5. How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur

Applies to most 3-chainring derailleur systems.
* Now with 3D interactive instructions

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur
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Today we’re going to learn how to adjust the front derailleur. Make sure that you’ve already set up your rear derailleur, as you will need to access all of your rear gears for this tutorial.

Front Derailleur Components

Front Derailleur

Height Adjustment

The first step is to adjust the derailleur’s height and angle using the positioning clamp that attaches the derailleur to your bike’s frame. This can be a bit tricky, since tightening the clamp’s bolt will set both height and angle at the same time. To make things easier, tighten the clamp so that it is secure, but loose enough to move it around with your hand.

Front Derailer and Chainring

For correct height adjustment, position the bottom of the derailleur cage as close to the largest sprocket teeth as possible, so that it still clears. Manufacturers recommend a 2mm spacing, but this is only meant as a general guide and not a rule. The lower the cage is, the better it will shift. While you’re in this position, take a quick look at the curvature of the large chainring and the outer derailleur cage, to make sure no part of the cage is rubbing on the chainring.

Angle Adjustment

The derailleur angle is set by looking down from above. This can be tricky and requires some patience, as the shape of the derailleur cage is often not straight. You’ll want to imagine a centerline in the middle of the cage, which should line up with the center line of your frame. Once the angle is correct, you can completely tighten the positioning clamp.

Limit Screws

There are two gear limit screws. On older derailleurs the low-gear limit is closest to the frame, but some newer models have reversed the screw's positioning.

Low Gear Limit

To adjust the low-gear limit, first make sure your chain is shifted to the largest sprocket in the rear, and the smallest sprocket in the front. The low-gear limit stop stops the derailleur from shifting past the smallest chainwheel and throwing the chain onto the bottom bracket shell. If it is too loose, the chain will fall off when you downshift to the small chainring. If it is too tight, it might not shift down at all. Ideally, you want to set up the inner plate so that it barely clears the chain in the lowest gear. However, triple chainrings like this one sometimes require a tiny bit of extra spacing.

High Gear Limit

To adjust the high-gear limit, shift the chain into your highest gear, that is, smallest sprocket in the rear, and the largest sprocket in the front. The high-gear limit prevents the chain from shifting past the largest chainwheel and throwing the chain out into your pedals. Ideally you want the cage to stop just after it clears the chain on the large chainring.

Shifting Adjustments

Now that both limit screws are set up, shift back to the largest sprocket in the rear, and the smallest in the front. Make sure your front shifter is in the lowest gear position, and pull the shift cable to eliminate any extra slack, before tightening the cable bolt.

Shift the front derailleur to the middle gear, and run through the entire range of rear sprockets to make sure the chain does not rub on either side of the front derailleur cage. If it does rub, you can adjust the trim by tweaking the barrel adjuster on your front shift lever. If you have an older friction shifter, often you will have to manually adjust the trim while riding.

This tutorial was based on the most common type of drivetrain, and assumes that you are using the components your derailleur was designed for. If you have a customized set of chainrings and/or derailleurs, you may need to try some different techniques, or even take your bike into a shop for further adjustment.

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Discuss this topic in the Derailleur Forums

10/09 Problem with my Front Derailleur on my Bike

I've got a problem with the front derailleur on my 21 speed mountain bike. The bikes chain keeps moving to gear one or even slipping off the chain entirely on the front when I try to ride it. I use this bike to get around my college campus, so I use this bike every day, so I need this bike to work.

The bike in question is a 1996 Marin bolinas ridge mountain bike I got at a garage sale years ago for $25. The bike has been working great so far, except for today.

After doing some research my bike uses a Shimano atlus bottom bracket Front derailleur. I think I figu... Read more >>

10/06 Front Derailleur/Shifter Problem

I'm brand new to bike maintenance, and I have incredible difficulty getting my front derailleur to shift into the third (highest) gear, and then staying there. I don't know if the problem is with the shifter or the derailleur, and I would really appreciate any help.

derailleur: shimano (that's all I know about it)
shifter: a cheapy gradient thumb-knob shifter. No clicks, no numbers, just a - and +
[EDIT: after some further reading, I discovered the more accurate term is "friction" shifter.]

Problem: as I move the shifter up, it becomes increasingly stiff... Read more >>

10/03 where to start?

