How to Ride a 10-speed Bicycle

By Matthew Ferguson

Technically a "10-speed" refers to a bike outfitted with 10 potential gear combinations (five cogs and two chain rings). Generically, however, a 10-speed is a road bike, with a road bike's usual attributes: narrow tires, aerodynamic ergonomics, drop-style handlebars, hand brakes and shifters. While most road bikes today offer well in excess of 10 speeds, the 10-speed bicycle is still popular with enthusiasts and anyone considering an older, perhaps less expensive geared road bike. Like any bike however, the 10-speed requires a little practice to master.

Mount the bicycle, placing one foot on the platform of the pedal while keeping the other foot planted on the ground. If the pedals feature toe-straps, which hold the foot in place on the pedal, make sure your foot is beneath this strap.

Rotate the pedal to initiate forward motion and immediately lift the other foot off the ground and place it in its pedal.

Choose a comfortable gear to begin. 10-speed bicycles include a pair of levers, which may be found near the steering column or on the sides of the frame. The left lever controls gears at the front of the bike, while the right lever controls those at the rear. Pushing a lever forward increases pedaling difficulty (however, the bike will travel further per pedal stroke). Pulling a lever back will have the opposite effect. Always pedal while changing gears.

Find the best position for your hands. 10-speed bicycles feature drop-style handlebars. These bars turn down at the ends. Hands placed on the top of the bars offer a casual riding position. Hands placed on the brake hoods (located on either side of where the handlebar begins to bend) or drops (the underside of the bars) give the rider a more aerodynamic, race-style position.

Practice braking and stopping. Two brake levers are on either side of the handlebar. The left-side lever controls the brake at the front of the bike; the right-side lever the brake at the rear. When stopping or slowing, gently squeeze the left lever (front brake) and then apply the right lever (rear brake) in sequence.

Pull either foot off the pedal, just before you come to a stop. This is crucial if your pedals are outfitted with top-straps. Don't wait until the bike has come to a full stop before removing your foot, otherwise you may not get the foot down fast enough, potentially resulting in an accident.

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