How does a bicycle gearbox work?

For a novice cyclist, using the rear derailleur can be a bit difficult. Find out with us how changing a bicycle works and how to use it in the best way so as not to struggle. When we pedal, the motion of our legs is transmitted to the rear wheel that makes the bicycle move. This is possible because the pedals transform the reciprocating motion into the rotary motion of the crown. At the same time, the chain transmits this motion to the sprockets located on the rear wheel.

How does a bicycle gearbox work?

You have most likely noticed that the chainring of your bike has a larger diameter than the sprocket. This difference allows to amplify the motion and make the displacement more efficient. Through the use of the gearbox, you can vary the ratio between the crown and the pinion, increasing or decreasing the number of revolutions made by the rear wheel with respect to the revolutions of the pedals. Let’s see: Best bmx bikes

Why is it important to use bicycle shifters?

For an experienced cyclist, it may seem obvious, but for beginners learning how to change a bicycle can be very useful and can save a lot of effort. There are even some people who are afraid to use the gears and so they choose a bike without gears. In reality, the gearbox has a very important function and is often really indispensable.

The fatigue that you feel when you pedal is linked to the number of laps we do to push on the pedals. The gearbox is used to make us keep the right pedaling according to the road we are traveling on, that is, if we are on a flat path, uphill or downhill.

The ideal pedaling is around 70 rides per minute and allows you to do several kilometers without too much effort. Thanks to the gearbox, it is possible to always maintain the right pace.

Today on the market you can find many types of bicycles, from those without gears to bikes with even two gears. The choice of one type of bike rather than another depends on the use made of the bicycle.

Types of bicycles and gearboxes

Let’s see what types of bikes and gears you can find on the market so that you can choose the most suitable solution for you.

Bicycle without gear

It is the classic walking bicycle, which is suitable for short journeys, mostly flat or with not very demanding climbs and descents.

Bicycle with only one rear gearbox

This type of bicycle usually has a number of sprockets that can vary from 6 to 8 and between the smallest and the largest sprocket, there is a ratio of approximately 1 to 2. With the bicycle with only one rear gearbox, you can cover longer distances and even more challenging climbs.

Double geared bicycle

In this case, the number of sprockets varies from 7 to 11 and you can have 2 or 3 crowns. The bike has both front and rear gears and allows you to go practically anywhere effortlessly.

How to change the rear gears?

When shifting, the rear gears are usually used. The rear derailleur can usually be found on the right knob. This is the gearbox that is used the most and therefore, you have to get used to using it first. The change of the left, in fact, is used only in the most demanding situations.

The largest sprocket, which you can easily spot because it is the one closest to the wheel, serves to make pedaling easier and keep the speed slower. The smaller sprocket, which is located further out, allows you to go at maximum speed with maximum effort. Basically, if you downshift gears, you go from a softer gear to a harder one, as happens with a car gearbox.

You need to shift gears when you feel that your pedaling is getting too tiring in order to maintain a steady pace. For example, if you are going up a hill and the pedaling becomes harder, put your gear in a lower gear. When, however, the road back flat or is down, put a higher gear.

How to change the front gears?

There are usually 2 or 3 large front gears on a bike, which are also called chainrings. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, the use of the front gears is less frequent.

The operation of the front gears is practically the opposite of that of the rear gears. Therefore, be careful as the smaller chainring will make pedaling easier, while the larger chainring will make pedaling harder.

Therefore, if you have to tackle some hills, it is best to use the smallest chainring. If, on the other hand, you have to go on a flat road, choose the largest crown.

How changing a bicycle works: Some more tips

After having seen how a bicycle shifter works, we now provide you with some other information, which will be very useful for you to use the shifter in an even easier way.

Anticipate the change

Get used to shifting to a lower gear when you are approaching a significant climb and not when you are already facing the climb. Shifting gears while pedaling hard is more difficult and can damage the bike.

Do not change gear while stationary

The gears are designed to allow you to change gear when the pedals are in motion. Therefore, remember to change only while you are pedaling.

Avoid crossing chains

Keep the largest rear sprocket set at the same time as the largest front chainring or vice versa. It is also okay to keep the largest rear sprocket and smallest front, or smallest rear and largest front. This way, you will avoid crossing chains and causing damage.

Do you find yourself with our advice on how to change a bicycle? If then, you want to make even less effort when pedaling, you can buy an e-bike. Thus, you will also have the support of the electric motor.

Keep reading: How to get a cruiser bike for men?

James Barnes

James Barnes is an experienced wedding organizer and blogger at He specialized in organizing outdoor wedding events. When he isn’t writing about weddings and marital life, David usually goes swimming or playing squash.

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