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When To Shift Gears

The goal of having gears is to keep your pedals moving at an even cadence (speed), while each pedal stroke gives you the most bang for your buck. You shift to keep your speed and efficiency on the bike.

Uphill ↗️ If you want to stay seated, you’re going to need to shift into an easier gear. You want to keep moving at a pace and speed that allows you to keep your balance, so it’s about finding the gear that allows you to keep moving with the least effort and strain on your muscles, while still moving at a sustained pace.

Downhill ↙️ Gravity, the weight of your body and the weight of your bike will help carry you down with ease. You’ll want to shift into a HARDER gear so that each pedal stroke gives you more power and momentum forward.

Variable Terrain 🔀 Most rides aren’t just uphill or just downhill, they’re an undulating combo of the two. This means you’ll be shifting quite a bit as you transition from uphill (easier gear) to downhill (harder gear), in an effort to maximize the efficiency of each pedal stroke and keep your legs from burning.

Always ➡️ shift in anticipation of the terrain which means shift into an easier gear BEFORE you start the climb, or a harder gear BEFORE you start ripping downhill. Shifting into the right gear at the right time takes practice!

About Richard / NINJA

Richard La China is a former professional mountain bike racer, IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.

2 Thoughts on “When To Shift Gears

  1. Thanks, I think I finally understand shifting, but am still not sure if the brake levers help me speed up or slow down? Also, it seems like when I pedal the rear hub just makes a buzzing sound and there is no resistance, and I can only generate speed on downhills… any tips for that?

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