How to Shift Your Gears
Learn how to use your full range of gears: applies to 21, 24, and 27 speed shift systems.
- 02:14 - Never use either the large/large or small/small gear combination!
Most bikes these days come with ’21 speeds’. However, this doesn’t mean you have 21 useable gears. Actually, on a 21 speed system it’s closer to 13. A lot of people get confused by all of the gear combinations available. I myself didn’t understand it when I first started using a multi-speed bike, so today we’ll learn how to use your gears most effectively.
It’s very important not to shift under pressure, as this will cause shift problems and damage your drivetrain. If you’re going uphill and you need a lower gear, keep pedaling, but ease off and pedal lightly while you shift.
Most systems have three gears on the front, which are controlled by your left shifter. The rear gear cluster usually has 7 gears, with some systems having 8 or 9. Not to worry, the concepts here are the same.
For most everday riding, you’ll want to keep your chain on the middle ring on the front, or number 2 on your left shifter. This allows you to use the full range of rear gears. Number 1 on your right shifter is the easiest gear for climbing hills, as it puts your chain on the largest rear sprocket. Number 7 on your right shifter is the hardest gear for going really fast, and it puts your chain on the smallest rear sprocket.
I find it helps to think of numbers 1 and 3 on your left shifter as options for extreme circumstances.
If you’re climbing a really tough hill and your left 2 and right 1 combination aren’t easy enough, you can shift your front derailleur to number 1 which drops the chain down to the smallest front chainring. While you’re in the smallest front gear you can shift the rear gears between 1 and 3 for a finer range adjustment, but you should always shift the front back to 2, or the middle chainring before using gears 4-7 on the rear.
If you’re going really fast and need a harder gear, and your left 2 and right 7 combination isn’t fast enough, you can shift your front derailleur to number 3 which pulls the chain up to the largest front chainring. While you’re in the largest front chainring you can shift the rear gears between 5 and 7 for a finer range adjustment, but always shift the front back to 2, or the middle chainring before using gears 1-4 on the rear.
Never use the full range of rear gears when you’re in either the small or large front sprockets (number 1 or 3 on the front shifter). This causes too great an angle in your chain line, which can cause noise and shifting problems.
- Jim Langley: How to Shift A Bicycle
- Sheldon Brown: Shift Your Bicycle's Gears
- Bicycle Torque Specifications
- Park Tool CG-2 Chain Gang Chain Cleaning System
- Park Tool GearClean Brush GSC-1C 11
- Finish Line Wet Chain Lube (Cross Country)
- Phil Wood Tenacious Oil
- Park Tool SK-3 Starter Mechanic Tool Kit
- Park Tool PK-3 Professional Tool Kit
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forums
Years ago, oil cans had long spouts. Even the throw away cans had long spouts, but makers started putting little nubby spouts on the cans which makes it hard to get into some places such as my bike derailleurs. To oil those I have to pour oil onto a screwdriver blade and let it run down. The cans of '3 in 1' oil I used as a kid, on my bike, had a long spout. So after digging around I found cans w...Read more
Hi, I messed up the tension spring for one of my MTB's shifters (Shimano Deore XT M8000) and now it's slightly yet noticeably bent on the tip. Is it actually worth spending my time to "straighten" it back and use it again? Or is it better just to get new one? Found some options on Ebay, such as this one, must fit well....Read more
Currently running the OEM square taper BB with 3x9 but they’ve started creaking no matter how much I tighten the cranks. I think the damage is done and was wondering if there are other BB/crankset options out there besides square taper? Any recommended sizes? Thanks!...Read more
Randomly remembered about my first experience with clip pedals. Few years ago I bought my first Shimano MTB pedals (most likely M520, can't confirm it 100%), screwed them in and went on my training rides to prepare for mountain bike marathon. One training, after multiple rides, the pedal just broke loose on the way home (luckily not in the middle). Back at home I inspected the situation and found ...Read more
Ciao. How can you tell that the rim brake pads are worn out and you need to change them? Or when is the right time to replace these brake pads?...Read more
Hello, I just got this bike. I paid 50 bucks which I thought was fair. It is a Giant Acapulco probably from the late 90s/early 2000s. The bike functioned well until today when I felt the pedal wobbling and the pedal fell off. So I was reading a few other forums and they said that the crank arm was most likely the problem. The nut also appears to be stripped. So my question is should I just go to a...Read more
I have a 6speed autobike classic. the problem is when i stop and start to pedal again the chain slips behind the gears. when I'm going downhill or fast it changes properly but otherwise won't stay on the gears what can i do to fix this? Please help enclosed is a pic...Read more
Hi, guys, the frame is 2017 Giant TCR ADV SL, can you tell this is a paint crack or a carbon crack? If it is carbon, repairable? Worth to repair? Thanks. 4F2F7C4D-0DD6-4271-A1F8-47D66B037913.jpeg (Size: 293.65 KB / Downloads: 3) 5D9E939D-05B9-4691-8586-8D33F305A7E2.jpeg (Size: 228.73 KB / Downloads: 3) ...Read more
Hahaha, took a break from project writing tonight and found this video on youtube from Giro d Italia: Bauke Mollema: "F**king SRAM" (volume UP!) Made my day/night ...Read more
I was biking home with my college friend and her chain was jumping at random changing gears on the back wheel from the smallest cog (is that how you call it?) to the second smallest. She has 7 speed on back and one chainring in front. She has been ignoring this chain jump for few weeks, but now it has become too annoying. Can we somehow fix it easily by ourselves? One guy said that the chain look...Read more
so got this peugeot hle of my dad, as good as unused(all cups mint) with araya tubulars 32ish 1,8mm alloy(rim brakes ofc). started working on em, allways got wobbly when releaving stress, kept truing/tensioning em, bang a spoke broke, i had twisted it off from the spoke bottoming out. looked around the wheel and almost all driveside spokes show loads of thread. how come?. i guess the wheels are s...Read more
Just wow, this calls for the bicycle repair photo of the month prize! As this bike rider himself explained, his friend's freehub turned fixie during the ride, and they used such creative tool to get the 16mm nut out of the hub. bottom-bracket-diy-tool.jpg (Size: 137.34 KB / Downloads: 38) ...Read more
Hello everyone. I was taking out an older bike from parents shed for potential refurbish. Noticed that its front wheel has small cracks around 3 of the spoke holes. They look like the one in this photo, distributed evenly around the rim. Those are cracks, not scratches. Is it safe to bike with such cracks or is it better to get new wheels? bike-rim-crack-3-spokes.jpeg (Size: 76.3...Read more
Hello, I was doing some maintenance on my road bike and I took the front wheel off, removed the quick release axle from the wheel, set the wheel aside, and put a drop of tri flow on the axle to lubricate it. When I returned to the wheel to reinstall the axle I knew the quick release goes on the left side of the bike's fork due to previous pictures I have taken of the bike. However, returning to...Read more
As found on internet and should be shared; fender tail light modification: https://imgur.com/gallery/VdxLvp4 The end result provides better light performance + does not bother panniers/bike bags + theft resistant. Steps: - removing light clip - drilling recess for M5 bolt - spacing out with linear brake hardware - securing with washer & nut...Read more