The first week with Monty has been terrific, but I feel like a kid who just learned where babies come from and is still a little hazy on the specifics. This is my first bike with more than three gears, and I have only the sketchiest grasp of bicycle mechanics.
As any Brompton devotee knows, Monty achieves his six speeds through an internal hub with three gears, controlled with a right-hand lever, and a two-position derailleur, controlled with a left-hand lever. Brompton enumerates the possibilities as follows:
A rider in Hong Kong shared a helpful video.
The derailleur is shifted while pedaling, the hub while coasting. All quite simple to manage in practice. But here’s the rub: my friend The Brompton Diarist, an endless (and endlessly patient) source of Brompton knowledge, explained that one is supposed to move through the gears consecutively. Meaning that, if I want to shift from 4th gear (derailleur lever up, hub lever in the middle) to 1st gear (both levers down), I should:
- move the left-hand lever down (3rd gear)
- move the left lever up and the right lever down (2nd gear)
- move the right lever down (1st gear)
That second step seems so counterintuitive, doesn’t it? On Saturday I joined one of the fun/free rides offered by NYCeWheels, in part because I hoped Jack would help adjust Monty’s fit. (He pulled the handlebars toward me slightly, and suggested I tilt the Ergon grips up too. Much better!) I asked him how he handles six gears. He told me he relies primarily on the hub gears, employing the derailleur lever only for fine-tuning. But he agreed that for moving quickly from high to low, or vice versa, it’s good to go consecutively. Our group did a full loop around Central Park, which includes some reasonably steep inclines. I practiced shifting and found I was able to climb hills easily in 1st or 2nd gear.
For the flat terrain of my daily commute, 4th gear is proving ideal. It offers a little more resistance than the middle gear on Maggie, my lost/lamented M3L, and my legs are already feeling stronger from the extra effort. This morning I discovered that 3rd gear is good for cobblestones.
I can’t imagine when I’d use 5th or 6th, but I’m still learning. (The mommy and daddy do what??)