Cycling FIT for LIFE Knowledge Base

Shifting correctly on the bike

Are there any rules for shifting gears at the right moment and riding in the right gear on a road bike?

Optimal shifting is a matter of feeling and practice

Proper shifting can contribute significantly to the efficiency and fluidity of cycling. A mistake often observed in hobby cycling is shifting too quickly. You just reached the top of the hill, and already is changed in front to the large chainring and rear with a few larger gears. So you choke the first meters with 40 revolutions / minute over the hilltop, before you can accelerate the wheel properly. After reaching the crest, it makes more sense to continue in the same gear until you have reached around 100 rpm. Only then do you put the crown on the large chainring, accelerate again to 100 revolutions and only then shift up a few gears again at the rear.

Conversely, many people shift to the small chainring too early after a downhill on the following climb and therefore lose power because they can no longer put pressure on the chain. Here’s the tip: ride into the hill on the large chainring and only shift to the small chainring when the cadence drops below 60 rpm. Then keep pedaling until it drops below 60 rpm again, and only then shift back to smaller gears in the rear as well.

Actually, the recommendation is the same as for a car: Always shift so that the number of revolutions is correct. One last example: You drive up to an intersection and have to stop. When you start to drive away, you realize that the gear is still much too high. Here it is important to always drive with foresight and to estimate early on whether you have to stop or not. And, depending on the situation, immediately shift into a lower gear before you have to stop. If there was not enough time and the chain is not yet cleanly shifted, then simply pull the front brake, slightly lift the rear wheel and perform a crank revolution with one leg until the gear is properly engaged. This takes a little practice, but this way you ride off elegantly in the appropriate gear afterwards and can accelerate immediately.

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