How to Tune Your Rear Derailleur




About: i am 16 year old,soon 17, kid . i am from Serbia . I am now 2nd grade in High School and i like making simple things because i am learning through that. i am really interested in electronics, bikes, and fishing

You like cycling but you hate going to bike shops for every little thing that isnt right on your bike?

One of many things that i hate is bad shifting gears, i hate when it cant shift in one gear, ghost shifting, slow shifting, squeaking,etc.
All of this problems are caused because of bad tuned rear derailleur.
Here, in Serbia, bike shops usualy charge you 500 rsd ( about 5,6  $ ), but problem isnt money ( well, 10 $ is average daily wage in Serbia , so you could say its overprized, but...) problem is that even you want to give them money, they arent fixing that problem for eternity, its only fixed for 1000km . ( belive me, i bought new bike 3 months ago, they did zero service , and next month ( in june) they did first service , tuning brakes, gears,..., when they finished that service i bought speedometer( measuring speed, distance, ...)   and since then i  rode about 700km ( maybe 900 because my dad reset it 2 times) . After only 700 km cables are again losen, and my gears not working properly....................................

so we are runing into other problem, after only one month i need to go again to bike shop and they will charge me 5 $ ( first two service  (zero and first one) are free)  ( 5$ for me, but in usa,uk,australia, many other states bike shops are charging 20 $ maybe less maybe more)     , and they will fix it, but then after 1000 km they i will, need to go again, and then again, and again,again....
also expenses are raising with every other visit, because after  3 or 4 tune ups, they will say that you need new cable (thats also 5-20 $))

so do you know where i am going, after every bike shop visit, they will say that you need some new part (it will actualy need you) but you will know how to change it alone. ( you all know that chain shoud be changed every 3000 km, casette every 6000km??????)

so enough of this theorys.

tuning up your derailleur is realy simple and fast ( i was stuned when i finished iit in under 2 minutes)

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Step 1: Prepare Gears

First you need to do, is to place bicycle onto the repair stand, if you dont have one use improvise something (like i did) , make one    , if you dont have too musch time or money                        , or  flip bicycle ( flip, it will laying down on handlebars and seat, i think that you understood me?)

when you  put it onto the stand, shift gears on casette or freewheel to smallest one .

Step 2: Adjusting Derailleur

When you put your bike on stand, and shifted chain onto the smallest one, you are ready for tuning derailleur.

first you will turn cable barrel adjuster  clockwise (you need to turn that into the derailleur) , that will loosen cable tension .
after that take  wrench or allen key and unscrew (loosen)cable anchor bolt.
when you done with looosening  anchor, just take cable and pull it ( you need to tighten cable/cord)
after that you just need to tighten back anchor bolt and you are done with tightening cable/cord

Step 3: Tuning

now its simple but hard part, in this part you will have 1000 of troubles, because this part will decide will your derailler shift smoothly or not.

but there is 99% that this part will be easy
you will see about what i am talking.

first you will see 2 screws near each other, thats limit screws

they are marked h and l

because you are at bootom cog you will use bottom screw (i thing l one ,i am not sure, just use bottom one)
this screw as name tells limit your derailleur, actualy its limiting cage of derailleur which causing that everytime when you shift into the smallest cog your chain will not slip
you need to turn that screw until your jockey wheel is under and parallel with smalest cog .
next you will shift through gears (avoid first 2 gears ) and if its not shifting smoothly you need to place gears at middle ones (4th ,5th gear) and turn cablle barrel adjuster  ANTI CLOCKWISE until it is in line (parellel) with that cog
try few more times, and play with that barrel adjuster because he is important for shifting through gears, and shifting smoothly

when you finished with smallest cog, go to first gear, and adjust upper limit screw until the jockey wheel and that cog is in line

and last thing, is to adjust  B screw if your derailleur is rubbing onto the biggest cog

big note, it really helps if you clean and lubricate chain and derailleur       because it will help your adjusting ( lubricated chain shift better then dry,rusty,dirty chain)

Step 4: End + Video

there is a lots of youtube videos how to do it, all of them have their special technique, i watched this  and find it really helpful and best one

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    11 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction


    I just wanted to suggest some changes and additional information be added to this tutorial in case someone tries to use this tutorial to tune adjust their rear derailleur cable tension and then discovers that shifting issues persist.

    I've been an employed bicycle mechanic for four years and started learning about bicycle mechanics six years ago.

    1. You want to set your "high gear" limit screw (that is the limit screw that limits derailleur movement near the outside of the frame) while the pinch bolt on the cable is not tightened down. If you were to adjust this limit screw when the bolt is tightened (as this Instructable suggests) it could change the tension on the cable, which you would have previously just set.
    2. Besides cable tension and limit screw adjustments, poor shifting can result from a not properly lubed chain, a worn chain or cassette (or both), a broken shifter, a mismatched shifter, a broken derailleur, screwed up cable routing, gunked up cable or housing, or a bent derailleur hanger.
    3. If you need more information on adjusting shifting, then you should check out the extensive articles on Park Tool's website and, of course, Sheldon Brown's online encyclopedia.

    I appreciate tealk's upload and my intentions aren't to discourage readers from following it.
    This comment could just save people some time or headaches if the above method doesn't work for them. Having worked in a bike shop, I can say that gunked up or rusted housing and bent derailleur hangers are primary contributors to crappy shifting.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    yes you are right. First , if you talking about B screw then you are right , but with turning cable barrel adjuster you can eliminate all problems. i wrote that you should play with limit screws, and barrel adjuster because its fine tuning, When i made this instructable i was satisfied with my shifting but after few rides i was thinking that it can be better. So i played with barrel adjuster , little bit with limit screws, b screw , and after few minutes i make it better. Now its 10 times better shifting ( now its shift like my friend alvio derailleur , which is 3 times better then tourney)
    Second , yes absolutely, i wrote that it really helps if your chain is clean and lubed and your derailleur lubed. I have this instructable
    which shows how to degrease chain (this is one of many methods used for chain cleaning, now i use brush and degreaser. i watched good video how tour de france bikes are cleaned) .Lubed chain helps shifting (i dont know in % , but from my experiance its 50% , lubed chain is quiet, "faster"etc. i usually clean my chain and freewheel after 200-300 km , i lube every moving part of derailleur, i put one drop of lube onto the pulley wheels.After almost every ride i take a cloth and wipe chain, derailleur,etc....
    For third one i think that i wrote in this comment.

    Well this method will work, i think its same method as every other. every bicycle mechanic i know work with this method because its universal, it works with cheap and expensive derailleurs.....

    one more thing, rear derailleur ,even its look like hard job, its actualy very easy unlike front derailleur which can cause many problems ( i just adjusted mine and it make me headache but i manage to adjust it after 15 minutes ( well sometimes i panic, so i can get headache in under one minut but it goes away really quickly because i quickly learn how things working) ... tommorow i will post instructable how can you adjust front derailleur if your shifting is bad, chain is rubbing derailleur , etc.)

    Thank for your comment


    6 years ago

    i am from croatia and here is tuning about 50kn (10$) but i tuning it miself also make sure you wont let chain go over biggest cog becouse it can take cage into wheel (i broke shimano altus like that)

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    yes, because of that you should use upper limit screw, it limits cage (which limits chain) to slipp and mess everything.e sto pricamo engleski obojica, ko pravi :DDDDDD


    6 years ago

    I wish you would have posted this 2 weeks ago when my nephew asked me to help fix his derailer. We got it fixed (through a LOT of trial and error) but this would have helped a lot. Great 'ible and I'm sure it will benifit a lot of people!

    1 reply