OUR ADVERTISERS

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Adjusting your derailleur


One of the main problems that I find on every single bike that comes trough my shop is that the derailleurs are out of adjustement. The derailleur is that thing in the front and back of the chain drive that "derails" the chain into it's proper place. Now, don't bother fidling with the thing as it is, let's start fresh.

FIRST: Unscrew the cables from their attachement on the derailleurs. Bring the shifters back to their dead position, that's when there is no pull on the cable and make sure that all the cable housing adjustement screws on the shifters and/or derailleurs are screwed back in to their original position(more on that later).

SECOND: Now with everything deconnected, turn the pedals and the chain should come to rest in the last position gear on the outside of the wheel and at the first one closest to the frame on the chain ring. That's because the system works by pulling on the devices with the cable. If you are not at the last gear on the wheel and the first one at the chain ring, you have already found a problem. You have two screws on every derailleur, one to adjust the last gear: "H" and one to adjust the first gear "L". This is the same on every derailleur, adjust that screw by going clockwise to move the derailleur in and counterclockwise to move it out. Careful, in the rear one you could end up with the chain in between the wheel and the frame, go slowly.

THIRD: Now that your derailleurs are adjusted properly at their last position gear, reinstall the cable. Make sure there is no slack in the cable. Now turn the pedals and click in the first position for the rear derailleur, it should go into the next available gear. Not doing that? Don't worry, remember that adjustement screw on the cable housing? Now start to unscrew it slowly while turning the pedals. This will strech the cable a little bit at a time. Unscrew it until the chain goes into the next available gear,"click" that's it, you're done. Now shift until you have pulled the cable all the way to first gear. If it goes there, you're good. If not,one of two things have happened. Booboo one is that the chain won't go into first, simply unscrew "L" slowly until it does while keeping tension on the cable with the shifter. Booboo two, the chain is now between the gear and the spokes of the wheel. Carefully remove the chain and set it on the first gear and screw "L" to block the derailleur from going forward.

Sounds a bit complicated, but with some practice you'll be able to do it like a pro. By the way, being a bike mechanic, I like simple things. My bikes have 3 or 5 speeds with regular friction shifters where you have to guess where the gear is going. I love simple.

Tip of the day: Putting new cables in? They will strech after a while and will need to be readjusted. Keep this in mind when buying a new bike and ask the shop if it comes with a free tune up within the first 6 months.

Let me know what you would like to read about. I don't do product review of extreme downhill mountain bikes or the latest suspension forks. You can buy any add clad mountain bike magazine for that. I can answer just about anything else.

154 comments:

Kirk said...

What is the diagnosis when you can shift into the high and low gears just fine, but sometimes it seems to skip a cog when pedaling in one of the in-between gears?

Anonymous said...

I love your site! Keep it up!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Kirk, it sounds as if one of the chain links is jammed and does not flex properly. Back pedal the chain slowly and if that is the case, you'll see the bad link as it comes out of the last wheel of the derailleur. To correct this, grab the chain on both sides of the bad link and flex it sideways. If that doesn't fix it, either remove the bad link or replace the chain. Be advised that when you replace a chain, it is possible that the gears on the wheel have been chewed out of shape and may need to be replaced as well. But start with the cheap fix first. Thanks for both your comments, this site will be updated at least once a week.

anders said...

I've spent the last 6 years on the same chain beating it up pretty bad. It's probably time to purchase a new chain, but I don't really know where to start on these sorts of things (same with derailers really). I'm comfortable taking apart my bike and putting it back together, but when it comes to parts I'm at a loss. Do you have any recomendations for people trying to bridge the gap from "I can repair my bike" to "I can replace parts on it"?

~ Anders

Eric said...

When you said "Now with everything deconnected, turn the pedals and the chain should come to rest in the last position gear on the outside of the wheel and at the first one closest to the frame on the chain ring."

Is the chain ring the bunch of gears that are turned by the pedals? Sorry, I am not familiar with the names of the parts on a bike.

anders said...

Eric if you're feeling behind on the vocab you might like Sheldon Browns' Bicycle Glossary

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear about wheel truing if possible.

Dave Coder said...

Thank you so so so much for this little how to. I've had a disabled bike for two years now, for lack of money and talent. Yout how-to for the rear derailleur came out just in time for me to fix it well enough to ride on a vacation trip tomorrow. I'll keep trying to tweak it just right, but you have me rolling again.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Anders, my rule for buying parts is simple. Don't buy the cheapest and don"t buy the most expensive. Cheap parts are sometimes well...cheap and expensive parts are sometimes made with very low tolerance for everyday use and abuse. Find a friendly bike shop and ask for the price range of your replacement.

Eric, yes those are the ones.

Anonymous, that's coming soon.

Dave, you made my day. If I can get more people to ride, then I'm a happy guy.

Zachary Wood said...

Great blog, I love what you're doing. and could you write a post about wheel bearing overhauls?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Zachary: Wheel bearing overhaul will be done right after brakes, which will be sometime this week.

Mischa said...

Great how-to! I just picked up a beat up old road bike for $15, with the intention of learning how to fix it up and get it running smooth. This helped me heaps with getting the gears going again, I wouldn't have known where to start without it!

Keep up the great blog, it's much appreciated!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Great to hear Sekt. Good luck with your new ride and keep posted for new stuff coming in on a regular basis. This blog is for poeple like you. Thank you for your support.

Gerry

Mario Bergés González said...

What is the diagnosis when I can shift into the hicg and low gears fine, but can't keep it in the high gears unless I keep pressure on the shifter?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Mario, this sounds like you need more tension in that cable. Just that little extra that you give it when you keep pressure on the shifter.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Hi

I would be interested if you could do a how-to with photos of all the parts of the headset and stem, (all the stuff around the steering tube): what the parts are called, what they do, and how to fit them together properly. Hope I have said that right.

