Today’s question is about which cogs should be used with which chainring when shifting a bicycle…

Hey Coach! I am new to biking, and have just purchased a Gary Fisher mountain bike that I plan to take off road. You tutorial on shifting has been the most concise and most helpful I have found. Thank you for that. I was wondering if there were ideal combination for shifting between chainrails. Should I shift up to the largest when I am in 6-8? Should I shift down to the smaller when I am in 5-1. Your expertise is appreciated.

-Shifty Samantha

Hi Shifty,

Glad to hear my tutorial was helpful!

The general rule of thumb would be to use cogs 1-4 with a smaller ring, and 5-8 with a bigger ring. (The cogs are the gears on the rear wheel, with cog 1 being the largest and 8 being the smallest.) So yes, the strategy you suggest should work fine.

There is no ideal gear shifting plan you have to follow. There’s no magic formula. You can bend the rules a bit. What I mean is that the middle cogs usually work fine with any of the front chainrings, so you might even be able to use cogs 1-6 with the little ring.

Just try to keep the chain in as straight of a line as possible. If it grinds on the side of the front derailleur cage, that’s not a good gear to use!

In other words, as long as you are not cross-chaining, you’re probably alright.

As you ride more, you’ll get a feel for the gears, and you can naturally develop your own rhythm / gear selection strategy. Then it will become second-nature and you’ll wonder why you ever had questions about it!

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