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Shifting Into the Small Ring

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Shifting Into the Small Ring

Old 12-10-20, 11:46 AM
  #1  
Metallifan33
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Shifting Into the Small Ring

So when I shift into the small ring in a climb, it's such a drastic change that I spin my legs like an idiot while I shift the RD back into a harder gear.
Is there a better technique to this? When I shift into the big ring, I simultaneously shift the RD 3 times and by the time it takes for the FD to get the chain on the big ring, I'm comfortably in a gear on the RD that makes it all a smooth transition.... Shifting in to the small ring... not so much; the change from the big ring to the small ring happens so fast that I don't have time to make the change on the RD (without stressing the gears by shifting under power).
To make matters worse, it's usually when climbing up a hill and I lose some amount of momentum doing it.
Any tips on shifting to the small ring efficiently for a climb?
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Old 12-10-20, 11:49 AM
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It's the stupidity of the 50/34 16tooth difference. A 10 or 12 tooth drop always made more sense to me.
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Old 12-10-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
It's the stupidity of the 50/34 16tooth difference. A 10 or 12 tooth drop always made more sense to me.
itís one of the reasons I love my triple chainring

50/39/30 great sequence for climbing, especially the 39 to 30 transition
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Old 12-10-20, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
Any tips on shifting to the small ring efficiently for a climb?
Shift to the little ring before you need it. Remember that there's a lot of overlap between the two chainrings and that you should be able to comfortably cruise in the granny ring at 18-20mph without cross-chaining.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
So when I shift into the small ring in a climb, it's such a drastic change that I spin my legs like an idiot while I shift the RD back into a harder gear.
Is there a better technique to this? When I shift into the big ring, I simultaneously shift the RD 3 times and by the time it takes for the FD to get the chain on the big ring, I'm comfortably in a gear on the RD that makes it all a smooth transition.... Shifting in to the small ring... not so much; the change from the big ring to the small ring happens so fast that I don't have time to make the change on the RD (without stressing the gears by shifting under power).
To make matters worse, it's usually when climbing up a hill and I lose some amount of momentum doing it.
Any tips on shifting to the small ring efficiently for a climb?
I think you just need to work on your routine - start shifting the RD before you shift the FD. Ease up on the pedaling as you do this so you're not crunching anything. I don't know if you can dump multiple gears with your current setup*, because that's a big plus if you can. If not, start dropping the RD and drop the FD midway through the process. Another possibility is to shift to the small ring just before you hit the hill, so you don't lose as much momentum. Depending on your gearing, you might be able to use a small-ring gear combination to maintain speed, even if you're cross-chaining for a short while.
*don't know if this is possible with Shimano cable-actuated drivetrains. I run Campagnolo 10sp, which allows me to dump up to 5 gears, or to upshift 3, at one time. I also have a relatively narrow chainring difference (39/51) which helps

Last edited by Litespud; 12-10-20 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
itís one of the reasons I love my triple chainring

50/39/30 great sequence for climbing, especially the 39 to 30 transition
+1. About half the time, you can shift the front once or twice and stay on the same gear in back till the climb is over. Then go right back to where you were.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
So when I shift into the small ring in a climb, it's such a drastic change that I spin my legs like an idiot while I shift the RD back into a harder gear.
Is there a better technique to this? When I shift into the big ring, I simultaneously shift the RD 3 times and by the time it takes for the FD to get the chain on the big ring, I'm comfortably in a gear on the RD that makes it all a smooth transition.... Shifting in to the small ring... not so much; the change from the big ring to the small ring happens so fast that I don't have time to make the change on the RD (without stressing the gears by shifting under power).
To make matters worse, it's usually when climbing up a hill and I lose some amount of momentum doing it.
Any tips on shifting to the small ring efficiently for a climb?
Same as when you shift to the big ring, you need to compensate on the RD. I usually shift a couple of gears just before dropping into the little ring, usually puts me right about where I want to be. Or, I'll hit the hill in the big ring and wait until my cadence slows down enough and then drop to the little ring. Just takes practice to get a feel for where you need to be depending on the grade.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:34 PM
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Are you shifting them simultaneously? Because that's what I usually do and I've never had problems with spinning. I can dump three gears on the back with three quick clicks of the shifter, though I do ease up on the pedal for a fraction of a second to allow for this to happen smoothly. During this split second my legs are spinning at the rate that I think I ought to be in once the gears engage, and once they do engage you are right there. Sounds like a lot, but it's really only a fraction of a second for it to happen. It does take some practice. It doesn't matter if it's 53/39, 52/36, 50/34, 46/36, 50/39/28...I have all of these.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:52 PM
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You'll get better at it the more you practice. Learning to shift smoothly while climbing out of saddle is a fun part of the dance.
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Old 12-10-20, 12:53 PM
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Di2
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Old 12-10-20, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Are you shifting them simultaneously? Because that's what I usually do and I've never had problems with spinning. I can dump three gears on the back with three quick clicks of the shifter, though I do ease up on the pedal for a fraction of a second to allow for this to happen smoothly. During this split second my legs are spinning at the rate that I think I ought to be in once the gears engage, and once they do engage you are right there. Sounds like a lot, but it's really only a fraction of a second for it to happen. It does take some practice. It doesn't matter if it's 53/39, 52/36, 50/34, 46/36, 50/39/28...I have all of these.
Yeah... I guess I have to start earlier on the RD and figure out a good technique.
... maybe I'll spin up while in the big ring, shift two clicks harder on the RD and then dump into the small ring while I click another couple in the RD. Either way, I'm sure there is a more efficient way of doing it than what I'm currently doing.

