Do you know how and when to shift gears on an awesome road bike? The answer will be in a few seconds. Hold on and enjoy it!
If you are new to cycling, then using gears and gear selection can be pretty complicated. There are so various things to consider about that if it is not second nature to you. It will come up quickly to get wrong. However, a beginner’s guide for using road bike gears is coming up right now!
Table of Contents
When To Shift Gears On a Road Bike?
Suppose you intend to shift to the easier gear on climbs or when you are riding into the wind, using a more complex gear on the flats if the wind is a tailwind blowing from the behind. At the time of doubt, shift before the terrain changes, typically on the hills. Please never wait until you feel the incline kick. Just shift the gears in anticipation of the incline.
Just pedaling with ease on the pedals when you shift. If you push it hard or you stop pedaling correctly, the chain will fall off or skip.
When you feel comfortable on the road bike, you can use only the rear cogs and the middle or small front chainring. It will let you get the hang of it before you shift to harder gears. If you can not make sure that the gear you are in, you can look down. Just a glance in front would identify what chainrings you are in and look at the rear to give you a sense of whether you are in high or low gear.
When you get comfortable, you can begin to play with various bike gears in a different case. When riding uphill or into the headwind, it is better to use the middle or small front chainring and the giant rear cogs. While riding on the flat terrain, you should use the middle of the big front chainrings and many rear cogs.
I am sure you want to avoid cross chaining, which in the chain is at the extreme slant either in the big ring up-front and the big cog in the back. It does not only stress the hardware. However, it limits your selection if you want to shift again. In some situations, you can listen to a noise when you are in a cross chaining.
Why Do I Need To Shift The Gears?
If you are a newbie, getting to know how to shift will make the rides easier and more valuable because you will get a better feel for your road bike. If you can, ask the salesperson in the shop where you can and how you can shift the gears. I am sure that you will have at least a quick lesson.
Understanding about gears
Most beginners will get confused and dizzy with many words like low/high, big/small, fast/slow, easy/hard, etc. If you are dizzy now, keep following:
High gear: Hard> Good for Descending: The higher gear on your bike, the larger chainring in front is, and the smaller cog on the fear gears is. In this position, pedaling can be the hardest, and you can accelerate while going downhill. To access this position, called upshifting.
Low-gear: Easy> Good for Climbing: The low-gear is the smallest chainring in the front and the largest cog on your rear gears. In this place, the pedaling will be easiest, and you can pedal uphill with the slightest resistance amount. To get into this position, called downshifting.
One, two, three-by
These words present the number of chainrings (front gear) on your road bike to decide if your system of gears is referred to as one-by, two-by, and three-by. The trend in bicycles is to strive for producing a similar range of gears using fewer chainrings.
Then there will be more giant rear gears, which come with more cogs and more teeth on the large cog in the cassette. The reason is that having fewer chainrings will make the bike efficient, and easy to adjust. Hence, you will see one by drivetrains on modern bikes and two by drivetrains on modern road bikes.
How To Shift Gears On A Road Bike?
You can follow the instructions of this YouTube video for the most accurate method.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the summary for shifting the gears on a road bike! Then you will imagine the process overall before going deeply and details.
- For shifting onto a different gear/chainring up front, use the left shifter
- For shifting one of the rear gear, use the right shift
- For smooth shifting, pedal gently while using the shifter, do not backpedal
- If you pedal too fast, there will be not enough resistance, shift into the more complex gear, then you also ride quicker.
- If you pedal too slowly, it will be hard to turn over the pedal, do not be scared to shift into the easier gear. It will be better to cycle at a more efficient cadence
- In both front and back, moving the chain closer to the bicycle make it simpler and move the chain away from the cycle make you faster
- Practice will be helpful to play around with shifting and know how it feels to rind in the different gears.
Knowing how to shift the gears supports you to ride faster and makes riding much more fun. So let’s talk about how to shift the gear’s details. I want to start by taking a look at the parts. Shifters are found on the handlebars’ front. They control the derailleurs, which move the chain from the gear to gears across the drivetrain.
(shifting the derailleur front between chainrings)
The left shifter will control the front derailleur moving the chain between the chainrings attached to the crankset. Using your left hand to shift will cause dramatic changes in the gear, and it will help when you are riding up and down the hill.
You push the whole left-hand lever inward, and the derailleur will push the chain up to the giant chainring creating the harder gear. The harder gear will take more effort to pedal, and you will move farther with every pedal stroke. If you push only a small inner lever inward, it will pull the chain down to the smaller chain, creating easier gear. It will make pedaling easier, but you will not move far and fast.
Using the smaller chainring or, the easier gear when pedaling uphill, using the bigger chainrings / harder gear/riding downhill.
