How to Adjust Rear Derailleur

Learn how to adjust your rear derailleur and solve shifting problems with basic adjustments to limit screws and index settings. Watch the step-by-step guide on YouTube.

How to Adjust Rear Derailleur: A Guide to Perfect Shifting

Bike derailleur

When you’re out cycling and experience less-than-perfect gear changes, your rear derailleur is likely asking for attention. A properly adjusted rear derailleur is crucial to smooth and efficient gear shifting, and maintaining it can prevent unnecessary wear on your bike’s components.

Whether you’re gearing up for a big ride or just keeping your bike in top condition, learning to adjust your rear derailleur is well worth acquiring.

Getting frustrated with gears that skip or an index that’s not quite right is common, but with some knowledge, you can turn that irritation into empowerment.

Key Takeaways

  • Accurate shifting ensures a smooth ride and prolongs the life of bike components.
  • Fundamental aspects of derailleur adjustment include the limit screws, cable tension, and B-tension.
  • Regular maintenance allows for self-reliance and could reduce visits to the bike shop.

Understanding How to Adjust Rear Derailleur

Ever wondered how your bike seamlessly changes gears with a simple flick of the shifter? It’s all thanks to the magic of the rear derailleur. This little mechanical marvel moves your chain across the cogs on the cassette, enabling you to find the perfect gear for every terrain.

Derailleur Components

Derailleur Hanger: The mount point for the derailleur to the frame is crucial for alignment.

Derailleur Body: A primary structure that houses the components.

Cage: Contains the tension and guide jockey wheels; manages chain slack.

Jockey Wheels: One guides the chain; the other maintains tension.

Limit Screws: Determine the range of movement; critical for avoiding overshifting.

B-Tension Screw: Adjusts the derailleur’s angle about the cassette for smooth operation.

Cable and Housing: Transmit the shifter’s commands to the derailleur.

Barrel Adjusters: Fine-tune cable tension to eliminate gear skipping and ensure smooth shifting.

Understanding these components is essential for troubleshooting and ensuring you get the most out of your drivetrain. Whether sprinting on the flat, scaling a steep climb, or tackling technical terrain, a well-adjusted derailleur makes for a smoother ride.

So, when you’re adjusting your rear derailleur, remember you’re not just fiddling with screws and cables; you’re fine-tuning your bike’s shifting so that every ride is as efficient and enjoyable as possible.

Step-by-Step on How to Adjust Rear Derailleur

Getting your rear derailleur adjusted just right can transform a stuttering gear change into silky-smooth shifting. Let’s break it down into digestible steps to perfect your ride.

High Limit Adjustment

Your rear derailleur’s high-limit screw stops the chain from overshooting the smallest cog and tangling with the spokes. To adjust:

  1. Shift to the smallest cog.
  2. If the chain isn’t aligned directly below the cog, turn the high-limit screw (often marked with an ‘H’) until alignment is achieved.

Cable Tension Adjustment

The correct cable tension is crucial for crisp gear changes. To adjust:

  1. Shift to the smallest cog (highest gear).
  2. Adjust the barrel adjuster to set the baseline tension—turn in (clockwise) and out one complete turn.
  3. Pedal and shift gears. If the chain struggles to climb to a more significant cog, turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise to increase tension.
  4. If shifting is too eager and the chain skips over the desired cog, turn the adjuster clockwise.

Low Limit Adjustment

The low-limit screw dictates how far your derailleur can move towards the largest cog, preventing the chain from dropping off into the spokes. Here’s how to adjust it:

  1. Shift to the largest cog.
  2. If the pulley wheel isn’t directly beneath the cog or the chain rubs against the next cog, tweak the low-limit screw (marked with an ‘L’).

B-Tension Adjustment

B-tension affects the gap between the jockey wheel of your derailleur and the cogs:

  1. Shift to the largest cog.
  2. Check the gap – it should be around 5mm. If it’s too close or too far, adjust the B-tension screw accordingly to avoid poor shifting and chain slap.

Common Issues found on how to adjust rear derailleur -Troubleshooting

Have you ever found yourself pedalling away when suddenly your bike’s making more noise than a room full of chatterboxes? Or perhaps your usually smooth gear shifting has become as unpredictable as British weather? Let’s tackle these pesky derailleur quandaries together.

If the dérailleur alignment is out of whack, it can cause a boatload of shifting problems. First, check if your chain is cheerily hopping between gears or skipping like a school at playtime. A misaligned rear derailleur can make your chain feel rebellious and ignore your shifting commands.

Here’s a handy checklist to nip common issues in the bud:

  • Noises: If your ride is noisier than a seagull at the seaside, inspect the jockey wheels and chain for dirt or wear.
  • Skipping Gears: Usually a sign of a worn chain or improperly indexed gears.
  • Shifting is Stiff: This could be due to tight cable tension or a bent derailleur hanger.

Remember to arm yourself with a few choice tools, such as a hex key and maybe a chain checker tool – every cyclist’s best mates.

