How to adjust the gears of your bike

Chain tensioner rollers

The small sprockets on the derailleur frame should also be cleaned and lubricated at least once a year. Having outlived their own, and even without a share of attention, the rollers always jam, and the chain on them often simply rubs, bouncing and flying off the rear sprockets.

As for the material for making the rollers, that is, a carbon coating on top, and ceramic bearings inside. But to save the household budget, it makes no sense to buy expensive toys, since all common plastic wheels will last longer than the switch itself, of course, with simple maintenance.

Rear derailleur setting

It is convenient to lubricate, adjust and repair chain drive units with the rear wheel raised. To do this, you can tilt the bike, leaning on the side stand, hang the bike on hooks or an ironing board, ask a friend for help. A rear wheel stand will help out well in this situation.

  • clean the derailleur and sprocket cassette well;
  • place the chain at the front on the middle sprocket and at the back on the smallest sprocket.

The rear spreader must be cleaned to properly set up. Namely: clean the tensioner rollers from dirty grease, remove the blades of grass and sticks from the cassette of sprockets, wash and lubricate the chain. Even after this simple work, the switch starts to work much better.

  • screw in the tension screws on the rear spreader and at the shifter all the way;
  • pull the cable out of the retaining screw.

It is not necessary to completely remove the cable from the bike, but it will not hurt to inspect it for damage and lubricate it.

Setting the travel limit to the smallest sprocket: crouch at the back of the bike and turn the adjusting screw H, set the transfer device to a position in which its rollers and the smallest sprocket in the cassette will be in a straight line.

There is one trick here: if the spreader is no longer new, and it staggers, then you can adjust it more or less accurately only by placing the frame not in a straight line, but literally moving a hair to the right, away from the wheel.

If the setting is done correctly, then when the wheel rotates, the chain does not try to jump to the side and works silently.

  • we fix the cable with a mounting bolt, pulling the cable not with pliers, but by hand;
  • we tighten the cable by rotating the hollow screw with a drum, so that the spreader easily switches from one sprocket to another and back with one click and pressing the shifter.

It is enough to adjust the transition only between two adjacent stars, and the shift will be adjusted on all the sprockets of the cassette. This is the advantage of the index gear change system.

If a groove is provided for the cable in the clamp, then make sure that it hits exactly in it, and does not squeeze, being fixed incorrectly.

Setting the travel limit to the largest sprocket:

  • we loosen the adjusting screw L so that it does not interfere with the movement of the spreader;
  • turning the pedals, we throw the chain to the largest sprocket at the back;
  • by turning the adjusting screw L, we align the spreader in the position when its rollers and the largest sprocket of the cassette are exactly on the same line.
  • we transfer the chain to the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest in the back;
  • if, when the chain rotates, the upper tensioner roller touches the sprocket in the cassette, then tighten the chain tension screw. It is necessary to set the gap between them, approximately equal to 5 mm;
  • move the chain to the largest sprocket in the front and the smallest at the back and check the chain tension in this position.

Rear derailleur cock

If, when the chain is on any one sprocket in front, the gear change from the rear is smooth, and when changing to another front sprocket, it becomes difficult to shift, then, most likely, the cock is bent on the bike.

The rear spreader, located down and away from the frame, is more prone to breakage than other parts of the bike when riding over logs or curbs. In the event of a fall, both the parallelogram switch itself and its mounting may bend from a side impact. If the rear parallelogram is attached directly to the frame, then it can break. If the switch is put on special fasteners, then it itself can remain intact, and the cock will bend, as a rule, towards the spokes.

In order to determine whether the cock is bent, and the rear derailleur at the same time, it is enough, sitting down behind the bike, to look at the position of the derailleur. Two rollers of the chain tensioner must be in a strictly vertical plane in relation to each other.

Under no circumstances should you try to straighten the bent cock by grabbing the rear derailleur. The spreader frame is very fragile. First, it is she who will begin to bend, and not the deformed fasteners. It is a good idea to completely remove the
cock from the bike to align it on the plate. Better yet, use a special tool with which you can accurately straighten the bent mount directly on the bike frame. This tool works like a lever and has a pointer showing how accurately the cock is vertically aligned.