Thanks for a really great site, you are good at explaining stuff!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Francis, may I direct you to: http://bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com , there you will find a complete bike restoration including a headset and fork being taken apart. Let me know if you need more info.

Gerry

Gerry Lauzon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Gerry,

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Kirk, My bike's rear derailleur locked up on me on my way home from work and the recommended adjustments for the rear derailleur have not improved the situation. IT is a Shimano 105, do you have any suggestions?
-Michelle

Gerry Lauzon said...

Michelle, if by locked up you mean that you cannot change gears, you may have to repplace the cable and cable housing. Disconnect the cable from the derailleur and push it to see if it can move freely. If it doesn't move this way, you need to replace the derailleur. If you have any rust in the cable housing or cover, this will prevent you from shifting.

Hope this helps.

Gerry

R-target said...

Please help.

Firstly thanks ! With the instructions I finally got my derailers tuned !

Now what is happening is - I have my chain rubbing against the front chain wheel has a GUIDE.

Can you help with instructions on how to adjust the guide so that it does not rub against the chain?

I intend to always use the chain on the middle wheel (i.e. 2nd gear).

(This guide is the one attached to the frame through which the top portion of the chain runs trough.

This is the partial arc like steel structure. And this is the one attached to the FRONT gear mechanism.)

Gerry Lauzon said...

r-target

I will have a front derailleur how-to posted within the next 24 hours. Keep posted.

Gerry

Erik said...

This is more on the topic of shifters than derailleurs but...

I have a mt bike with Shimano Deore XT Rapid Fire type shifters. The problem is that most of the time when I push on the thumb lever there is no resistence, it doesn't catch on anything and nothing happens. Sometimes after I pump it a few times it manages to catch and it works like it should. Any idea how to fix such a thing?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Erik,

Funny you mention this, I have the same problem on my mountain bike. Turns out that the shifter is shot. It will have to be replaced. Sounds a bit retarded, but I am going back to a non-indexed thumb shifter. Simple and it always works.

Erik said...

Thanks Gerry!

That's what I was afraid of. Unfortunately it's about $120 for the set!

At least I didn't have to pay a shop $30 to tell me I needed new shifters. Keep it up!

Erik

Anonymous said...

hi i got a handle shifter like u twist it and it changes gear and the 1 on the right changes back gears but the twister came off but the cables still there and i cant seem to get them back on right how do i do that??

Gerry Lauzon said...

ounds like something broke inside the shifter mechanism. If you can't put it back, you will probably have to replace the unit.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

well it just seems like the cables came off the peice on the handle but it kinda looks like the thing that turns is broken if thats wat u meant but ty ur prolly right i just prolly didnt understand that wee lol ty =]

Ryan M said...

Gerry,

Great Site! Quick question though, I have an old 10 speed road bike, and the rear derailleur is completely mangled. I went online to look for a new one and the smallest derailleurs advertised were for a "7 sp". SO....

1) Are these derailleurs only for a 7 speed speed bike or is it for a 7 cogged rear cassette?

AND

2) If it's for a cassette with 7 cogs, can I use it for my 10 spead (5 cogs) and just adjust the derailleur to fit?

Thanks

2)

Gerry Lauzon said...

llo Ruan,

The answer is Yes. You only have to adjust the L and H screws for the body of the derailleur not to go behond your 5 gears. You should however consider finding an old 10 bike for the same amount of money or free in the trash and you would have a whole bunch of spare parts.

Gerry

Joshua said...

Gerry,

I bought a Huffy mountain bike about six years ago and road it maybe 20 times. It's been sitting in my shed since then until I pulled it out the other day. I've been working on it so I can ride it again and I am having problems with the derailers. I started to follow your step by step and now I'm stumped. I've gotten the chain to move to the next gear by tightening one of the adjuster screws but I'm still having trouble with the chain skipping gears. It has a habit of breaking loose everytime I get on it and ride. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong.

Josh

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Joshua,

I don't have much detail to go with. From what I can understand, you might have a loose shifter that doesn't hold the cable in place and keeps on slacking as you go. You have to tighten the screw on the shifter to add some friction. If the problem is that it doesn't move at all, the cable might be fused in rust inside the housing. If so , you will have to change both the cable and housing.

Gerry

Lisa said...

I just purchased a trailer bike for my daughter. We rode it about a block and the tire on the trailer bike locked up. The tire itself will not spin either direction. The pedals can be spun backwards, but not forwards. I would appreciate any help you could give me.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Lisa,

It sounds as if the wheel is not seated properly in the frame and it is probably jammed by it. See if it is bolted straight on the frame. That's about the only thing I can figure out from what I have here. Good luck.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Just a note on what Mario said way back about having to keep pressure on the shifter in order to stay in high gears. You said to adjust the slack in the cable.

I had that problem once on one of my bikes and found that simply tightening the shifter(old shifter had a wing nut on it) corrected the problem. Dont know if this helps Mario.

Great job, very helpful site.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hmmm, surprised I didn't catch that. You're %100 right. Tightening the lever bolt will increase friction and hold it in place where you put it. I guess I understood that he couldn't get to the highest gear. Oh well, can't win them all. Thanks for the comment, much appreciated.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Right, the problem I am having is that the derailleur seems to rest ever so slightly on the cogs when I am on the larger ones. You can feel the wheel cogs and the first cog of the derailleur touching becasue it makes the chain vibrate. It seems like I want to move the whole derailleur downa little so there is a bigger gap. How can I do this? Regards, Dominic

Gerry Lauzon said...

If you look at the derailleur where it meets the frame, you should find a screw facing backwards that you can adjust to move the entire derailleur up or down. Adjust accordingly. If you do not have a screw to adjust this, the derailleur is probably not seated well in the frame.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I have a great fix for this one, I was about to buy a new one myself....

" Erik said...

This is more on the topic of shifters than derailleurs but...

