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Consumer Reports: Shifting Claims

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Riding a bike is a pretty easy concept. But bike shop owners will tell you many people don't shift the gears correctly. Now there are bikes designed to solve that problem — they shift automatically. But, Consumer Reports says two bikes it tested definitely are not the way to go.

An infomercial for one automatic bike promises easy riding.

“…wind along the highway. Only the LandRider uses the patented auto shift derailer so you are always in the right gear.”

Consumer Reports just tested the LandRider and the Bianchi Auto Milano, a second automatic bike. They’re expensive — anywhere from 400 to 700 hundred dollars.

The LandRider uses a weight spun by the wheel to move the gear changer. The Bianchi has a small computer that selects the speed. It beeps to let you know you’ve changed gears.

While they work differently —going uphill, they both ran into the same problem.

“The gearing on these bikes don’t go low enough to make it easy to ride up hill. This is especially a problem with the LandRider because, at 36 pounds, it’s relatively heavy.”

Plus, the LandRider’s gears often change abruptly and the shifts are sometimes noisy.

And, the bikes had another problem.

“Both of these bikes can sometimes seem to be in the wrong gear on flat ground. That can make it too hard to pedal or you pedal too fast."

In the end, the testers rated both these bikes only so-so overall. And, they say if you find shifting your bike a bit tricky, talk to your local bike shop.

Consumer Reports says if your bike gears are not shifting smoothly or quietly they may need adjusting. And, when you get a new bike, plan on taking it in to have the shifters adjusted after riding it for about a month. That's because cables on a new bike stretch out a bit so they need to be adjusted.

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