The ability to change gears on a bike allows you to make the most of your ride. Whether you need to go into an easier gear for a climb or to start from a stop, or if you want a harder gear to gain speed on flats or going downhill, your gears can make your ride more enjoyable and efficient. There are a variety of Shimano shifters, and all work with the same principle of adding or releasing tension on the gear cables to move the chain between gears.
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Determine what type of Shimano shifters you have. Some older mountain and hybrid bikes have grip shifters that are integrated into the handlebar and are twisted to change gears. More modern mountain bikes and hybrids have indexed thumb shifters mounted on the handlebar that you click with your finger and thumb to change gears. Newer road bikes have the shifters integrated with the brake levers.
Shift the rear derailleur by manipulating the right-handed shifter. On a twist-shift system, grip the handlebar and turn it either clockwise to go to a harder gear or counterclockwise to go to an easier gear. On a thumb shifter, click one lever with your finger to move the gears down and your thumb to move the gears up. With a brake lever system on a road bike, press the lever inward (toward the stem of the handlebar) to go into an easier gear and press either the small lever located on the side of the brake hood or the lever behind the brake lever to move into a harder gear.
Shift the front derailleur by using the left-handed shifters. They work opposite to the right-handed shifters. On a twist-shift system, grip the handlebar and turn it either clockwise to go to an easier gear or counterclockwise to go to a harder gear. On a thumb shifter, click one lever with your finger to move the gears up and click the other with your thumb to move the gears down. With a brake lever system on a road bike, press the lever inward (toward the stem of the handlebar) to go into a harder gear and press either the small lever located on the side of the brake hood or the lever behind the brake lever to move into an easier gear.
Tips and warnings
- On road bikes, the front gears are often quite different in size, especially if you have three chainrings. Push the shifter completely to move the chain into the next gear; otherwise, the chain may fall off.
- Practice changing through all your gears on a quiet street in order to get used to how they work.
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