How & When To Change Gear On A Road Bike | GCN's Pro Tips

How & When To Change Gear On A Road Bike | GCN's Pro Tips

Thanks to Bellwether for the products used in this video. All views are the presenters own.

If you’re new to cycling, then using gears and gear selection can be quite complicated. There’s many other things to think about that if it’s not second nature to you, it can be very easy to get it wrong, or not to bother at all. If that’s you, then don’t fear, because coming up is GCN’s very own beginners’ guide to using road bike gears.

Subscribe to GCN:
Get exclusive GCN gear in the GCN shop!

Let us know your tips for gear changing and selection in the comments below 👇

If you’re new to cycling, then using gears and gear selection can be quite complicated. There’s so many other different things to think about that if it’s not second nature to you, it can be very easy to get it wrong, or not to bother at all. So, if that is you, then don’t fear, because coming up is GCN’s very own beginners’ guide to using road bike gears.

Most modern road bikes have the gear shifters integrated into the brakes, so brake on the left hand side, well this actually shifts the front mech, changing the big ring down into the small ring.
And on the right hand side, the brake, actually shifts the rear mech, so changing from the big cog to the small cog and vice versa.

The bigger the cog on the cassette, the easier the gear, but the reverse can be said for the chainset. So, the bigger the chain ring on the front, the harder it is to pedal.

For the vast majority of the time, you will be using your right hand to change gears at the back. The reason being that the actual differences between the gears are much smaller back here, so that when you do change gears, actually the rate at which you pedal, or your cadence, changes only slightly. It’s only when you get to the extreme ends of those sprockets at the back, so those really big ones or the really small ones, that you then think about using your left hand to change into a different chain ring, and therefore make a bigger jump. The only thing you need to bear in mind with your gears is they are there to help you.

They’re there to help you pedal at the right cadence. Now, what that might be does very much depend on you, but we’d say generally we want to be looking at about 80 revolutions per minute. That would be kinda normal.

If you’d like to contribute captions and video info in your language, here’s the link 👍

Watch more on GCN…
How To Use Road Bike Shifters | Change Gear On Your Road Bike 📹
How To Index Your Gears – Adjusting Your Rear Derailleur 📹

Photos: © Bettiniphoto / & ©Tim De Waele /

About GCN:

The Global Cycling Network puts you in the centre of the action: from the iconic climbs of Alpe D’Huez and Mont Ventoux to the cobbles of Flanders, everywhere there is road or pavé, world-class racing and pro riders, we will be there bringing you action, analysis and unparalleled access every week, every month, and every year. We show you how to be a better cyclist with our bike maintenance videos, tips for improving your cycling, cycling top tens, and not forgetting the weekly GCN Show. Join us on YouTube’s biggest and best cycling channel to get closer to the action and improve your riding!

Welcome to the Global Cycling Network | Inside cycling

Thanks to our sponsors:

Alta Badia: // Maratona Dles Dolomites:
Assos of Switzerland:
KASK helmets:
fi’zi:k shoes and saddles: and
Topeak tools:
Canyon bikes:
DT Swiss:
Science in Sport:
Orbea bikes:
Trek Bicycles:
Vision wheels:
Zipp wheels:
Wahoo Fitness:
Park Tool:
Continental tyres:

YouTube Channel –
Facebook –
Google+ –
Twitter –

Leave us a comment below!

Readers Comments (50)

  1. Top Gear for biking over here (no pun implied)

  2. Great video! The filming is top-notch – I appreciate the alternate views of the shifting and the actual gears in action, along with the rider diagrams. Also… holy hell… you narrated that whole thing on that long climb…. I don’t much enjoy changing my gears – but I see it’s worth learning how to do well

  3. MidnightPhant0m1 January 13, 2021 @ 10:53 pm

    Thumbs down

  4. Is a bike that’s 7×2 better than one that’s 7×3? Please help me! My Univega is a 8×3 but I’m thinking of selling it and buying a 1988 SR600 Canondale 7×2. Which is is better?

  5. I still love triples and half step plus granny gearing.

  6. How to change gears with numb hands xD

  7. I think I understood……in principle, now to put it into practice! New to biking and the wrong side of 50!! More advice on gears is massively appreciated. Using shimano claris

  8. BSHM-3C Franz Andrie Mamaril January 13, 2021 @ 11:00 pm

    Very informative yesss. Helmet pleasee new biker heree pleasee

  9. As explained in the video, changing chainrings should always be accompanied by a "counter-shift", that is, shifting up to a bigger chainring should be accompanied by a comparable downshift on the cassette and vice versa, usually at least two cogs, although this can change under certain conditions. When I change chainrings, I always think "Easier, then harder", that is, I do the shift that makes pedaling easier before doing the one that makes it harder. This way, I don’t rob my legs of momentum. The nice thing about counter-shifting is that it always involves the same levers on both hands: When shifting to the big chainring, both shifts are done with the brake levers and when shifting to the small chainring, both shifts are done with the paddles. If you subscribe to my "easier, then harder" technique, the order will change. When shifting up to the big chainring, start by downshifting on the right brake lever (two cogs or whatever) and then upshift on the left brake lever. When shifting down to the small chainring, it’s the opposite–start by downshifting to the small chainring on the left paddle and then shift up (two cogs or whatever) on the right paddle. (There is much debate about whether the chainring and cog shift can be done simultaneously. I prefer to do them consecutively as I don’t like the idea of both ends of my chain being in transition at the same time. I’m no mechanic but this seems to beg for trouble.) With practice, these motions can be executed smoothly and quickly to minimize the time spent shifting chainrings when you have to lighten up on the pedals.

