Many people don’t know how to shift bicycle gears and this can cause them to have trouble riding their bike.
If you’re not sure how to shift bicycle gears, it can be tough to ride your bike effectively and comfortably. You may even find that you’re unable to ride up hills or switch gears when you need to.
Josh Quigley has created a guide on how to shift bicycle gears that is easy to follow and will help you make the most of your riding experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, the guide will show you how to change gears like a pro.
Gears on a bike explained
First of all, we’ll walk you through the gears on a bike explained. A gear is a component of the bike’s drive train. Gears, in a nutshell, are pulleys that allow you to move power from your legs through the pedals and cranks to the chain and then to the rear wheel. A single-speed bike has only two gears because one is connected to each crank and one is attached to the rear wheel.
Bicycles with shifters and derailleurs have either one or more gears attached to the crank, with multiple gears attached to the back wheel. For both types of bikes, a chain connects these two different gear systems. Gears usually have an outer cogged rim that meshes properly with spaces in the chain so you can utilize your energy most effectively while pedaling.
Reasons to need to shift gears?
Gears assist you in maintaining maximum energy when cycling, whether you’re on a road or off-road. When approaching a hill, downshift so that your legs turn more than the rear wheel, resulting in lesser speed but greater torque. This makes pedaling feel easier. Descending a hill? Upshift so that your legs make fewer revolutions than the rear wheel, resulting in increased speeds while preserving torque. This makes pedaling feel harder, although you’ll go faster as well.
How does it work?
How does bicycle gear shifting work? A derailleur is a type of shifting mechanism that works with the shifter to move the chain from one bigger gear to another smaller gear, or vice versa. A derailleur is a device that controls the chain’s shift from a larger to a smaller gear, or vice-versa, using the shifter. Depending on the type of bike, there may be only one derailleur on the rear gears or two on both rear and crank gears. An enclosed steel cable connects the gear shifters to the derailleur(s). The job of the shifter is to pull in or release the cable depending on whether it should create tension (pull in) or slack (release) , respectively, for each movement of the derailleur.
How to shift bicycle gears?
When you use the left-hand shifter, the chain moves on the front chainrings
Adjust your large gears to make pedaling easier or harder with these tips.
- If your bicycle has three chainrings in the front, begin by putting your chain on the middle ring. From there, make smaller adjustments until you find the right gear ratio for you. (If you only have two rings in the front, start with either one.)
- If you want to make pedaling considerably easier, move your chain to the smallest front chainring (for example, if you’re climbing hills).
- If you want to make pedaling considerably more difficult, move your chain to the front-most chainring. (if you’re going down hills and need to control your speed, for example.)
When you use the right shifter, the chain on the back cassette moves
This is how to use small changes to find the optimal gear.
- If you find yourself struggling to pedal, try moving your chain to the larger cogs in back so that pedaling becomes progressively easier.
- If you want your pedaling to become progressively more difficult as you ride down a hill, move the chain farther forward on the larger cogs in back (i.e., while descending).
How to shift better?
Once you get used to shifting, it’s not too difficult, but there are always ways to become better. To start shifts smoothly:
- Keep your shifting system in good working order. Make sure the cables are correctly tensioned and that the moving components are kept clean and lubricated.
- While shifting, push down on the pedals. You won’t be able to shift gears if you don’t rotate the pedals.
- To avoid shifting while under tension, try to predict when a tough climb is coming and downshift before starting the ascent. This will reduce the amount of tension on the chain, making it easier to shift gears.
- Shifting just one or two gears at a time is best. Overlapping the shifting between widely separated gears (for example, going from 8th to 1st) for too long might cause the chain to skip or even fall off.
- You can adjust your bike’s shifters to better suit your needs. Most gear shifters can be positioned to best fit your hand size and riding style. Find out where your hands naturally rest on the handlebars, then move or rotate your shifters to match while you’re also considering what size bike you need.
Just like anything else, the more you practice, the better you’ll become. At first, shifting gears on a bike can be difficult, but it will get easier with time. Soon enough, you’ll be able to shift seamlessly and quickly enough to save energy while still gaining speed. Then, you’ll be able to explore the world around you however you please.
Find out when to change
You’ll use a lower gear on hills or when riding into the wind. On flats, use a stronger gear, or if the wind is blowing from behind (a tailwind). If you’re not sure whether to shift before the terrain changes, do it now; especially on hills, shift gears in advance of the incline. Don’t wait till you feel the gradient kick in before shifting; instead, shift gears anticipating it. On hills, keep pedaling but decrease your pedal speed slightly—if you’re pushing hard or stopping completely, the chain may skip or fall off.
To get accustomed to biking, start by only using the gears in the back and the small or middle chainring in front. Once you’re more comfortable, then you can shift into harder gears. If you aren’t sure which gear you’re in, look down (but be careful!). A quick glance at the front will tell you what chain ring your bike is currently utilizing, while a peek over your shoulder will let you know if it’s a low or high gear.
