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 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 >>
I have a Cannondale T700 Touring bike that I bought in 1994. I upgraded the components to Shimano Ultegra 600 with STI shifters. The rear derailleur is Ultegra 7/7 with an HG 90 8 Speed Cassette (13x26). I know this from the receipt that I still have. The front is a triple chain ring, but in 1994, the STI shifters did not do 3. So we found an aft4ermarket piece that you could add at the shifter to make it work 2 rings at a time (top 2 or bottom 2) by flipping the lever which lengthened and shortened the cable. After many years, my bike fell the other day and when I tried to catch it, ... Read more >>
I have a Shimano "050" front derailleur, and every few months, the cable is breaking - always at the same location at the point where it is tied to the clamp (which is held by the bolt on the derailleur).
I am using top routing, and here are the instructions as published by Shimano:
http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/techdocs/content/cycle/SI/Tourney/FrontDriveSystem/SI_6DK0B/SI_6DK0A/SI_6DK0B_En_... Read more >>
Slowly upgrading to 11-sp over the winter. Received Front Derailleur, FD-6800 and there are unexpected parts in the box, in addition to the derailleur proper. Shimano is very slow to post tech specs and installation instructions on their site and they don't offer an e-mail querry service. All that is included in terms of documentation with the part is information on operation.
Attaching photo of derailleur with what I am guessing to be a cable installation template; the white plastic TL-FD68 placed onto the pins on the rearward face of the FD. Wonder if I have it on there correctly?<... Read more >>
I just replaced my rear derailleur with a new one of the same type (Shimano 105).
The only problem I ran into was trying to put the cable back through the barrel adjuster. The end of the cable started to fray, and I could not thread it through anymore. I trimmed a little off the cable, got it threaded, got it attached under the little clamp, and not I no longer have the big cog or the two smallest cogs when I shift.
I am very hesitant to touch the limit screws, as adjusting them without knowing what I was doing is what broke the last derailleur.
Could t... Read more >>
This afternoon I removed and cleaned my shimano 105 cassette on my road bike. When I put the cassette back together and back on the wheel, everything fit together per the documentation on the shimano web site except for the absence of one spacer that was on the instructions, but was not on my bike (the spacer to the left of the largest ring).
I put the bike on my trainer, and tried testing by hand the pedaling and gear shifting to make sure everything was working. I noticed that it would not shift into the the top ring, and it was shaking/clicking on the bottom chainring.
... Read more >>
Ive got a bike that when I try to shift to the highest gear (3) on the front Derailleur, the back Derailleur catches and ends up being pulled forward and catches completely, stopping the pedals as well.
I'm not sure how to fix this.
N... Read more >>
I'm new to this forum. I've just started working on getting an old 12 speed road bike that was given to me back into working order. I don't have much experience with bike repairs so I've been learning as I go.
The rear derailleur on this bike is an old suntour derailleur. I couldn't find any model number anywhere on it, even after spending half an hour with a rag and a can of WD40 getting all the grime off it.
I'm a bit confused by this derailleur, because unlike the shimano derailleurs on the mountain bikes that we have in our household, the uppe... Read more >>
My bike and myself are now antiques. I have a wheel (which I recently rebuilt) that has a Campy thread-on 7 speed block. It is now apparent that it is badly worn and no longer acceptable. I cannot locate a compatible replacement and I was scratching my head and thinking whether it would be any easier to find an 8 speed. I certainly no longer use the 11 tooth sprocket so I would be happy never being able to shift to it. I believe that the cog spacing on 7 and 8 are the same, so it should work.
Can anyone give me any help with this problem? Thanks.... Read more >>
I have a 6speed autobike classic. the problem is when i stop and start to pedal again the chain slips behind the gears. when I'm going downhill or fast it changes properly but otherwise won't stay on the gears what can i do to fix this? Please help enclosed is a pic... Read more >>