlon this year.

SerendipityAlways Sun 03-Mar-13 19:11:47

Thistle - race is on Saturday coming!! 5k run, 20k cycle and 3K run. I did a couple of triathlons last year, good fun, but not a fan of open water swimming so will try and get someone to do the swim leg for me this year. You sound like a real biking expert - I am impressed by your knowledge and ashamed by my own lack of knowledge!!

SummerLightning Fri 08-Mar-13 08:17:05

Good luck you will be fine!! All those nerves will disappear once you start.

Thistledew Wed 20-Mar-13 11:07:32

How did your race go Serendipity?

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