Picture of Tuning a rear derailleur on any bicycle.
One of the most important mechanical components of a bicycle is the rear derailleur. It allows the changing of gears and a smoother more efficient ride. Keeping this component in good working order is essential for any cyclist from commuters to competitive racers. 

Most expensive bike shop visits can be prevented just by doing small maintenance and knowing how to prevent bigger problems in the future. Also less frequent visits to shops will decrease the chance that an employee will try to sell you new parts that you may or may not need. 

This instructable will go over the basic steps to get your bicycle back in working order. With practice, following these steps will have you tuning the rear derailleur with high quality in no time at all.
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Step 1: Gather Necessary Tools.

Picture of Gather Necessary Tools.
One of the most important things in being efficient in tuning a bicycle is to gather all of the proper tools and materials. Having them at hand will make sure that you only spend a few minutes to get your bike back in working order. 

A list of necessary basic tools:

1. Phillips Head Screwdriver.
2. Allen wrenches. Necessary sizes, 4, 5, and 6. (metric). Also a three way tool as shown can be used.
3. Open ended wrenches, can vary by derailleur model. Metric sizes 8 or 10. combination wrenches can be used.
4. Cleaning materials. A simple degreaser, a one step clean and lube, and a shop rag. Note: do not use WD-40 as it will clog up the pulleys.

Optional Tools:

1. Flat nose pliers to aid in pulling cables.
2. Cable cutter to cut excess cable as needed.
3. Bicycle stand. I am using a park tool portable stand.

Step 2: Optional Step: place the bicycle in the stand.

Picture of Optional Step: place the bicycle in the stand.
Properly set up the bicycle in the stand. This can be done in one of two locations. Either the seat tube or on the frame. 

In the image it is on the frame.