How to Use Bike Gears

How to Use Bike Gears
Having gears on your bike makes your life as a cyclist much easier. Without gears, most of us would be walking our bikes up hills and peddling uncontrollably on the descents. Knowing how to use your bike gears equates to more efficient cycling. Gears allow you to climb hills you never thought possible, and to power over flats at car-like speeds. Take the time to learn how to use your bike gears and become a stronger, more efficient cyclist.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Locate the shifters on your bike. Shifters may be located in one of two areas on your bike. Shifters on older bikes will likely be located on either side of the down tube, while shifters on new bikes will be found on either end of the handlebar.
Step 2
Remember that your left shifter controls gears at the front of the bike. Your right shifter controls those at the rear.
Step 3
Become familiar with what each shift lever does what. Each brand of shifter is uniquely designed. Pushing a shift lever one way will lower the gear ratio, creating less peddling resistance. Pushing it another way will increase the gear ratio, creating greater resistance.
Step 4
Practice riding in different gears. What feels good? Ideal gear ratios are mainly subjective. If you're peddling at a slow cadence and the legs are burning, you're probably over-geared. Shift down. Alternatively, if your legs are spinning out of control, on a steep descent for instance, your gear is too low. Shift into a gear that gives you greater resistance.
Step 5
Tackle varied terrain. An undulating terrain is an ideal opportunity to become proficient in using your bike gears. You'll be forced to shift or suffer. By having to shift often, you'll find that choosing your bike gears will become increasingly instinctual.

Tips & Warnings

When learning how to use your gears, avoid riding in a paceline. Until you become comfortable, shifting is best learned alone or with a small group.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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