Chains and sprockets

Sometimes the cause of a problematic gear change is already the extreme wear of the chain drive. Long driving at prohibited speed combinations leads to increased lateral wear of the chain and sprockets. Do not ride in positions where the chain is very skewed: on the smallest sprocket in the front and rear and on the largest front and rear sprocket.

There are times when the new rear sprocket cassette is skewed onto the rear wheel hub, as many people buy the cheapest bike parts. And often, in order to eliminate the wobbling of the sprocket cassette, it is enough to adjust it by removing one or two adjusting rings inside the ratchet mechanism.

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Adjusting screws on the switch

Despite the variety of parallelogram switches sold, the principle of their operation is the same, and therefore, they have a similar design. Usually they all have 5 adjusting elements:

  • Embedded bolt with nut for fastening the cable.
  • Hollow screw with cable tension drum.
  • Thrower travel stop screw to largest sprocket. denoted by letter L.
  • Thrower travel stop screw to smallest sprocket. marked with H.
  • Chain tension screw.

Some inexpensive derailleurs may not have a cable tension drum and chain tension screw. But there is an adjusting drum on the steering wheel shifters. So you can adjust the tension of the cable directly in motion, without forgetting to throw the chain onto the smallest sprocket.

Why your bike shifts like garbage

Cables and shirts

Sometimes an amazing result is obtained by simply cleaning the cables and shirts, as well as their subsequent lubrication with liquid oil. After such a simple operation, it becomes much easier to switch speeds on a bicycle. Ropes and shirts vary in strength and price, but even cheap parts will last a long time if you give them half an hour of your time once a month.
Keeping all parts of the bike clean and lubricated is all that is required of you.

How To Tune Bike Gears The Easy Way

A cable shirt, as you can imagine, is needed to protect against dirt and wash off the grease. In the world of mountain biking, it has long been a rule to hide the cables in the tubes as much as possible. But the longest cable of the rear derailleur cannot be hidden for its entire length, because it will be very tight to walk in an exorbitantly long shirt, especially in places of kinks. On some expensive mountain bikes, the cables are partially extended inside the frame.

If you find a torn cable with unbraided wires, then the only correct repair will be to replace it with a new one. The same applies to the cable guards. all broken jackets with stretched steel must be replaced.

In the event that the rear derailleur setting is unexpectedly lost, this may be due to:

  • pulling out the cable from the fixing bolt on the spreader;
  • pushing the plug on one end of the shirt.

How to adjust the bike’s rear derailleur

It must be said right off the bat that the hardest thing to tune is old, worn out switches. The cheapest spreaders made of low-quality material wear out very quickly. After years of operation, so much material is produced in the joints of their mechanisms that backlashes are already becoming noticeable. Large wiggles in the rear derailleur will prevent you from adjusting to at least remove loud crackling noise when driving.

Adjusting the gearshift paddles is not a difficult job to be contacted by a mechanic. You will not be able to break the gearshift mechanism, the index system for changing speeds is the simplest and most reliable of all.

Steering wheel switches

If the shifter on the steering wheel breaks, then it will not be difficult to understand, since the cable tension will immediately weaken, or it will simply stop pulling. Chasing expensive Sram, Shimano components in the hope that they will not work better is not worth it. For an ordinary inexpensive bike, the speed of gear changes and the weight of components are not as important as the maintainability and cheapness of replacement parts.

about setting the rear derailleur in a short

Preparing to adjust an open bike drive

Adjusting the bike transmission is a responsible business, which is not done right off the bat. When preparing to adjust the gear shift of an open bike transmission, you must:

  • Perform visual inspection of the rear and front derailleurs, as well as the drive Bowden cables.
  • If recoverable (repairable) bent or damage is found that affects the operation of the rear and front derailleurs, they must be aligned or repaired. So, for example, a characteristic malfunction is a bent “cock”, to which the rear derailleur mechanism is bolted. The “rooster” must be carefully leveled by hands, with a special device, or replaced with a new one (it is considered a consumable for avid cyclists).
  • If any tears or delamination of the steel cables of the drive, or breaks of their polymer jackets are found, the cable bowdens must also be replaced with new ones.
  • Before you start adjusting the bike transmission, its assemblies and parts (including the bike chain) must be cleaned of dirt and rust, washed, and thoroughly lubricated.

How to adjust the front derailleur?

