Tips & Tricks

How To Shift Gears On A Road Bike – Tips From A Pro Rider

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How To Shift Gears On A Road Bike

Riding a ​road bike​ is one of the best ways to exercise to keep fit. You probably spend countless hours in the saddle speeding just to stay fit, but there are things you need to be very familiar with when riding a road bike. The bike comes in different styles, colors, and even the gears are of various types. One of the most critical things every biker should know is how to shift gears. For beginners, gears can look intimidating, knowing which gear you need to use, and the perfect time to use them is sometimes times a profound mystery.

How To Shift Gears On A Road Bike

What tools will you need

The application of bike gears is not hard in the ways that many people assume, and it is easy to change. There are five main tools that you will find on a standard bike that helps you to comfortably shift gears and change the way you want to pedal your bike, and they are:

  • Rear Cassette
  • Shifters
  • Front Chainrings or Crankset
  • Chain
  • Derailleurs

1. Rear Cassette

The rear cassette is attached to the rear hub of your bike. Each of these cassettes has multiple sprockets, which changes with different gears. The cassette has been designed to allow for an easy switch of gears among different gear radios. There are various brands of a cassette, and not all brands are compatible. The size of a cassette is dependent on the gearing, which means that once the gear changes, the cassette changes between sprockets.

Bike Rear Cassette

2. Shifters

The shifter is the gear levers, which practically controls the gear mechanism by selecting the required gear ratio. The shifter actually operates either by Hub gear mechanism or derailleurs. The control of shifter is basically through a cable that connects both the shifter and the gear mechanism. The shifter plays a vital role in a recumbent road bike by controlling the speed limit.

Bike Shifters

3. Chain

The chain also plays a very vital role in gear shifting on r o ad bike. It connects the front ring to the rear cassette allowing not just the change of gears but also the perfect riding pace. It is the chain that helps you rides the bike.

cycle chain

4. Front Chain or Crankset

Road bikes usually have between one to three front chainrings, which is often called crankset. It connects the chain from the back to the front, making it easy to glide through. Road bikes that are found to have two cranksets are called a double while that with three is called triple.

Bike Front Chain or Crankset

5. Derailleurs

This is another essential tool in a road bike; it allows and moves the chain between the front and the back cogs. There is a cable that runs right from the shifter to the derailleurs. Many modern bikes road bikes have both front and back derailleur.

Derailleurs gear

How to go about it

The gears on a bike are designed to make life easy for you. You can decide to be at high speed or shift down when the hill ramp up.

For many amateurs, the major challenge that they face is to know when to switch gears. Here are the steps on how cyclist shift gears. When you are riding your bike, and you notice it is becoming harder to pedal, that is a sign it is time to change gears, and if you don’t, you might just risk the chain skipping and falling off. Remember, the significant function of gears is to allow easy pedaling.

Step one

To learn how to shift gears, you will need to know the number of gears that are at the base of the pedal of your road bike, and it is pretty simple. Just count the number of gears at the front and the back gears. Multiply them together, and that is the number of speeds your bike has.

Step two

It is with your hand that you use to do the shifting when you use your left hand to control it, you will see the derailleur shift the chain to a different gear. The right side is used to change the rear gear. Remember that the rear gear has its own derailleur, so using the right-hand gear will move the rear derailleur.

Shifting bike gears

Step three

Your bike is at a standstill and a low gear. Once you start riding, you will gradually build up speed. To build up speed, you will need to change the gears from the front lever. For instance, if you are shifting gears and your bike is an18 gear, know that second gear is okay for a nice cruise.

Step four

When you are going up a hill, you should know that low speed is best for climbing the mountain. This means you need to shift gears down in other to climb the hill more. You can’t climb the mountain at high speed, to shift down use the front gear to shift into a smaller gear.

There are some tricks you need to consider when trying to slow down your speed, and one of them is to stop pedaling your bike and allow it slowly glide down by itself. You if you feel you are losing balance at low speed, you can place your foot on the floor to enable you to regain balance.

When shifting gears, there are things you need to consider, and here are they:

The slope of the road: Is it very sloppy or slightly sloppy? When coming down from a slushy road, do not increase your gears since your bike will still be moving at a good speed.

Pothole: Be careful of potholes. There is often no sign that tells you to beware of potholes. At high speed, you might not quickly notice a pothole.

A smooth and straight road: This is a perfect road to enjoy shifting your gears up to full speed. However, be mindful of other road users.


Changing gears is one of the most beautiful things that make road bikes enjoyable. It reduces the complexity of pedaling hard and makes life easier for you. For a beginner, who finds gears intimidating, it might look a little confusing at first, but the moment you get on a bike and hit the road, you will gradually find your hands on the shifter and work with them. It was an experience every beginner once had, but with consistent practice, you will get used to it.

About the author

Sharif Hasan

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