I have a mt bike with Shimano Deore XT Rapid Fire type shifters. The problem is that most of the time when I push on the thumb lever there is no resistence, it doesn't catch on anything and nothing happens. Sometimes after I pump it a few times it manages to catch and it works like it should. Any idea how to fix such a thing? "

I saw a random post somewhere about the Shimanos.... And you need to disassemble the housing. Nothing fell apart on my LX, so it is safe to do.....

Then, you will see a rack and pinion (a gear with this hammer type of thing that catches the teeth - and sorry mechanical guys, I don't have the vocab for this) - well the hammer gets gunked up. Spray a huge load of white lightning on it and it will start to rotate again.

BTW, if anyone wants to ship me their "bad" shifters, I'll be happy to take them....

-Eric

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thanks for the great tip Eric. I'll be sure to try it out on mine.

Gerry :)

Jay said...

Stumbled across this site while searching for a fix for my bike. I am learning a lot reading through the posts...Thanks!

I have a Trek 3700 that is about 2.5 years old with about a year of trail riding on it.

When I stop pedaling the pedals continue to turn (if I were to take my feet off of them). If I keep my feet on the pedals and stop pedaling the chain begins to sag and the next time I start to pedal there is no tension/resistance for several revolutions (depends on how long I have coasted) until the chain or something "catches up". Until it catches it feels like you are pedaling while the chain is off.

I know the big bike shops are going to charge me a bunch just to look at it and would like to "tinker" with it a bit myself before hand. My problem is that I know nothing about the mechanics of the bike.

I don't even know where to begin looking.

Thanks for any tips!

Jay

Gerry Lauzon said...

your problem seems to come from the gear cluster on the rear wheel. The mechanism that makes freewheelin possible is shot. You have to replace the unit. If it is a freewheel type unit, it simply unbolts from the hub. However, if it is a cassette type unit, you will need to replace the entire hub. I guess I'll have to post some pictures on how to remove these and what they look like.

Keep posted

Gerry

Anonymous said...

I have been experiencing a similar problem as Erik. I have Shimano rapid thumb shift shifters however when I try and shift I get no resistance and the deraileur doesn't want to move the chain. :( I hope I don't need new ones...

Gerry Lauzon said...

Put the rear shifter in the last position(6 or 7) and the front shifter in the first and check if you have tension in the cables. If they are loose, disconnect them and pull before you reconnect. If that doesn't fix it, it's the shifter itself.

Gerry :)

Jeff said...

Hi Gerry,

First of all, thanks so much for putting this site together. Sounds like a lot of people are saving some good money in "diagnostic fees" from bike shops. :)

Anyways, I have a cannondale mountain bike and I'm having a small problem with my rear shifter. On the thumb side, the positions for the gears to shift seem too far apart. From what I would guess, the positions should be around 7, 9, and 11 o'clock for the three gears. But currently, the positions are about 8, 11, and 1 o'clock and you really have to want it to get to that 3rd position in order to get it to change.

Any thought? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Jeff

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hi Jeff, this sounds like a classic case of slack in your cable. Put the shifter in the position where there is no tension at all in the cable, disconnect from the derailleur, pull and reconnect. Beyond that I have no clue of what could be wrong. Good luck and thanks.

Gerry :)

Ryan said...

Just learned how to disconnect, adjust, and reconnect the derailleur thanks to this post (and the half page "instruction manual"). Anyway, my difficulty was not tightening the cable back to the derailleur enough, then backing off to adjust. After that, shifts excellent. Took it for a test after everything seemed to work, and bam! flat tire.

Nice tutorial, Im linking the site through technorati and www.theidiotdriver.com

Jayson said...

I managed to get the front and rear derailleurs aligned. Now when I pedal then rest (I rest more than I would like to admit!) the chain should continue to move as usual, but instead it is slacking. So when I start pedaling again I have to catch up on the slack before I am actually pushing the bike again.

Any ideas?

p.s. great blog!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Jayson, sounds like the freewheel mechanism in the rear hub as an issue. This could be the cause of your problem where when you stop pedaling, the gears in the rear still move forward instead of remaining where they should be. You might have to replace this unit.

Gerry

p.s. Thanks :)

Jayson said...

Gerry,

Thanks for the response...

I forgot to mention that it worked before I had to remove the rear wheel to replace a tube. I've put the wheel back on and now it doesn't work.

Questions:
Can I put the wheel on too tight?
Could it have been close to failing and I just gave it a reason?
Can it really not be fixed?

Thanks again!

benjoschen said...

I managed to really screw up my alignment trying to adjust on my own with no guidance. Thanks to you, I started from scratch and got it back on track. However, if I peddle backwards in first gear the chain falls off. This was horrible b/c it fell off behind the first gear and spokes. I don't use first very often, if at all, but I'd like it to work anyway.

Rear derailleur=Deore XT
Front derailleur=Tiagra triple
Bike=Cannondale Synapse.

Thanks for any help you can give!
-Jen

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hi Jen, sounds like 2 possible problems here. 1. You might need to adjust the screw for the first gear a bit more. or 2. Your chain or derailleur wheels might need some lubricating.

Hope this helps.

Gerry :)

keith said...

On about the 2nd to 4th gear my chain tends to make a clicking sound and will sometimes jump to the lower gears and to change to some gears i have to go to the bigger sproket then shift down, does this have anything to do with the L and H screws?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Keith, it sounds like you have too much tension in your cable.

Gerry :)

asb82375 said...

Gerry
I followed your directions adjusting the derailleurs. This was excellent. The only problem Im having now is when the chain is on the large rear cog the derailleur vibrates. If I put tension on it towards the rear as Im spinning the pedal the vibration stops. Any Idea. Again thanks for your time !

Gerry Lauzon said...

From what you describe, it sounds like it's between gears and putting tension on the cable brings it up square on the last gear. Try unscrewing the "L" screw another 1/4 turn and see if it helps. Make sure the derailleur doesn't go in the wheel spokes. That would ruin your day!

Good luck

Gerry :)

Alex said...