How do I adjust the gearshift of my bike with the front derailleur? and the procedure for such an adjustment largely overlaps with the adjustment of the rear derailleur, and includes:

  • Installation (restoration) of strict parallelism of the derailleur frame to the line of movement of the bicycle chain.
  • Adjusting the position of the travel stops for high (H) and low (L) gears.
  • Setting the clarity of the gearshift.

A) To install the derailleur frame strictly parallel to the bicycle chain tension line, it is necessary to loosen the tightening bolt of the clamp of the front derailleur to the bicycle frame, and by rotating the switch mechanism around the vertical tube of the bicycle frame, set the required parallelism of the transmission parts.

B) Adjustment of the position of the front derailleur travel stops is performed by the corresponding adjusting screws marked with letters “H” and “L”.

  • With the left shifter on the steering wheel, move the front derailleur (its frame) to the highest gear position, while the chain should be transferred to the smallest star of the multi-star system.
  • Fully loosen the drive cable on the shifter.
  • By turning the adjusting screw H (using a Phillips screwdriver), we achieve such a position of the switch frame, in which its outer side does not come into contact with the bicycle chain, the gap between them is 1. 2 mm.
  • We pull the bowden drive cable by hand, and fix it on the shifter.
  • We shift the front derailleur to the lowest gear position with the shifter, while the chain should be transferred to the largest star of the system.
  • By turning the adjusting screw L, we achieve such a position of the switch frame, in which its inner side does not come into contact with the bicycle chain, and the gap between them is 1. 2 mm.

C) Similarly to the rear mechanism, the adjustment of the clarity of gear shifting with the front derailleur is performed by adjusting the tension of the Bowden drive cable, with the obligatory check of the results on the move (mileage) of the bicycle. Carry out this adjustment until the degree of bowden tension is found, which provides the best gearshift clarity both from top to bottom and from bottom to top.

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If the front derailleur does not transfer gears well from higher to lower (from smaller system stars to larger ones), the tension of the bowden cable must be increased by twisting the tension drum on the appropriate shifter.

If the switch badly “resets” the speeds from lower to higher (from large stars of the system to lower ones), then the bowden cable is taut, and by unscrewing the drum on the shifter, its tension should be reduced.

How to set up bike gears?

A multi-speed bicycle transmission by changing the gear ratio of the power (chain) transmission allows you to optimize the speed and mode of movement of the cyclist (“uphill” or “downhill”, on hard surface, on a country road or off-road, etc.), to match them with the physical load on the cyclist. But on one condition. if it is properly adjusted (tuned). An unadjusted multi-speed bike drive will become a burden rather than a help to the cyclist. For this reason, for the inexperienced, beginner, or technically illiterate cyclist, the question “how to adjust the gears on a bicycle” will always be an acute one.

When is it necessary to adjust the gears of the bicycle transmission?

Knowing the answer to the question “how to adjust the gears on a bicycle” may be needed by every cyclist, especially a beginner. Adjustment of an open-type multi-speed bicycle transmission is needed:

  • after installing its nodes on the bike (new or after repair); as an option, after purchasing a new bike from a seller who did not conduct high-quality pre-sale preparation of the bike;
  • after long-term or seasonal storage of the bike, if it was completely or partially disassembled;
  • in the course of everyday use, every time an incorrect or unclear gear change is detected.

How to adjust the rear derailleur?

A lot of bike models make do with just a rear derailleur. Therefore, often the question “how to adjust the speed switch on a bicycle” is only limited to them.

Adjusting the rear derailleur is straightforward and includes:

  • Installation (restoration) of the coaxiality of the cassette sprockets and the “crossover” guide roller.
  • Adjusting the position of the travel stops for high (H) and low (L) gears.
  • Adjusting the position of the “flip” roller.
  • Setting the clarity of the gearshift.

A) Installation (restoration) of the coaxiality of the cassette sprockets and the “flip” guide roller is usually carried out in the event of a bent “cock”, by aligning it (or replacing it with a new one) so that the rotation planes of the cassette and guide roller sprockets completely coincide. If the misalignment occurs due to the bent legs of the chain tensioner, then most likely you will have to hand over the rear derailleur mechanism for repair.

