Every cyclist learns to brake and shift gears quickly and safely for enjoyable rides in the streets and hills. But there’s a difference between knowing how to shift and knowing how to do it well in the varied and challenging situations encountered in mountain biking.
If there’s one basic thing you need to master other than braking for responsive stops, it’s to anticipate which gears you need to employ on every upcoming segment of the road or trail. Learning when as well as how to shift will help you maintain your bike’s transmission in good working condition longer, as well as ease the strain on your body and lessen the total effort you will expend on pedaling in the long run. Recreation Space have a lot of great reviews about mountain bikes that you can read.
Study the drivetrain
First, give the critical parts of your transmission a good look-see, to get an idea of how the derailleur assemblies pull things together from the moving pedal onwards.
Start with the big single or pair of sprockets to which the pedals are directly attached, and rotate the pedals to see how the front sprockets correspondingly drive the smaller freewheeling cogs on the rear wheel’s derailleur, via the chain which connects the two assemblies.
Remove any cover housing, and clean off any grime or dust which blocks or dims your view of the interacting pieces. There are a number of moving parts down there which have to work precisely together. These must be adjusted and well-lubricated to operate effectively for you to ride your bike efficiently and safely.
There’s more to gearing than just getting those sprockets meshing right when it’s time, and the best thing you can do to improve your cycling skills is to learn how to change gears early and consistently.
Shifting, and when
The short answer to the question of when to shift gears is to shift well before the shift is really needed. But different riders with different skill and experience levels interpret this advice kind of differently. For some, that decision comes when it gets harder and harder to pedal, for when the current gearing is too low for you to readily power the bike up a grade. For others, it’s also when things are already idling way too much, for when the gearing is too high to gracefully manage a descent and your sprockets are already mostly spinning freely.
It’s best to figure in advance how high or low a gear you’ll need according to your on the fly judgement of upcoming terrain and surfaces. These are both big factors as hard ground on the uphill will much more readily ascended than gravelly or sandy surfaces on more level ground. Pushing your derailing cages to shift the chain when you’re really pumping the pedals is hard on both links and sprockets as well as your legs. Always anticipate the correct gearing for what’s coming next when you’re still ahead on an easy downhill segment or else rolling on level terrain.