How to Change Gears on a Road Bike: 4 Steps

Changing gears is an easy task for the ones who have been cycling for a long time but it can be a challenging task for cyclists who are just beginners. Experienced cyclists know the right techniques to get through the easy and difficult paths. Changing gears requires your full attention and also great skills. The process of changing gears involves pedals, small and big cogs, chains, chainrings, and most importantly shifters. All of these components are in connection with each other and operate together. However, it is indeed a complicated process and the ones who are enthusiastic about bicycling must understand it completely to gain the maximum benefits. In this article, we will extensively discuss this process of changing gears with an intense focus on when and how to change gears on a road bike specifically.

When Should I Change Gears?

Understanding how to change gears on a road bike and when to change them is important because they allow a cyclist to cycle faster. Additionally, this knowledge can help one to be comfortable with the pedaling speed. Let’s imagine a scenario, you are out on the road but suddenly you need to climb up the hill. Do you need the same speed and gear for this task? You certainly have to change the gear so your bike can easily climb up the hill. 

Climbing the hill would be quite difficult otherwise. The question is when should you change gears? It all depends on observing what kind of road is ahead. If the road is flat, use a hard gear especially when there is little resistance. Additionally, when you observe that you need to stop the bike, stay alert before time and switch to easier gear so starting again is much softer.

How to Change Gears on a Road Bike

Changing gears on a road bike is an important step in understanding the method to properly ride a bike. Every cyclist must know this information because it can secure your well-being on the road and the well-being of others as well. In order to change gears on a road bike, you must follow certain steps:



Step 1: Selection of the Right Gear

This is an important step. Keep in mind, especially as a beginner, you must always start with the easiest gear. Easy gear is when a cyclist puts pressure on the shifter inwards this causes the chain to move to a small cog. It is also called low gear and people often use it for climbing hills. 

Step 2 : Understanding Your Bike and Chainrings

The first step to follow is to know your bike, how many gears it has, and how those gears work. Look at the picture below. These are chainrings and they are linked to the pedals. When the chain ring is large then pedaling becomes harder however your speed will be faster. On the other hand, when the chain ring is small, it will be easy to pedal hence your speed will suffer. 

Step 3 : Shifters on the Handlebars

Observe the picture below. There are right shifters on the handlebars. When a person pressures the shifter inward this leads the chain to a small clog. This is for easier gear. When you pull the shifter outwardly it will end up moving the chain to a larger clog. This is a hard gear.

Step 4 : Practice and Pedalling

This is one of the most important steps because it involves learning to pedal. Pedaling is important when it comes to shifting gears. As a cyclist, you should not stop pedaling in order to change gears. If you avoid pedaling, you will stop the chain on gear to engage. Additionally, do not push a lot of pressure on pedaling because slow pedaling can assist you with switching gears. 

You must have heard that sometimes a chain completely falls off its system. This happens when you paddle too fast. The best way is to apply pressure but slowly lose it so gears can shift without any complex hindrance.

How to Shift Gears on a Road Bike Uphill?

Shifting gears on a bike uphill can be a tedious task if you are not properly trained in it. It requires serious techniques in order for you to do it properly. When the hill appears you should go slower so you can reach the top without any leg strains. Be mindful of what is ahead of you, Make sure to be ready and before you reach the hill take the necessary measures to downplay the gear.

We do this because it tends to make pedaling slower hence making you comfortable enough to go uphill on road bikes. Secondly, do not stop pedaling. While you are going upwards, focus on pulling an easier gear. In the midst of all this, if this seems hard then get off the bike and backpedal. When you are on the top of the hill, it is time to shift gears down. 

How to Shift Gears on an Old Road Bike?

Shifting gears on a road bike (old) will not be the same as on a new bike. There is a possibility that old road bikes have downtube shifters. They are situated on the downtube of the frame of the road bike. Old road bikes can also have stem mountain shifters. These shifters are present on the handlebars. If this is not the condition of your old road bike then you need to mind several things. 

Read more about how to measure road bike frame here

Remember to mind the speed of the road bike according to the condition of the road in front of you and especially in rainy weather. It is the same as with modern bikes as discussed before. You must start by assessing what is in front of you and prepare yourself beforehand. Shift the lower gear when you have a difficult part of the road in front of you like a hill etc. Rest is the same as it has been explained above.

