Cyclists: how often do you shift?

79 minute ride today. 🙂 My Garmin counted 16 front shifts and 678 rear shifts.

That sounds like a lot. Probably counts multiple cogs at a time as multiple shifts, but it still sounds like a lot. I looked at some older data and it's all pretty similar.

Now I'm curious. How often does everyone else do it?
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Replies

  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,358 Member
    I usually use three gears, right in the middle of the middle. Little shifting going on. However, I live in a very flat country. There's not really a need to shift a lot.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,638 Member
    Manual shift so no numbers but "a lot".
    My area has very little flat or steady gradients so I'm constantly changing gear to keep in my preferred cadence range of 80 - 90rpm. Most of the local roads I regard as flat still have subtle gradient variations.
    If you ignore the three big climbs you can see the general terrain is undulating.

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  • 75in2013
    75in2013 Posts: 360 Member
    edited March 2021
    How does your Garmin count the shifts? Sorry, but I'm still very much "analoge" ;)
  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    Good question. But since I do it manually, I don't have a solid count or statistics. However, I can say I don't shift as often as I know others do, because, generally speaking, I'm "touring" more than pushing it, and I live in fairly developed, flat-ish coastal NJ (with some localized hills and substantive bridges to climb). On-road I shift more than on the rail trails around here (I ride the same bike everywhere), as you'd expect with start-stop-ride situations. My bike is 2x11 and made for cross-country. With my weight and start of year conditioning this year, I've been in lower than higher gears. I volunteer as a "Bike Ambassador" for the NPS at our local Nat Rec Area (Sandy Hook), which is also one of my favorite riding venues. I can crank it up uninterrupted by road crossings at a couple of lesser-trafficked spots for about a mile, that's where I go to do some HIIT-type work. Pic is from the other day, at the bridge leading to Sandy Hook.

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  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,892 Member
    A lot if I'm on my hardtail in the foothills or the mountains...very little shifting when I ride road as I primarily ride in the Rio Grande valley since it's the prettiest scenery...it's very flat in the valley, so you can just fly.
  • BarryTone1
    BarryTone1 Posts: 4 Member
    Not very often as I ride the KATY Trail and it is uber-flat. "Hills" for me are headwinds/tailwinds. I just shift from dead-stopped to get up to speed and then just maintain cadence for the workout. The down-side is no-coasting.

    Old summer pic showing the "huge hills" I deal with lol..
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  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Probably crazy but I find long flats harder than undulating terrain. On a bike and on skis too.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 7,358 Member
    Probably crazy but I find long flats harder than undulating terrain. On a bike and on skis too.

    I've never cycled in hilly terrain, thus can't comment. But wind is a killer! I cycled some 10km over a dike last weekend with stronger wind from kind of front. Ugh. It was not fun.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,892 Member
    Probably crazy but I find long flats harder than undulating terrain. On a bike and on skis too.

    The ABQ metro is kind of weird...there's not a lot of opportunities for undulating terrain. The river and valley pretty much run north/south through the center of the metro area and it's very flat...if you go east or west from the river you are climbing out of the valley and can do so for miles and miles...east towards the foothill and mountains or climb west into the mesas.

    My wife and I like to do this 25ish mile loop around the most central area of the metro and it's basically flat forever...climb forever...flat again forever...and a forever decent. But that's really pretty much how it goes here...you're either on a long flat...a long climb...or a long decent.
  • ccrdragon
    ccrdragon Posts: 3,258 Member
    For my standard ride from the house - around 22/23 miles - the total elevation change across the entire ride is less than 500 feet, so once I hit cruising gear, I usually don't touch the shift afterwards.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    Number of shifts (or gear ratio) is a statistic I haven't even considered monitoring! You could calculate it from your speed and cadence data, if you wanted. Maybe I'll export it and try sometime.

    In any case, my biggest gripe is that the three gears I use most often use are separated in diameter by 2 teeth, meaning there is a slightly larger jump than I'd like. I'm often switching back and forth between just those three gears, never being quite happy with any of them! You can buy a straight block for my system (Shimano 105 11-cog), but then you don't have gears that are low enough for a steep climb, which are also common in the area.
  • tbilly20
    tbilly20 Posts: 154 Member
    @NorthCascades - That is a ton of shifting! I would ask if you feel you shifted that often. That is nearly 10 rear shifts per minute. I rode for 118 minutes on Sunday and executed 5 front shifts and 68 rear shifts. The day before that, I rode for 100 minutes and shifted 91 times in the rear with no front shifts. This seems pretty accurate to me. I live in Indiana so there are no hills. Both rides were also solo, which changes things. (No need to change cadence to stay with a pack!) Both rides were also gravel.
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    I never thought about checking how often I shift gears. I'm fairly certain I do quite a bit, since I'm usually trying to maintain a steady cadence and power output. I also have no idea of front vs rear shifts since my bike is set up to make the big ring/small ring decisions for me. (Di2 Syncroshift)
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    Number of shifts (or gear ratio) is a statistic I haven't even considered monitoring! You could calculate it from your speed and cadence data, if you wanted. Maybe I'll export it and try sometime.

