How to Shift Gears on a Hybrid Bike – Gear Guide

Not all bicycles are built the same, you might notice that some have gears while others don’t. For example, a bicycle that is used for commutes might only have brakes while mountain bikes are equipped with gears. Since hybrid bikes are used for a wide range of terrain, you can definitely expect them to have gears.

Before you learn how to shift gears on a hybrid bike, you might wonder what it is for exactly? Gears on a bike offer a better cycling experience. It can control the speed of your bike and also offer comfort and support when cycling on different terrain. Just like other vehicles, such as a car, you need to shift your gears to help move up and down different roads and surfaces at a safe speed.


Before You Start

How to shift gears on a hybrid bike may seem tedious at first. It definitely requires a lot of practice and you will definitely need the first-hand experience. You are the rider and it is up to you what your level of comfort is. Before you start shifting gears, it’s best to understand the components of bike gear.

Gear Parts

There are several components that make up your bicycle’s gear. Here are the important parts you need to learn about and their functions:


These are the parts that allow you to shift your gears on a hybrid bike. For newer models, you will find the shifters on either side of the handlebars. However, there are some older bike models where the shifters are actually on the bike’s frame or body, specifically the down tube, and look like small handles.


You can find the chainrings right by the pedals of the bike. It connects the chains from the pedal to the cassettes. A hybrid bike typically has 1 to 3 chainrings depending on your gear needs. More chainrings equal a faster bicycle speed. With a smaller chainring, you can pedal at an easier pace.


These are located at the back wheel’s axle and are the sprockets or cogs. Cassettes have different sized cogs that are arranged from largest to smallest, the largest cog of which is in the inner part and the smallest at the outer part.


Small components located at the front and the back of the bicycle, the derailleurs literally “derails” the chains on your bike. When you click on your shifter, the derailleurs will move the chain from one sprocket to another on your cassette.

Shifting Gears on a Hybrid Bike

The best hybrid bikes under 500 should come with shift gears that you can use for your cycling trips in the city and even on rough roads. Here’s how you can shift your gears:

  1. Once you are on your bike, you can click on your right shifter to change your rear gears. Using the big lever will make the chain go up to the big ring, which in turn will make pedaling easier. This is ideal for smooth and flat roads.
  2. Clicking on the small lever on the right shifter will make your bike chain go to the small ring. Pedaling will in turn become harder, making it ideal for uphill rides.
  3. The left lever is for your front gears and clicking on the big lever will have your chain go to the big ring. This will in turn make it harder to pedal.
  4. The small lever on the left will make your chain go onto the small ring on the front wheel of your bike. The result is it will be harder to pedal.

Cheat Sheet on How to Shift Gears on a Hybrid Bike

Shifting the gear on your bike is quite easy, you just press on a lever and it changes. However, once you are on the bike there are several rules you need to follow. This is to make sure you have a safe ride and your bicycle does not suffer.

  • Shift as early as possible. Before you go up that steep road, shift your gear promptly. Don’t do it midway.
  • Don’t use shifters simultaneously. If you must change both your gears, start with only the rear or the front first but never at the same time. If a big change is needed during your ride, use the front shifter. But if you only need to fine-tune your ride, use the rear shifter.
  • Try not to shift under load. Yes, sometimes this can’t be avoided. However, if you want your bike chains and other gear parts to last longer, never shift under load.
  • Going down? Go big. As a cheat sheet just remember that you need your chains on the bigger cogs when you go downhill. When you go up or there is a bit of wind resistance, switch to the middle or smaller cogs.


Now that you know how to shift gears on a hybrid bike, it’s time for a test drive. Just like learning how to ride a bike, you can’t possibly do this on theory alone. You may have read about the parts and how things work but it is a totally different experience when you are actually riding a bike and on the road.

Start shifting gears on your hybrid bike on smaller hills or less steep roads. That way, you can get a feel of what gears you need to use when cycling. Once you get comfortable, feel free to climb higher mountains and going at faster speeds.

  • Category: FAQ