How to Use Paddle/Friction Shifters


Learning to shift a 10-speed can be difficult, so find a road with no traffic to learn on. The left hand shifter controls the FRONT derailer, which moves the chain between the two gears near your pedals. The right hand shifter controls the REAR derailer, moving the chain between the 5+ gears on the rear wheel. You must be pedaling in order for the bike actually to shift.

Pulling the right shifter down will DECREASE resistance, good for going uphill. This can be confusing, because:
On 95% of bikes, pulling the left shifter down will INCREASE resistance, good for going fast or downhill.
If your bike is in the 5% minority, you are lucky because it will be easier to remember which way to move the shifters.

On most 10 or 12 speed bikes, the shifters will not click into place for each gear, so if you are not precise you will be in between gears, causing a noticeable grinding noise in your drive train. If this happens just move the shifter a little bit to micro-adjust.

The left shifter is usually easier to learn because there are only two settings (up or down), and you can look in between your feet to see what's going on (the rear gears are much harder to look at while riding). If the chain is not running through the center of the derailer, it will be making a noise and you should micro-adjust. Practice moving the left shifter / front derailer back and forth, it will take almost a full pedal rotation to complete the shift.

The easiest way to learn the right hand shifter is to start by pulling it all the way down (1st gear, easiest) and then very slowly, steadily and gradually moving it through all the gears, feeling and hearing each one change. After riding for about a week, you should know exactly how far to move the shifter, and be able to flick it right into place.

Some tips:
On 95% of bikes, left is law. Move the shifter up for uphill, down for downhill. Opposite for the right hand.
If a shifter is moving too easily (ghost shifting) you will need to tighten the knob on the side.
Look down. The further left the chain is, the easier the gear.
Think about the two gears as a ratio. Going big to big will feel the same as small to small.