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4855 E. Warner Road #10
Phoenix, Arizona 85044

Store Hours:

Sunday            11am-5pm
Monday           10am-6pm
Tuesday           Closed
Wednesday     10am-6pm
Thursday         10am-7pm
Friday              10am-6pm
Saturday         9am-5pm

Shifting Gears-Skillfully

Presented by: Jeff Lockwood, LIFE SPORT INC.

Shifting gears is a simple task especially with the technological advances in components, unless you are new to cycling.  Making a good shift is not so much about the equipment but about the person making the shift. If you have Shimano Electronic DI 2 there are still reasons to practice the skill of shifting. People ask me all the time what gear they should use.  Certainly having the appropriate gearing for the terrain or pace of riding is important but learning the feel of making the shift is the most important thing to practice. Timing is everything.
Only through practice can you gain a sense of the cause and effect associated with shifting gears.  Gear charts may be helpful especially if you are an engineer.  Most cyclists have never spent time looking at a gear chart to understand its importance.  Even if you did, it still does not help you make the shift at the right time or just what affect that shift will have on the pressure in your legs, bike handling or speed.  Shifting in the wrong direction in the rear, or moving suddenly from one ring to the other in the front can cause any number of problems. 

The best way to learn the cause and effect of gear choice and timing is to practice while riding rollers.  The rollers will amplify any extraneous movements.  A shift that causes an unexpected outcome can result in the bike swerving on the rollers. The rollers also provide a constant resistance element and so coordinating the gear with the effect is quickly learned.  The key to shifting well is to know where the chain is located on the drive train.  A quick look between your legs can help but has inherent risk.  The better option is to know your speed. 

A speedometer is a great way to associate the level of gearing with the feeling in your legs.  A speed of 17 mph or higher is generally associated with the chain on the large front ring.  The rear cogs can then be used to fine tune the preferred cadence as speed changes.  Conversely, speeds below 17mph will generally place the chain on the small ring, the cogs can now be used to fine tune cadence as the speed continues to change. 

Using rollers will aid in making the connection between speed and the feel of pressure in your seat, legs or feet, based on the next gear selection.   By practicing with known gearing combinations, you can associate that feeling of pressure in your legs with the speed you are traveling. 

*For instruction and demonstration of these techniques, go to to view video instruction on learning these helpful skills. 

If you have found it difficult to do these skills, a professional bike fit might be in order.  For the body and bike to move appropriately the two must fit together in a biomechanically correct position.  For a fit or education on cycling techniques, contact Cycling Instructor, Jeff Lockwood at .