I noticed that when I really give it hell after stopping or riding slow (I do that all the time on commute), I have to shift two gears at a time in the lower gears, to keep up with my acceleration. I then asked myself whether there's any better way for the shifting to keep up with my acceleration. The shifting process itself goes very smooth and I can time it very well in my opinion.

Also, how do real bike racers do it? The reason I ask is that I hardly believe that racers always loose time with shifting over several gears before the next "thrust". Or does that not cause lots of time loss?

Do racing bikes have special gear ratios for optimizing speed of the shifting process?

I only cycle as a commuter (just 3.6km), but I probably behave somewhat like a racer (regarding speed) as well on that short route.

  • 2
    There's certainly nothing wrong with skipping gears on a bike (or while driving a Volkswagen, for that matter). You pick what you feel will be the best gear under the circumstances. It may be that your current gear setup is too "close together" for your style and you'd do better with something different, but that's a large topic to dive into. Apr 8, 2014 at 21:41
  • 1
    Try starting with a high gear and practice forcing your muscles to do more of the work. Apr 8, 2014 at 22:52
  • Not how racers do it, but I found my shifting got a lot faster since I use an internal gear hub. Especially as shifting happens instantaneous when I press the button, not when full pressure is applied to the pedals again.
    – linac
    Apr 9, 2014 at 9:21

3 Answers 3


Remember, very few road racers are giving it hell from a standing start. The vast majority of the time they are traveling at a fairly high rate of speed as they approach the end of the race (With the lead out for the sprint, positioning, etc), so the need to jump multiple gears is very limited.

Other times where quick acceleration is needed is to jump a gap or catch a potential breakaway, take advantage of a person lagging on a climb, things of this nature. Again, they are traveling at speed, not from a standing start.

The reason that you have to jump gears is that it is easy to push the gears (low torque), but you quickly speed up past the point where the gear is effective, and depending on your cassette, you may have already almost passed the speed where the next gear up is effective.

Also, road racers often swap gearing in their cassettes, but this is to match the gearing to the terrain. If you are going to be in a mostly flat race, there is no need to have a 28 tooth large cog in the back, so they might go with an 11-20. Conversely, if there is a lot of steep climbing, they may swap to some kind of 12-28 (or greater) configuration.

Track bikes (Which would have more relevance to short burst from standing starts in some of the events) have no gearing, they are fixed.

  • 2
    Also, 'real bike racers' tend to be supplied with the latest and greatest component sets, sets that deliver the smoothest and fastest shifting that money can buy. Apr 8, 2014 at 21:41
  • @hillsons - Definitely true, especially considering some of the Di2 and other electronic shifting methods available now where a touch of a button does the shifting. Good point.
    – JohnP
    Apr 8, 2014 at 21:42

You might consider working on your cadence range; if you are able to spin up to 120-130 RPM, you will have a larger range and won't need to shift as often.

One-legged drills and pure cadence drills can work well for this.

  • Totally agree!!!
    – andy256
    Apr 9, 2014 at 13:09

Change gears before you need to

You can do this two ways.

Change to a higher gear before you stop. Get out of the saddle when you start. You'll accelerate faster and shouldn't need to change gears until your doing 30 kph (20 mph) or so.

Or change gears regularly as you start, say every 3 or 4 pedal strokes. 1, 2, 3, change. 1, 2, 3, change.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.