A How To Guide on Shifting Bike Gears

Shifting is an essential part of cycling. It helps you get the maximum power from your bike, and also makes sure that you are safe while riding. Many different shifting systems are available in the market, and they all have pros and cons. So before buying any kind of shift mechanicals for your bicycle, make sure that you are well researched. Here, we will discuss some basic things that every cyclist should know when choosing their gear system.

A Quick Summary on Shifting

If you’re new to cycling, the concept of shifting bike gears can be confusing, and it can seem easier to simply not touch those gears at all. Shifting is an essential part of riding because it allows to maintain a consistent cadence as your terrain changes. It also helps prevent injury by reducing impact forces from jarring against your body while moving through different gear ratios. Rider fatigue can set in if you remain in an inefficient gear for long periods of time.  By switching between two or three higher-gear settings, you’ll keep yourself fresh throughout long distances.

Know Your Shifters

Once you have a fundamental grasp of the drivetrain system and how gears function, it’s time to look at how you change gears. Pulling a trigger attached to the derailleur through cables allows the chain to be swapped from one chainring or cog to the next. Shifters can be designed for flat bars or drop bars, depending on the sort of bike you have. 

The shift levers on drop handlebars are the same levers used to apply the brakes; to change gears, slide the lever sideways until you hear a click. Thumb triggers, which are entirely separate from your braking system, are used to shift gears on mountain bike and hybrid-style bikes with flat bars.

Many kid’s bikes and comfort bicycles are equipped with grip shifters, allowing the user to change gears by turning a dial into the handlebar grips. The protective casing surrounds the cables that link your shifters to your brakes. The cable tightens or loosens as you pull the trigger on the shifter, allowing the derailleur to move the chain up and down on the chainrings or cassette.

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Left Shifter

The front derailleur is controlled by the left Shifter, which switches the chain between the front chainrings. This form of shifting is used to make significant gear shifts in response to rapid changes in terrain and slope.

Right Shifter

The rear derailleur is controlled by the right shifter, which changes the chain between the cogs on the rear cassette. This shifting method is used to make minor gear changes in response to minor changes in terrain and slope.

The Big Lever

The chain will be moved into the larger rings by the largest of the two shifter levers. Changing into the larger rings with your right hand makes cycling easier; shifting into the larger rings with your left-hand makes pedaling a pedal  more difficult.


Lever of a Small Size

The chain will be moved into the smaller rings by the smaller of the two shifter levers. Pedaling becomes more difficult when you shift into smaller rings with your right hand, whereas pedaling becomes simpler when you change into smaller rings with your left hand.

Keep in mind that SMALL= SMALL, RIGHT = HARDER, and LEFT = EASIER.

Specific shifting systems, such as the SRAM “double-tap” system and earlier style grip shifter setups, have distinct functionality. For detailed specifications for your drive train, consult your manufacturer’s instructions.

Cross Chaining

When your drive train is in one of the following unpleasant and inefficient situations, it is called cross chaining.

1. BIG/BIG – The largest chainring and cog in the cassette (most accessible gear) (most complex gear).

2. SMALL/SMALL – The cassette’s smallest cog (most complex gear) and the chain ring’s most petite chainring (most accessible gear).

The chain is stretched at an angle in certain situations, which damages the drive train over time and increases the risk of the chain slipping or scraping the derailleurs.

The “Trim Feature” is a feature on some drive trains.

Some road bikes have a trim mechanism that allows for micro-shifting of the derailleurs to reduce cross chaining and enhance gear efficiency.

You can micro-shift the front derailleur to allow extra room and avoid rub while in the potential cross chaining zone if you’re in the largest chainring and nearing the cassette’s larger cogs.

Read Also – Best Bicycle Chain

How Can I Shift Effortlessly?

On a climb, we frequently see cyclists putting all of their strength into their pedals; on a descent, we often witness cyclists spinning out with their legs flailing. When riding a bike using gears, the idea is to maintain a constant cadence and optimize your power production. We run out of energy, and maintaining a smooth rhythm and shifting efficiently can allow you to ride faster and further.

Shifting frequently on the bicycle is a terrific way to keep active and efficient. Remember that developing a relationship with your bike’s drive train takes time, so start with the basics. Thank you for taking the time to read our article on how to swap gears on a bike; we hope it has given you the information and courage to go after that dream.

shifting bike gears

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How To Make A Clean Shift

There’s no magic formula here; however, there are things you can do to ensure a smooth transition between gears. Here are four tips to keep in mind while shifting:

1. Keep your hands relaxed. Don’t tense up your arms or shoulders. Relaxing your body helps prevent jerky shifts.

2. Use short, controlled movements. Avoid sudden jumps from one gear to another. Instead, shift smoothly by moving your feet forward first, then gradually move your legs back.

3. Practice makes perfect. Try different techniques until you get comfortable with each style. Then stick to those methods when riding.

4. Be patient. It takes practice to master any skill. So be sure to spend plenty of time practicing, so you become an expert rider.

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Shifting Tips & Tricks

Here are five ways to make a clean shift:

1. Start slowly.

If you jump directly from high to low gears, you risk damaging your transmission. First, let out enough air pressure to slow down your speed. Next, gently push the clutch lever towards the floor. Finally, release the brake pedal completely.

2. Release the brakes.

Once you’ve slowed down, remove your foot from the brake pedal. Now, press the clutch lever down. The engine should turn over but shouldn’t rev too much. Let out some gas. After letting out some gas, pull the clutch lever back slightly. Repeat steps 1 – 5 several times until you feel confident about releasing the clutch fully.

3. Pull the clutch lever halfway.

While holding the clutch lever halfway, apply gentle force to the pedals. As soon as you hear the click sound, release the clutch lever. Your rear wheel will begin turning. You may have to adjust the position of the front tire if necessary.

4. Apply more force.

Continue applying slight force to the pedals until they stop spinning. At this point, the rear wheel has stopped rotating. Slowly ease off the clutch lever.

5. Press the clutch lever firmly.

With both hands still on the handlebars, place your left hand on top of the right hand. Push the clutch lever firmly downwards. Do not use excessive force.

Tip for Winters – Cold Weather Biking Gear

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