Great article. This is one of the most confusing adjustments for a lot of people. Have you seen the bicycle tutor video? It is basic but helpful...

bicycletutor.com/adjust-rear-derailleur

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thanks for the comment Alex. I am coming up with my own video on the subject soon.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble with my chain popping sort of out from the gears that it is supposed to be sitting on, so that the radius of the circle the chain is making is too big, if you get what I mean. It then goes ca-chunk and falls into place, and it's driving me insane, making me not use a bunch of gears this is happening in.

Can you tell me how to fix this? Thank you so much.

By the way, the blog rocks. Thanks, it's a great help.

Gerry Lauzon said...

It sounds as if you have a little too much tension in your derailleur cable. Shift it into the second to last gear and screw the adjustment of the cable clockwise on the derailleur until it sits in the intended cog properly. This should do it. If the cable adjustment is already screwed all the way in, you'll have to disconnect the cable and start from there.

Good Luck

Gerry :)

vair-ee-uhs said...

what's that plastic bit between the wheel and the rear cogset? i'm thinking it's a chain guard but is it really necessary? mine seems to be loose and at times, it catches the cogset and makes the chain do a hiccup. plus, it's ugly. you think i could take it off?

Gerry Lauzon said...

If your rear derailleur is properly adjusted, there is no need for that disk. Feel free to remove it.

Gerry :)

Gary said...

Ok...reading your blog convinced me (a 38 year-old who hasn't ridden a bike for 22 years) to go out and buy a new bike so I can go out riding with my 4 year-old boy...so thanks for that.

Two questions:

1. I have twist grip gear changes on my left and right handlebars and when I ride sometimes the bike changes gear on its own, usually when under load from pedalling - very disconcerting. How do I fix this?

2. How do I get beyond feeling like I am about to die after a 1/2 mile trip to the shops and back?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Gary, happy to hear that I got at least one more on a bike, that makes my day. In answer to your questions:
1. If you bought the bike at a local shop, bring it back and have them adjust it, this kind of after sale service is included with your purchase for at least 6 months. If you bought it at some place like Wally world, your cable is out of adjustment and you're on your own. Just follow the steps in this post to fix the problem.
2. Take some Advil and ride more. It gets a lot easier with every mile you pedal, trust me I've been there. Just pace yourself and you'll be fine in no time.

Gerry :)

Oli said...

Hi there

After stupidly hitting a rock in long grass and flipping over my bike frontwards yesterday!, my rear derailleur's shifter seems to have some problems. In is a shimano deore 9 speed I think but basically, on the thumb shifter it works and changes gears etc, but does not flick back into original position. You have to manually push it back into position. Also sometimes you have to push it a couple of times to change gears which could just be the cable tension, but the tension does seem fine. I am fairly confident with taking it apart etc and doing some general maintenance!

Thanks very much

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Oli,

Well if I understand correctly you have a trigger type Shimano shifter. If you have the courage to take it apart and see if you can fix it, I have 2 things to mention to you. 1. Be advised that things will want to fly out of it and disappear for ever. 2. Once opened, these shifters tend to commit suicide. That's my experience anyways. I have never successfully managed to bring a Shimano trigger shifter back to life after taking it apart. I'm about to replace mine with a grip style shifter.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I just started fixing up my parents old bike and i have a problem with the attachments, they dont move. When I go to shift gears i have to use my wrists its so hard to change speed. And when it does work it always shifts to the highest gear and it wont downshift.

Gerry Lauzon said...

It sounds like the cable is either being hampered somewhere on its way to the derailleur or it's jammed with rust somewhere in the cable housing. Did you check if the derailleur can move without the cable by pushing it with your fingers? It could be that too.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

My derailleur shifts down fine but it wont shift back up i have to move it by hand. Is this fixable? I tried just cleaning it thinking that there was dirt clogging it up but no luck.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Sounds like a shifter or cable issue. Disconnect the cable on the derailleur and see if it moves freely when pushing it with your hand. It should help you nail the problem.

Gerry :)

punericousins said...

my rear derailer doesnt shift the chain to the largest wheel in the gear system even in position 1 i=on my right side. rest of the shifts work ok. this started happening after i adjusted my front derailers.

Gerry Lauzon said...

If it used to go there and it doesn't anymore, you probably have cable slack that you have to take care of.

Gerry :)

Kandi said...

For some reason when I shift into 6th, the chain goes into the void between the bar and gears. When I'm in 1st its on the 3rd gear. Is this the derailleur?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Kandi, your problem definitely resides with the derailleur. Follow the instructions in the article and it should solve your problem.

Gerry :)

Davie said...

cheers bikeman!!

what took me an hour an hour to do incorrectly took me 5 mins to do after reading your page.

YASSS..

Gerry Lauzon said...

It's always good to hear that you have made someone's life just a wee bit easier.

Gerry :)

khairul said...

My bicycle is less than a month old. I notice something wrong with the rear derailer. Came across this site when googling on derailer maintenance. Good site, makes me want to go home and run the check, too bad am still at work.

Great site.

Khairul
Malaysia

TaylorD said...

Mornin. First off, my mind is blown by the welth of information on your site. Frakin outstanding!
A thousand thanks! Now for the problem. My rear derailleur is pretty much rusted in place, so adjusting is fruitless at this point. I can moave it by hand, but it wont move at all on its own. (A)How can I "revive" it. (B) how do I know if it's beyond help (and I just need to find a replacement)? and (C) If the latter, is there a "how to replace your rear derailleur" forth-comming?
Thanks again
Taylor

Gerald said...

Hey Taylor,

Try spraying it with "release all", if that doesn't work, then just disconnect the cable and the chain to install a replacement unit. Follow the instructions to adjust it and you're in frakkin business. ;)

Gerry

vair-ee-uhs said...

taylor, my best solution for anything derailluer is my bike shop. find a good mechanic...and the only way to do that is to be passionate about your bike when explaining your problem to said mechanic. if you're passionate, the mechanic will appreciate that fact and work with you.

Neil Jenkins said...

