How to Change Gears on a 10-Speed Bicycle
Multi-gear bicycles come in all sorts of different configurations. While the 10-speed bicycle used to be a common gear configuration, it since has been replaced by 18-speed, 27-speed and other gear styles. Whatever the number of gears you have on your bicycle though, the way you shift is often similar. The types of levers you have for shifting may vary, but you'll find that the gears perform in a similar manner across brands.
Locate the shift levers on your bicycle. No matter if a bicycle has 10 speeds or 27, it will only have two levers. In the case of a 10-speed, the lever on the right controls the five sprockets on the back side of the chain and is used for more precision shifting. The lever on the left, meanwhile, controls the two big chainwheels at the front of the chain, and is used for more dramatic shifting. Levers come in different configurations for different brands of bikes, but for 10-speeds, they're often found at the tips of the curved handlebars or on the flat part of the handlebars.
Mount your bicycle and start riding slowly. When you're shifting, you don't want to put too much pressure on the gears, as this will damage the drivetrain. As such, try to start out on a flat stretch of road or sidewalk so you can practice without the need to shift up or down for hills.
Pedal slowly and steadily as you reach for the lever on the right-hand handlebar. Move the lever upward until you hear a click. Depending on the type of lever you have, this should make it slightly easier or harder to pedal the bicycle. Since you have a 10-speed bike, you should have five "clicks" on the right hand lever. To keep your chain and drivetrain in good shape, shift one "click" at a time and allow the bike to move into the easier or harder gear before you shift another time.
Continue pedaling slowly and steadily as you reach for the lever on the left-hand handlebar. Move the lever upward until you hear one click. This should make the bicycle significantly harder or easier to pedal. The 10-speed configuration means there are two "clicks" on the left hand lever.
Practice shifting up or down the gears as you continue to pedal on a flat surface. Shift into the gear that allows you to cycle at the speed and intensity that is comfortable for you.
While the speed and intensity at which you cycle is entirely up to you, avid cyclists often try to maintain a steady "cadence," or pedaling speed, whether they're on a hill, on a flat surface or on curves. To maintain this, look ahead to what's coming down the road and shift well ahead of the change in conditions.
If you hear clicking when you shift into a certain gear, you may have shifted into a gear combination that is putting extra stress on the chain. This can happen when the chain is on the larger chainwheel near the front of the chain and on the largest sprocket at the back of the chain, as this is causing the chain to be fully extended and pulled very tight. If you hear clicking or popping, shift up or down one gear with the right lever.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.