How to set the speed switch on a bike

The ropes and their shirts

As strange as it may sound, most often the adjustment of the rear derailleur consists in cleaning and subsequent lubrication of the cables and their shirts. These bicycle parts can be of high quality, or worse quality. both of them will work for a rather long time if the bicycle owner at least once a month cleans them of dirt and lubricates them with liquid oil.

speed, switch, bike

Note: if during the next service a torn cable or a damaged casing (its shirt) is found, then they must be completely replaced with new parts.

When is it necessary to adjust the rear derailleur

The process under consideration should not be carried out constantly, with systematic maintenance of a two-wheeled vehicle. as experienced mechanics say, “do not interfere with the bike ride.” Therefore, you need to clearly understand what may be the reason for adjusting the rear derailleur:

  • The cable and its jacket are either faulty or require lubrication.
  • Attachment to the rear spreader frame (called “cock”) is curved.
  • Cassettes and / or sprocket chains on the rear wheel are worn out.
  • The tensioner rollers are clearly jammed on the rear spreader.
  • The shifter for changing the speeds on the steering wheel has become unusable.

A bit of boring theory

The rear derailleur mechanism throws the chain over the cassette stars, allowing you to lower or increase gears (for reference, it was invented by the Italian Tullio Campagnolo back in 1950). This device also keeps the chain taut. Since the invention, many varieties have been created. A little about the main, most characteristic features.

  • Manufacturing material. From steel to carbon. The entry-level models are equipped with steel, and not always of good quality, and plastic. In the right hands, these switches even work sometimes. Models of the middle category are in most cases made using aluminum. The most expensive models can boast not only precision in work, but also titanium, carbon or composite.
  • Frame size. In theory, everything is simple. the longer the frame, the more gears you can select. However, one cannot say so categorically, since someone will prefer a short frame that is not afraid of stones, while others are interested in greater comfort in switching. And everyone is right in their own way.


You can still describe in detail the action of the spring or the options for the location of the cable for a long time. However, many good articles have been written on this topic. I will only note that there is not much difference from which side the cable enters the switch. So, now about the interesting.

How to adjust the rear derailleur

It is convenient to carry out all work on setting the rear derailleur when the rear wheel of the bicycle is lifted up. To do this, you can use a footrest (if one is provided constructively), or install a two-wheeled vehicle on a regular ironing board, or use the help of a friend.

The process in question must be carried out in stages.

How to fine tune the rear derailleur

From time to time, bike owners have to fine tune the rear derailleur. As a rule, such work is carried out in the following cases:

  • repair, adjustment or complete replacement of chain drive elements was carried out;
  • new cables and their shirts were installed on the two-wheeled vehicle;
  • poor quality cables were installed on the bike and they constantly stretch during operation.

In this case, the switch is adjusted by unscrewing the hollow cable tension screw. it is enough to make a half-turn to the left. After setting, be sure to check the operation of the mechanism. ride a bike in different speed modes.

Using the tips and tricks given in the presented material, you can carry out the whole process yourself. The only thing to remember is that the rear derailleur, which is badly worn out, must be replaced: no adjustments / adjustments / replacement of the cables will help.

Setting the travel limit to the smallest sprocket

To do this, sit down at the back of the bike and turn the adjusting screw marked “H”, at the same time the spreader is installed so that both the rollers and the smallest sprocket in the wheel are on the same mowing line.

Note: there is one trick in the implementation of this process. if the bike has been used for a long enough time and the spreader is not new, then you can adjust it qualitatively by setting the frame not in a straight line of the mowing line, but by shifting it to the right of the wheel literally by 1-2 mm.

You can check the correct setting of the travel limit on the smallest sprocket by rotating the wheel: the chain will not jump to the side, and the whole mechanism will work almost silently.

Correct installation of the front derailleur

You can only start the front derailleur setting after adjusting the rear derailleur. Installation is the initial step in adjusting the speed switch. It’s very important to do it right.

