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 inherited a bike with an Eddy Merckx frame about a year ago. The bike has some Campagnolo components, including rear shifters which have an issue. I'd rather repair the shifter than replace it because the bike as some sentimental value, and the longer I can go without replacing parts the better.
The thumb shifter usually locks when I try to shift, but if I hold the brake lever over to the right with my index finger the thumb shifter functions again. My mechanic told me that a spring in the shifter needs to be replaced and that it can be hard to identify a compatible sprin... Read more >>
I have a Shimano Deore SL-M570 shifter (circa '00) that has a lot of up and down play in the thumb lever for the front derailer. Unless I press the thumb lever upward toward the body of the shifter, the loose condition causes it to miss the pawl to shift from the second to the third chain ring. If I open up the bottom cover on the shifter, it would appear that it can be tightened by the hex bolt that is visible, but there is a small metal plate underneath it, with two tabs that stick up on two sides of the bolt, apparently preventing it from turning ( Read more >>
Let's start off by saying I'm not mechanically inclined but like to fix on my own when able. I have, I'm guessing, a 15-20 year old 15 (3x5) speed Magna Outreach and the right 5 speed grip shifter (SRAM MRX 170-51) is broken internally and apparently 5 speed shifters are rare nowadays. My question is, will any shifter do or does it have to be compatible with the rear derailleur? I currently have a Shimano SIS rear derailleur. The reason I ask is, the old shifter has gear 1 almost 180 degrees away from gear 5. On the only 5 speed SRAM grip shifter I can find on the internet (SRAM MRX Comp), ... Read more >>
HI Guys,.. Got a real nice Trek 7.4 from craigslist the other day and the bike does ride like a dream... at least from what I'm used to (Wal-mart!)... But it does seem to have a gremlin that I can't figure out. The chain will randomly come off the front gear set to the inside. I've checked the inner limit setting and it's set so that there's just barely any clearance between the chain and the derailleur when both front and back gears are set to the lowest gear. It won't do it everytime,.. I don't see how it's even coming off, but it's happened 3 times in 2 days and it's driving me nuts... Read more >>
Novice question probably - so please be kind
Unable to shift to small cogs on rear derailleur...so, I decided to do some cleaning of the derailleur as it was all gunked up. All good so far (except the shifter at the front still seems to be clicking to nothing - so perhaps I need to investigate the chain tension) but I've now created another problem with the chain.
Having dismantled the pulley and jockey wheel and cleaned them, and removing the chain... Read more >>
I just changed the Altus lever (ST CT-15) on a mountain bike that had been sitting in my basement for a while.
Using the lever, I can't have the front derailleur move up or down (left or right) for an unknown rea... Read more >>
I have a Scott Sub (hybrid) from 2008. The stock components (mostly Shimano mountain bike components) were old and wearing out so i decided to strip the bike and replace pretty much everything with new and upgraded components. I decided to change the drive train to road bike components (a 10-speed rear cassette and a two-chainring set up front) and went about purchasing them.
Put everything on with the last major part being the front derailleur and it was here I ran into a problem. I’d bought a Tiagra front derailleur, FD-4600-B, and when it came to attachin... Read more >>
I have a 2012 Sram Red Groupset. I was replacing the cable for the front derailleur yesterday and i must have done something because now its fucked. Now when I put the cable in and attach it to the front derailleur it will not click into the correct position. The front derailleur will still move up onto the larger ring but after I take my finger off the lever it goes back into the smaller ring. Does anybody have any experience with this? what happened? adn how do I fix this?... Read more >>
I'm quite attached to an old Mongoose "Hilltopper" mountain bike. It's perfect for it's role taking me back and forth to the metro station. Sturdy, comfortable, and not likely to be stolen.
Unfortunately, the Suntour alpha 3000 6-speed rear derailleur is toast. Is there anything I can buy that will replace it?
eab... Read more >>
Hello. I'm new to this message board - thanks for reading this.
I'm almost at my witts end with adjusting my wife's mountain bike. It's about 15 years old, Specialized brand 21 speed. Original Shimano shifters seem to be locked up - I've read that the grease hardens over the years. I tried loosening them up with Brake Clean spray, but to no avail.
I found a new pair of Shimano Shifters online (Amazon Prime) with very good reviews, so I decided to completely replace the ones that were on the bike.
The installation was easy, but adjusting the shifters - front ... Read more >>
The other day I bought a mountain bike secondhand and have been researching it's problems trying you find the best solution. I managed to reattach the rear brakes after the cable had come out of a couple holders on the frame. I put air in the tires and took it for a test run only to find that the gears, which I fully expected to give me trouble, not only don't work so great, they actually won't shift at all. Both shifters (twist shifters built into both handles) click when turned, and visibly affect the cable tension, which does seem loose to me (though I know nothing about bikes). I used the ... Read more >>
I've followed these instructions
to adjust the front derailleur on a 90's MTB with 400LX components and I think I've done things right, but the chain keeps jumping directly from the outer chainring to the inner one.
Thanks... Read more >>
My 11 speed has become an 8 speed. Thought maybe cable slipped/stretched/frayed. Nope. Limit screws are right. It wont hit the final 3 smaller gears. Physically pulled the cable and it would track down the final 3. Tightened the cable anchor. Got it to shift to the bottom but woudnt shift to the top three gears. Removed the cable from the anchor and pulled it. Started working the shifter while holding tension on the cable. Im only getting 8 detents from the shifter.
What happened to my shifter?
Thanks for the help in advance... Read more >>
I want to swap the racing handlebar brakes/gear shifters for normal v brake levers and thumb shifters - however the only affordable shifters I can find are for 21 speed (3x7) and my bike is only 14 speed (2x7). Can I set it up so that both the 2 and 3 on the left (front hub) shifter just cause it to be in 2 (because there is no 3rd gear on front)???
Hope I phrased it in an understandable way! its hard to write it out without pointing at stuff ... Read more >>
I wonder if anyone can help with an issue I'm having with my rear derailleur.
I'm not really sure how to describe this but you can see here http://tinypic.com/r/2cwogbb/8 (direct images not working...). Basically when changing gears, the mech (which has recently been professionally fitted) locked up in the stretched out position and now I can't get it back. It has happened a few times before and released itself, but no joy this time.
Sorry if this is discussed el... Read more >>