Hi Gerry,

I've skimmed through the comments on this post in case anyone else has reported the same problem before, but couldn't see anything. However, if someone has and I missed it then I apologise for going over old ground.

My problem is, as you might have guessed, with my rear mech. It's a 2yo Shimano Sora short cage mech that's got me through around 6000km. The problem I'm having is that it's refusing to sit in any gears other than the smallest and largest cogs. This is what I've tried so far, but without any improvement in behaviour or performance:

- Removed mech and degreased, cleaned and regreased before remounting.
- Checked mech cage is not bent.
- Checked chain for stretch, twists and stiff links (it's not that old anyway).
- Installed new cable and cable housings.
- Lubed the inside of my shifter.
- Ensured 'H' and 'L' screws are correctly set for the mech against the cassette.
- Removed, degreased, cleaned, regreased and remounted rear cassette.
- Checked rear cassette for worn or bent teeth.
- Checked the rear wheel bearings for give (not long regreased anyway).
- Checked the frame and hanger for misalignment.
- Adjusted cable tension through the whole range of turns (tensions adjusters at the mech and at the shifter).

Result, the same. Yesterday I had to cycle home 23km, into a 30kph headwind, with the bike either in the 11 cog at the back or the 28. A trip that usually takes me 50 minutes took me 1 hour 35 minutes! (I wasn't happy!)

The behaviour is worse under load, such as climbing (or going into a 30kph headwind!). The pedals keep skipping and jumping and it's impossible to get a rhythm going (plus I'm sure that continued use will do neither my mech, chain, cassette or me much good).

What do you think? If money was no object I'd simply replace the whole group (or even the whole bike!). Sadly money IS an object (and, yes, I'm one of the 'victims' of the current ecomonic climate, which DOES exist!). If I have to replace something then fine, but I don't want to do so if not strictly necessary.

Best wishes,
Neil

P.S. Good to hear you're back out on the bikes, Gerry! :-)

Gerald said...

What's interesting in your comment is you mention that it gets worst under load. This means that the problem should reside with the chain and not the adjustment of the derailleur. Back pedal slowly and look if you have any kinked links on the chain when coming out of the cage. I don't think that's the problem as this usually creates a problem in every gear, but check first anyways since this can be easily fixed by "bending" the chain sideways to unjam the faulty link. If that isn't the case, you might need to replace that chain, 6000km sounds about right for a replacement, especially if it's hard riding on a cheap or medium grade chain. Be careful, replacing the chain might not solve the problem, you might have to replace the gears as well on the wheel (the new chain not matching up to the worn cogs), but I don't think that should be the case, you don't seem to have enough mileage on the bike for this.

Good luck and let me know what happens.

Gerry :)

Neil Jenkins said...

Hi Gerry,

Thanks for responding. A little update ....

I'd done the chain check. I'd back-pedalled as you describe. I also painstakingly manually wiggled each and every link joint and all seemed fine. After many attempts at adjustment I'd got to the stage were I could use about half my gears. Then one day last week I was powering up a hill, out of the saddle, when there was an almighty crack and I ended up on the road. The noise was so loud and it happened so suddenly that for a few moment I honestly thought my bike had broken in two! It was the chain, of course - snapped clean through what was obviously a weak link. (It was a relatively new chain - it's the mech and cassette that's done 6000 km.)

A combination of (i) only going at 15kph at the time, (ii) a surprisingly smooth road surface (for rural France!) and (iii) no traffic around me at the time meant that I escaped with only a couple of bruises and oily fingers.

I've since replaced the chain (surprise surprise!) and also the cassette. Everything's working much better now, although I just can't seem to get a perfect adjustment for the rear mech causing some slipping/bobbling in one or two gears. This means I still have the danger of accident as only yesterday when out of the saddle on a climb (the same one, actually!) the gears slipped and one of my feet upclipped from the pedal and I nearly came off.

There are times when it's tempting to get a whole new bike and start again! LOL

Best regards,
Neil

P.S. Hope you're recovery continues apace.

Mind the step said...

Hi Gerry,

Great idea you have here! Your videos are very helpful. I'm sorry to hear about your heart trouble, and wish you good health in the future.

Something that I am doing today, and that I think would help a lot of poor students out:
How to get an old rusty abandoned bike up and running again. Salvage jobs are common here at UBC (we have a whole bike co-op dedicated to the task), but freelancers like myself have to piece together the job from lots of different videos.

Cheers!

Brian said...

Gerry, I am really hoping you can help.
I am changing out the entire drivetrain on my road bike. I have installed an entire Ultegra SL groupset. When I went to set up the rear derailer, it jumps in the largest cog, almost like it won't let it go into it. I adjusted the limit screw to try and give it some more movement but with no luck. I increased the tension on the cable tension screw no luck. I have almost backed the entire tension screw out, not to mention what that does to shifting into the higher gears! I push in the derailer and it rides well in the largest cog, but I caint get it to stay there or go there on its own. Please help, I have yet to tackle the front derailer, but I imagine it will be much easier.

Gerald said...

Start from scratch, you might be missing something. Disconnect the cable and push the derailleur back and forth to see if it goes in all gears. It might be catching something or it is defective. Next, grab the cable at the end pull on it and shift to see if it moves freely. You might have a nick in there or it is catching somewhere.

Good Luck

Gerry :)

Gus, from CT said...

I have this problem on my brand new bike, where I try to shift to speed 4, amd it wants to automatically change to 5, and the same thing with gear 5 and 6. I tried tightening the H screw, and now every gear works fine except it won't shift from 6 to 7. How can I fix this without returning the bike?

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info or derailler adjustment ... ben perth western australia

Gerald said...

If it won't go into 7th, this means you've screwed in the H screw too much. Did you follow the steps in the article? If you did, when the last and second to last gear works fine, the rest will follow suit by themselves. The only other thing is to adjust first gear so the derailleur doesn't end up in the spokes of the wheel. Start from the beginning, disconnect the cable and go from there.