  • before installing the switch, it is necessary to inspect the condition of the constituent parts and, if necessary, clean them from dirt and lubricate.
  • The next step is to adjust the location of the front derailleur. On the frame, it should be located along the pipe under the saddle.
  • Set the steering angle parallel to the drive sprocket on the front cassette of the transmission unit.
  • Next, you need to adjust the gap between the underside of the derailleur frame and the upper mowing line of the teeth of the large gear. The gap should be minimal.
  • Adjust the cable tension.
  • Place the chain close to the inside of the frame.
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It is also worth paying attention to setting up the chain. The bicycle chain is a very important element, with the help of which the impulse is transmitted from one chain to another and the adjustment process takes place. The technical condition of the circuit is of great importance for the operation of the entire system. If, for some reason, the bicycle chain stretches or deforms, this cannot but adversely affect the operation of the entire transmission unit. To prevent this from happening, the chain must be periodically removed and cleaned, and then set the correct position. There are lock and lockless models of bicycle chains. They differ in the way they are connected. To remove the locking chain, it is enough to find the link with the lock and disconnect it with a screwdriver. The lockless bicycle chain is disconnected using a squeeze. This tool helps to push the link axle out and make the connector. If it skews for some reason, this can adversely affect the gearshift process.

One of the best manufacturers of bicycle parts, including derailleurs, is the Japanese company Shimano, which has a proven track record of producing products in which Japanese quality is combined with budget and price. Shimano derailleurs are suitable for all types of bicycles. Shimano derailleurs are installed on both regular touring bicycles and mountain and track bikes with gearboxes up to 33 speeds.

Another recognized market leader is Sram. The products of this company are used on bicycles of the city bike category, as well as on sports bicycles. Sram products are of good quality and affordable price for cycling enthusiasts.

Every bicycle owner who prefers this type of transport to others is obliged to understand how to switch its speeds. It is believed that the more speeds a bike has, the better it is. But in fact, speed only allows you to improve the quality of maneuvering and squeeze the maximum out of the bike’s capabilities, so then everything depends on the dynamic efforts of the person riding the bike. Conventional bicycles have a simpler design compared to high-speed ones. With a bike like this, there is less hassle, but it also has fewer options. In the transmission unit of such bicycles there are only two stars: one large and one small. Multi-speed bikes, which have gained popularity in recent years, have two sets of sprockets in their transmission units: front and rear. Each cassette consists of stars of different sizes. To switch gears correctly, you need to remember a few basic rules:

  • If your bike is not equipped with a planetary hub, you only need to switch gears on it while driving, otherwise there is a danger of damage to the bike.
  • During gear shifting, it is not necessary to apply significant dynamic forces, in order to eliminate the danger of a burst of flowers, it is advisable to change gears sequentially, without making sharp jerks.

All modern sports bikes are built with multi-speed bikes. In order for them to work fully, the system is equipped with special spreaders. True, they should be adjusted periodically. Special attention should be paid to the adjustment of the gearshift on the Shimano bicycle, which is popular with athletes. Difficulties with this will not arise if you carefully study the instructions.


The adjustment of the rear derailleur of the bicycle is carried out as follows:

  • The mechanism is tuned to the smallest of the stars.
  • The cable is loosening. For this purpose, the clamp screw is unscrewed.
  • Front derailleur chain mounts to middle sprocket.
  • The functionality of the circuit is checked. To accomplish this task, the pedals are simply rotated. If the chain falls, you need to adjust the high gear limiter screw. As a result of this action, the smallest of the stars in the front and the rear derailleur are on one side.
  • The cable is tightly tightened and the tightening bolt is clamped.
  • The switch is being tested. Each speed, from lowest to highest, is clicked. If a failure occurs in any area, the cable tension is re-adjusted.

Adjusting the rear derailleur should be done with the utmost care. All actions with the cable are performed smoothly. You need to be patient and avoid sudden movements.

Installing a new switch

If the parts of the mechanism are out of order, it will simply not be possible to adjust the switch. It is necessary to replace the device with a new one. To complete this task you will need:

  • cables;
  • shirts, cable caps;
  • screwdriver (Phillips);
  • hex keys (6, 5, 4, 3 mm);
  • squeezing the chain;
  • thick and liquid lubricant;
  • gloves.

