It’s hard to describe this, and I’m not sure whether there’s something wrong with my bike.

Say I’m cycling along a long straight in sixth gear. If I brake enough to slow down rapidly (like round a corner) my bike suddenly acts as if it is in a lower gear (i.e. first gear), then after a few rotations of the pedals the bike snaps back into sixth. I find this infuriating as I suddenly need to pedal faster temporarily otherwise I will lose my speed.

I spoke to a friend about this but they insisted it was intentional and due to the bike’s “Shimano gear system”, but I haven’t experienced this on other bikes at all (they remain at sixth at all times).

Is there something wrong with my bike? And if so, what?

Edit: Added some photos. It seems to be an Apollo bike from Halfords.



  • 3
    Hi Bob, welcome to the site, we could do with some more info if possible, Shimano Gear System doesn’t really narrow it down as such. If you could maybe post a couple of pics of the drivetrain / rear RD and bike it would be helpful in assisting us with possible causes.
    – Dan K
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 12:43
  • 1
    Added some photos. I believe they are conventional derailleur gears, yes. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 13:27
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    I wonder if the freewheel isn’t freewheeling correctly, and is essentially pushing the chain forward, forcing you to pedal faster to keep up.
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 13:58
  • 4
    Offtopic: shouldn't the front fender/mudguard be facing the other way?
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 21:31
  • 3
    @Kaz A lot of MTB fenders are smaller than that. It keeps a good portion of the mud and rocks out of your face.
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 3:52

3 Answers 3


This seems very much to be a case of freewheel/freehub pawls (the mechanism which allows the wheel to rotate without turning the cassette and pedals) sticking and not springing back into drive mode immediatly, after coasting.

You say when braking, but it might be when coasting or backpedaling before a corner, which happen alongside braking.

It usually happens when the lubricant in there gets old, thick and sticky. Or if it's been contaminated somehow.

"I suddenly need to pedal faster temporarily otherwise I will lose my speed" - this may be a sign of some partial pawl engagement, or it just seems like engagement because of excessive friction in there.

I'd analyse this carefully with the bike in a bike stand or upside down, or have it checked at a local bike shop and get the faulty part serviced or replaced. You can do it at home, there are instructional videos on Youtube on how to service freehubs and freewheels, but you'd need special tools, and sometimes they are not worth servicing.

I don't think the bike actually shifts gears. You say the bike "feels like" and "acts as" if it is in a lower gear, and I'm pretty sure you'd have noticed the sound and feel in the pedals if actual shifts were taking place.


That is not an intentional feature and it should not be happening.

Check to see if the chain is in fact moving onto a larger sprocket under braking. Find a area where you can ride safely in a straight line while looking down between your legs at the rear derailleur, hit the brakes and see what happens. Alternatively have a friend ride behind you and observe (probably a different friend than the one who made assertions about intentional shifting).

If the derailleur is shifting, possibly what is happening is that movement of the suspended rear triangle is causing effective shortening of the gear cable which is pulling on the derailleur and shifting into a lower gear.

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    While rare don't overlook the possibility of a cracked rear triangle or loose pivot points allowing the rear frame to shift resulting in chain misalignment or "ghost shifting".
    – mikes
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 18:58
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    Excellent point about selecting the assistant.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 19:32

Gear 1-6 is a big jump - its roughly all the way up/down the cassette.

So I'm wondering if your bike's front mech is getting involved somehow. Does this happen equally when on the big chainring as on the small ring?

When you reach for the brake levers, is it possible your hands are accidentally actuating the shifters ? I would suspect not on a pod/trigger shifter, but your bike has grip shifters/twist shifters which might be reacting to the rotational input from your hands while braking.

If they were road bike brifters I'd wonder if the braking action is also rotating the shift part of the lever, but the front gears would make it harder, not easier, and the rear gears need 2~3 full swings to jump 6 gears.

This is a good puzzling question, thank you for asking it.

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