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.
Hi, I need to replace and old broken RD-TZ30 drlr 7 speed.
Does anyone know if the Shimano Acera M360 7-8 Speed would be an ok replacement?
It is for an old (but much loved) Schwinn Jaguar beach cruiser.
Thanks!... Read more >>
I took off my rear derailleur to clean my bike and i need help putting it back on. Its a shimano derailleur with the hook. And i have a diamondback mountian bike. If anyone can help it would be appreciated!! I dont remember exactly how it was attached to the frame
Jay... Read more >>
I have an early 90's Merlin MTB frame with 90's era Shimano xt and xtr on it. I now use the bike primarily as a pavement hill climber (I live in a hilly residential area) with maybe 20% off road. Recently, the front derailleur stopped returning when released by the shifter. The derailleur shifts to a larger chain ring perfectly. When shifting to a smaller chain ring, the shifter appears to release the cable correctly, but the derailleur is not returning, despite obvious slack in the cable. I have to kick it over with my heel. Lubricating the various pivot points did nothing. I assume the... Read more >>
I purchased a 18 speed bicycle with shimano gears having revo shifters yesterday.
Today I noticed that while shifting from 2nd gear to the third gear it skips the third cog at the back and jumps to the fourth. There is no issue with other gears.
I would like to know why has this happened and at the same time what can be done inorder to fix this problem.. Kindly reply.. ... Read more >>
I've got an old high end Giant mountain bike I'm wanting to convert to a gravel bike, mainly changing the MTB bars to CX/road bars with integrated brake levers/shifters. Any recommendations for some road shifters/levers that would work with the Deore XT 7 speed / triple front derailleurs and cantilever brakes? Don't want to spend a lot, so replacing lots of other components isn't an option.
Thanks for any help you have.... Read more >>
I don't exactly know how it happened. I've been trying to fix it for days but nothing works.
[b]So let's say you had a 1-9spd derailleur:[/b]
If we would want to shift to the biggest cog we would go to the 1st gear, and if we would want to shift to the smallest cog we would go the the 9th gear. [b]BUT[/b] that's not the case in my rear derailleur. I could only go to the 2nd smallest cog, and if I would want to shift to the biggest could I would only have to shift 8 times, this means that I would have 1 more shift to go (but shifting 1 more time would be r... Read more >>
i dont know whats really going on but when i was riding my $300 swiss mountain bike i took a brake then got on and tried to peddle. it spawn around w/o catching the back tire. i checked to see if the chain was on, it was. i was having very slow reaction with the front gears with alot of noise before this. i have not used this bike no more then 4-6 times.
if anyone can help thanks. if i can repair it my self i would rather do that since i dont have cash for a repair person..
(but i did notice it started to catch when i go down the drive way (going somewhat speed... Read more >>
I'm a real novice at this so please make allowances! I was having trouble (front derailleur) shifting up from first to second. When I flicked the shift lever into 2nd, the cage would move across seemingly correctly, but the chain would struggle, make a lot of noise and refuse to shift up. If I pushed the shift lever over a little more - towards 3rd - and held it for a couple of seconds, the chain would move up on to 2nd position and stay there OK. I tried to correct this by increasing the tension a little on the shift wire. The result of that was that it shifts up to 2nd correctly, but wo... Read more >>
I'm re-bearing, lubing, and overhauling my wife's 1969-70 Gitane Grand Sport Mixte, and I'm showing here the 'status' of the re-build... Expenses so far: ! $40.00 if I split the cost of tools in half!
Overall she's happy with the improvements in bearings and lube, and she's 'buying' the improvements in the braking system that hasn't arrived yet... but..
As only a wife can do... She says: "You know, I like the location: (Stem Shifters) of what you have on 'YOUR BIKE', and wish I had the same on: "My Bike"...... I have to reach too far to change gears..... Read more >>
Looking the bike over for needed parts, this one is the most obvious...right (rear) shifter pod's indicator lens is gone. It's an older 18 speed Gary Fisher Tassajara with Shimano Deore shift components...dual lever (rapid fire?).
Left pod is numbered 3 2 1 from left to right. Any suggestions on what to look for as a replacement? Plan on replacing both cables, etc. while I'm at it.
Thanks in advance!... Read more >>
Hi I have a Orbea Onix T105 Road Bike which is 10 speed but would like 11 speed, is it a nightmare to do or do i just buy 11 speed cassette and switch it over ?... Read more >>
Hi, I just buy New Shimano XTR m980 shifters, I took it off from the box and tried to shift up and down. I realized that it's so hard to downshift the right shifter. Other things work amazing.
Would anybody tell me how fix that?... Read more >>
I've just gotten my 1980s road bike running again. I'm loving it, except that after over a decade of integrated gear levers, I'm finding the old-school stem-mounted friction levers quite awkward. I've just become too used to being able to change gears while braking, which feels essential for manoeuvring in real-life city traffic.
I'm wondering how realistic a task it would be to upgrade them to use combo style levers. I know I'd probably have to replace the entire gear system, but I think it'd be worth it. But do indexed gear systems take up more space on the a... Read more >>
I bought a set of Aluminum with Ball Bearing Pulleys for my early 80's Peugeot. But before I could receive them, my Wife's 1970 Gitane pulleys broke/crumbled on a ride.. Both Gitane & Peugeot use similar Simplex systems.
They were the ONLY 10 Tooth 6MM pulleys I could find.
When I got them this past weekend, I put them on the Gitane, but found the shim type pulleys were 10.5MM thick, and the aluminum BB pulleys were 6.5MM wide. Chain rubs against side mounts. I found M6 Stainless Steel washers, and put one on each side of new pulleys.. Chain clears the s... Read more >>
Currently going through a DIY upgrade of my road bike. Already made the mistake of trying to turn a 9 speed into a 10 speed but am too stubborn to go back and it's kind of fun to learn how it all works. I now have an Ultegra 6700 10 speed cassette and need to pair it with a new 10 speed shifter. I have been reading about actuation ratios and want to make sure the shifter is compatible. Would a Shimano 105 5700 STI lever fit with this 6700 series Ultegra cassette? Also would I need to upgrade my rear derailleur which is a 105 9 speed or could it do in a pinch?
Thanks... Read more >>