How to Change Gears on a Shimano Road Bike?

In order to understand changing gears on a road bike, we will be talking about some examples. In the case of Shimano, the left shifter has power on the front derailleur and the chainrings. At the time where you wish to easily pedal then focus on changing the small chain ring. You can do this by knocking on the smaller lever. 

Imagine there is a flat road in front of you and you need a gear with more resistance than you must push in with the small lever. Moreover, you can use a large lever when you want things to go easy and smooth with your paddling. Also, the right shifter is in charge of the rear derailleur which can give small changes in the cassette. 

Read this article about SRAM Vs Shimano Road Bike Groupset 

How to Use SRAM Road Bike Shifters?

In the case of SRAM Road Bike Shifters, there is a right-hand shifter and its role is to have power over rear shifting. For these bikes, you have to hit the paddle from right to left. This can push down the cassette in the smaller cog. Moreover, when you want to move the cassette into the larger gear then you push the paddles inboard.

On the other hand, the left-hand shifter governs front shifting. To shift to a smaller chain ring, you have to push the paddle from left to right. When you wish to shift to a larger gear, push the paddle inboard more.

How to Use Campagnolo Road Bike Shifters?

The best thing about Campano road bike shifters is the ability to move through more than one gear right on the cassette at the same time. You just have to hold the lever longer for this to happen. In the case of Campagno road bike shifters, there is a right hand lever and its purpose is to move right between cogs. This happens on the rear cassette. In this system, when you hit the lever, it makes it easier to pedal because the chain moves into a big cog. When it goes to a small cog that makes it harder to peddle. 

There is a left hand lever and it assists you moving the front derailleur. When you push the lever it takes the chain into a big chain ring which makes it easier to pedal for the person. Similarly, when the chain goes into small cogs it will be harder to pedal.

How to Use Bar-end Shifters and Down-Tube Shifters?

Bar End Shifters

Bar end shifters are widely known and loved because of their simplicity. These allow triple and double chainring setups. They offer reliability and comfort. These shifters are on handlebars. They are like levers. The cable is pulled up by the shifter when you pull them up. When you apply pressure on this lever, the shifter releases the cable. An important thing to know is that each derailleur is in connection with each shifter. The left shifter is connected to the front derailleur and the right shifter is connected to the back end derailleur. 

Down Tube Shifters

Down tube shifters are a bit more complex than bar end shifters. They were used on old road bikes. They are used by hands and are a great accessory overall. They operate with the use of levers. These levers move the chain right between the gears. In these shifters, the right side is in control of the rear derailleur and the left one is connected to the front derailleur. 

Should You Stop Pedal While Changing Gears?

You should not stop the pedal while changing gears. When you are on a hill, you should also not pedal when you are changing gears. However, do not push too hard or stop pedaling at all because then the chain would fall off. When you are on a flat road, you do not need to stop pedaling at all as you can easily change gears. 


In this article, we have made sure to write a detailed understanding of road bike gears. Our main focus has been how to change these gears not only as a beginner but as anyone who loves to ride bikes. We have made sure to include the details step-wise so it is easier for you to comprehend. We have tried our best to answer how to change gears on a road bike. We hope that this article will be of great help.

How To Shift Gears Shimano 105?

You can use shifters on the handlebars to shaft gears on Shimano 105. They are in control of the derailleur. The left shift controls the front derailleur and the right shift controls the rear derailleur.

When To Change Gears On A Road Bike?

When you are going uphill you should change gears on a road bike. You must use the easy gear which is also called the lower gear.

How Do You Shift Gears On A 21 Speed Bike?

21 Speed bike has a left lever which is in control of the chainrings of the front derailleur and a right lever which is in control of the chainrings in back derailleur. The left lever is marked with numbers 1, 2, and 3 while the right lever is marked with numbers from 1 to 7. When you want to shift a gear you have to use a combination.

Changing Gears On A Road Bike Uphill?

When you are going uphill on a road bike, it is best to use easy gear and a small chainring.


How & When To Change Gear On A Road Bike | GCN’s Pro Tips

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