How to Change Gears on a Schwinn Bike

Close-up of bicycle gears

As is the case with any brand of bicycle, including Schwinn, how you change gears depends on the style of bike you are riding. Different types of bicycles come equipped with different shifting systems. Shifting gears on a Schwinn beach cruiser or comfort-oriented bike is completely different than changing gears on a Schwinn road or mountain bike. Thankfully, shifting gears on a bike is something just about anybody can do.

Grip Shifters

If you own a Schwinn beach cruiser or comfort-oriented hybrid bicycle, it might come equipped with what is called a grip-shift system. Look at the portion of your handlebars where you place your hands when riding, known as the grips. At the end of each grip, going toward the center of the bicycle, you will find a mechanism that can be turned, almost like a throttle, in increments. This is the grip-shift.

Ride your bicycle at a comfortable pace. Place your right hand on the grip-shift located at the end of your right grip. Click the shifter in the direction you desire as if you are moving the throttle of a motorcycle. To shift up into a harder gear, click the shifter away from you. To shift down into an easier gear, click the shifter toward you. Shifting on the right side of the bicycle controls the gears located on the rear wheel.

Repeat this process with the shifter located at the end of the left grip. Note: Some bicycles will have gears on the rear wheel only. If this is the case, there will be no shifter on the left side. If there is a shifter on the left side, manipulating it will change the gears located on the crank of your bicycle (the crank is the part to which your pedals are attached).

Trigger Shifters

On many Schwinn fitness-oriented road bikes and on most mountain bikes, you will find trigger-style shifters. These systems operate with two levers per shifter.

Locate the shifter levers on either side of your handlebars, remembering that the left-side shifter controls the front gears (usually two or three speeds) and the right-side shifter controls the rear gears (usually between five and 10 speeds).

Push the bottom lever to shift the bicycle up to a higher gear. Pull back on the top lever to shift the bicycle to a lower gear. Repeat on the other side.

Race Bike Shifters

On newer model Schwinn road-racing bicycles, the levers used to change gears are part of the levers used to apply braking power to your bicycle. The right set of levers still controls the rear gears. The left set of levers still controls the front gears.

Place your hand over the brakes when riding the bike as if you plan to stop the bicycle. Instead of applying the brakes, feel the two levers that sit right behind the brake lever.

Click the shifter lever closest to the brake lever. This lever will usually shift the bike up into a higher gear. Clicking the next shift lever--the one closest to you and furthest from the brake lever--will shift down into a lower gear. Repeat on the other side.

Vintage Schwinn Shifting

On old Schwinn road bicycles, gear shifters are often located on the bicycle frame's downtube. The downtube is the portion of the frame below the top tube and closest to the ground that connects to the crank assembly.

Click the lever on the right side of the downtube. Pressing it forward will shift the bicycle up into a higher gear. Pulling it backward toward you will shift the bicycle down into a lower gear.

Repeat this process on the left side to control the gears located toward the front of the bike.


Shifting up makes pedalling harder. Shifting down makes pedalling easier.

Keeping your chain clean and properly lubricated enhances your bike's shifting.

As with all brands of bicycles, shifting on a Schwinn bike will vary from model to model. Check with your local bike shop if you have a model not mentioned here or if you are confused. This article covered the most common bicycle shifting systems seen on Schwinn bikes.