    This is my own technique, formulated and refined over several years of observation and experimentation. I welcome any comments and arguments.

  10. Greek Cycle Holidays January 13, 2021 @ 11:02 pm


  11. Watching this video without even a road bike 💔

  12. advik srivastava January 13, 2021 @ 11:04 pm

    I also have a road bike but with flat bars

  13. I went fully electric, yeah it’s called a motorbike.

  14. Too complicated… stay on a neutral gear range..3 in the front 5 at the back…only increase the back gear when im going down hill…

  15. I usually just keep my rear cassette in third from the biggest gear and just switch from big to small from the front ring at the front as where i live it’s constantly up and down hill

  16. Yep, I’m a newbie/beginner. So grateful for this video… I was cross-chaining like a champ! Running a triple up front.

  17. Cycling isn’t too popular in America so when I go to look for tutorials I hardly ever find fellow American cyclists and I end up watching a lot of European tutorials. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but I bring that point up because when I heard you say, “blooming top tip” I was like… what does that mean? LOL thanks for the tutorial they’ve helped me plenty.

  18. #theboredgoddess14 January 13, 2021 @ 11:10 pm

    "i’M aLlOwEd tO cRoSs cHaIn"

  19. AzrulShahreen Aziz January 13, 2021 @ 11:14 pm

    Brilliant! Had experience it when changing gear on steep hill climb… Broke my gear hanger while climbing…

  20. I’ve been riding a hybrid bike now for a couple of years I love how comfortable it is. But I really need a road bike as my new job requires me to travel around inner city, I was thinking about getting a road bike but having never used one before the gear system seems quite daunting to me. Any recommendations on a beginners road bike, also what gear system is easier for a noob like me?

  21. I rode 42. 17 up la jolla grade or 42 19 for the steepest grades. Never used my 21 really. Senior 2 veterans usually ride 21. 13 rear and 52. 42 chainrings. Nowadays probably the 54 is still used I don’t know. I stopped riding in the 1990s Too much traffic nowadays and faster.

  22. Ohh ffs why can’t someone explain nice and easy the way things are ? What kind of bs is that ?

  23. This was not a good video

  24. you guys should have mentioned trimming gears, which is essential while changing gear rings.

  25. William Castleberry January 13, 2021 @ 11:21 pm

    I guess I’m old school , but you guy’s and your spandex and funky helmets and shoes would have been made fun of big time and never made it back when I was riding bikes, back 50 years ago.

  26. This was very helpful.

  27. What bike is that?

  28. One cool thing about YouTube is I know next to nothing about road or mountain biking and there are HUNDREDS of legitimately good sources of information like this to learn
    On an unrelated note, these guys are all so slim. Looking like Ichabod Crane

  29. califragmentlemon January 13, 2021 @ 11:25 pm

    Can you please make a video like this for mountain bikes?

  30. I am a beginner. I didn’t learn a thing.

  31. What is your cassette 8 speed?

  32. So, don’t cross-chain, unless you can cross-chain… obviously

  33. advik srivastava January 13, 2021 @ 11:28 pm

    nice video i like it

  34. so what should i put on a flat terrain? i have 3 gears on the left switch and eight on the right switch. you see, I am really a beginner…..

  35. Christopher Reed January 13, 2021 @ 11:31 pm


  36. Shane Fitzgerald January 13, 2021 @ 11:32 pm

    Shockingly bad video for beginners

  37. Is it possible to cross chain on an 8×2 gear set?

  38. Father and son?

  39. English please. I did not understand a thing. Sorry.

  40. I don’t have that kind of gear system… I’m on a kids size bike as I’m under 5ft tall and my gear shift is a ring on the right hand handle only. I don’t have gears under my peddle (its a folding bike) I just want to make it easier to peddle on flat land. 🙁

  41. I’m so confused

  42. Sorry guys but that didn’t help. Thanks anyway

  43. You see sprocket cycle

  44. Global Cycling Network January 13, 2021 @ 11:42 pm

    Let us know your tips for gear changing and selection in the comments below 👇

  45. This video has made me confused.
    Sorry 😔🤔😑😑😑😑


  47. (Modern Techno Music)

  48. Syed Murtaza Ahmed Niazi January 13, 2021 @ 11:46 pm

    This video is not for beginners..

  49. StefanTheConqueror January 13, 2021 @ 11:47 pm

    Took me half an hour to get how to change gear with the brake lol

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.