Mountain Bike Gear Shifters: Maybe it is time to upgrade

You may find that your gear changing isn’t as smooth as it used to be, or you are dropping your chain regularly. Alternatively, you may just fancy improving your bike with faster gear changes. If any of these are true, you may want to upgrade your mountain bike gear shifters. This is a worthwhile investment and new and improved mountain bike gear shifters won’t leave you struggling in the wrong gears.

Reasons why you can’t change gear

There are a few different reasons why you might not be able to change gear. Many of them are easy to fix. If you are on a ride and not sure what the problem is, don’t force a gear change. This can make an easy to fix problem in to a much bigger one. So, stop and have a look at it.

Derailleur Damage

Your mountain bike gear shifters operate cables that move your front and rear derailleurs to another gear when activated. The first thing to do is to check your derailleur for damage. They can be damaged after a fall, from wear and tear or simply from when you loaded your bike in to the car. A damaged derailleur can cause a shifter to not work at all and will need replacing. If it looks OK, check the bolts that hold it on to your frame. A loose derailleur can affect your gear changing.

Click here to here all about your mountain bike derailleur

Gear Cable Damage

mountain bike gear shifters

If you are having trouble changing gear, you may have an issue with your gear cable. Check to see that it is not badly crimped or damaged. If there is no sign of damage, make sure it is connected properly to the derailleur and to the shifter. If the cable and derailleur are fine, you will have a problem with your shifter.

Type of Mountain Bike Gear Shifters

There are two types of mountain bike gear shifters, Thumb and grip shifters. Which one you choose, is dependent on the type of riding you do.

Thumb Shifters

“Thumb” or “Trigger” shifters are mounted on your handlebars and are activated by clicking the levers with your thumbs. Typically, you will have one lever for changing in up and one for changing down. This type of mountain bike gear shifter is the most common, because it provides good “feel” and it is very responsive and snappy to change gear. The other advantage of thumb mountain bike shifters, is that you can adjust the position of them on your handlebars. Doing this can give you the optimum position for comfort and convenience.

Grip Shifters

Grip shifters operate by twisting a portion of your handlebar grip, using a similar action to a motorbike. You will find this type on commuter and race bikes. These give your bike very neat and tidy look, and have indicators to show you what gear you are in. Their advantage is that they are lightweight, however, thumb shifters are best for the majority of riders.

Friction or Indexed Mountain Bike Gear Shifters

There are two different methods gear shifters work, friction and indexed. The majority of bikes use indexed gear shifters, meaning that each click of the shifter moves a precise length of gear cable, changing one gear at a time. Indexed gears work best for mountain bikes, as it ensures that the bike stays in the required gear on rough terrain. With friction gears, the rider has to change the cable length to change gear by feel. This method is pretty outdated now and not very common. You may find them on the front derailleur of commuter and lower end bikes.

SRAM or Shimano

mountain bike gear shifters

As with most drive train components, there are two main manufacturers, SRAM and Shimano. The main difference between the two, is the ratio of cable that is pulled. SRAM pulls the cable 1:1 and Shimano 2:1, this is more about how they work, rather than how they feel. You probably wouldn’t notice this difference. However, you may feel that the Shimano system is easier to shift, while the Shimano system may work better in wet weather conditions.

The biggest decider between the two brands is compatibility. Your mountain bike shifters should match your derailleur. If you don’t have either on your bike, you need to check the ratio and see which is compatible with what you have. Make sure you have the same ratio, because trying to bodge it will be a real pain.

Gear Range

If you are only upgrading your mountain bike gear shifters, count your gears. You need to make sure that your new ones will be able to accommodate them.

Are you going to upgrade your mountain bike gear shifters?

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