B) The position of the travel stops is adjusted by the corresponding adjusting screws on the switch, marked with letters “H” and “L”.

adjust, gears, bike
  • With the right shifter on the steering wheel, move the rear derailleur (its guide roller) to the highest gear position (opposite the smallest sprocket in the cassette).
  • Fully loosen the drive cable on the shifter.
  • By turning the adjusting screw H (using a Phillips screwdriver), we achieve the position of the guide roller strictly opposite the smallest sprocket of the cassette, in the same plane.
  • We pull the bowden drive cable by hand, and fix it on the shifter.
  • We move the switch to the lowest gear position with the shifter.
  • By turning the adjusting screw L, we achieve the position of the guide roller strictly opposite the largest sprocket of the cassette, in the same plane.

C) In the same position of the switch, we adjust the position of the guide roller relative to the largest sprocket of the cassette, to prevent them from touching (clinging) when changing speeds. By turning the appropriate adjusting screw (adjusting the chain tension), we achieve that the gap between the tops of the teeth of the large sprocket and the guide roller is within 5 mm.

D) Adjustment of the clarity of gear shifting with the rear derailleur is performed by adjusting the tension of the Bowden drive cable, with the obligatory check of the adjustment results on the fly (mileage) of the bike. Carry out this operation until such a degree of bowden tension is found, at which the best clarity of gear shifting is provided both from top to bottom and from bottom to top.

If the rear derailleur does not transfer gears well from higher to lower (from smaller sprockets to larger ones), the tension of the bowden cable must be increased by turning the tension adjustment screw (the so-called “drum”) on the shifter, for which it must be turned clockwise. If the switch badly “resets” the speeds from low to high (from large stars to smaller ones), then on the contrary, by rotating the drum on the shifter (turn counterclockwise), the tension of the bowden cable should be reduced.

The difference in approaches to regulating open and planetary bike transmissions

Modern multi-speed bicycle transmissions are presented in two main types:

  • open (sports), in which the gear ratio is changed by simply throwing the bicycle chain between the larger and smaller stars of multi-star gearboxes: the front multi-star “system” (usually 2. 3 large stars), and the rear “cassette” or “ratchet” (from 5 to 11 small stars); accordingly, the mechanisms for transferring the chain between the stars / sprockets are called the front and rear derailleur, which “work” in conjunction with cable drives (bowdens), under the control of manual “shifters” located on the steering wheel;
  • planetary (“planetary”), in a closed sealed case, with a gear mechanism (reducer) for shifting gears of a planetary kinematic scheme.

As a rule, the order of adjustment of the “planetary” strongly depends on the features of its design. Therefore, when setting it up, it is best to follow the instructions of the direct manufacturer. Whereas the design of open bike transmissions is much more standardized and monotonous, which makes it possible to draw up standard (universal) instructions for setting them up.

Multi-speed open transmission can be composed of only rear or both rear and front derailleurs. Therefore, in relation to a specific model, this typical instruction can be carried out both in full and in part.


Thus, the answer to the question “how to adjust the gear shifting on a bicycle” was not so difficult. Almost any cyclist armed with a bicycle “family” multi-tool wrench and a Phillips screwdriver, as well as the knowledge set out in this manual, turned out to be “in the teeth” how to correctly set the speed on a bicycle.

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Planetary hub

Sometimes you will find derailleurs right inside the rear hub, unlike the familiar derailleurs that are attached to the cock and throw the chain over the cassette. This is a planetary hub. These bushings are most commonly seen on road bikes. The advantage of such bushings is that the switching takes place without sudden jumps in the chain, which is very convenient, besides, dirt does not get on the working parts, as a result of which the switching is not so dependent on the external environment. Also, switching in the planetary hub occurs without pedaling, which means that you can switch even while standing still. The disadvantage of such bushings is that they weigh a lot, and most importantly, it is difficult to find a service that can repair them, and even more so, they cannot be repaired on your own during the trip.

Switch classification

In the modern world, there are many companies that create equipment for bicycles. The best quality models are made by corporations such as Shimano (Japan) and Sram (America), producing entire lines of derailleurs.

  • Sram ESP 7.0 and Shimano Deore are similar designs. Made from highly durable components and designed for 24 gears.
  • Sram ESP 4.0, Sram ESP 5.0, Shimano Nexave and Shimano alivio are cheaper than the professional line. They can handle up to 24 speeds and are designed for touring bike models.

