Tag Archives: derailleur

See how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

How to adjust your front derailleur for perfect and silent shifting

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the late 1920’s, in France, there was a bike race under way and it wasn’t the Tour De France. Instead, this race was a technological race that brought the derailleur into the light. Before 1928, bicycles had a maximum of two speeds, and you needed to remove the rear wheel to change those gears. As there was need for quicker shifting, the bicycle derailleur was born. Initial derailleurs consisted of nothing more than paddles that were actuated by steel rods located between the rider’s legs. Needless to say, there was a lot of finesse that went into shifting those bikes. Then after the second world war parallelogram derailleurs, what we use today, were developed so riders could shift their gears with ease. Read on to see how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

Front Derailleur

Early “Rod Style” Benelux front derailleur – Yikes

Front Derailleur parts

Limit screws (A) – The front derailleur needs to work within the largest and smallest ring. Limit screws work to stop the front derailleur from shifting outside of its intended range. They are adjustable as to match different types of cranks.

Derailleur Cage – The cage is what holds the chain on gear and what presses on the chain to move it from one gear to the next. The outer portion of the cage (C) is what helps the chain move from larger gears to smaller ones. In contrast, the inner portion of the cage (B) forces the chain from smaller gears to larger ones.

front derailleur

Common parallelogram front derailleur found on Hybrid and Mountainbikes

Derailleur Fixing Bolt (D) – The bolt that holds the derailleur in place on the frame. By loosening this bolt, you can re-position the derailleur for angle and height.

Cable Pinch Bolt (E) – The Cable that controls shifting needs to be held firmly in place. The pinch bolt does that job.

front derailleur

Different Pinch bolt and fixing bolt position for MTB/Hybrid (above) and Road (below) derailleurs

Location, location, location

You guessed it, the most important part of adjusting the front derailleur is its location. If the derailleur is not positioned properly, you will never achieve proper, noise free, shifting in all gears. The reason location is so important is that the front derailleur cage is formed to position the chain in very specific locations.

First step in adjusting the front derailleurs location is to set its height. You need enough room to fit a Nickel between the teeth on the largest chainring and the bottom of the outer cage when they are lined up. Any more clearance than that and the derailleur tends to have issues pulling the chain down from larger gears.

front derailleur

you should be able to fit a Nickle between the derailleur cage and chainring

Once you have the height set, adjust the angle of the front derailleur so that the outer cage and chainrings are parallel. Any misalignment will result in poor shifting and excess noise.

front derailleur

Proper alignment on the left, and misalignment on the right

Lower Limit

Set the lower limit by adjusting the screw marked “L”. To do this, shift the rear derailleur all the way up into the largest cog. Next check to see if there is clearance between the chain and the front derailleurs inner cage with the chain on the smallest chainring. If the chain is running on the inner cage, thread the limit screw out until you have 2-3mm (that nickel distance again!) between the chain and inner cage. When the opposite is true and you have too much clearance between the inner cage and chain, thread the limit screw in until there is 2-3mm of clearance.

Cable tension

Your Front derailleur should be properly aligned and the lower limit should be set at this point. The next step is to attach the cable to the Pinch bolt. Attach that cable by first making sure your shifter is in its lowest gear, Then pull the cable tight, and finally tighten the pinch bolt onto your cable. Usually, you can shift smoothly up from the smallest ring into the next gear right away, but if there is hesitation going up add cable tension either through a barrel adjuster or by loosening the pinch bolt, pulling the cable tighter, and tightening the pinch bolt down again. If the chain wants to shift up from the small ring over the next ring, release some tension. You know you have it right when the chain can pass from one gear to another smoothly and confidently without any banging or skipping noises.

Upper Limit

Setting the upper limit is as easy as getting the chain onto the largest chainring and threading the limit screw to offer 2-3mm of clearance between the chain and the outer cage. While shifting, ensure the chain cannot be shifted over the large ring and off the crank.

