The right gear

To get the best performance out of your bike it is essential that you know how to use your gears correctly.


Left hand gear leaver operates the triple front cog:

3 = highest resistance (for down hill and flats)

2 = middle resistance

1 = lowest resistance (for up hill)


Right hand gear leaver operates the small seven ring back cog

7 = highest resistance

1 = lowest resistance


i.e. if you are going up an extremely steep hill you will be in 1 on the front cog and 1 on the back cog and if you are going down hill or cruising along a flat stretch you will be in 3 on the front and anything between 5 and 7 on the back.


The best way to practice is to find a good flat stretch of tarmac and be in 2 on the front and then run through all the gears on the back.


When you are comfortable with this there are a few rules, which make the transition smoother and easier:


  1. Never put a strain on your chain whilst changing gear – i.e. if you are needing to push hard on your pedals you should ease off just for the moment that you change gear even if you are going up a hill.  If you don’t do this, the chain will jam or come off, or you may even break the derailleur – expensive and not repairable if you are out on a ride.

2.Always try to be in a middle back gear when changing up or down on the front triple cog.  The gear system doesn’t like it if you change through 1 to 3 or vice versa on the front cog when you are in 1 or 7 at the back.  Sometimes you have to quickly come out of 1 or 7 at the back before you can go up or down in the front.  If you don’t do this, your chain will lock and your pedals then won’t turn and you will probably fall off!

3. Always pre-empt the hill.  By that I mean change down before you hit the hill, especially on the left hand side (front triple).  If you don’t do this, you will almost certainly put strain on the chain whilst changing down during the climb and your chain will more than likely come off or jam – very important.

4. The purpose of gears is to make your life easier –you shouldn’t need to ‘labour’ on your bike – other than when going up a difficult hill. Pedalling should be easy so don’t be afraid to change down even if you are not on a hill.  Increasing your revolutions so that you are cycling in an easy, comfortable rhythm is best but not to the extent that you are ‘spinning’.

5. To cover the ground efficiently you should pedal continuously except when you are going down a steep hill when freewheeling is the only option – and a treat!

6. Remember to change down before you come to a halt as this will make it easier for you to make a quick start again – e.g. at traffic lights or road junctions – important in towns and cities.



You will find your own comfortable rhythm and quickly get the feel of what gear works for you best to give you maximum efficiency and speed in whatever situation.

Please feel free to contact me if you think I might be able to help you further.  You can find my contact details on