Sram ESP 7.0 derailleur specially designed for sports bikes

  • The Sram ESP 4.0, Shimano C201 and Shimano acera are bundled with the cheaper entry-level hybrids and mountain bikes. Withstand up to 24 gears.
  • Sram ESP 3.0, Shimano Nexus and Shimano altus are designed for touring, city bikes.
  • The Shimano tourney is built for a calm, smooth ride. Shifts 21 gears.

There is no fundamental difference in the adjustment and operation of different switch lines from the same company. For example, different Shimano derailleur groups work the same and are interchangeable. Let’s say that the drive of eight-speed Alivio, Altus, Acera switches can be used with nine-speed Deore, Deore XT, Deore LX, XTR systems and vice versa.

Preparation for commissioning

Before adjusting the bike speeds, you need to clean and lubricate the chain and derailleurs. It is also advisable to produce:

  • inspection of the drive cable for the presence of rough bends that violate the smoothness of its movement along the inner surface of the shirt, unweaving and solidity of the connection with an emphasis based in the shifter;
  • control of the condition of the jackets. in case of strong wear of the inner, often silicone insert, or the presence of fatigue fractures, their replacement is required;
  • inspection of the rear derailleur and the frame counterpart (cock) for deviations from the vertical position. the rollers and the cassette counter sprocket must lie strictly in the same plane.

Also, before adjusting the speeds on the bike, it is necessary to loosen the cable tension and it is strongly recommended to screw the adjusting drums all the way. In the already tuned state, the following dependence is observed: the less the drum is unscrewed, the more accurately the system works, and also a guaranteed departure margin is maintained, which is necessary for instant compensation of the cable lengthening during the trip.

Combined mechanism

The combined type is a combination of an external and an internal mechanism. It attaches to the bike’s rear wheel hub.

The combo derailleur is a hybrid of an external and an internal bicycle derailleur.

This mechanism is extremely rare, since it has collected all the negative aspects of both external and internal gearshift systems. It is configured only by a professional.

Gear selection

There is no unambiguous answer to the question: “Which gear to choose?” It depends on many factors: the terrain, your personal convenience, the characteristics of the bike. But first, you can use the table, which is compiled for a bicycle with 24 speeds (it has three positions on the left shifter, and eight on the right). For a bike with 18 speeds (there are three positions on the left shifter and six positions on the right), the table will look different.

These tables give a rough idea of ​​which gears you can select. (The gear range for an 18-speed bike is shown in parentheses) You will have to draw the exact chart that is perfect for you.

Terrain Left shifter Right shifter
Uphill 1-2 (1) 1-4 (1-3)
Driving on a flat road 1-2 2-5 (2-4)
Descent from the mountain 2-3 4-8 (3-6)


If the chain slips with effort when pedaling, this means that it is stretched and it is time to change it. If you haven’t changed it for a long time, you may also have to change the stars with the cassette. a worn out chain quickly destroys a star.

If some certain speeds do not turn on well, check if the cable runs freely in the shirts and if there are any breaks, as well as places with unbraided cable winding. Shirts with breaks and those in which the cable runs with difficulty must be replaced, as can a damaged cable. The same problem can be caused by a bent cock.

If the switch suddenly stopped working altogether, then the problem is clearly in the cable: either it is badly tightened with a fixing bolt, or it has broken.

And another important point. When changing gears, make sure that there is no skewing of the chain, due to its location simultaneously on opposite sprockets of the connecting rod and cassette, as well as on the middle sprocket and extreme sprockets of the cassette. Incorrect chain positioning is shown schematically in the picture. Because of this, there is a rapid wear of both the chain and the stars.

In general, setting up your bike’s gear shifters is quick (30-40 minutes) and effortless.

Internal gear shifting on mountain bike

The basis of this design is planetary bushings. This mechanism does not use cassettes. The transmission includes only 2 stars: front and rear. The whole mechanism is hidden inside. Usually there is no front derailleur either.

All elements of the gearshift are hidden in the body

This mechanism is often found on road bikes, pleasure bikes, folding bicycles and city bikes. The system itself is located inside the rear planetary hub. This type of gear shifter can be seen, for example, on the Forward Surf city bike (3 gears).