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How To Shift Gears On A Road Bike

Proper gear shifting helps you ride fast and smooth, and it also makes riding much more fun!

Let’s talk about how shifting works and when to change gears. When you shift, you’re controlling your bike’s derailleurs, which in turn move your chain from gear to gear across your drivetrain. In the video and instructions below we’ll focus on how to shift using integrated shifters, which are the most common type found on modern road bikes. These levers combine both shift levers and brake levers.

Left hand—shifting the front derailleur between chain rings

The left shifter controls your front derailleur, which moves the chain between the chain rings attached to your crankset. Shifting with your left hand will cause more dramatic changes in gearing and is helpful for when you’re riding up and down hills.

By pushing the whole left hand lever inward, the derailleur will push the chain up to a bigger chain ring—a harder gear. A harder gear takes more effort to pedal, but you’ll move farther with each pedal stroke. Pushing only the small inner lever inward will pull the chain down to a smaller chain ring—an easier gear. This makes pedaling easier, but you won’t move as far or as fast.

Use the smaller chain ring, or the easiest gear, when pedaling uphill. Use the bigger chain ring, or hardest gear, when you’re riding down