How to Ride a Bike With Gears - Guide & Tips from Cycling Expert
July 21, 2024

How to Ride a Bike With Gears – Guide & Tips from Cycling Expert

Whether you are entirely new to riding a bike with gears, or simply looking for some tips and tricks on how to ride one, this section is meant for you.

As it turns out, utilizing gears is the best way you can get the most out of your cycling experience. Sadly, as much as we may have gears on our bikes, we unfortunately end up underusing them since the whole concept of shifting may be a little confusing.

Not to worry, by the time we’re done, you’ll have a full understanding of what gears are for, when to use the right or the left, and the gear to be in among other things.
That being said, let’s get started…

How to Ride a Bike With Gears – Guide from an Expert

Know the different gear shifters present

The shifters are the controls of your gears. As such, the first thing you’ll want to do is master these. They’re normally located on the handlebars. This makes it easy for one to use since most bikes come with different gears.

Normally, there are the left and right shifters to handle the different gears. Mostly, the left shifters handle the gears at the front whereas the right shifters take care of the gears at the back. Though learning to switch between the different gears may sound tricky, it will come naturally with enough practice.

As for the total number of gears, you should count the number of gears at the front then multiply this figure by the total number of gears at the rear. Bikes that have a single front and rear gear are the single speed variants and you can’t shift the gears on these unless there’s an internal gear hub present.

Pay attention to what the bike shifters do and when to use them

You must know this since you most likely will have to face different terrain. At face value it could seem easy since all you have to handle is either the left one or the right one. Things could not be further from the truth when you consider that you may have to deal with more than 10 gears.

The general rule of thumb is that the left shifters are for big shifts such as when you’re rapidly losing speed while the right ones are simply for fine-tuning. When going uphill, the lowest gears will ease the climb.

As such when just starting your ride, shift down to a low gear since this will make you pick up speed faster and gradually.

Experiment which gears work best for different situations

As many tips as there may be to using gears, the fact that you’ll have to cycle on different terrains makes experimentation with your gears unavoidable.

In most cases, you’ll get a minimum of 3 gear settings on your bike. Because of this, you’ll need to be familiar with the different combinations of settings. In most cases, changing the gears will also change the level of difficulty you encounter when pedaling as well as the speed.
It’s also worth mentioning that depending on the distance you intend to cover, you may have to change the gears in lots of different ways.

Don’t go too hard on the bike pedals when shifting gears

How you pedal when using gears should be different. For instance, when you are cycling uphill, going for the low gears allows you to easily control them and at the same time you get to pedal quicker and easier.

On the other hand, when you want to pick up speed, ensure you gear up. This allows you to get harder yet more powerful pedals and as such, you can pick up speed faster. At the same time, the last thing you want is going at a high speed before you can shift the gears.


I’d also advise against backpedaling while shifting. Instead, simply slow down, then shift.

Always keep your cycling cadence as smooth as possible

As it turns out, the cycles you make could highly affect how well you optimize the gears. Instead of trying to control the speed with how hard you pedal, it’s important to let the gears do their job. Simply alter the cycling speed depending on the gears that are dominant.

At the end of the day, you may have to shift between the gears to find the best level of cadence.

Refrain from crisscrossing your chain

The last thing you’ll want to do when learning to use gears is the front and back gears to be at the largest cogs simultaneously and vice versa. If either of these situations were to occur, the chain will be aligned diagonally which eventually wears it out.

Here’s what to do if you drop your chain

If the chains crisscross, they could end up dropping. If this happens, you should push the rear derailleur towards the front wheel to allow for some slack. Thereafter, get the chain back in the chainring, lift the rear wheel off the ground then use your hands to turn the pedal and get the chain back in position.

Always pick the best quality gears

As tempting as it may be to pick a bike with a high gear count, you might want to save your cash and only go for the bike with just the number of gears that you need. It’s always about flexibility and range.

Frequently asked questions

Questions: How do you shift gears on a bike smoothly?

Answer: To shift the gear smoothly, it’s always best to ease off the pressure on the chain. Whether you’re using the left or right ones.

Question: What are the gears on a bike?

Answer: With bike gears, you can maneuver different terrain with ease without putting too much effort into your pedal strokes.

Question: Do you shift gears while pedalling?

Answer: To shift the gear smoothly, always ease off the pressure on the chain. You can do this by timing the foot position while pedaling which is mostly at the 3 o’clock position.

Question: What is the easiest gear on a bike?

Answer: The easiest or rather the lowest gear is the gear in the smallest chain ring which makes it easiest to pedal. It’s ideal for when cycling uphill.

Question: Are 7 gears enough on a bike?

Answer: If you’re on inconsistent terrain, these should be ideal. The high gears allow for smooth downhill movement and the lower ones make it easy to pedal uphill.

Question: When should I shift gears on my bike?

Answer: This could be done when you are either changing the level of terrain or want to alter your cycling speed.

Question: What gear do you use to go uphill on a bike?

Answer: Going uphill normally demands that you switch to the lower gears. The steeper the climb, the lower the gear.

Final verdict

In conclusion, the importance of gears cannot be overlooked whatsoever and unless you have a single speed, you have to learn how to use the gears. With the guide above, I believe you’ll be set to choose a bike with gears now. All the best.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x