Bought a bike from our neighbor for my husband, 1990ish Schwinn Woodland. When he tried to ride it, realized it doesn't shift gears at all. Where do we start to look at what could be wrong?... Read more >>

09/29 My derailleur is out of place

I fell from my bike at quite the speed, I got injured pretty badly and this happened to my bike as well, is there a way to fix this or do I need to replace

https://imgur.com/a/xlGbC... Read more >>

09/24 Locked up Shimano SG-7C18

Hi.
I just bought a used bike and had to change the inner tube in the back wheel. Putting the wheel back on I forgot to reattach the brake arm. I jumped on the bike and almost immediately the wheel locked up.
I've taken everything apart and put it back together again, but the wheel just won't move.
Does anyone know what I messed up here?... Read more >>

09/09 How would I know if my shifter is broken

This concerns a Shimano Tiagra 4600 2x shifter.

There is travel remaining in the rear deraileur, but none in the shifter itself. I can't reach the two biggest cogs using either of the front chainrings.

I did dump the bike, albeit not hard. However, that accident caused the shifter housing to become out of line with the handlebars. I suspect either my repair efforts or the crash have damaged the shifter.

The crash did bend the rear deraileur, but that has since been replaced and aligned.

Thanks,

Chip... Read more >>

08/26 MTB Ghost Shifting fix

First bike in 7 years and I'm recently experiencing Ghost shifting, I know little to nothing about repairing bikes and I'm in need of help of how to stop the bike from shifting on its own it is very frustrating and makes it difficult to ride at times... Read more >>

07/16 Will Charger Brand Levers Work With Suntour Vx Derailleur?

I have vintage Charger brand gear levers and I am wondering if they'll work with Suntour VX derailleur as well as derailleurs that say index system.... Read more >>

07/02 From 1st to 2nd-problem

Hi.

Sorry I dont know if this is in the right section of the forum.

I just got a mtb for the 1st time as an adult. On the left hand side of the handle bars where you can change for 1 to 2 to 3. When I change from 1 to 2 it doesnt alwaya do it. The dial moves to 2 but the bike makes an awful noise and no matter how much i pedel it still makes that noise. If I then go into 3 it then after a good few seconds it eventually corrects itself and stops making then noise and changes correctly.

On the right hand side of the bike, the numbers all go up and down no ... Read more >>

06/28 SRAM rear derailleur arm length

I am riding a Bianchi 928 with SRAM Red components.  I have a 10 speed 11x28 cassette.  I am replacing my rear derailleur since the guide pulley cogs are now worn to sharp points.  The present derailleur has a short arm.  SRAM seems to have 3 sizes of derailleur arms for a 10 speed cassette; short, medium, and long.  The 28 cog gear still works will with my short derailleur.  I heard that you need a longer arm if you have a bigger gear but I am not sure if that is true or not.  Is there any reason I should not replace my short arm derailleur with a medium length arm?  Are there advanta... Read more >>

06/23 Repairable Deore LX shifter?

I have a Deore LX shifter like on this photo

The push button at the bottom doesn't catch the piece inside unless I press slightly up when I shift.

Is that fixable or do I have to change the part?

Thanks!... Read more >>

05/18 Road Bike Rear Derailleur Problem

Yesterday 5 meters away from my destination my rear derailleur suddenly "snapped". I though at first that the cable broke, but no. I flipped the bike around and started shifting and it looks like it kinda "works" but it suddenly doesn't want to shift into the lowest gear (the biggest gearsprocket). I rode back home just fine, but I am a little bit worried and I am not sure what happened.

It is a Shimano RD 2300, I tried to find a replacement but I think it is pretty much sold out. I tried to look for other Shimano 2x8 rear derailleurs, and I found these:
Read more >>

03/18 Trouble fixing gears

Hey, i hope this is the correct subforum

The bike gear cables broke and Im trying to replace them. BUt it's my first time, and I've run into some trouble. I can't seem to get the correct tension in the cable, or there's something wrong with the thing thats supposed to shift gears. I took a video of it. The same tension works for two different positions in the gear shifter thing. How do I fix this?



... Read more >>

03/13 Problem with Deore DX Shifter

[Image: IMG_20170205_162903.jpg]
[Image: IMG_20170303_103150.jpg]
I have a problem on my Front bicycle derailleur. I'm new to bike repair so I'm not sure of using the right terms. The chain is on the largest chainring in the front and when I use the small pusher on my shifter, I can hear a click but the chain doesn't move to a smaller chainring. I read online some advices... Read more >>

12/27 Front derailleur shifting problem

Hi - my bike won't shift into the big chain ring up front when in the 4 or 5 biggest cogs in the back. In the smaller cogs in back, it shifts ok up front. Any thoughts or suggestions as to what's going on, and how to fix, would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!... Read more >>

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How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur
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