26. How to Shift Your Gears
Learn how to use your full range of gears: applies to 21, 24, and 27 speed shift systems.
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.
I'm a bike tech at dicks sporting goods in Bloomfield, MI and I'm having trouble with replacing the cables on an old 10 speed freestyle. I've only been working at this job for about 3 months now, so I don't have a ton of experience working on bikes yet, and I can't tell how to get the cable out of the shifter.
It looks like the cable should just be able to pop out of the end of the shifter (I have already removed the housing), but I can't get it to budge. Is there something else I need to do first before I can take the cable out, or is it just that this particular one is likely j... Read more >>
We just bought a hyper havoc within the last 2 months and have only ridden it a handful of times. My issue is the other night as we were riding along the chain snapped off. Looked like it broke? We just started riding again recently so we're not familiar with these new bikes at all. Do I need to buy a new chain or can this one be fixed? I snapped it back together but I just don't know if it'll last or what. Lol I apologize for my ignorance about anything mechanical lol.... Read more >>
On the weekend I crashed and managed to destroy one of my shifters. I've got an old Cannondale 105 with 105 components - double and 9 speed. I'm wondering if any other Shimano double/9 speed shifters would be compatable or do I need to try and find an old set of the 105 ST-5510?
Thanks!... Read more >>
So I took my bike out for a ride and neither of the gears seem to shift, pressing the shift bottom (sorry dont know the name for it) next to the brakes doesnt do anything, no clicks or sounds, nothing happens.
I have no clue whats wrong with it so please help me, I'll upload more pictures if needed and do any tests
here are some pictures
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I have a Trek 7000 (93/94) still with tons of original parts on her.
A few weeks ago, the rear shifter broke, not shifting to the lighter gears, but was still shifting to the heavier ones.
When I opened it, I saw that a little spring inside it was broke.
Just like the one seen here:
I can't find this spring anywh... Read more >>
Hey folks - first off for full disclosure, I recently removed the RD from the hanger to get a look at the hanger. What I'm asking now seems to have happened after re-attaching the RD.
The bike is about a month old so I'm not considering worn out parts yet.
OK so the RD (Ultegra 6800) attaches to the hanger by one bolt. The RD pivots on that bolt. When at rest I can rotate the RD clockwise quite a bit. Just a little rotation counter clockwise. If I rotate clockwise and then let it go there is obviously a spring inside that pushes the RD back to a resting position.
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I've tried setting this up myself about 4 times using this guide
I just cannot seem to make the dérailleur move far enough out! I have tightened the cable as ti... Read more >>
I have cube aim pro 29 with Altus M310 FD. Recently purchased, ready to run.
Thing is I'm not satisfied how the FD is working. There is a problem
with chain rubbing.
For ex. when running in second ring upfront (where in theory there should be no rub at all in any rear shift), there is a rub depending on cable tension.
If I adjust FD in the biggest rear ring, it rubs when I shift to small ones (7,8)
and vice versa. If I adjust in smallest rear ring, it rubs when I shift to biggest (1,2,3). So basically I cannot adjust that no ... Read more >>
Today, one of my grip shifter (for the back shifting) is broken. I've only ride the bike for less than 6 months.
Unfortunately, my chain is now off the gears. So there is almost no way to get the chain back on because the shifter is not in the correct place.
Is there a quick/alternative way to adjust the shifter so I can get my chain on the gear? Thus, at least I can ride.
Or is it a good idea to simply remove the whole back derailleur and also cut some sections of chain? maybe a lot of labor for this approach.
I just want to get the bike go... Read more >>
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Suddenly one by one both the gears have stopped "holding" in place.
The gear cable does move and so does the derailleurs.
A video I took is available here:
https://www.youtube.c... Read more >>
I want to replace the rear derailleur on my current mountain bike, but because it is a cheap low end full suspension, it doesn't have a hanger on the frame and only takes a bolt on derailleur. Is there anyway I can adapt the frame so that it is compatible with a hanger? the derailleurs I want all require a hanger. Thank you.... Read more >>
I just got my new Saracen Urban ESC. It has 3 gears in front and 7 at the back.
Couple of issues I have noticed when changing gears. The front derailleurs works fine when changing in to a lower ring. But when i try to shift it up I have to press the shifter twice. First time does not change the gears and make a horrible metallic sound, feels as if the bike is gonna crash.
How can I fix it?... Read more >>
I just bought a Mountain Bike that I suppose you would classify as a beginner one (Giant Revel 2) and it has been a great experience getting back into riding. Not too long ago I sort of crashed, what I mean by that is I hit the side of an object and ever since that point my front shifting is seeming to suffer. First problem was that shifting from 1st gear to 2nd gear would not always work, it just wouldn't catch and would make a clicking noise as expected. Also shifting into third would do the same. I tried adjusting the shifting knob (the one by the actual gear change on the handlebar) and no... Read more >>
Thanks for taking the time to read my problem. I have recently bought a new bike. It is around 3 weeks old and done 112 miles on it. Recently it has started taking ages to shift up a gear on the rear cassette and occasionally it feels like it is trying to change gear on its own. The shift down is fine at the moment. In another 3 weeks the bike will have a 6 week free service. Is it worth waiting till then to let the professionals look at it or is it a quick fix I can do myself? I want to keep it in tip top condition so dont want it getting any worse or even damage it by putting mo... Read more >>