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 son Supercycle 1800 has Falcon FIS 6 speed thumb shifter, which is stuck in 2nd gear and its lever is also broken.
I would like to replace it but could not find anything which worth cost, especially which is with in my rice range ( as the bike itself is not expensive)... Most of the time cost goes up because of shipping cost to Ontario, Canada.
I was wondering if someone could tell me what is compatible with Falcon Derailleurs? As that will help me pick alternates for thumb shifter..
Thanks in advance... Read more >>
my brand new mountain bike's shifting is very bad. the chain keeps moving between gears by its own and it doesnt shift right when i want it to. i must keep holding on the shift down hand a bit so that the chain stay in place.
i thought messing a bit with the limit screws would solve it but i think i have over done it and made it worse.
what should i do?... Read more >>
I've read quite a few posts in other forums about these derailleurs breaking apart while riding. I have one on my 83' le tour luxe in great condition and was interested in finding out more about it. I haven't seen any reference in posts to exactly where the derailleur was breaking apart at. Has anyone had any experience with these and what is breaking apart on them?
Thanks!... Read more >>
New to the forum and it looks like a lot of helpful info here.
Now that that's out of the way,
I have a problem locating a part for my down tube shifter. It's a flat washer that has a small hook or tab on it that sits inside the shifter. The hook part has a crack and is starting to break off. Does anyone know where I can get a replacement part for it?
Thanks... Read more >>
I have just done a complete overhaul on my wife's mountain bike, here is a list of what I have replaced;
Shimano MF-TZ 31, 7 speed 14-34 mega range cog set.
Shimano FC-M 171, 48\38\28T Chain set.
Shimano RD-TX35 6\7 speed rear derailleur.
Shimano FD-TX51 front derailleur.
Shimano CN-HG40 Chain.
I have adjusted and indexed the rear mech. The problem I have is with the front mech, I can change from smallest to largest cogs OK but when I change from the largest it changes to the middle cog fine but will not go to the smallest cog no matter what... Read more >>
I want to convert my Raleigh Rapide from downtube shifters to STI shifters.
So I have Campagnolo 980 derailers, 6 at the back and 2 at the front.
Sanwa Road Bike. 10 Speed. Had for about 10 years. I only have one speed 5th gear. I know videos all over. I watch them and just can't get this thing correct. Thought I'd head here for help and I have a new Schwinn coming. That's pretty inexpensive also. Looks like a nice web site also.
Problem: Start with something simple. Getting from 5th to 10th. When I push the Front Derailleur by hand it snaps back. I can pull the lever on top of bike down to shift to 10th and the lever snaps back. If I put the bike in 10th the derailleur snaps back toward the bike causing the chain to go to ... Read more >>
I've recently bought a women's Schwinn Continental at a garage sale. We think it's a 1975, but we aren't sure. Anyway, I'd like to get a totally different rear (and possibly front) derailleur for it because no matter what we do, it doesn't like to switch into all of the gears. We read that the original derailleurs on the bike don't really work well with it, so we were looking at maybe a Suntour or Shimano, but we have no idea were to start or anything. Could some one give us some information that could help? Thanks in advance.... Read more >>
Hi all, I'm a bit new to the maintenance of a bike so would really appreciate any help. I have a road bike that needs a new rear derailleur fitted.
My current rear derailleur just says shimano on it but my gears are shimano sora triple deck. I've looked online for a replacement shimano sora derailleur which are all 9 speed but mine is an 8 speed. Will this cause a problem?
Also, I've seen that you need to know the total tooth capacity. Can you just confirm how you work this out?
Thanks for any help!... Read more >>
So today I ordered some new wheels for my 700c conversion. The wheels come with a 7 speed freewheel which is just what I need. However, my current cassette is 13/23 and the new one is 14/28. What adjustments will I need to make to the rear derailleur so that it will shift smoothly and accurately on the new cassette.
Jamin... Read more >>
I've encountered a very strange problem I've never had before. I have a Fischer mountain bike with shimano acera 8 gear derailer. About a week ago it suddenly developed a very strange problem, the derailer only travels part of the distance it should to give me the full gear range. Now I only get it to go to gear sprocket 2 at the low end through to sprocket 5 or 6 towards the high end.
I've tried making various forms of adjustment to the derailer, but this has only very limited effect. Has anyone here had this problem, and any ideas about how to fix it and how it... Read more >>
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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