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How and When to Change Gear on a Road Bike | GCN's Pro Tips

Global Cycling Network | Published on 6/4/2020

If you're new to cycling, then using gears and gear selection can be quite complicated. There's so many other different things to think about that if it's not second nature to you, it can be very easy to get it wrong, or not to bother at all. So, if that is you, then don't fear, because coming up is GCN's very own beginners' guide to using road bike gears. Most modern road bikes have the gear shifters integrated into the brakes, so brake on the left hand side, well this actually shifts the front mech, changing the big ring down into the small ring. And on the right hand side, the brake, actually shifts the rear mech, so changing from the big cog to the small cog and vice versa. The bigger the cog on the cassette, the easier the gear, but the reverse can be said for the chainset. So, the bigger the chain ring on the front, the harder it is to pedal. For the vast majority of the time, you will be using your right hand to change gears at the back. The reason being that the actual differences between the gears are much smaller back here, so that when you do change gears, actually the rate at which you pedal, or your cadence, changes only slightly. It's only when you get to the extreme ends of those sprockets at the back, so those really big ones or the really small ones, that you then think about using your left hand to change into a different chain ring, and therefore make a bigger jump. The only thing you need to bear in mind with your gears is they are there to help you. They're there to help you pedal at the right cadence. Now, what that might be does very much depend on you, but we'd say generally we want to be looking at about 80 revolutions per minute. That would be kind of normal.

Article by GCN