Gerry :)

Tristan from Sydney Australia said...

Thanks for a great site. This is so helpful when your LBS cannot book you in for a week and you need more immediate help.

Can you help with this? Hunting for gears ...

I have a road bike with 105 groupset. In the middle gears (both chain rings) when under load (ie up on the pedals) it will jump to a higher gear (just what you need when going up hill!) then slip back when pressure lessens. This makes a less than healthy sound and makes the bike almost un-rideable.

Will your standard strip down and adjust (rear mech) fix this or is there another adjustment I need to make? Bike has done about 3,000Kms with regular servicing.

This is a great site!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Three possible things:
1. You have a jammed link. Back pedal and watch for a kinked link in the chain, if you do, rock the chain sideways a few times at that location.
2. Chain is worn out, replace the chain.
3. Derailleur is out of wack and needs to be re-adjusted.

I feel it's more 1 or 2 but I would try 3 to rule that out first.

Good luck

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I've just gotten an old 10 speed bike with suntour vgt (luxe) rear derailleur and I was wondering what is the correct way to shift and adjust it (it has the ratchet levers where you have to guess which gear it is). Also, I found that I had to hold the shift lever until the gear changed otherwise it just went back to the highest and I was wondering if that's the right way.

Thanks

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

Hi

I acted on your excellent gear indexing advice by starting fresh. Although there remain some fine-tuning issues*, I got the rear gears working on the bike stand. I had been confused by the fact both my front and rear mech's tensions were messed up with only a narrow middle range of gears; and the bike books only say how to do either - not where to start if both are messed up; I year ago I resolved this somehow but not now. But when I get outside I am peddling thin air with no motion. I thought recent inner & outer cable clean/regrease had fixed intermittent gear failure. But no, now everything gone. Further research elsewhere, a yahoo discussion (books and rest of web yield NOTHING), suggests shot hub (shimano deore xt)or at least dirty. And I've never serviced the hubs; and twice in over a year I have hard-pedalled in snow with congealing snow man-in-rapid-evolution around the rear hub. Think that must be the cause of unidentifiable scrunching last year that not even bottom bracket replacement could cure.

* on minor fine tuning of rear mech for later when this shit solved: no amount of tightening the low-adjustment screw will prevent the potential for the chain going off large cog into spokes when I repeatedly test this. Also I have NEVER got a rear barrel adjuster to even MOVE AT ALL; they just don't budge. Oxidization? But I NEVER managed to move one ever!

Don't how you do this just for fun without charging. Paul

Gerry Lauzon said...

"Don't (know) how you do this just for fun without charging. Paul" Because I love it. I'm happy to hear that this helped you out Paul and that's good enough.

Gerry :)

Paul said...

Thanks Gerry, but no comment on the hub or the stuck barrel adjuster? Paul ps: hey you look like a professor from, say, the 1920s.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Sorry, I had a hard time making out your comment and thought you had figured out the problem. There is nothing to relate between the hub mechanism and changing gears. If the adjustment screw is all the way in (or out) and things are messed up, consider that you might have a bent derailleur, a crooked frame or some other thing that might make the derailleur to not sit properly somehow. The best way to determine this would be to swap in another derailleur, any derailleur, and see if it is screwed up as well. Also, disconnect the cable and play with the shifter while tensionning the cable with your hand. Is the movement smooth and fluid? Is it grabbing somewhere? Is the cable fully set when tension is off? I can't help you much more than that without being there. When the obvious has been considered but the problem still exist, think beyond and outside the box(This would apply to anything).

Good luck

Gerry :)

Adam said...

You're a good man doing good stuff.

As for adjusting both derailleurs, which goes first? I've just replaced both shifters with new cables.

Oh, and thanks for the heads up on adjusting after the new cables find their tension.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thanks :)

I usually start with the rear derailleur first.

Gerry :)

Adam said...

Well, Gerry, thanks to your tut on real derailleur adjustment, I have a 'new' bike to ride.

The tut was deceptively simple. I pretty much got it on the first shot. Some H&L tweaks and she rides like a dream.

About a year ago I bought a 1992 Trek 7000 mtn bike. It was shot, but I figured the $100 price tag was well worth the frame alone.

Two nights ago I got a bug up my butt to dust it off and get this thing road-worthy.

New brake levers, new gear shifters, new rubber, a little WD-40, a busted knuckle or two and some grease, and, of course, a little help from folks like you who are generous with your time and knowledge have made this project fun and worthwhile.

Thanks again. I will pass on my limited, new-found knowledge to anyone who can use it. And I'll be sure to tell them about your site.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Great stuff Adam. Always cool to hear about another bike resurrection. I think that your $100 was very well spent.

Gerry :)

Adam said...

Well, it started out as $100.

And this might be a bit of a cautionary tale for those thinking about refurbing an old bike. Not that you shouldn't do it, just consider what you're getting into...

All in all, including the bike itself, I'm in for about $300... so far. I didn't have all the right tools, and you need the right tools, right? So, a set of allen keys, chain link remover, chain cleaner, bottom bracket spanner, etc. Then, a tire pump. Proper lubrication is absolutely necessary, as is a can of WD-40.

All that before bike parts.

Of course, most of those things will be with me for a long time, but it's that initial investment that might bite you in the saddle. So, before you go out to find a dusty old frame to revive into a working bike, put a few more bucks away for it than you think you'll need.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Wise words. The tools will be with you for life and pay for themselves in the long run. They should be calculated as an investment, not an expense. Please stay away from WD40 for lubricating at all cost. It is more a degreaser than anything else. I prefer Jigaloo myself to move jammed things and auto transmission fluid to lubricate all drivetrain parts. I'm not alone on that last part.

Gerry :)

Stef said...

Hey guys,
This is an old article, so not sure if people are still watching and responding to posts, but I have a relevant issue which I need help with.

