How to Shift Gears on a Bike

If you are a bicycle rider you must-have gear on your bike no doubt. It doesn’t matter what type of bike rider you are. It can be a mountain bike, a hybrid bike or a road bike or any other bike surely it comes with gears. These are the amazing automatic technics, which allow you to accelerate to top speed on flat smooth roads or energize your way up an extreme rocky climb without any hesitation.

Like Other accessories, shifting gears is one of the essential mechanisms of your bicycle. So it is very basic to learn how to shift gears on your bike but gearing methods and shifting frequently is something that even expert riders can control. It is very important to know the way of proper gearing because it can increase your riding speed, at the same time it can make your ride more comfortable and helps to grow your endurance for long-distance rides.

It is quite difficult to learn how to shift gear but it is not impossible. First, we need to know about the gear of bike and its uses.

What are the Bicycle Gears and the uses of Gears?

These amazing mechanical inventions can allow you to speed up and down in an unusual terrains smoothly. Having an updated modern geared bike makes the riding experience more enjoyable and comfortable even if you are climbing on mountains or spinning on the plain surface in any city.

Mainly, gears can help you in two different ways:

Bicycle Gears

While Riding Uphill

If you are a normal bike rider then you must need to put your maximum effort to climb high because you are already putting off your possible highest speed. But using a geared bike you can shift your gear to low and pedal faster which allows using less energy and less strain on rider and the bike.

While Riding Downhill

When, pedaling on high speeds then it can be shifted to the top gear to reduce the stroke revolutions per minute.

Let’s know about the gears come with your bicycle and the use of it.

Shifting gears can be confusing for you if you don’t have much knowledge about gears. So it is needed to know and learn how to use gears perfectly i.e. which gears uses when.

For a beginner it must be to spend sometimes with your bicycle to get used to it and its gear changing.

Practicing by riding on a fairly quiet road or countryside path until you can change the gears most frequently and shifting the gears up and down, both front and back.

Main Components that used for Shifting Gears


The stack of gears, which are mounted on the right-hand side of the rear wheel of your bicycle, is known as rear cassette


The methods, which actually lead the chain from chainring to chainring or cog to cog while changing the gears is call as derailleur. Most of the bikes come with the rear derailleur, however, all bikes don't come with a front derailleur.


Shifters control derailleurs via cables. Most of the bikes left-hand shifter controls the front derailleur and right-hand controls the rear derailleur.


It includes pedal arms, chainrings, roller bearing, and crankshaft. The bikes pedals are attached with several parts are called crankset and among these main components are shifting.


The chain joins the rear cogs and the front chainring so that when it is tried with the pedals the wheels start to move. The pedaling is easy or hard it will determine the number of teeth on the chainring and the cog.

Most of the bikes mainly come with two sets of gears. Specifically, the front gears are known as the chainrings and the rear gears known as the rear cogs.

1. Front Gear or Chainrings

The front gears are mainly used to make heavy changes to your bike gears. The left shifter controls the front derailleur on the handlebars, which shifts from the chain to chainrings.

Let's discuss a few tips so that you can decide easily which gear is perfect for you and when to use

Front Gear

Largest Chainring

If you want to speed up your bike while you are riding downhill or a smooth road or plain surface, the largest chainring can be perfect for you.

Medium Chainring

Perfect for regular commuting all around the street and smooth terrains

Smallest Chainring

While riding on a tough surface or you are going to uphill to get your optimum speed you can use the smallest chainring.

2. Rear Gear or Cogs

These gears are mainly used to make minor changes. The right shifter on the handlebar controls the derailleur, which shifts the chain up and down.

Tips: Always remember right means rear and left means front.

Rear Gear

Working Techniques for Bicycle Gears

Bicycles contain gears to make the uphill riding easier, and it also accelerates your riding on the ground level.

Considering of gears like the similar thing as speed. A 7-geared bike can be said as a 7-speeds bike. Cycle’s gear technique works on the handlebar by just sliding the shifters. Gear shifting means changing from one gear to another gear. A higher number means higher gears and lower numbers mean lower gears. In a bicycle gearing technique, it includes downshifting and upshifting. Downshifting means convert into lower gears and upshifting means to convert into a higher gear. This method is also called shift down and shift up.

The Basics of Shifting

How to use gear shifters

Left shifter converts the ring that is next to the pedals. If you downshift with the left shifter, you are jumping into a smaller ring. For left shifter the smallest ring is called 1, the middle ring is called 2 and the largest ring is called 3.

