The Basics Of Shifting Bike Gears

June 07, 2018
The Basics Of Shifting Bike Gears
The Basics Of Shifting Bike Gears

When you’re riding a bike, your body can only produce the same amount of energy for so long until it gets drained and your ride slows down. Gears on a bike help you maintain speed and even increase inertia so you can journey efficiently and consistently.

A cruiser bike with gears is a bit different than a mountain bike with gears in terms of design and construction, but the theory behind these 2 bicycles and others is the same. When you ride a bike with gears, you can enjoy sustained energy and output.

It can be a bit complicated at first to understand how gears on a bike work, but once you do, you’ll be able to get the most out of your ride. Before you go bike shopping for cruiser bikes with gears, even a beach cruiser with gears, take some time to learn the basics.

The Bike Drivetrain

A standard bike with gears has 5 main components that work together to let you shift or change gears and pedal your bike easier. These components include:

  • Crankset (front chainrings) – Bikes generally have 1, 2 or 3
  • Rear cassette – A stack of gears (cogs) mounted on the rear wheel
  • Chain – Connects to the teeth on the chainring and gears
  • Shifters – Allows you to move the chain between front chainrings and gears
  • Derailleurs – Moves the chain between front chainrings, or between rear gears

These components are collectively referred to as the drivetrain.

Alternative Drivetrain Components

Some bikes have alternative drivetrain components like electronic shifters that are used instead of cables and operate off wires and a battery. Often, you’ll see geared bikes with internal gear hubs instead of derailleurs. This keeps essential moving parts free from water and road debris.

Belt drives are sometimes found on single-speed bikes with gears and they benefit the rider by offering a stronger, cleaner and quieter ride than what is experienced with a chain drive.

Kinds of Shifters

Any type of geared bike will have one shifter that controls the derailleur in the front and another that controls the derailleur in the back. Most geared bicycles have shifters that integrate the brake levers into the design. Shifters are always easy to reach and clearly in the rider’s line of sight.

Using Bike Gears and Shifters

Gears and shifters make it easy for you to maintain your pedaling speed (cadence) throughout your ride. Typically, you’ll be more efficient if you pedal at a higher speed on an easy gear. Pedaling slowly in a harder gear might seem beneficial, but it’ll zap your strength and take a toll on your body.

Shifting Technique

To use the proper shifting technique, shift your chain between the rear cassette gears to make small changes in your ride. Big changes should be made by shifting between the front chainrings. Don’t shift either at the same time or you might jam the chain, or drop it off the cassette or chainrings.

This is just a beginner’s guide to shifting bike gears and there’s certainly more to learn (and practice), but hopefully, you can begin to see the difference a geared bike can have on your ride.

Looking for comfortable and easy-to-use geared bikes? Check out our selection of cruiser bikes with gears like our women’s cruiser bikes with gears and our popular women’s beach cruiser bikes with gears.

Join our Journey Club to uncover new and exciting ride locations around the globe!

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The Basics Of Shifting Bike Gears