Installation is carried out as follows:

  • The cock is screwed to the frame, and already the switch itself is screwed to it. It is imperative that there is no free space between the tension adjustment screw and the cock stop.
  • The shifters are set to the highest gear.
  • The shifters are disassembled, the cable is placed in them.
  • The cable runs along all shirts and lines.
  • From the pen of the frame, the cable is passed through the jacket and placed in the tension regulator. He spins up to half in advance.
  • The cable is tightened and immediately clamped with a special plate with a groove.
  • Front derailleur is installed.
  • The shifters are set to the minimum speed.
  • The cable from the shifter is pulled to the derailleur and tightened.
  • The chain is tucked into the frame of the speed mechanism.
  • Adjusting the speeds.
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The experienced cyclist will have no problem adjusting the shifters on a Shimano bike. The process is quite simple, but it requires certain knowledge and skills. For beginners, you can also perform similar actions yourself. But if in doubt, it is still better to seek help from a specialist.

Unscrew and remove the old switch, and in its place, hang a new one and screw it to the “rooster” Place the bicycle chain on the smallest sprocket, so that visually the roller and the small sprocket are on the same mowing line Carefully and effortlessly move the switch to the largest sprocket Using the adjusting screw, fix the position of the switch so that it is opposite the large sprocket Pass the cable along all shirts and lines Put the chain on the smallest sprocket, tighten and fix the cable, then check the operation of the entire mechanism

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to set up your bike‘s derailleurs. The speed switches at first glance may seem like a complicated mechanism, although they have a rather primitive design.

Gear shifting occurs due to the loosening and tension of the cable that moves the switch. That is, in fact, switches are the simplest mechanical design, and there is nothing difficult in adjusting them. The setting always starts with the rear derailleur, except when only one of the bike derailleurs needs to be adjusted.

Front derailleur setting

The front derailleur is even easier to adjust than the rear derailleur. It is important, however, that it is properly secured to the bike frame. When the chain is on the largest sprocket, the sprocket to derailleur frame should be 1 to 3 mm. And the frame should be parallel to the stars. If so, then you can start customizing.

Set the speed to minimum. the fastest at the back and the smallest at the front. Loosen the cable tension and turn the screw marked L (Low (where it is visible in the picture) until there is a millimeter gap between the chain and the derailleur frame. he lay in a special groove near the screw.

Now we set the maximum speed when the front chain is on the largest sprocket and on the smaller cassette, and turn the screw marked H (High) so that the gap between the chain and the inner plane of the frame is a millimeter. If, after that, the chain still reluctantly climbs onto a large sprocket, slightly unscrew the screw H.

Now we sit on the bike and try how successfully the gearshift settings went. If the chain does not shift well to low speed (smaller sprockets), twist the cable tension adjuster located on the front derailleur coin on the handlebar to loosen the cable tension. When the chain sluggishly climbs onto large sprockets, tighten the cable with the same adjuster.

How the switches work

Using the handle and shifter, the cyclist activates the required speed. In a certain position of the handle, the cable is pulled. As a result of this tension, the frame is thrown onto larger sprockets; when the cable is loosened, it is not thrown onto small sprockets. As mentioned above, you can start setting up your bike from the rear derailleur. Procedure for adjusting the rear derailleur:

  • select the second star in the front block, and the smallest in the rear one and set the switch chain on them;
  • The bike‘s rear derailleur system has two bolts that act as stops. One is abbreviated as H, and on the other. L. These two bolts are used to adjust the high and low gears on the sprockets. If during the adjustment process any extraneous sounds arise, you can get rid of them with the help of the latch;
  • check the tension of the cable and if the tension does not correspond to the required one, use the regulator located on the shifter;
  • Test the switching quality. If the switching occurs smoothly, no extraneous sounds are heard, then you did everything right.

Bicycle front derailleur

The transition to the setting of this mechanism is possible only when the rear derailleur is set. This feature is important to take into account before starting work. The figure shows the switch (round, black).

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Leave the chain on the middle sprocket of the front block and place it on the large sprocket in the rear block. If chain friction is observed, re-engage adjuster L. To adjust stop H, the chain moves to the largest sprocket at the front and smallest at the back. The adjuster will help to position the chain in the optimal position without friction and excessive tension on the chain. At the end of the work, be sure to check the quality of its implementation.