Trouble shooting

This guide is great if all the parts are new, but won’t overcome many issues related to worn or dirty parts. The most common shifting issue with older gears is poor upshifting. Chainrings are built with ramps on the inner surface to easily guide the chain from smaller to larger rings. As chainrings wear, these ramps wear as well. If you are having serious issues going from smaller to larger gears, but the gears are silent and problem free otherwise, you may want to consider replacing the chain, chainrings, and gears in the rear.

front derailleur

These Praxis Works chain rings have some of the best shifting thanks to carefully placed ramps.

Another key wear item is the front derailleur itself. Derailleurs are designed to pivot off a parallelogram design that requires each pivot run smooth and precisely. As the Front Derailleur wears, these pivots can begin to bind, while they generate play, leading to poor shifting.

Finally, dirty or corroded cables are a key cause in poor shifting. Replace cables once a year and lube them intermittently to keep them running smooth and freely.

When is enough, enough

Working on your bike is fun, but can be frustrating if things aren’t going according to plan. When things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to start from scratch and go back to step one. Any missed initial steps will make further steps impossible to complete. Also, remember that if it gets too tough, your local bike shop is happy to walk you through the process. You will pay a fee, but the one on one instruction is well worth it.


You don’t need to be a mountain biker to have a bike crash, after all, accidents happen. Be sure to take a few moments post-crash to inspect your bike.

Bike Crash: What to Look for and Inspect After the Unexpected

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

I love the feeling of riding bikes. I don’t know if it’s the freedom, the movement, or the ability it gives me to clear my head, but I can’t imagine enjoying any other sport more. As a mountain biker, that tranquil feeling is sometimes interrupted by an unexpected bike crash. While crashing my bike isn’t something I enjoy, I realize that as I try to push my boundaries, a bike crash is a real possibility. You don’t need to be a mountain biker to have a bike crash, after all, accidents happen. However, if you find yourself spontaneously dismounted from your bike, be sure to take a few moments post crash to inspect your bike.

Body, Mind, and Helmet Inspection After a Bike Crash

Nothing on your bike is more important than you. It’s tempting to jump right up after a bike crash, but take a few moments to assess yourself. Make sure your joints (particularly knees and wrists) feel and function okay. Follow that up by looking for any cuts that might need attention. Finally, remove your helmet and check to see if there are signs of impact. If there are, seek medical attention.


After you have deemed yourself okay, pick up your bike and spin each wheel independently. Look for any wobbles or dents in the rim. Also, look to see if the tire has come unseated from the rim. Sometimes you may not be able to see a slight wobble in the rim, but you can hear the rim hit the brake pad as it rotates if you listen closely. Slight wobbles can be fixed later (as long as the brake pads aren’t hitting the tire) but larger ones will leave you calling for a ride home. If you have AAA for your car, they now offer a bike pickup service as well.

Bars and Seat

Once you have checked the wheels, make sure that the bars and seat on your bike are still straight. Look down over your handlebars and make sure they are in line with the front wheel and level. Next, look down the length of your saddle and make sure it is in line with your bike and not bent down to one side or another. If you see any bending in the seat or handlebars, it’s best to take the bike into your shop and have those parts replaced. You may see some scuffing on the side of your saddle or the end of your handlebar grips. That scuffing is a good indication that your seat or bars made a hard contact with the ground and could need replacement.


Before you ride away, look at your rear derailleur from the back of the bike. The top and bottom pulley should be in line with the cog above it. If it is bent inward, do not ride the bike. A bent derailleur will still hold the chain on the gears, but as you shift into a lower gear, it will get caught in your wheel. This scenario usually leads to a destroyed derailleur and can even result in a destroyed bike.



Look at the frame and inspect each tube carefully. You are looking for any dents (on metal bikes) or cracks (on metal and carbon frames). If you see damage to the frame, have it checked at your local shop before you continue to ride it.



The last thing to check is the brakes. Make sure they operate properly by spinning the wheels and inspecting where the pad hits the rim. If the pads hit the tire, adjust the brake before riding away. A brake pad can make quick work of a tire, leaving you in a far worse situation.

Follow up

For the next few rides, be sure to pay close attention to how you feel and how the bike feels. I have had injuries appear days after a crash. Similarly, my bike has sustained damage that I missed upon my initial inspection. Listen for strange noises coming from the bike, or any change to the way the bike handles.