I have started from scratch and re-tuned my rear shimano deore to improve shifting. To quickly recap, set both barrel adjusters to zero, reset cable tension at the rear, reset H & L screws.

I then used the rear barrel adjuster to perfectly tune the tension to move up the gears (small to large).

Here is my problem. I have lots of hesitation, no movement at all, or jumping of gears when trying to return down the gears to the smallest cog.

I don't understand how it can be perfect going up with no noise, rattle or hesitation, but coming down is awful.

Could this be an issue with the spring in the rear derailleur not pulling it back, or an issue in the index shifter, or an issue with cable stretch/tension??

Please advise.......

Gerry Lauzon said...

Sounds like a dead derailleur spring. You'll have to replace the unit unfortunately but it sounds like you have mastered the shifting adjustment.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi i was wondering if you could help me. I have a hyper mountain bike with the shifts just like a dirt bike throttle. When i turn them it will move the cable but it will not move the derailleur. What could be wrong with this. Is it maybe that the cable is to loose? If so i tightened it up as tight as it will go and it still does not move. Please help because it is a beautiful bike but it is so hard to use when its stuck in the hardest gear and i would like to have it running.

Gerry Lauzon said...

No disrespect, but if you read the article and can't figure out the problem, I would suggest bringing it to a qualified mechanic. Go over it once again and check every little detail first. You might have missed something obvious.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much! This article, along with a book of images that showed me the names of things, sorted out my issue.

Now I can continue riding daily, without having to lose my bike to a shop for maintenance for a day.

MUCH appreciated!
RL

Gerry Lauzon said...

At over 100 commenst, this is clearly one of my most popular posts. Glad I could be of service.

Gerry :)

Cruise said...

Yo. Something on my bike is jammed..

It is not allowing the bike to freewheel/coast down hill without the pedals spinning like mad.

It looks like the rear cog is spinning with the wheel even when the pedals are still. And the rear system also moves when the pedals are psuhed in reverse.

How do i sort it?

(plus-cool website)

Gerry Lauzon said...

Bro, sounds like the inside mechanism of your freewheel or cassette is shot. It needs to be replaced.

Thanks

Gerry :)

Andrew said...

Rear Railleur: Shm Deore

Every time I shift gears to the lowest gear / largest cog on the rear cog the chain drops off in toward the wheel hub. I have noticed a slight clicking noise as if it wants to change down a further gear. i have checked the dérailleur alignment and it does not seem bent. Any thoughts?

Thanks
Andrew

Gerry Lauzon said...

Andrew, you need to adjust the "L" screw in order to prevent the chain from going beyond the gear and into the spokes. Put the chain in that gear, turn the pedals and adjust the "L" screw by screwing it in slowly until you stop hearing that clicking sound. The "L" screw is there to prevent the cage of the derailleur to go beyond the gear. A quarter turn should do the trick but then again I'm not there with you.

Good Luck

Gerry :)

carreradad said...

how come when riding with the front gear in the 1st position ring next to the frame i can't shift my gears to the 1st gear in the back(next to the frame) but when i am in the 2nd gear on the front i can't get into the gear closest to the rim. this is on a mountain bike

Gerry Lauzon said...

Start adjusting the rear derailleur first. Then work on the front one. Any issues you have should reveal themselves if you follow that process.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry,

I commented before about painting my old bike but since you told me to be patient I sat tight and the paint firmed up nicely.

next step in getting the bike going; it was a single speed but I was hoping to make it into a bike with gears so its a better commuter bike.

I have put a rear wheel on it that has several cassettes hoping that it would be as simple as putting a derailer on and threading the chain and hocking up the shifter lever. However the guys at the local bike shop are telling me its not possible. The issue seems to be that there is not the correct holes to hang a derailer? I thought it could just be hung on the wheel axle bolt without the small secondary bolt but they tell me this isnt good enough?

Do you know of anyway to put a derailer on an old single speed? I have heard the internally geared hub option but was hoping to save some money. I am not opposed to drilling in the frame plus i have access to a welder if there is some way you know to maguiver a solution.

Thanks in advance!
Amy

Anonymous said...

hi

my deralier has jumped up quite high and i havnt a clue how to keep it back in the original place without it jumping up. whenever i change gear it pulls around a bit and pulls my quick release wheel of the bike.Any help would be great.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Sounds like a jammed link in the chain that catches inside the derailleur cage. Back pedal by hand and see what happens, it could help you figure out the problem.

Gerry

Kevin said...

Thanks for the articles. I blew up my rear derailleur last night, and am replacing it now. Never done this before. Your pieces on chain repair and derailleur adjustment have been invaluable, and I'm sure I'll be back.

Cheers!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Glad I could help Kevin.

Gerry :)

Bluezero2x said...

Hello! my question is simple, the tension spring came off my derailleur yesterday while riding, can this just be replaced? seems silly to have to buy a new derailleur over a spring. thoughts?

Gerry Lauzon said...

I know it sucks but if this happened, there might be other issues with that derailleur. I would replace the unit.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

What can be done about a rear derailleur barrel adjuster that continuously "adjusts" itself out of alignment? I have a Shimano 105 9-sp. rear derailleur, and it appears that it does not have the detent fluting I am used to seeing for mating with the barrel adjuster and holding it in place. About every 10 miles (16km) I have to turn the barrel adjuster back 1/4 to a full turn to realign the derailleur. Any suggestions?

Gerry Lauzon said...

I would try some lock nut fluid on the thread of the screw. It isn't under serious stress, so it should hold with that.

Gerry

johnjohn said...

I can now get the bike to shift gears properly, sort of. I can pull on the cables and change the gears but the minute I cable up the shifters on the handlebars freeze up. Will only budge maybe 1 position using both hands it's so hard. If I loosen the cable enough for the shifter to work, nothing else does. The cable is free, the derailer moves easy, as do the shifters with no cable attached to them... Any ideas? Could it be the cables? I'm lost..
Thanks!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Have you tried moving the cable back and forth in the housing/s while disconnected to the shifter and derailleur? Might find a problem there.

