How Road Bike Gears Work

By: Alex Bristol

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It is okay if you are a beginner and do not have enough knowledge about how road bike gears work. The mere concept of gears can be confusing and that is understandable. The entire process of when and how to shift is a bit difficult but you can make it!

The first thing that you need to understand it that, without gears, you will not be able to go far. The gears are present in your bike so that you can pedal with comfort. Be it on any terrain, your ride will simply become more fun and enjoyable.

What are the gears?

The terminology of shifting the gears seems like a nightmare. New terms like front, rear, one-by, two-by, etc. might already be spinning your head. We will break them down in simple words so that you can fully understand the concept of it.

Low gears have always been easy for climbing. By low gears, we mean that the chainring is the smallest in the front but the largest on the cassettes at the rear gears.

Whereas, the high gears are considered to be the hardest for uphill. They are good for descending. The chain is the largest in the front and the smallest in the cog.

How do gears work?

When there are low gears, pedaling would be the easiest thing. You can ride uphill with the lowest resistance. This position is known as downshifting.

When there are high gears, then pedaling gets hard. Acceleration while going downhill will be better. This position is known as upshifting.

When it comes to one, two, and three-by, we mean that the number of chainrings i.e. front gears will determine if your system of gears is one-by, two-by, or three-by.

Currently, the road bike industries have put their focus on producing the same range of gears but with lesser chains, for all bikes. As a result, the rear gears have larger cassettes now; more teeth; larger cogs.

The main reason behind this is that the lesser the chainrings, the more efficient your bike becomes. You will feel your bike lighter and easier to adjust and ride on. Therefore, most of the time; the high-end road bikes have two-by drivetrains.


The function of gears has never been easy to understand but when one knows the techs properly, they can manage their gears sensibly. Moving the chains from small to large makes pedaling easy. Noticeable changes occur when gears of the front chainring work efficiently.

The best way to check out how your bike gears work is to take them to a different place. Take it away from traffic, maybe an empty parking lot, and try shifting through all gears. Try the front and rear gears to check which one is the most suitable for you. The more time you spend with your road bike, the more you will get a hang of it. Only spending time will help you understand your bike better.

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