When I first learned to drive, I learned on a car with a manual transmission. It never seemed especially difficult because that was what I got used to. In fact, the first time I had to drive an automatic, I remember being very confused. What was I supposed to do with my left foot? Do I not have to shift at all? And if it’s automatic, then what’s with all these different choices on the gearshift lever? I quickly got the idea, of course, but still preferred the increased control and responsiveness I got from making my own decisions about when to shift. It would therefore seem that I should have the same attitude about bicycles, which not only require manual shifting but typically have many more than four or five gears. But manual bicycle transmissions have always given me trouble, and I’ve frequently wished I could have the convenience of an automatic transmission on a multi-speed bike.
Yanking My Chain
For the record, I am not what you’d call an avid cyclist. I own a bike—actually a fairly nice one—that over the past few years I’ve ridden, on average, once or twice a year. Not that I feel I need to make excuses, but I live in a part of San Francisco that isn’t especially bike-friendly (on a hill, no less), and the vast majority of places I need to go are much easier to reach by train or by bus. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine not owning a bike, and I like the idea of bike ownership very much—good exercise, good for the environment, and so on. But even when my bike was my sole form of transportation a number of years ago, I never fully grasped the way bicycle gears worked. That is to say, I understood the mechanics, but actually using them was another story—the logic of how one must manipulate those levers to reach the desired balance between torque and speed always seemed a bit like a black art. It was not a simple linear progression of lower to higher as on a car, but a function of the ratio of the front gear size to the rear gear size, both of which are variable. My usual practice was just to fiddle with the controls until pedaling felt about right, then leave them where they were until I couldn’t stand it any longer. [Article Continues…]