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Just over a year ago I bought a new bike (a Giant Escape 3) with a trigger gear system - my previous one had a grip-twist to change gears.

After riding and experimenting for a while, I was able to determine that the trigger down didn't shift a single gear - it changed down two. This behaviour is consistent as far as I can tell: it does it every single time I've thought to check, whatever gear I'm in. The trigger up does increment a single gear as expected.

It's just something I've learned to ride with: it's not entirely inconvenient in traffic when you're stopping frequently at lights. But lately, I got to wondering whether it was, in fact, a "feature" or a "bug"?

If it is a fault, how can I fix it?

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Depending on the year of your Giant Escape 3, it either has Shimano EF40 or EF41 shifters. Both shifters have the same User Manual which has this information on downshifting:

downshifting on EF40/EF41

Assuming you are talking about your rear derailleur (right shifter), to shift 1 position you need to push the lever a small amount. Pushing the lever more will cause it to shift 2 positions (and depending on the type you have, pushing further will cause it to shift 3 positions).

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On or off road, but especially off road, it is desirable to be able to shift down more than one gear at a time to deal with abrupt changes in gradient and avoid being stuck in too a high a gear and stalling out.

Also (as you mentioned) if you are required to slow down or stop suddenly, it's convenient to be able to drop down several gears while simultaneously braking, then be in an appropriately low gear to accelerate back up to speed.

Some modern shifters allow downshifts of 4 or 5 gears. Yours may provide 2 with a full stroke of the lever, so the solution may be to simply 'half stroke' the lever to get a single downshift.

If you edit your question to add the make and model of shifters and derailleurs you have we may be able to provide a more specific answer (or tell if there is something wrong).

  • Thanks for the info - have edited the answer: it's a Giant Escape 3. – Bob Tway Feb 2 '18 at 15:25
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    This answer is spot on. I have very similar shifters on my hybrid (Shimano OEM parts). A gentle touch downshifts one gear, a bigger push two, and a really big push three. My MTB is similar, and even the brifters on my tourer. It's quite easy to over-downshift especially if you go over a bump as you shift, or if your derailleur cable tension isn't perfect. The twist shifter was probably a friction shifter requiring quite a lot of twisting; I have those on an old bike and find that downshifting several gears while coming to a stop from a decent speed is a real pain. – Chris H Feb 2 '18 at 15:30
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I have a Giant Escape 3, although is is a few years older than yours. I think this behavior is normal for trigger-shifters.

When shifting into a higher/harder/faster gear (on the rear) you use your index finger and it will shift one gear at a time.

When shifting to a lower/easier/slower gear you use your thumb. If you push until you hear a single click it should shift one gear. If you keep pushing it will click up to three times and shift up to three gears. Is this what you are describing?

This is presumably to allow you to quickly shift down multiple gears when encountering a hill or obstacle.

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Most likely you have friction in the rear shift system cabling. if the derailleur cable is frayed or dirty or if any of the cable housing is bent you can have the shifting not work the same in both directions. Inspect all of the housing and cable. Look at the housing where it goes into the derailleur in particular - this is a tight bend. Lube the cable with a light weight oil like triflow. There is a trick you can do if you have slotted cable housing stops. Shift into the lowest gear and then shift back to the highest gear without pedaling to free up cable and allow you to slide the housing out of the stops and lube the cable.

  • Welcome to the site! Although sticky cables can cause problems, I don't think this is the issue in this case. Stickiness would cause the cables to move less, not more. Since the shift levers fitted to this bike are designed to change down by more than one gear at a time if the rider presses the lever far enough, that seems very likely to be the cause. – David Richerby Feb 3 '18 at 1:49
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I am not sure what is happening actually.

If you change the gear index by one and chain goes two it is a problem. Usually caused by misaligned derailleur - you are, say, in 3.9 position and change to 2.4, index shows 3 and 2, respectively, but the chain aligns to 4th and changes to 2nd gear.

If you are able to change indexes not only by 1, or by more, per one push, it is not a bug. It is a feature allowing you to downshift much faster when you need downshift fast.

If you are able to downshift by 2 gears only, there might be problem, though. Maybe one lever in the mechanism isn't alligned properly and it misses to lock the first position.

Old lever or twist gear systems allow this fast change by design, indexed system needs "reload" to be able to change.

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