Gerry

johnjohn said...

Yup the cab;les move freely in the housing, on and off, everything appears to work till I put it all together...

raffazizzi said...

Great tips! I'm just getting started on learning how to adjust the derailleur and this is a very clear guide!
My problem is that when I shift to the lowest possible gear (the closest one to the spokes), the pulley ends up touching the spokes. I tried to adjust the angle tension, but with no results :( Any ideas? Thanks!

Akshay said...

I have a shimano 21-speed.i bought the cycle just yesterday and while changing my friction reducer,the chain came off...i tried but i just cant fix it..i cant even reach it...how can i fix it back into position without any difficulty of removing any nuts or bolts?

Gerry Lauzon said...

You'll have to remove the wheel.

Gerry

Garry said...

Last week my partner was riding her bike. It is near new with only about 50km on it. The chain kept jumping up to the next sprocket, back to the correct one, down the next and back again. After lots of adjusting I stumbled across the problem. There is a reflector on the handlebars that the gear cable had got caught around which was pulling it tight. As the handlebars turned the tension changed on the cable which forced the gears to change. Sometimes it can be simple :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello,
It seems as if when I'm on the first gear spot on my shifter I am on the 3rd gear cassette. Please help! 12 speed bike shimano derailleur

Gerry Lauzon said...

Just follow the instructions in this article. I have nothing more that I can add.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

I can Spin my rear wheel backwards but when not forwards. But when I spin it backwards for a minute or two i can spin the wheel forward then it will eventually lock up again.

The shifter works fine and the pedals go backwards and forwards when the wheel does. do you know whats causing this?

Anonymous said...

Hey man I just bought a new road bike and my front delairler is messed up. Its too low to get into the second (bigger chain and I tried adjusting it by moving it but the cables are short. I somewhat knew about the h and l but didn't really know how to use them I just moved them around a lot. If you can help me please email me at mocho53@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hope this is usefull not sure of the time frame for the post but make sure the spoke guard isn't jammed into the cog I had to dislodge mine last week after encountering the same issue

DeDJeZTeR said...

Hello Sir,

I have a question for you, but I do not know if it is the derailleur.

I am trying to fix my mothers bicycle and am having no luck as of yet. The problem seems to be that the back gear set continues to move while coasting. This is causing the back derailleur to extend to its limit then snap back into place. If you just stop pedaling the pedals will jerk violently from under your feet, the chain hits the floor or pops off, or gets into the spokes of the tire.

Any help would be great... Thanx

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've just changed my cassette from a 11-23 to a 12-25 along with a new chain and now the chain rubs the front mech when in the top two or bottom two cogs on the cassette. Have you any idea on why this would be and what I would need to do to correct please? I'm guessing even though its catching on the front mech the adjustment would have to be made to the rear mech to adjust for the change in small and large cassette cogs?

Many thanks
Dean

Gerry Lauzon said...

You have to adjust the front derailleur. The rear one has no incidence on what's happening up front. Your new gear cluster maybe a bit out of alignement compared to old one.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

the small gear on my back wheel has become loose how can i tighten it?

Stephen said...

Hi this is a great site! My gears have been slipping (changing by themself) for a while now and yesterday when the gear was changing on its own again, I lost connection with the rer wheel. Now when I pedal, it seems to be on the lightest gear and the rear wheel has no movement at all. How do I fix this? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gerry from Australia. I couldn't get into first gear which hasn't mattered much until now I want to start riding to get fit and I need that first gear for Hills. It took a couple of goes cos I found I needed more tension on the cable to get first gear. One question: on my el cheapo bike is it possible and economical to change the cassette so I get a lower first gear forum those hills? I am trying to convince myself thats the reason fir the uphill struggle, not my un fitness! Thanks again, Jeff.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Jeff,

it's not that expensive to replace the freewheel but give yourself some time to adapt and you will climb those hills a lot better soon.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the prompt reply Gerry. I have been reading some of your other pages, thanks for taking the time to write.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Always a pleasure to reply when I get reader feedback despite the fact that I'm not adding new posts.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am having a bike with 5 speed freewheel and derailleur type Shimano rd ty15. since my grip shift was broken, I replaced with a new shimano sis sl-rs 31 revo grip shift(7 speed). my question is can I replace the freewheel with shimano mf-tz21 (7 speed) without changing my derailleur.
does this combination works better? i.e Shimano sl-rs 31 with Shimano mf-tz21 with derailleur Shimano rd-ty15????
RK

Anonymous said...

Hi, Can you let me know What are the main differences between SHIMANO 5speed, 6speed,7speed Rear Derailleurs functionality? does all of them work similar?

Gerry Lauzon said...

If you adjust the + and - screws you should be able to use it on a 5,6 or 7 speed cluster. Try that before getting a new one.

Gerry

Alex said...

hey Gerry, i have a problem with my bike and no one can seen to figure out what it is, maybe you can help. sometimes when i switch gears it doesn't switch(or i don't feel the click of the gear switch) and the chain starts to make repeated clicking sounds. i have to switch gears back in forth to gradually fix it. sometimes is doesn't even fix it self, i even took my bike in for a tune up which fixed it for a little while but then i switched gears and the clicking started up again. its on any gear that it sometimes does this cliking. i've ridden the bike two times and its new. please help.

Alex said...

here is my email by the way:
zez777@yahoo.com

matthew Tidey said...

hey could someone please help me i can pedal the bike but they do not to move the chain any advise would be very helpful

Anonymous said...

Hi I recently replaced my rear inner tube (had to take wheels off etc) on my first ride to check pressure etc and heard a loud clued wheels jammed up looked down to see my derailleur twisted and bent round the top of the wheel. Can this be fixed at home (skint and can not afford to pay for repair) please help cheers paul

Gerry Lauzon said...

You should be able to put the derailleur back into its proper place. Make sure you adjust it before another ride so it doesn't go into the spokes again,

Gerry