How to Tune a Rear Derailleur




Introduction: How to Tune a Rear Derailleur

About: I like to tinker with just about anything, sometimes it works out in the end. Have fun looking at the projects, try tearing something open and let me know how it goes. cheers, -Joe

This instructable will help you to tune up a rear derailleur.

Step 1: Tools

You will need:

Allen Keys
Cleaner( I use Pedros Oranj Peelz)
Screw Driver
Chain Lube

Step 2: Clean

First thing, put some cleaner on your rag and clean the outside of the derailleur.

Step 3: Pulley Crud

Next clean the crud off of the pulleys. I just pedal the bike while running the rag over the pulleys. The inside of the top pulley can get filthy...

Step 4: Clean the Chain

Next clean the chain.

I put cleaner on a rag, then turn the cranks backwards while holding the rag over the chain right at the bottom of the derailleur cage.

Step 5: Lube the Pivots

Drop of few drops of chain lube on the pivots of the derailleur, the most important are 8 spots on the parallelogram.

Wipe off any excess.

Step 6: Lube the Chain

While we have the lube out, lets lube the chain, I use white lightening, it has worked well for me for years.

I drip lube on the chain above the cassette.

Then use your rag to remove any excess lube from the chain, you don't want the lube to be on so thick that it gets dirt and grime caked on.

Step 7: Grease the Bottom Cable

If you have been using this cable for a while, crud can build up in the housing down by the rear derailleur.

What you can do is shift all the way up to the biggest ring in the back.

Once the chain is in the biggest ring, do not pedal, but shift to the smallest ring.

Step 8: Clean the Cable

At this point you can pull the housing and cable out of the last cable stop on the frame.

Step 9: Slide the Housing Up

Slide the housing up, if the cable has any corrosion on it you can use some green scotch bright to rub it off.

Step 10: Lube the Cable

I put a little grease on my fingers and lube the cable before putting the housing back on and in to the cable stop on the frame.

Step 11: Lower Limit

The outer limit makes a big impact with shifting performance.

Shift to the small ring in the back, look at the upper pulley, the teeth from the pulley should be perfectly aligned with the teeth of the smallest cog.

If it is sitting too far in towards the frame then we will adjust the outer limit.

Step 12: Outer Limit

You will turn the screw marked "H" in to move the pulley in, or the opposite for out.

Step 13: Inner Limit

At this point shift up to the biggest ring in the back.

We want to grab the derailleur by hand and see if we can push the chain over the cassette and in to the spokes. If you can you want to turn in the limit screw marked L. This chain popping in to the cassette can ruin a ride as it tears through your spokes and leaves you walking home.

Step 14: Barrel Adjuster

Now its time to fine tune the derailleur.

You will want to turn the barrel on the back of the derailleur in or out to line up the pulley with the smallest cog.

When it is lined up then try shifting through the gears.

If it shifts up to bigger gears fine but down to smaller gears not so well then you will want to tunr the barrel adjuster in slightly. Keep playing this game to you have it shifting right.

thats it!

Have Fun.


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    7 years ago on Step 14

    Power washing certainly gets your bike clean, but the pressure from the washer can also force water into your headset and crank housing. Most recommend a mild dish soap hand wash over the power wash with a gentle hose rinse and bounce dry or towel.


    8 years ago on Step 14

    This is great information I have been looking for. Just a tip, I would suggest you take the bike and power wash the gears so they are clear of mud, then show the 'clean' steps. Next, put arrows to places and spots you are talking about. I had to really look for that H and L making...and line up the gear sprokets etc. As well, the last instruction, is that using H or L? Not sureLOL
    Anyway, thanks so much for doing this, as now I can help the kids on the block when they are trying to keep that chain on, and can't fix..but now I can fully fix for them! Cool!:)


    9 years ago on Step 11

    Some labels on the pictures would be helpful in these steps.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    my chain seems to click because the derailleur is slightly off and the sprocket is hitting the side of the chain. what should i do?


    11 years ago on Step 6

    White lightning is probably the best chain lube.. for dry weather. If you live in an especially rainy area or ride a lot in winter where it snows a lot you will want a different type of lube. I used to ride year round in Milwaukee, WI and during the summer I used White Lightning.(self cleaning, no greasy residue, great lube) Winter and spring called for something like Tri flow. A little messier but held up to the elements better.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the ible my derailer cogs are touching each other likethe little metal tab on top of the little cog my chain rubs on it and creates this horrible noise how do i adjust it?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    If it's only when you have it on the smallest-sized gears, then it's a simple thing of shortening the chain a little bit, but it's nothing to really worry about, all it does is slowly wear a track on the tab your chain is rubbing against. I had that problem, shortened my chain, and it cleared it up...although, I also had the problem of the chain not being tight enough because the derailleur I was using was smaller than the bike and chain were designed for (I go through a lot of rear derailleurs, either they were of poor construction, I changed something and forgot to re-set the limits, or the stop-pin somehow wears out and the derailleur puts a kink in my chain and I have to push it home since my suspension forks won't work right if there's no oil in them, and if it's laid down, it leaks oil, and we no longer own a minivan and have no bicycle carrying racks for any of our 3 cars...)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    thanks im getting a chaibreaker next week so ill shorten it