With more practice, you can start to experiment with different bike gears in various circumstances. For example, it is often best to use the small or middle chainring on the front spoke and bigger cogs on the rear when riding uphill or into a headwind. On downhill routes, using the bigger chainring up front with smaller cogs in the back may be your best option. And finally, when riding mainly on flat terrain sticking to either the middle or big chainrings while utilizing a range of cogs in the rear will likely serve you well.
In addition, you want to avoid cross-chaining, which is when the chain is at a very severe slant in either the large ring up front and the biggest cog in back, or the small ring up front and the small cog in back. This not only causes undue stress on machine parts, but it also limits your options should you need to shift gears again. Sometimes, you’ll even hear a noise resulting from cross-chaining.
Common types of shifters
Shifters with a big lever on the left are most frequently seen on mountain bicycles. The larger lever (furthest from you in the picture above) is generally pushed with your thumb to downshift. Simply push the smaller lever with your thumb when ready to upshift.
The thumb shifter, sometimes found on hybrid or fitness bicycles, is another form. To downshift, you simply press the thumb lever like a regular thumb shift. To upshift, you use your finger to push the longer upshifting lever.
The SRAM brand produces a line of unique twist shifters, which they have appropriately named Grip Shift. Unlike traditional handlebar shifters, you control the grip shift by twisting it towards or away from you. For example, if you need to downshift while approaching a hill, simply rotate the grip shift away from you. Because they are much more compact than other types of shifters, twist shifters don’t take up too much valuable space on your handlebars!
Integrated Shifter + Brake Lever
Road bikes typically have handlebars that curve forward and then down and back, with brake levers mounted to the downward curves. The tops of the brake levers are typically used to rest your hands while riding, and behind the brake levers are the gear shifters. Brake levers are pulled straight back to actuate brakes, whereas gear shifters are pushed sideways to change gears. This streamlined layout adds to aerodynamics and can increase biking speed.
That’s all the information we can provide to you for the question of how to shift bicycle gears.
How to fix your chain if you drop it?
Cross-chaining can cause your chain to fall off the chainring, a dropped chain. This typically happens when shifting gears between the big and small ring in the front or when you shift under too much pressure. When you’re riding up a climb and the resistance is strong that you can hardly turn pedals, it’s time to downshift before continuing climbing. If shifting is necessary while climbing, ease off the pace for moment, cleanly shift gears, and then keep powering on slowly.
If your chain falls off, the first thing you should do is stop and get off your bike carefully. To give yourself some slack, pull the rear derailleur (the little wheel that hangs below the cogset) toward the front wheel. Grab your chain and manually guide it back onto the chainring by pushing the rear derailleur (the little wheel that hangs below the cogset) toward the front wheel. Raise your rear wheel off of the ground and spin down your pedals a few times with your hand to ensure everything operates correctly. If you don’t want your hands to get dirty, be sure to bring some medical gloves or hand wipes with you when you go on a ride.
You may sometimes repair a dropped chain without getting off your bike. If you drop it from the small ring, pedal slowly, and shift into the big ring with the left shifter. Your bike’s derailleurs may need to be adjusted if they jump every ride. The greatest thing to do is visit your local shop and have a professional adjust it for you.
F.A.Q How to shift bicycle gears?
How do you shift bike gears smoothly?
There are a few things you can do to help make shifting gears smoother. First, make sure that your chain is properly lubricated. A dry or rusty chain will cause the gears to shift less smoothly. Second, avoid cross-chaining (riding in the big ring in the front and the big cog in the back or vice versa). This puts undue stress on the chain and will cause it to skip more easily. Finally, make sure that your derailleurs are properly adjusted. If they are not, shifting gears will be more difficult and less smooth.
If you find that your gears are still not shifting smoothly, even after taking these steps, then you may need to have your bike serviced by a professional.
What gear do you use to go uphill on a bike?
The best gear to use when going uphill on a bike is the one that will allow you to maintain a steady pace without over exerting yourself. Every bike is different, so it’s important to experiment with different gears to find the one that works best for you. In general, lower gears are better for climbing hills because they require less effort to pedal. However, if the hill is very steep, you may need to use a higher gear in order to avoid stalling.
If you’re not sure which gear to use, start in a lower gear and shift up as needed. Once you reach the top of the hill, you can shift back down into a lower gear for the descent.
Can you go from 5th to 2nd gear?
Yes, you can go from 5th to 2nd gear on a bike. However, it’s important to note that doing so may cause the chain to come off the gears. For this reason, it’s generally best to shift down one gear at a time when shifting down through the gears.
Which gear is 1 on a bike?
The first gear on a bike is the gear that is attached to the pedal on the left side of the bike. This is the gear that you use when you are starting from a complete stop.
Shifting gears while riding a bike might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple. By following these steps and practicing a little bit, you’ll be shifting gears like a pro in no time! If you have any questions or need help getting started, leave your comments below.
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Thanks for reading and happy biking!