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How To Properly Adjust The Front Derailleur On Your Bicycle

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Hi everybody!

The purpose of these instructions is to help guide you through the process of properly adjusting the front derailleur on a bicycle. The process may vary slightly between different bike setups but you should still be able to use these instructions to get a good general idea of what to do.

These instructions will be very helpful to you if your bike is shifting poorly and you want to get it back into proper working order. You might be amazed at how well your bike shifts when you are done. You can also use these instructions if you are installing a new front derailleur and need guidance setting it up.

Some mechanical knowledge is helpful if you are doing this for the first time. But there is no better way to learn then digging in and trying for yourself! I used lots of pictures with callouts to complement the procedure to try and make the process as painless as possible.

The front derailleur simply shoves the chain from one front chainring to another. The cage on the derailleur is pulled outwards by the inner wire. A spring in the derailleur moves the cage inwards when the tension on the inner wire is relieved. A properly adjusted front derailleur will shift the chain between the front chain rings smoothly and without any binding. The cage should not rub on the chain when pedaling the bike.

Tools Required for the job (see second photo):

1. Hex Wrench (size may vary between derailleurs)
2. Screwdriver (usually #2 Phillips or straight blade)
3. Penny

Lets get started! Good luck and most importantly have fun!

*note: These instructions were adapted from Park Tool's Repair Help guide. The general process is very similar but I switched a few things up to try and make the process easier. I also added a lot of detailed pictures to help beginners through the process. A lot of people find Park Tool's instructions hard to follow at times.
 
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Aeshir5 months ago

this guide gets the first step completely wrong. you always do anything that requires cable tension DEAD LAST because it changes as you tune everything else. how am i supposed to get the derailer height right when i'm gonna be adjusting everything else that affects the cable tension first. this is unusable for me.

gud one. its gonna save some bugs.
Tangski1 year ago
Nice instruction and VERY helpful for those of us who want to do this, but really had no clue how to get it right! Loved the penny idea, makes me want to keep a few of my Canadian ones..we are not minting them anymore:( Oh well.
Thanks, and keep showing how to do mechanics the right way:)
cheers
Vicki
This was really well done. I was having problems with my front derailleur and could not get it adjusted. Read your instructions and set it with no problems. Thanks!
mhassan93 years ago
nice
jasonlinux3 years ago
hi there,
i also recently changed a new dérailleur, and i started by adjusting my climbing crank ring, and on freewheel part, i shifted to 34T my largest climbing rear ring. and i adjusted my L screw on front dérailleur, and just made a few mm away from seat tube. then i tighten my front shift wire by holding wire end tighten with another hand's fingering touch. i think this is easier for me to start first step of FD adjustment. and yes, shift to middle ring and adjust height, only i'd have to release the wire and back to my step one if fitted into wrong height. and my newly changed crankset was from 48T to 44T now, so i'd later on adjusted my H screw prevent chain to fall out.
your bike looked classical :)
stumanbmx (author)  jasonlinux3 years ago
Yep! There are few different ways to do this, this is just the way that works best for me. It's a bit harder when you install a new derailleur as well, you don't really have anything to go off of so to speak.

Thanks for the compliment on the bike!
true, a new FD is really tricky esp. those cage inner design. however, i got the previous shimano FD-TZ31 48T in my touring design bike. this FD is relatively new generation dérailleur, and seemed only suitably for larger crankset above 48T. made more tricky is while i adjusting, seemed this factory issued FD designed half gear shifting. i tried bending FD-TZ31's cage to make it working with smaller crankset rings. i later on got a gift from my local bicycle parts supplier, the gift FD performed a lot better on smaller crankset rings (it is 42/34/24T, sorry i previously post as 44T, wrong memory). the gift FD works great, and it was not in current market, designed pretty "old fashioned", i could see H, L screw adjusting by under metal piece, as it was easy to tell how derailleur works. and i usually change the L screw while i pushing the dérailleur outward, prevent the L screw suffer too much pressure, causing two sides of screw to bend and + hole to go out shape. most of all, i like the old fashion type of wire fixing bolt, it was designed a bit like old fashion C brake securing wiring holes.
finally, your explanation is a lot of more clearer on step by step and particularly on wiring fixing part. i skipped on this step, but i could see adjusting wire tension also affect a lot on how FD works. FD adjustment task is easy to see, but hard to make it really work well by its own particular dérailleur, crankset, wiring combination.
cheers, hope you'll have more time on posting more :)
stumanbmx (author)  jasonlinux3 years ago
Very cool they gifted you a derailleur! I'm glad it's working well for you.

You are very correct in that making a derailleur work well with everything can be difficult. Different setups require some tweaking for the best results. Things like height and rotational angle are pretty straightforward however wire tension affects FD adjustment a lot!

The part about indexing (wire tension) is more of a starting point then anything. Sometimes it takes a bit of messing around to get the FD to shift between chainrings quickly and smoothly.

I think it's important to point out your sources for this. The Park Tool guide for this (http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/front-derailleur-adjustments) has clearly been used as a basis. Credit to you for make what is quite a dry article a bit more easygoing, and for adding some very clear original photos. I'm not trying to call you out here, it's just that without quoting your source, it looks a bit like you're trying to pass it off as your own, which doesn't do you any favours.
stumanbmx (author)  leftfootleashed3 years ago
Yes, you are correct. Thank you for reminding me!

I put a note at the bottom of the intro giving credit to Park Tool.

I purposely didn't even look at their's when writing this but since that guide is what I used to learn this process a few months ago it's not surprising they came out very similar!
zazenergy3 years ago
excellent tutorial. i don't know much about fixing my bike, but this was super. You should definitely do more!
stumanbmx (author)  zazenergy3 years ago
Thank you very much! If I have some extra time I will try and do other tutorials on general bike maintenance.