    In any case, my biggest gripe is that the three gears I use most often use are separated in diameter by 2 teeth, meaning there is a slightly larger jump than I'd like. I'm often switching back and forth between just those three gears, never being quite happy with any of them! You can buy a straight block for my system (Shimano 105 11-cog), but then you don't have gears that are low enough for a steep climb, which are also common in the area.

    @Jthan, I had my rear cassette swapped out for an 11-30 cassette specifically for climbing. Its great to have another gear to allow you to maintain a reasonable cadence when climbing a long hill. My quads have loved the change.
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    i have garmin pedals as well so stats coming out of my ears. I did still look, relatively flat ride today 108 mins moving 166 rear shifts, nil front. Yesterday a few hills 102 mins moving, 6 front shifts and 197 rear shifts. Just for good measure i threw a 5hr ride in with some big hills, 17 front shifts and 809 rear shifts.

    I have noticed i tend to shift more since i got DI2, front shifts seem a good guide to the number of real hills on a ride.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    tbilly20 wrote: »
    @NorthCascades - That is a ton of shifting! I would ask if you feel you shifted that often. That is nearly 10 rear shifts per minute. I rode for 118 minutes on Sunday and executed 5 front shifts and 68 rear shifts. The day before that, I rode for 100 minutes and shifted 91 times in the rear with no front shifts. This seems pretty accurate to me. I live in Indiana so there are no hills. Both rides were also solo, which changes things. (No need to change cadence to stay with a pack!) Both rides were also gravel.

    I think what's going on is I'll shift 4 or 5 cogs and it counts then individually instead of as one? Coming to a red light, I'll go from the middle of the cassette out to the end, if the light turns green before I get to it then it's back to a cruising gear.

    It doesn't feel like I'm shifting all the time and the #s surprised me. But I guess I'm probably sweeping the cassette more than most people?
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,132 Member
    When I lived in Manitoba, I hardly ever shifted.

    Now that I live in Tasmania, I'm constantly shifting.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Lower intensity ride today, a moderately hilly hour and a half. Only 8 front shifts, but 756 rear 😯. I was paying more attention to when and why, I'll change gears to keep my preferred cadence for half a block knowing I'm about to shift again.

    I didn't do that before I got a Di2 bike.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Number of shifts (or gear ratio) is a statistic I haven't even considered monitoring! You could calculate it from your speed and cadence data, if you wanted. Maybe I'll export it and try sometime.
    75in2013 wrote: »
    How does your Garmin count the shifts? Sorry, but I'm still very much "analoge" ;)

    I'm a bike nerd so I enjoy talking about this stuff. 🙂

    Electronic drivetrains use a motor to move the chain, with wires, instead of springs and tensioned cables. They broadcast what gear they're in. You can look down at your Garmin to see if you should use the FD or RD the way you can look down at your chain. Of course you can also make it act like a 1x22 and do all the shifting with one brifter, so you don't have to care, and then you get to use the other one to change pages on your Garmin. I have mine set up more traditional, just that using the FD moves the chain two cogs too. I'm almost always going to do that, and the system does it smoother than I can.

    I guess that adds up too. Using the FD 6 times is 18 shifts.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    Djproulx wrote: »

    @Jthan, I had my rear cassette swapped out for an 11-30 cassette specifically for climbing. Its great to have another gear to allow you to maintain a reasonable cadence when climbing a long hill. My quads have loved the change.

    Love hearing from DJ! Mine is an 11-28. With a 34 in the front, it goes plenty low for my typical rides (not many steep climbs). I sometimes work out on a hill near me in the suburbs, and I don't feel I "need" a lower gear, but maybe I'd like it. If I lived in Colarado, I might feel differently!

    My main complaint is that I'm usually cranking in the large front ring (a 50), riding in the middle of my rear cluster, where it goes ... ,15, 17, 19, 21, ... Those 2-tooth jumps seem kind of big sometimes. And, there's tons of cross-over between the large and small rings. A buddy of mine addressed this issue by buying a straight-block and then keeping his largest two rings from his other block, creating a straight-block plus 2 climbing gears. Unless you go to a triple front, you will have to make some compromises somewhere (and a triple crank is a compromise in weight and complexity).