Must Have Bike Shifters And Shifting Mechanics

As an Amazon associate BriskBiker earns from qualifying purchases.

Let’s Shift Into Gear The Right Way

Shifting makes life easier, safer, and more enjoyable on your bike. If you want to jump straight to some of the best bike shifters click here. Bikes are made up of many parts and can be daunting to think about. But learning what they are made out of and how they work helps put into perspective what you’re doing when shifting on a bike.


Here’s a simplified way to think about bike shifting. Your basic bike (that has multiple gears/speeds) will come with a chain that connects your pedal to your rear wheel. The chain itself is connected to the Chainring on the pedal side, and is connected to the cassette cogs on the rear wheel. These two parts alone are needed to explain how shifting works. Here is a labeled with a chain, chain ring, and cassette.

Yellow arrow (left) is the cassette and the Pink arrow (right) is the chainring.


The basic mechanic is that when you turn the pedal the chain ring moves with the pedal as it is attached to it. In fact the chain ring and the pedal arm are sometimes referred to as the bike crankset. When this ring turns so does the cassette that is attached to the rear wheel. With the chain these two parts work together.

With one half pedal stroke on the chainring (right) will produce one half turn on cassette (left) on ratio of 100 teeth to 100 teeth.

What makes one gear (also called speed) from another is the difference in teeth between the cassette and the chain ring. So if the chain ring has 100 teeth and a cassette cog has 100 teeth the ratio between them is 100:100 or a ratio of 1. So with each full pedal rotation the rear wheel will turn once as well. What if another cog had only 50 teeth in the back. The ration would be 100:50 or a ratio of 2. So for each pedal rotation on the chain ring you would get two full spins of the wheel.

With one half pedal stroke on chainring (right) the cassette (left) has one full turn for a ratio of 100 teeth to 50 teeth.

With that little understanding you can infer what gear changes do from now on. So to recap, the higher the gear ratio (the ratio between the chain ring and the cassette) the faster the rear wheel will spin making it easier to maintain speed at higher velocity. A lower gear ratio will make it easier to spin the rear wheel making it easier to go up a hill.

Best Overall Shifter

Microshift MTB Bike Bicycle Twist Grip (3×6)

This shifter will fit many different kind of bikes and works well at fair price. Most people have found this shifter is easy to install even for first timers. The product comes with cables but no instructions. Reviewers have said the rear derailleur installation was easy (cassette) but some have found setting up the front derailleur (chainrings) was more difficult. It is compatible with shimano components and a cassette of 6 speed. Make sure whatever shifter you buy the amount of cassettes and chainrings matches the amount of gears the shifter will shift to.


Best Alternative

Microshift Twist Grip (3×7)

If you have a 21 speed bike set up, these will do the trick. They are from the same company and have equally good reviews. These shifters are great especially if you’re replacing an older bike and don’t need expensive shifters.


Shifters with Brake Levers

ZDS Shimano ST-EF51 3×8 Speed 24 Speed Shifter Brake Lever Combo for Mountain Bike

This combo will fit a 22.2 mm handlebar and comes in one piece. It will ship with shifter cables but not for the brake levers. This product is made with steel and aluminum pieces so it not only looks great but feels great as well. This is a 24 speed shifting with two fingers easily.

Budget Brake/Shifter Combo

FOMTOR 3×7 Bike Shifters Set 21Speed Mountain Bike Shifters

If the above shifter is out of your price range and you want to stick to a budget set up, these will do the trick.


Best Road Bike Shifter

Micronew Shifters 3X7 Speed Shifter and Brake Lever

If you have a road bike then this shifter is a great choice. It has both shifter and brake lever and comes with wiring for shifters. It is a 3×7 speed cassette compatible shifter. The shifter will come with the ability to shift up and down on either side. Most customers love the longevity of this shifter.

1 thought on “Must Have Bike Shifters And Shifting Mechanics”

  1. Pingback: Best Mountain Bikes Under $200 -2022

Comments are closed.