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.
My Cervelo S5 has a rival groupo on it. When it works I love it! Have had it in the shop 3 times and still have problems. I have only had it a month! More often than not the when trying to go from the small ring to the large ring, it won't go.They put it on the stand and it works great! I try to tell em that it is under a load when it happens. They ride it around the parking lot and it does not happen! They think I am a blithering idiot! Yesterday it dropped the chain on a shift from the large to the small ring and took a gouge out of the carbon! I went from aggravation to PISSED in a matter o... Read more >>
Hello, I'm looking for some help for replacing my derailleurs. It's a pretty old bike; I think it was made mid 90's. Anyhow the rear derailleur has worn out and I was told it's better to buy them in sets of front+rear by a friend. Naturally, we have no idea what we're doing so I've listed my bikes parts as best as I can down below. I'm afraid if I try and buy anything with my lack of know-how that it won't fit or it'll mess with my gear ratio a bunch.
Any assistance in figuring this out would be greatly appreciated.
It's built for a mix of road/mountain biking with thick Nim... Read more >>
While fixing a broken chain, the chain came completely off of my rear derailleur. I fed it back through (in a way I thought was right) and fixed the chain. When I tried riding the bike again, it pedaled smoothly at first but gradually became choppier and then became so slack that pedaling was ineffective.
In trying to figure out what went wrong, I noticed that the arrangement of the rear derailleur pulleys had changed. The first two attached photos show what they look like now. They basically do nothing to support the chain. If I hold the lower pulley back, a... Read more >>
I bought this bike for my son at Walmart. He says no, but he certainly dropped it. the rear derailluer is destroyed. its made with plastic parts. I cannot find online a replacement. And i don't know enough to make a choice for a different one. can someone help me? I don't want to spend a lot on any thing too fancy. I just want my son to be able to ride.
PS: It is a Shimano Havoc Hyper 26" frame. The part reads rd-tz31... Read more >>
Ok, I'm a little confused and need some clarity please. I have a TREK road bike that I use for Triathlons. My front derailleur broke and will not shift. I want to replace it, but all I can not seem to find one for a 21 speed. Why? What am I missing? Am I looking for the wrong thing? What should I look for? Are all front derailleurs the same? universal? Help Please. Thanks... Read more >>
So I screwed up and played with the front derailleur while the bike was upside down. I made the mistake of thinking the chain was rubbing on the front derailleur but it always rubs when it’s upside down. I played with the screws and managed to sprang my foot when the chain fell off.
I got a trainer and I’m using that as a stand to fix my error. But I follow the directions in my manual and have looked at tons of different directions on YouTube, which all seem to be about the same. The damn thing still rubs when in the extreme cogs 8 and 1. The middle crank which I thought would be f... Read more >>
When I put my bike in low gears, the chain constantly jumps from its intended gear to a lower gear and possibly tries to correct itself. Almost in a jagged motion where my leg will loose any tension and then tighten again, and then continue in that process.
What could this be and how could I fix this?
Thanks... Read more >>
I recently got a Shimano TX35 Rear Derailleur, but according to both my mechanics, I got the wrong one. It's the open hole/hanger style.
I have a GT, Nomad 2.0, and this is the same derailleur that's on there. I need a new one because my frame hanger snapped, and the derailleur itself bent in two differnt places.
I'm going to return the derailleur and get the regular/closed hole TX35 derailleur.
I've been looking everywhere for the two parts, the derailleur and frame hanger.
I've only been able to find the derailleur, and not the frame hanger, which is an... Read more >>
Hey all, odd problem I've got. I recently bought a used mountian bike with a shimano ST-EF50-8R 22.2 shifter. It shifted fairly well, but I my eagerness to make it perfect i unhooked the cable to adjust the high and low set skrews while following this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH43OCmArUw&index=2&list=FL3OLIpvvHxxrG9qN3VCg4JA ) video. It went fine, up untill i reconnected the cable. At that point, I notice two things.
One: ... Read more >>
Hi. I had an accident where my bike fell off to the ground. After that, the chain is rubbing the cage of the lower pulley in the rear derailleur. It's making metallic sound, as it rubs against the cage. Heare are some images for you to look. I appreciate you valueable response on how to fix this. I am using Shimano Sora. The images are taken while the bike has been mounted upside down.
... Read more >>
I bought my bike from Walmart (first mistake lol) during my first ride on the bike a bolt fell off and the line that leads to the shifter flayled from its holding. I have never dealt with this kind of problem before but being the macguever I am I attempted to fix it. I found a bolt to fit it and wrapped the line and bolted it in place. The bike functions now but won't shift gears. Occasionally while riding it, it will make a click and the pedal will fall quick making it hard to keep balance on the bike. I think I didn't wrap the wire tight enough but I need help, how do I fix this? What exactl... Read more >>
I have recently got an entry level bike and bought it without realising it had Shimano thumb shifters, i have got some Shimano STI levers and wanted to change this over. Is it possible for me to do this at home or do i need to pay out for a professional to do it? obviously I would prefer to do it myself. What are my chances?... Read more >>
So I have a trek 1000SL that I'm trying to get tuned up for ride the rockies this year. It has Sora triple shifters and everything else tiagra (9speed), and the rear derailleur won't shift up or down. When I use the shifter, it still gives and takes tension from the cable, which makes me think it must be a derailleur issue and not a shifter issue. Would getting new cables/housing fix this or do I need a new RD or a whole new gruppo?... Read more >>
Hi I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on the shifters on this Schwinn Caliente (From 1980s). I just bought it from a guy I found on craigslist, everything is in great condition and the shifters work, they're just a little tricky seeing as how this is my first road bike and I am used to the cheap mountain bikes you get from walmart. I will post the only pic I was able to get before it got dark, if you need better pictures some direction on what pictures I should get would be great. Thanks in advance!! I'm basically wondering if I should look into replacing them if there is an easier... Read more >>
Hi. New member here.
Any ideas on a brand new "hybrid" bike with 18 speed Shimano Tourney gears fitted which is occasionally throwing the chain off the smallest (high gear) rear sprocket?
The stops are adjusted correctly as far as I can see, or at least so that the chain will only just go over onto the smallest sprocket from 5th. No cable tension as such in that gear, but no slack. Stops are moving the arm. Gears generally seem to change OK. There doesn't seem to be any slackness or anything in the arm, and idlers. The arm seems straight. Front gear was on the centre chain ... Read more >>