Troubleshooting Guide:

  1. Bent Derailleur Hanger: You might have a bent hanger if the derailleur isn’t parallel to the cogs. No amount of tinkering with the limit screw will fix this until it’s straightened.
  2. Limit Screw Adjustments: Are your limit screws set correctly? These screws prevent the chain from dancing into the spokes or cuddling too close to the frame.
  3. Cable Tension: If shifting is challenging, the cable tension might need loosening. A turn-of-the-barrel adjuster can sort this out faster than you can say “spoke”.
  4. Indexing: If your chain is a fussy eater, jumping cogs, or stalling, your indexing might be off. Adjust the tension to get a smooth shift every time.

Don’t let a dodgy derailleur derail your day – with some TLC and the right know-how, you’ll be back to smooth cycling in no time!

Case Studies and Examples

Ever feel like your bike ride wasn’t smooth enough? If you’ve struggled with gear shifting that’s less than buttery smooth, your rear derailleur likely needs some TLC. Let’s break down a few scenarios to help you master the art of rear derailleur adjustment.

Real-life Scenario 1: The Skipping Chain
Imagine cycling along and hearing an irritating ‘skip’ every few pedals. Interestingly, Jane from Manchester had the same issue with her Shimano setup. It turns out the culprit was improper cable tension. Here’s how she fixed it:

  • Shifted to the smallest cog
  • Unscrewed the cable clamp
  • Adjust the barrel adjuster clockwise slightly
  • Pulled the cable taut and reclamped

A quick test ride confirmed the skipping stopped. Magic? Nope, just a bit of derailleurs savvy!

Real-life Scenario 2: The Noisy Drivetrain
Next up, let’s take Oliver’s case. He kept hearing a racket from the drivetrain while in the largest cog. Piqued by the noise, he discovered his limit screw needed an adjustment:

  • Shifted to the largest cog
  • Turned the low limit screw just a fraction counterclockwise

The noise coming from the drivetrain vanished. It turns out quiet is the new loud!

These examples show that a few tweaks here and there can save you from shifting problems. And remember, it’s always a good idea to check your chain wear with a chain checker tool to prevent further damage. Your trusty Park Tool can be a lifesaver here!

Remember, patience is vital. Adjust, test, and repeat until you’ve hit the sweet spot for silky-smooth shifting. Your bike and your ride satisfaction will thank you!


Adjusting your rear derailleur is crucial for smooth cycling performance. When done correctly, this enables seamless shifting and maintains the longevity of your bike’s components. To recap, begin by ensuring your derailleur hanger isn’t bent, and then proceed with the following steps:(1)

  1. Check the High and Low Limit Screws: Confirm that the chain doesn’t slip off the most significant and smallest sprockets.
  2. Set the Correct Cable Tension: This helps prevent skipping and ensures your chain follows your shift lever’s commands.
  3. Fine-tune with the Barrel Adjuster: Make incremental adjustments to sharpen shifting accuracy.
  4. Verify the B-Tension Screw: This sets the derailleur’s distance from the cassette for optimal shifting precision.

Remember to periodically check these components as part of regular maintenance, which will uphold the quality of your rides. If you’re encountering persistent shifting problems despite these adjustments, consider visiting a professional bike shop to examine possible cable housing or hanger alignment issues.

Take pride in each pedal stroke, knowing you’ve mastered the art of rear derailleur tuning. This skill enhances your ride and understanding of your bike’s intricate drivetrain system. Keep up the maintenance, and enjoy every ride with the confidence of a well-adjusted derailleur!

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to rear derailleur adjustment, there are plenty of nitty-gritty details that could make or break your ride quality. Let’s tackle your burning questions to get that shifting smooth and snappy.

How can one fine-tune the Shimano 7-speed derailleur for optimal performance?

To fine-tune your Shimano 7-speed derailleur, check its alignment, ensure the hanger isn’t bent, and that the derailleur sits parallel to your cassette. Adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjuster to achieve crisp shifting.

What steps are involved in adjusting the tension on a mountain bike’s rear derailleur?

To adjust the tension, shift to the smallest cog, release the cable tension by turning the barrel adjuster clockwise, and re-tension the cable. You may need to pedal and shift to check and refine cable tension for accurate shifts across all gears.

What are the correct adjustments for a Shimano 105 rear derailleur to function smoothly?

The Shimano 105 derailleur needs correct limit screw settings, starting with the high limit screw to prevent overshifting into the frame. Then adjust the low limit screw to avoid the chain dropping off towards the wheel—Fine-tune with the barrel adjuster for smooth shifting.

What’s the trick to setting up the limit screws on a rear derailleur accurately?

Limit screws control the derailleur’s movement range. Turn the H screw clockwise to move the derailleur away from the spokes and counter-clockwise to bring it closer. For the L screw, do the opposite. Always make minor adjustments, checking the shift quality after each tweak.

In what direction should you adjust the rear derailleur to correct shifting issues?

If the chain shimmies or skips to a larger cog, turn the barrel adjuster counter-clockwise to tighten cable tension. If shifting to a more minor cog lag, turn the adjuster clockwise to decrease tension. Fine-tuning is often done in quarter-turn increments.

How does one properly set the derailleur’s B-tension for the best chain movement?

The B-tension screw adjusts the gap between the upper pulley and the cassette. A proper gap ensures a smooth transition without the derailleur rubbing the cogs. Adjust by turning the B-tension screw until the derailleur pulley clears the most significant cog by approximately 5mm.