Right shifter works on the ring on the rear wheel. It is just the reverse of the front set.

The largest ring is known as 1 and the smallest ring is called 6. Downshifting the gear with both shifters just changing it from higher number shifter to lower number shifter.

Though, it is observed a bigger alteration when gear is shifted from left-hand shifter to right-hand shifter.

Always it is crucial to change your bike gears gradually and gently. Rider may experience a bigger risk by falling the chain if shift down from largest cog to smallest cog suddenly just in few seconds. Focusing on mainly changing gears one at a time, gently clicking-up or down then start pedaling in between the transformations. Pedal quietly when changing the gears, mainly while riding on rough surfaces because affecting pressure on mid change can cause falling the chain.

Numbers of Gears come with a Bicycle

Bikes normally ply with 1, 3, 18, 21, 24 or 27 speeds. Different kind of bikes contains a different level of gears. Fixed gear bikes or BMX bikes mostly come with a single gear. Mountain bikes come with big combinations of gears. It comes with gear shifters, which is between 10 and 30 while they may have 1 to 3 cogs at the front and up to 10 at the rear. Regular road bikes contain 2 cogs at the front and up to 9 at the rear, which means in total 18 gears. Mostly kid’s bikes contain 6 to 12 gears.

Gear changing in a Bike

Front and rear gears combination of bike gear works. Though, the accurate combination always helps to feel very much easy and smooth.

3 basic gears combination are mentioning below for easy and smooth shifting

Medium Gear Combination

This gear is perfect for ordinary territory, which does not have too much resistance. While riding on flat terrain or any rolling surface the normal gear can be used. This gear is amazing if you want marginally resistance, but not excessively. When the terrain is a bit up and down, you may flick among the rear gears for changes.

Medium Gear Combination

Front Gear- Small Chainring on double or middle or on a triple. Front gear controlled by the left shifter.

Rear Gear- The middle sprockets. Rear gear controlled by the right shifter. (3,4,5,6)

Low Gear Combination

This gear is mainly best for climbing. This combination allows you to climb up the hill and moving down to the hill securely and effortlessly.

Low Gear Combination

Front Gear- Small Chainring 

Rear Gear- Largest sprockets (1,2,3)

High Gear Combination

This gear is perfect when you want to go very faster on a flat terrain also best for accelerating and descending. By using high gear, moving to a longer distance with each pedal turn.

High Gear Combination

Front Gear- Big chainring (3)

Rear Gear- Smallest sprockets (4,5,6,7,8)

Should not use the following combinations

Bad Gears Combination

Following these combinations it can make drivetrain weaken because it runs a curve line.

Let’s look when requiring to shift gears on your bike

While riding on a bike, if feeling comfortable with your bike and bike gear, using the small and middle chainring and the rear cogs. This will help to hang off it before you shift into tougher gear. But if you are not sure enough that what gear you are in then you must take a look. A look to the front make sure what ring you are in, and a look to the rear will provide you the idea concerning whether you are in a higher gear or a lower.

While you are riding in the direction of the wind or climbing uphill you can shift to easier gears.

If the wind is blowing from behind or riding on smooth flat terrains then you may use a harder gear.

If you are in uncertainty, it is suitable to shift gear before a territory change. This method is mainly appropriate for climbing hills. Shift gears in expectancy of the climb, not only when you feel the incline kick in.

Once you become an expert and that time you are be able to play with the different gear combinations for different circumstances.

It is best to use the front chainring and big rear cogs while riding uphill.

For downhill riding, you may use a big front chainring and a variety of rear cogs.

If you stop the pedaling then it is not allowed you to shift gears at all. Reducing the pressure and pedaling with a little force is ideal.

Shimano Gears shifting

Most popular cycle manufacturers offer Shimano gear shifters. Shimano makes use of Shimano Total Integration and for Shimano gear shifting left shifter controls the front derailleur and the right shifter controls the rear derailleur.

Some essential tips to consider while riding a geared Bike

If you are riding your bike and going downhill, maybe you feel direct tempting to shift up to a higher gear but it may cause the chain to jump out from the gears. So don’t shift too faster. Shift very genteelly to ensure that the chain has involvement with new gears before affecting the next shifting.

Finally, as a bike rider, I suggest in place of grinding those gears, you may demand to place a little more power into your pedal stroke right before your shift then, relieve up on your pedal stroke while you shift. With less pressure on your chain, your derailleur can guarantee an easier time exploding your chain off the big ring and into a smaller one!

Enjoy Your Ride and Happy Shifting!

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