We all know that cycling is a challenging sport that requires a lot of energy and endurance. For most bikers, their favorite routes are mountainous roads with slopes. Therefore, it could be extremely exhausting for new riders. But don’t worry, there is a thing that could make your experience more comfortable: gears. Learn how to shift gears on a bike now to save your energy!
Get to know the Bike Drivetrain
In a standard bike, there are 5 main parts related to shifting gears:
The Front Chainrings (Or also called the front gear or the crankset):
Typically, a bike often has one, two or three front chainrings. A two-chainring bike is a double. A three-chainring bike is a triple. On each chainring, there are teeth that chain connects to.
The Rear Cassette:
The rear cassette is the gear attached to the right-hand side of your rear wheel. The smaller the cog on the gear is, the further the distance between it and the wheel is and the larger the cog is, the closer it is to the wheel. On each cog, there are teeth that chain connects to.
The part that connects to the teeth on the front chainrings and the rear cassette cogs is the chain. It plays a great role in functioning the bike.
It’s the part that shifts the chain in the front chainrings and the cogs. Your derailleurs receive cables from your shifters directly. When you start to shift, your derailleur move. As a result, the chain runs, too. Typically, you can both find the front derailleurs and the gear dérailleurs in a bike.
It allows you to run the chain in the front chainrings and the cogs in the rear cassette. A shifter has one cable mounted to one derailleur. On a typical road bike, the shifters are usually located on the handlebar or integrated into the brake levers.
Types of shifters
Regardless of shifter style or type of bike, one shifter controls the front derailleur, and one controls the back.
Road Bike Shifters
As mentioned above, road bikes often possess shifters placed on the handlebar or integrated into the brake levers of the bike.
Mountain, Hybrid Bike Shifters
When it comes to shifters in mountain bikes and hybrid bikes, most riders will think of thumb shifter and grip shifter:
- Thumb shifter: It has two levers for each hand: one lever pushes the chain up the gears and the other shifts the chain down.
- Grip shifter: Unlike the thumb shifter, grip shifter allows you to shift gears by twisting the grip of your bike forward or backward.
Know your gears’ number
Before learning how to shift gears, it’s important that you know how many gears (or also called speeds) in total that your bike has. It’s incredibly easy to know as all you have to do is count the number of the rear gear and the front gear and multiply them.
For example, if your bike has 2 front gears and 6 rear gears, you’ll have 2 × 6 = 12 gears in total. If you have 1 front gear and 6 rear gears, your bike has 1 × 6 = 6 gears.
If it has one front gear and one rear gear, which means that you only have 1 × 1 = 1 gear, your bike is a fixed-gear bike (or also called a “fixie”). On this type of bikes, riders cannot shift gears.
When to shift
Next, you need to know is when to shift your gears. Don’t underestimate it as your chain might slip from its position if you don’t anticipate it in the first place.
When riding, bikers should always plan when to shift beforehand:
- When riding on even and flat terrain, it’s recommended to change into a middle or higher gear to speed up and increase your cadence (or also called your pedaling rate). In other word, riders should shift into the small front gears and small rear gears when riding on moderate terrains.
- When riding on sloping roads, riders should shift into a lower gear to save energy and decrease the power putting on their legs. This is an essential note for beginners as you’ll have to carry your bike up the slopes when riding in high gear. On the other hand, lower gears make it extremely easier for riders.
- When riding uphill or into headwinds, it would be better to change into the small front gears and large rear gears.
- When riding downhill, our advice is to shift into the large front gears and multiple rear gears.
- When first getting on riding (a few first pedals), riders should pick a low gear.
How to shift gears (The correct way)
Although there are different types of bikes in the market nowadays, the shifting technique on them is pretty similar. There are only a few differences between them.
So, let’s dig into the fundamental things first:
- Use the left handlebar to shift the front gears.
- Use the right handlebar to shift the rear gears.
- Gear down means easier pedaling and less powerful.
- Gear up means harder pedaling but more powerful.
Now, it’s time to get to know how to shift!
- First of all, you have to pedal to shift. By simultaneously pedaling, the shift lever will be moved, and the gears will be shifted. For road bikes, shifting with the levers is also an option. But you still need to pedal to start shifting.
- Once you’ve built up your speed and your cadence is ideal, you can begin shifting the gears.
- When riders face minor tweaks, they should shift the chain between the rear gear cogs.
- When having major adjustments, it’s better to shift between the front chainrings.
Tips to have a sweet shift
Well, you’ve known how to shift gears on a bike correctly. But do you know how to master it quickly? Read these tips below!
- Practice shifting in flat terrain: Well, people say that practice makes perfect, and this isn’t an exception. Instead of trying on high hills, riders should practice in a moderate area first to avoid accidents and save up their energy.
- Don’t let the chain crossed: If your chain gets crossed, the cassette and chainrings won’t rotate efficiently anymore. As a result, your ride won’t be smooth anymore. In the long run, your bike might be ruined, too.
All in all by Ronde Experts
Above is all the essential knowledge that riders need to obtain when learning how to shift gears on a bike. Practice hard and have a nice ride!