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How to use your bike shifters – to change gears

By Jo 3 years agoNo Comments

Gears can make pedaling easier, to help you to get up that hill or rise or when riding into the wind. Or make it harder so your legs don’t spin really fast and out of control on the flat or if you need to pedal on a downward slope. Gears allow you to pedal relatively comfortably no matter the terrain or the conditions.

Lets learn how to use these gears to get you to the places you want to go.  To feel the joys of biking up and down hills and into the wind so you can SMILE when you ride. 

To alter the gears on the your bike you use your shifters located on the handlebars. By using your shifters you can control and move the front and the rear derailleur. The derailleurs act as guides moving the chain onto different sized chainrings and sprockets.  Remember making it easier or harder to pedal comes down to what chain ring (the number of chain teeth) the bike chain is on at the front compared to the sprocket (and the number of chain teeth) at the rear. Chainring : Sprocket. Not sure if you fully understand then check out: Understanding your bike gears.

There are few different types of shifters found on bikes. These are the most common types you will find.

Levers – a change in gear results from using your thumb to push the lever and some also allow a change in gear with a pull action with the index finger.

Right hand shifter levers labelled goRide

Grip shifters or twist shifters – a change of gear results from a twist of the shifter located beside the handle bar grips.

Grip shifter labelled goRide

Combination of brake and lever (more commonly found on the road bike) a change in gear results from using the lever.

Combined brake and lever shifter labelled goRide

Let’s get you using these shifters and changing gears.  You are on your bike ready to ride with your hands on the handlebars.

Right hand and left hand shifter labelled goRide

Description

Your left hand controls the left hand shifter.  The left shifter control =  the front derailleur.

The front derailluer acts as a guide moving the chain onto different sized chainrings. (the big round rings at the front) With only 1 – 3 chain rings and thus a larger variation in the number of chain teeth between the chainrings, changing gears with your left shifter will result in a larger change in your gears. A large change in making it easier or harder.

Have a go – What happens when you push a lever with your thumb, pull with your index finger or twist clockwise or anti clockwise.  What direction does the chain move on the chainrings? Does it move onto a smaller or larger chainring.

Note: Modern shifters may have numbers that correspond to a certain chainring eg. 1-3.

Get familiar with the shifters on your bike and/or your childs bike.

Your right hand controls the right hand shifter.  The right shifter control =  the rear derailleur.

The rear derailleur acts as a guide moving the chain onto different sized sprockets on the rear cassette.

The right shifter will produce small changes in your gears The rear cassette is a made up with a larger number of sprockets (often between 5-12 sprockets). Having a lot of sprockets means there is less variation in the number of chain teeth between each of the sprockets. Therefore a change in gear from one sprocket to the next will result in more of a fine tuning of your gears. A smaller change to making it easier or harder.

You need to work out what happens when you push a lever with your thumb,  pull with your index finger or twist clockwise or anti clockwise. What direction does the chain move on the rear cassette? Does it move onto a smaller or larger sprocket.

Note: Modern shifters may have numbers that correspond to a certain sprocket eg. 1-9.(see photo above). Get familiar with the shifters on your bike and/or your childs bike.

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Now you have the information – the best way to learn is to practise on your bike. Pick a safe area away from traffic and give it a go.

Understanding how to use your bike gears will provide you with the ability to go places you might not have thought you were capable of. To get more understanding of bike gears look out for other stories on bike gears so you can goRide more places, more often.

get Better and goRide –  How to use your bike shifters – to change gears

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Know your bike chain

Understanding bike gears

goRide helps you find your riding SMILE.  Now it’s your turn….Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback will make us SMILE.

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