Which Gear on My Bicycle Is 1?

Woman riding bicycle
First gear compensates for the added resistance riding uphill. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Multigeared bikes allow you to ride on varied terrain, whether it's dirt trail or smooth pavement. As you pedal, your drive chain moves over a front and rear cassette, providing various resistance levels. Downshifting, or decreasing the resistance, allows for faster and easier pedaling; upshifting, or increasing the resistance requires more effort and builds endurance. On your shift lever, the lowest number, No. 1, represents first gear.

Getting to Know Your Bike's Gears

Positioning your gear lever to 1 moves your drive chain to the largest sprocket on the rear cassette. First gear is the lowest gear and the easiest for climbing hills. Most multispeed bikes possess seven gears but may have up to nine. If your drive chain is on the smallest sprocket, which is the hardest gear, moving it to first gear causes the drive chain to climb up six spaces on the cassette if you have seven gears. Adjust your gears depending on how much resistance you'd like while pedaling. The middle gears provide moderate resistance, which is applicable to most terrain.

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