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

October 27, 2019

– 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. – That’s right. So, if that is you, then don’t fear, because coming up is GCN’s very own beginners’ guide to using road bike gears. (modern techno music) – So first, let’s have
a look at how they work. Now, 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, here, that actually shifts the
rear mech, so changing from the big cog to the
small cog and vice versa. Now, the bigger the cog at
the back, the easier the gear, but the reverse can be said for the front. So, the bigger the
chain ring on the front, the harder it is to pedal. As clear as mud? We know. When you swing both of the levers inward, so the right and the left,
firstly on the right, the lever being swung inwards
changes you to a bigger cog at the back, which
actually makes it easier. Now on here, I’ve got electric gears, so I’m just using the paddles. Now, on the left hand side, when you swing the
mechanical lever inwards or tap the electric paddle, it makes it or turns onto a bigger cog
at the front or chain ring, which is actually harder, and then, when you’ve tapped the
paddles or the button on the mechanical system,
the opposite happens. (techno music) – So now you know what lever does what. When should you be using them? Well, 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. Now, 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 kinda normal. (techno music) – So, now you know how to change gear and when to change gear. Now, here’s a few pointers of how to get the best out of your gears. – Yeah, firstly, you want
to avoid at all costs if you can, changing
gear when you’re pressing really hard on the pedals, particularly from the big to the small
chain rings at the front. Now, ideally you want
to actually anticipate when you’re gonna need to change gears. So, if you look ahead,
you’ll be able to see when you’re coming up to a climb or a sharp corner or a road junction, and in all those instances,
you’re then gonna wanna go from that big chain
ring to the smaller one. – Yeah, anticipating what’s up ahead and getting your gear
change nice and early is something that we’d really recommend. Otherwise, you risk getting bogged down in the gear that you’re in. Now, there’s nothing wrong at all in spinning a low gear momentarily a bit longer than you’d
like, but don’t worry, ’cause soon the gradient will kick in and you’ll be in the right
gear at the right time. – Yeah, do bear in mind as well, for some more advanced technique,
for when you are changing between chain rings at the front, there’s quite a big jump between the two. And so, to make that jump
seem slightly smaller, try changing gear at the back, just one or two gears at the same time. So, if you’re going from
the small chain ring to the big chain ring, you then go up a couple of gears at the back. It’s gonna make the
jump a little bit less. It doesn’t come naturally, that, but it’s definitely worth practicing . – That’s a blooming top tip, though. – Top tip. – Now, one thing that
you should try and avoid, although, I must admit we’ve all done it from time to time, and I
am actually doing it now, just for effect, is cross-chaining. Now, cross-chaining is
when you have your chain on the big chain ring at the front and the big cog at the
back, or conversely, the small chain ring at the front and the smallest cog at the back. Now, that actually puts a lot of strain on your chain
and also your rear mech. I’m gonna change back, now. – Well, speak for yourself, Matt, but I’m actually allowed to cross-chain. – Are you?
– Yeah. Now, it’s slightly confusing, I know, but there are different
manufacturers of gears with slightly subtle differences. I’m using some called SRAM, and I am in fact allowed to cross-chain. They’re designed to do that. Now, those subtle differences
are actually something that we have explored in the past. We’ve got a video all about that that we’ll link to just very shortly. Before we do that, I’m
just gonna remind you, do make sure you subscribe to GCN. It’s completely free to do it,
you just click on the globe and you’ll be there in the right place for all future content still to come. – Now, the video that
Simon so well referenced just a few moments ago,
Gear Shifters Explained, how about clicking just down here. And for how to index your
gears, click just down here. And don’t forget to like
and share this video, too. – Oh, yeah. I’m just gonna cross-chain, am I? – Yeah, go for it. Well, you’re allowed, I’m not. – Yep. – I know.

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