(shifting rear derailleur between the cogs)
Remember that the right shifter will control the rear derailleur shifting the chain across cogs in the cassette. The smaller size cogs are harder and faster gears, while the bigger cogs are easier and slower. It means the similar shifting motion you use with your left hand-deliver the opposite effect with your right hand.
If you push the entire right-hand lever inward, the rear derailleur shifts the chain to the bigger cogs creating the easier and slower gear. While if you push the smaller inner lever inward, it will shift the chain to the smaller go creating a harder but faster gear.
With practice, you will find that the front shifting is helpful for big changes on hills, and the rear shifting is suitable for fine-tuning until you are pedaling at a comfortable rate.
You should avoid two gear combinations, which are when you are in the hardest gear on one shifter and the easiest in the other. We call these “cross-chaining” since you are running in the opposite extremes. The cross chaining will place a lot of strain on the chain and usually cause the chain to rub against the front derailleur. Hence, it will make a lot of irritating noise and can be rough on the gear.
Using the Trim feature
Not all, but several road bikes will feature the front derailleur, which comes with trim features. The trim will let you make a small adjustment to the front derailleur, eliminating the chain rub, not causing the complete shift into another chain. This feature will be in handy as you approach the cross-chaining positions.
If you are in the largest chainring and start to shift into the large cogs in the cassette with your right hand, you should start to hear a grinding noise indicating your chain rubbing against the front derailleur.
You can also click the small lever with your left hand to slightly move the front derailleur into the smaller cogs and address this chain position. If you are in the smallest chainring and start to shift to the smaller goals and notice the grinding noise, you should move the derailleur by clicking on the larger lever with your left hand.
Some Small Tips for Effective Shifting
There is not any perfect shift.
Usually, we are putting power into pedals as we climb up a steep hill in the big chainring or legs failing because they spin out on the gear, which is too easy for the descent. Our goal is to keep a cadence as consistent as we can. For that, it needs one of two things, including increasing power output or shifting. About power output, if you are not a wonder woman, you will have a limited supply. Shifting will be an excellent reason for increased efficiency while you are riding.
Start to shift to easier gears with the right hand in advance for keeping steady cadence.
Your right-hand or small changes in terrain. When you find the pedaling pace is slowing, you should use the front derailleur to make the gearing easier for the big climb. however, if you are climbing up the hill, putting a lot of power dơn on the pedals, you should notice your front dẻailleur doé not intend to work. You will shift and hear the grinding noises, but nothing happens. You will come to a stop in the middle.
Instead of grinding gears, you need to put more pơeer into pedal stroke before you shift, lighten up on your pedal stroke. With less pressure on the chain, your derailleur will come ưith easier time pooping your chain off the big ring and the smaller ring.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to find the best gear combinations?
So what gear combinations will be the best? It depends on personal taste. What we are after is the most comfortable and efficient rate of pedaling or cadence. Most riders will find 90 pedal rotations/minute cadence to be the most efficient and comfortable. A slower cadence might feel like a struggle. While a faster cadence feels like you are riding like crazy but going nowhere.
If you are interested in measuring the cadence, you can use a cycling computer or apps which read it with a sensor. I am sure that using the sensor for measuring the cadence will be a great way to learn when it is an excellent time to change gears.
Finally, you should keep pedaling while shifting, and it will work best when you are pedaling lightly. If you have too much pressure on the pedals when shifting, the change tends to be abrupt and clunky. If you see the hill coming up, shift it to an easier gear before you start climbing.
2. What to do if I drop the chain?
Firstly, you should slowly and safely pull over and step off from your road bike and the mountain bike, Then push the rear derailleur toward the front wheel for yourself some slack, grab the chain and manually guide it back to the chainring.
Then you just lift the rear wheel off the ground and turn the pedal over several times with your hand to ensure it is running smoothly.
Notice: Your hand might get covered with grease when touching the chain, so you will need to keep the medical gloves or the packet of hand wipes in the saddlebag just in case.
In case of a small drop-off, you do not need to get off the bike. Just pedal slowly and use the left shifter for shifting onto the big ring.
3. Can I shift gear while pedaling?
As mentioned, you must be pedaling when you change gears. If without pedaling, the gears will not change until you start to pedal, and when you do, you will find some disturbing noise.
4. Is shifting dangerously?
I can tell you 100% that shifting is not dangerous whatsoever.
5. Is gear one high or low for a bike?
Bikes usually have 1,3,18, 21, 24, and 27 speeds. Lower numbers are low gears, and the higher number is high gears; 1 gear is the lowest.
6. What gear should my road bike be?
When you are riding uphill or into the headwind, using the small or middle front chainring and more big rear cogs. For riding downhill, using the bigger front chainring and the smaller rear cogs.