When To Change Gears On Your Bike

If you’re only interested in exactly when to change gears for optimum performance, watch this video starting at the 8 minute mark. But don’t miss the part about potentially damaging your drivetrain by forcing it to do what’s called “cross chaining”. That starts 7 minutes and 15 seconds in.

Heck, just watch the whole thing. From start to finish, it’s a very informative video.

Believe me, you’re not the only person on the road who is unsure when the best time to shift is. A lot of people struggle with this technique and it just takes some practice to master it.

Once you get the feel for it, however, you’ll know exactly when to shift your gears and when it’s really not necessary. The best way to really understand the timing is to experiment with your bike in a quiet area instead of on a busy road.

Understanding Cadence

Cadence is the steady pedaling rate you have, and in order to keep it at the same rate you’ll need to shift properly.

You’ll want to feel like you don’t have to push your feet too gently or too hard to get the pedals to move. You’ll find that when you’re traveling on flat terrain you’ll be able to use the higher gears, and when you’re climbing or driving against the wind you’ll need to use a lower one.

Once you get the hang of it you’ll see the terrain ahead of you and know instinctively that it’s time to change the chains position.

While we are talking about feet, keep them warm in the cold and dry in the wet weather with neoprene shoe covers.

Experimenting with Shifting Points

As mentioned above, find a quiet place where you can experiment moving the chain up and down the cassette and chain rings. Try out different gears on a flat road, a road that heads down and one that climbs up. Once you do that a few times you’ll find it a lot easier to figure out which ones you’ll need to use in different scenarios.

The Ultimate Goal

What you are ultimately looking for is a pedaling cadence that will efficiently propel you on the road while at the same time conserving your energy. You’ll be searching for the right cadence that feels absolutely natural for you and gets you where you want to go, whether uphill, downhill or on flat terrain, with the least amount of spent energy.

If you absolutely can’t get the hang of it and don’t understand when to shift you can ask a friend or family member that is comfortable with cycling to help you out. But I’m confident that after watching the video above you’re already out on your bike changing gears like a pro and haven’t even read this far down the page.

Learning how to shift is just like riding a bike. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be off and you’ll look back and laugh about the earlier difficulties you had with shifting.

Further Reading

Maintain your drivetrain but understanding bike chain stretch and how it can ruin your components.

Want to ride even faster and more efficiently? Learn to properly hold your handlebars.