How to Shift Gears on A Bike for Dummies

Updated on June 22, 2022

Applying pressure for a long period of time and clicking twice moves chains from the rear (right hand) to a larger, easier gear and from the front (left hand) (left hand). With a single click, the chain can be moved into a more difficult gear in both the back (right hand) and front (left hand) (left hand).

Bike Gears Explained

Your bike’s drivetrain includes a gear. As you pedal and crank your way through the gears, you’re transferring power from your legs to the chain and finally to the back wheel. On a single-speed bike, there are just two speeds: one on the crankshaft and one on the rear hub. Shifters and derailleurs on a bicycle allow riders to attach a variety of gears to the crank and the back wheel (more on that later). Both types of bikes use this chain to link the crankshaft to the rear wheel gears. Cogs in your chain mesh with one another to improve the efficiency with which electricity is transferred.

Why Do I Need to Shift Gears?

There is no place you can’t pedal more efficiently thanks to the employment of gears. Yes, I’m climbing a mountain. This results in a slower pace but greater torque since your legs can turn the wheel more quickly than the wheel can. Pedaling becomes much more enjoyable as a result of this change. Hill-climbing isn’t always easy. Reduce the amount of revolutions done by your legs in order to improve your speed but reduce your torque. This will make pedalling more difficult, but it will also help you go quicker.

Looking at the front and back of your bike’s gear will reveal whether or not it has a single-speed or multi-speed drivetrain.. You must have a strong grasp of the gear ratios if you want to ride a bike efficiently.

Front gears – Pay close attention to the pedals, particularly the centre region, while determining the number of forward gears on your bike. The chain should be linked to teethed metal rings. One to three rings may be used with these front gears.

Rear gears

The centre area of the pedals should be checked for forward gears. The chain should have at least one or more teethed metal rings. Gears with one to three rings are known as front gears.

The total number of gears can be calculated by adding the numbers for the front and rear gears. There are three front and nine back gears on a 27-speed bicycle.

Learning the Basics

In order to put the various speed settings on your bike to use, you first need to understand how they all work. Each gear has a distinct purpose. Left-handed drivers should use the front gears, while right-handed drivers should use the rear gears.

1. Left-hand shifters

Most cars’ first three or four gears can be shifted forward by pressing the shifter on the left. With the left-hand shifters pushed in, the derailleur moves the chain to catch up with the front gear. As a result, the front gear ratio on your bike will change considerably.

2. Right-hand shifters

You’ll need to use your right hand to move the rear gear. Shifting using the right hand causes the rear derailleur to shimmy sideways to keep up with the gear in the back. There is a distinct shift in gear ratio using the right-hand shifters, although it is considerably less pronounced.

3. Gearing down

By “gearing down,” we mean reducing the vehicle’s gearing. Cyclists frequently shift gears to prepare for an incline. You can keep a smooth pedal stroke even if you’re ascending a hill by downshifting. With little effort, it’s easier to pedal By changing into a lower gear at the front of the car or a higher gear in the back, one can downshift.

4. Gearing up

Instead, if you want to move faster, you’ll have to engage a higher gear or change gears. This means you will have to pedal faster and shift into a higher gear on your bicycle in order to keep up.

How Do I Use Bike Gears?

When a bike’s gears are changed, the gearing system in place dictates how the gears change. Handlebar-mounted shifters are now standard equipment on nearly all new bikes. Vintage motorcycles commonly have shifters positioned on the downtube or at the very ends of racing-style handlebars. Gear shifting components are made by Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM. Here are a few common shifter kinds to get you started:

Thumb Shifter

The majority of the time, shifters like this are found on mountain bikes. Downshifting is accomplished by pushing the bigger lever with your thumb (the one that is closest to you in the photo above). When you’re ready to change gears, use your thumb to push the smaller lever.

Combination Shifter

Most exercise bikes and hybrid cycles feature forefinger grips as standard equipment. Just like a traditional thumb shifter, you depress the downshift lever with your thumb. When shifting gears, you push the longer upshift lever with your fingertip.

Twist Shifter

SRAM’s twist shifters are still known as Grip Shift, a trademark of the company. In the same way that you would twist on a motorcycle throttle, you can shift by squeezing the shifter. In order to downshift when approaching a hill, simply rotate the grip switch away from you. Because of their compact size, twist shifters take up a lot of space on the handlebars.

Integrated Shifter + Brake Lever

Road bikes have curved handlebars that go in both directions. It is standard practise to rest your hands on the top of the brake lever attached to the downhill curves. The gear selectors are tucked away under the brake pedals on most vehicles. Brakes are pulled back straight while a driver pushes the shifter to change gears. Like example, a more streamlined design can boost aerodynamics.

Tips for Better Shifting

However, there are always ways to improve your shifting technique… Following these rules can help you shift like a pro:

  1. Keep your shifting system maintained.Cables should be kept at the correct tension and moving parts should be lubricated and cleaned.
  2. Pedal while shifting.The gears on your bike will not shift if you are not pedalling.
  3. Don’t shift under tension. Reverse is more effective than moving into lower gear in the middle of a steep climb. Shifting is made easier because the chain isn’t under too much strain.
  4. Only shift 1-2 gears at a time.If you shift quickly between gears with a large number of gears, the chain may skip or even fall off (for example, from 8th to 1st).
  5. Adjust your shifters to fit.Most gear shifters can be changed to suit your riding style and hand size. Adjust your gear levers and cranks after taking a few circuits around the neighbourhood to find the best position for your hands. To ensure that you get the proper size bike, keep this in mind.


Your cycling performance can be greatly impacted by the quality of your cycling equipment. You’ll be more comfortable on the road if you’ve mastered the fundamentals of shifting gears on a bicycle. If you’d like to become an expert bike shifter, we have all the information you’ll need right here.

Once you’ve learned about shifting gears on a bike, you can practise doing it on a variety of terrains.