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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.