It's different from shifting to the big ring, because the shift to the big ring takes longer vs. the small ring just drops in.
I think with my 105 setup, I can do multiple changes with one sweep of the big handle, but for the clicks, they are individual.
Does Di2 help with this? (I only ask because I'm considering getting a Di2 upgrade for my 40th birthday).

Last edited by Metallifan33; 12-10-20 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 12-10-20, 01:10 PM
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Practice
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Old 12-10-20, 01:45 PM
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Di2 has a couple of options that take care of this issue:

You can choose to automatically shift the back up or down when you switch the front up or down.
Or, my favorite mode is to let the front shift automatically when the back gets to close to either side AND then adjust the back at the same time.


With this last mode it is possible to go through all gears with just one shifter, you only have to say if you want it lighter or heavier. It can be fully programmed at which point the front shifts. The other shifter can then be programmed to command the garmin device.
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Old 12-10-20, 01:53 PM
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1) shift before the climb, when you're going faster and you can allow some slack
2) Determine how big the gap is. For example, on my 53/39 bikes the gap between big and small rings equals 2 cogs. On the 52/36 and 50/34 it's 3.
3) slacken up slightly on the pedals and shift the right number of cogs, THEN shift the front. Should take about 1 second all told.

I have tried shifting simultaneously and it works 95% of the time. The other 5% the chain drops. So I try not to shift simultaneously anymore. This can be exacerbated by the chain being in need of cleaning and relubing. I don't mean really dirty, just about the time you'd normally clean it.

The key is not having to shift under pressure on the pedals.
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Old 12-10-20, 02:55 PM
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I feel like this issue is the area where Campagnolo has the advantage over Shimano. with Shimano, you need to press and release the small lever 3 times to go 3 gears harder on the RD. this makes for at best, a clunky transition from big to small chain ring. Campagnolo allows a single sweep of one lever to change 3-5 gears in one press, making the simultaneous shift work very well. it was so easy to do naturally, I even taught my wife the fine art and she mastered it quickly!(I also don't like that fact that the shift lever is the brake lever for Shimano, but that is another issue.) I recently left Campagnolo for Shimano, but only for DI2, since EPS is WAY more $$ than I cold spare.
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Old 12-10-20, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
Does Di2 help with this? (I only ask because I'm considering getting a Di2 upgrade for my 40th birthday).
Yes definitely - particularly if you program the DI2 to handle both derailleurs with one shifter (as mr_pedro explained).

Personally, I didn't see much point to DI2 until I got a bike with it. It rocks for lots of reasons, and this is one of them. More generally switching chain rings is much easier and I do it much more often with DI2. On my old bikes, I'd always wear out my big chain ring several times and basically never need to replace the small chain ring. On the new bike, the wear is going to be more even (though of course, I still use the big chain ring more - I live in the midwest, not in the mountains).
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Old 12-10-20, 04:19 PM
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I was shifting my 105 5800 both front and back at virtually the same time when dropping to the small front. It handled it beautifully, IMO. Frequently it took two sometimes three smaller cogs in the back to achieve the correct ratio for my cadence.

Since in both cases front and back you are going to a smaller cog, you don't have to let up on the power quite as much as when shiftting to bigger cogs. At least I didn't think I did.

That bike has an 11-32 with 52/36.

Last edited by Iride01; 12-10-20 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 12-10-20, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
Di2 has a couple of options that take care of this issue:

You can choose to automatically shift the back up or down when you switch the front up or down.
Or, my favorite mode is to let the front shift automatically when the back gets to close to either side AND then adjust the back at the same time.


With this last mode it is possible to go through all gears with just one shifter, you only have to say if you want it lighter or heavier. It can be fully programmed at which point the front shifts. The other shifter can then be programmed to command the garmin device.
So if it is set to shift automatically and needs to shift the FD, does it just take a little bit longer to make that shift? It'd be cool to see this in action.
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Old 12-10-20, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
So if it is set to shift automatically and needs to shift the FD, does it just take a little bit longer to make that shift? It'd be cool to see this in action.

Yep, it shift both mechs and it eliminates the cross chaining....it's really nice. It is also very quick. You can also set where you want it to shift....pretty sweet setup.

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Old 12-10-20, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
So if it is set to shift automatically and needs to shift the FD, does it just take a little bit longer to make that shift? It'd be cool to see this in action.
Yup, you can see it in the video that was posted. And you can use an app to program when the front will go and how many cogs in the back will shift.

If you need a bigger shift you can also keep the button depressed and let it shift all the way up or down.
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Old 12-10-20, 05:13 PM
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I used semi-synchro with Di2. Original was 2 cogs in back in opposite direction from front chain ring shift. After some experience I changed it to 1 cog in back along with front shift. It works for me.
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Old 12-10-20, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
So if it is set to shift automatically and needs to shift the FD, does it just take a little bit longer to make that shift? It'd be cool to see this in action.
Faster and smoother than you can do by hand. Go to your LBS and do a test ride.
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Old 12-10-20, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Faster and smoother than you can do by hand. Go to your LBS and do a test ride.
Bring money.
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Old 12-10-20, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
itís one of the reasons I love my triple chainring

50/39/30 great sequence for climbing, especially the 39 to 30 transition
I don't usually need the granny gear but it is nice to have sometimes. Wish I could up vote this more than once.
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Old 12-10-20, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Metallifan33 View Post
Any tips on shifting to the small ring efficiently for a climb?
Either delay shifing to the small ring or upshift two cogs with the rear derailleur before going down to the small ring.

Delay shifting means you keep pedaling on the big ring well into the climb, allowing your cadence to fall until your cadence gets low enough before you drop to the small ring.
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