Why bike speeds don’t shift well

Usually, the thought of having to fix derailleur problems comes when the chain is shifting too hard between the sprockets, or the gears are not shifting at all. The problem comes suddenly, as an option, you can contact the master.

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However, this issue can be resolved in the service in a couple of minutes, and the money will have to be paid in an hour. Maybe you should tinker yourself?

Before proceeding with the instructions for setting up the bike speed system, let’s determine why it does not work correctly:

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  • Switches are damaged. A complete replacement is needed to solve the problem.
  • Deformed cock. protection of the rear derailleur. Usually it is advised to change, but once you can straighten.
  • Spring worn or stretched cable. Replacement required, switch setting.

Very often, all the components of the transmission are in good condition, and the gears are still poorly shifted. New parts, or parts with little wear and tear, installed in a transmission unit are a common cause of poor chain sprocket running.

Correct cycling gearshift setting

Modern bicycles equipped with a gear system allow you to move quickly and with minimal energy losses in any conditions: long climbs, rough terrain, roads with sharp turns that require constant changes in speed and gear ratio. This can also include driving against the wind, off-road conditions, poor quality asphalt In general, the value of the transmission unit is simply colossal, especially on mountain bikes.

Despite the invaluable help, the transmission is great and requires frequent attention, care, and sometimes long and tedious fuss. One component that needs to be taken up periodically is the shifting mechanism, which consists of front and rear derailleurs. At first glance, the arrangement of these parts seems complicated. In practice, setting up gear shifting is very simple.

Setting switches at home

Now let’s figure out how to set up the high-speed system ourselves. Derailleurs on bicycles with multi-gear transmission are divided into front and rear. The latter are most vulnerable when riding in a variety of road conditions, the risk of damage is higher compared to the front ones, but the adjustment must be done at the very beginning. Obviously, the rear derailleur serves more stars, so it takes longer to set up.

Attention! If there is damage, and the tensioner is not parallel to the frame and cassette, then it will not be possible to correctly adjust the system!

First you need screws L and H. they are clearly visible, no need to look. Also includes a cable adjuster, tension and fixing screws.

  • H is used to align the roller with the small rear sprocket. By tightening the screw L, we set the roller on one straight line with the large rear sprocket.
  • Set the highest speed on the shifter.
  • Tension and fix the cable with the fixing bolt.
  • Large gears should be included without interference, otherwise, using the adjuster, the cable is slightly weakened. Additional tension will be needed if gears are poorly reset.

Actually, the adjustment itself is made, it remains to adjust the switching accuracy. This is especially true for systems with a large number of stars. For this, the chain is mounted on a large chainring at the back and a small chainring at the front. By tightening the tension screw, we achieve the optimal position of the roller. as close as possible to the cassette. The same must be done and vice versa: set the chain to the maximum chainring in front and minimum. at the back. The roller should not rub against the cassette, just be located next to it.

How to properly set up the switch in front:

  • Check device attachment.
  • At minimum speed, release the cable tension.
  • Use screw L to create a gap between the derailleur body and the chain (1 mm).
  • Secure the cable with the adjusting bolt.

The same should be done with the H-screw. The maximum speed must be set, and the gap with the chain must not exceed one millimeter.

Adjust the speeds on both derailleurs until the chain is free to swing from one chainring to the other. If it is difficult to walk, it is necessary to adjust the correct position of the cable using the adjusting bolt.

After all the manipulations, the entire system is checked. To do this, you need to ride a bike and try all the recommended gear ratios. Note that on mountain bikes, the transmission adjustment is a common periodic procedure, and if suddenly the transmission goes tight, we are not in a hurry to draw conclusions about the breakdown, but we do what is described above.

Do not think that a high-quality transmission does not need to adjust the shifting system. Yes, it may be necessary to do this less often for shimano components, but sooner or later you will still have to face.

We just saw an easy way to adjust the front and rear derailleurs. Is it really necessary? Adjustment of the shift mechanism is necessary for the transmission, like tires for a wheel. Timely assistance to the “traffic node” will allow not only to solve current problems, but also to prevent them in the future. Eliminate all inconveniences in time and ride with pleasure!