How To Shift Gears On A Bicycle? We Have The Answer

Updated On: 7 June 2021 Dheeraj Nair

Are you a beginner and would like to know how to shift gears on a bicycle? Your answer is here in this article:

Bicycles have been fundamentally the main means of transportation in the early 1920s and 1940s for middle-class society. Back in the day, cycles were simple and did not have complex working components which made them easy to use. Not that cycles are hard to use today, but they have complex mechanical components that need some understanding to be used correctly. One such mechanical component is the gears that must be shifted correctly for the durability of the cycle and, most importantly, better endurance.

In the following article, we have picked up a 21-speed gear equipped bicycle to explain the importance of shifting correctly and the method to follow while shifting gears fitted with two derailleurs for a tiresome free ride:

Get your number right:

How to shift gears on a bicycle
Also Read: What Are E-cycles and How Do They Work? All That You Need To Know

 It is common to see bicycles with 21-speed gears have two derailleurs. Such a bicycle will have two shifters on the handlebar, one on each end of the handlebar. The left side shifter will have numbers 1, 2, 3 and the right side gear shifter will have numbers 1 to 7. 

The left side shifter controls the bicycles front chainrings located near the front derailleur. (In this case, we can see three chainrings located where the pedal is placed). This controls the pressure at which you need to pedal the bicycle. The left gear shifter decides how hard or easy you can pedal a bicycle. 

The right side shifter controls the chainrings located near the hub or rear tyre. It is located near the rear derailleur. These clusters of gears assist the rider to master speed and to ride on inclines depending on which gear he or she chooses.

The right gear combo:

As mentioned earlier, it is important to use the right gear to reduce fatigue and increase endurance. If a rider has to climb a steep hill, then he or she must use a lower gear. For example- on a 21-speed bicycle, one must opt 1 on the left side shifter with the combination of the first three gears ie. 1,2 and 3 on the right-side shifter. This will ensure an effortless ride without loss of much energy.

Now, if the rider feels that pedalling is too easy on flatter surfaces, then this means that it is time to shift to a higher gear. While riding on a flat surface, use the number 3 on the left side shifter with the combination of 6 to 7 gears on the right. This will ensure that you get momentum and speed. However, note that this will make pedalling a bit difficult but you will get to ride at higher speeds. 

A third combination is recommended- use the number 2 gear by shifting the selector on the left combined with the gears 3 to 5 on the right-side shifter to get the optimum level of performance out of your bicycle.

Also Read: 5 Tips Before Setting Out For Cycling During Summer

Shift correctly and often:

Shifting gear in the right combination will ensure the durability of the gear components. It is recommended to shift in the correct gear ratio.

How to shift gears on a bicycle

PRO TIP: Anticipate which gear you require based on the terrain up ahead similar to riding a motorcycle or a car. Make sure to shift smoothly and not make sudden changes to the gears as it could slip your chain off of the groove of gears. 

Shifting bicycle gears requires coordination. While changing from one gear to another, make sure to give a gap of 2 pedals between each shift. This will ensure that your bicycle gears fall from one ring to another easily without slipping out of the gear groove. 


Make sure that you are shifting gears properly. Understandably, it takes time and practice to get the correct coordination. Also, don't forget to lubricate the gears once in a while as it will help in better and smooth gear shifts. So, there you have it, you must have a better idea as to how to shift gears on a bicycle after reading this article. Happy cycling!

Do you think this article was helpful?- How to shift gears on a bicycle? We have the answer. Please tell us your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, join our 91Wheels Telegram group to know more about vehicles, conduct discussions on your favourite ride and much more!

Read More

Popular Cars

Recent News

Buyers Guide