Along with your brakes, shifting your gears is one of the essential mechanical functions of your mountain bike. Learning how to shift may seem basic, but practicing with gearing and shifting efficiently is something that even expert riders can work on.

Proper gearing will not only improve your speed, but it’ll also make your ride more comfortable. Moreover, understanding the basics of gears can completely change the way you ride your bike. Check the post carefully to learn some easy techniques of using gears on your mountain bike.

How To Use Gears On A Mountain Bike

Identify Your Gears At First

If you want to learn how to use gears on a bike, you’ll need a bike that has gears in the first place. To check it easily, start by looking at the pedals. In the centre of the pedal, there should be one or more rings of metal with teeth on the outside that fit into the chain.

These are known as the front gears. Count them and make sure how many gears you see. Most of the bikes will have between one and three front gears. After that, look at the back wheel of your bike.

Run the chain from the front gears over a different set of rings at the hub of the wheel. These are the rear or back gears. Count them to ensure how many rear gears your bike has.

Multiply The Numbers To Find Out How Many Gears Your Bike Has

The number of gears on a mountain bike can array from a single gear to 21 gears or speeds. Most of the full-sized mountain bikes come with 21 gear configuration as standard.

To find out how many gears your bike has, simply multiple the front sprockets by the number of rear gears. For instance, if you have three sprockets on the front and seven gears on the rear, then it’s 3 x 7 = 21-gears.

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The Basics Of Shifting Gears

For most mountain bikes with flat bars, you shift the gears using set paddles that you operate with your thumb. Some bikes work with “grip shifters”, or a dial that’s situated to the inside of where you place your hands. For these systems, you change gears by rotating the handle forward and back.

The shifters are connected to a cable covered in a protective housing. As you click through the gears, the cable is tightening and loosening, applying more or less strength on the derailleur that moves the chain up and down on the chainrings or cassette. Below I’ll explain what each lever does:

  • Left-hand:

Left-hand controls the front derailleur by moving the chain up and down in the chainrings. These levers cause large shift in gears for sudden changes in terrain.

  • Right-hand:

Right-hand controls the rear derailleur by moving the chain up and down into the cassette. These levers are for small adjustments to your gearing to use during small changes in the ground.

  • Big Lever:

The larger of the two shifter levers will move your chain into the larger rings. Shifting into the larger rings with your right-hand will make your pedaling quicker and easier. Shifting into the larger gears with your left hand will make it more difficult to pedal.

  • Small Lever:

The smaller of the 2 shifter levers will move the chain into the smaller rings. Shifting into smaller rings with your right hand will make it harder to pedal. Shifting into the smaller gears with your left hand will make it easier and quicker to pedal.

Know When And How To Shift Gear

There are some useful rules for using gears of a mountain bike. Check these following points to know more.

Pick A Low Gear While You Start Off:

Whenever you start riding, it’s best to pick a low gear to make it quicker and easier to get back up to speed. This is also effective to do whenever you come to a complete stop and start pedalling again.

Gear Up Slowly As Build Up Speed

If you want to keep building up your speed, shift up your gears gradually. You will notice that the pedals feel more difficult to push and you’ll keep accelerating. If you’re riding around on moderate terrain a middle gear will enough well for your default cruising speed.

Shift Down On The Hills

This is the most important skill to learn without it, you’ll be stuck walking your bike up larger hills. It is almost impossible to get up a hill with your bike in high gear. However, lower gears will let you to pump your way up the hill gradually and steadily without extra effort.

You may find it difficult to slowly climb up on hills in a low gear at first. While you’re moving in a low gear, it’s a little more difficult to keep balanced than normal. However, moving slowly means it is easy to drop your foot to the ground if you lose your balance.

Shift Up When On Flat Ground And For Downhill Area

Use higher gears when you’re trying to build up as much speed as possible. Shit to your higher gears slowly, this will allow you to keep accelerating at a steady rate until you reach your top speed. However, be careful to ride when you’re going this fast, it’s easier to hurt yourself.

Using higher gear is the only way to be able to speed up while you’re going downhill. Because lower gears won’t turn the chain fast enough to keep up with the wheels when you’re rolling downhill.

Avoid Cross-Chaining

During shifting your gears, if you look down at the chain you may notice that it sometimes points in a somewhat diagonal direction. This is not a problem unless you pick gears that make the chain run at extreme diagonal positions.

This can make your chain break over time and can cause rattling and slippage in the short term. You should avoid having the chain on either the biggest or smallest gears in both the front and in the rear.

However, never use the largest front gear with the larger back gears. And never use the smallest front gear with the smaller rear gears.

Last Thought Of How To Use Gears On A Mountain Bike

In conclusion, while riding into a strong wind, ride in one gear lower than you would normally. You’ll ride a bit slower, but you will be able to ride your bike for longer at a steady pace. However, for a better experience, you can choose 500 dollars Mtb for riding. If you want something more affordable, you can go with $300 mountain bikes.