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
Autodesk Inventor Publisher Mobile Viewer App Experience the future of bicycle maintenance with interactive 3D instructions on your iPhone®, iPad™, or iPod touch®, or Android device

Tap here ipm://5IiuVm/5IiKkb on your iPhone®, iPad™, or iPod touch®, or Android device that is equipped with the Autodesk Inventor Publisher Mobile Viewer app. Don't have the app yet? Download it FREE today from the Apple App Store or the Android Market Then click the Gallery button in the app and select Bicycle Tutor.

Powered by Autodesk® Inventor® Publisher.

DVD Vol. 1 DVD Volume 1
This video is available on DVD

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.

Tags

Related Links

Discuss this topic in the Derailleur Forums

07/28 Newer Mountain Bike Gear Skipping and/or not catching

I just bought a Mountain Bike that I suppose you would classify as a beginner one (Giant Revel 2) and it has been a great experience getting back into riding. Not too long ago I sort of crashed, what I mean by that is I hit the side of an object and ever since that point my front shifting is seeming to suffer. First problem was that shifting from 1st gear to 2nd gear would not always work, it just wouldn't catch and would make a clicking noise as expected. Also shifting into third would do the same. I tried adjusting the shifting knob (the one by the actual gear change on the handlebar) and no... Read more >>

07/20 Takes ages to shift up a gear

Hello.
Thanks for taking the time to read my problem. I have recently bought a new bike. It is around 3 weeks old and done 112 miles on it. Recently it has started taking ages to shift up a gear on the rear cassette and occasionally it feels like it is trying to change gear on its own. The shift down is fine at the moment. In another 3 weeks the bike will have a 6 week free service. Is it worth waiting till then to let the professionals look at it or is it a quick fix I can do myself? I want to keep it in tip top condition so dont want it getting any worse or even damage it by putting mo... Read more >>

07/18 Rear and front derailleurs won't shift

Hello,

I'm trying to do some basic bike repairs, but I've stumbled upon a problem I cannot solve.

I have a Trek Lexa women's road bike (~3 years old) with Shimano derailleurs. It was in need of a tune-up as shifting between gears was not smooth and the chain was rubbing the bracket; however it was capable of shifting. I started by unhooking the shifter cable and adjusting the high and low limits of the rear derailleur. When I hooked the cable back up (tightened the rear adjustment screw, pulled on the cables, tightened the cable as much as I could while the gears we... Read more >>

07/16 Shifter Cable in FD Won't Listen

I've watched hours of tutoring videos all over the internet in search for an answer. This forum is probably my last shot at it. The gears on the left (for the front derailleur) don't change the gears on my bike, because the shifter cable is out. I've been trying to reinsert my shifter cable for my FD, but only gear one and two work, and it's too stiff for the third gear. Ahhhh! Please help!!... Read more >>

07/16 Shifter moves all the way to high gear by itself

Rear Derailleur shifter: Falcon Index System thumb shifter.

The high and low limits are set correctly because I can shift through all the gear with no problem. I just have to hold the shifter in place. If I let go, it will move all the way to high gear (small cog). It won't stay in anything but the highest gear by itself.... Read more >>

07/16 Genesis Roadtech

I recently purchased a Genesis Roadtech bike from Wal-Mart. It's a road bike but I have no idea how to use the shifters on this bike. The image is where the shifters are located.

I'm just getting into cycling so some of this stuff is still very new to me.

Thank you in advance for help advice.... Read more >>

07/08 Frustrating issue with rear gears

Hi guys

I currently ride a Giant Revolt 2, 2014 model Cyclocross bike.

Last week during my commute to work I lost a spacer from my rear cassette so had it repaired by a local guy who is a friend of mine.

He managed to get every gear sweet bar the highest (small cog) on the rear cassette, it shifts nicely from the second smallest cog down to the smallest cog but it won't go back up - only on that one lowest gear.

He took it to his workshop over night and fit a new cassette and removed a link from the chain as the chain was still slack but that... Read more >>

07/06 What gear shifter for my bike?-Sturmey Archer photos

Hello
I have a Sturmey Archer gears on my bike with a following shifter:[attachment=5222]

However I would like to change this shifter for modern one -the one I currently have is a bit rusty and its though to change gears sometimes.I have found this model:
[attachment=5223]

SPECIFICATIONS:

HSJ823

BLACK/SILVER

3 SPEED NIMBUS SHIFTER

FITS 22.2MM BARS.

Will this shifter be suitable to replace the old one?
Thanks... Read more >>

07/05 Help a total bike dummy fix her bike!

Hello!

I have a second hand, 18-speed, index shifting bike that I use for getting back and forth to school and running some errands. I've been having trouble shifting gears on it. The right gear shifter works fine, but the left one is struggling. When I twist the shifter into a new gear, the actual gear doesn't change. It will however randomly clunk into a new gear when I'm riding and haven't recently changed gears.

I've attached a photo showing the back gears. Let me know if something different would be more helpful!

I really now nothing about bik... Read more >>

07/05 Derailleur or pulley?

Sorry if this has already been covered, I'm new to all this

I have recently had my cogs and chain replaced on my mountain bike due to wearing which caused my chain to slip in a number of gears, have spent a few days adjusting the derailleur thanks to online videos, and seem to have everything working perfectly with the exception on one gear,

when the chain is on the largest chainring and the largest on the back the chain seems to jump and make a loud noise, I have noticed the lower jockey wheel may be the cause of this, as this is where the chain seems to be jumping ... Read more >>

07/04 Mongoose Gear Shifter/V Brake not going back past 4

Hi, I'm new to the forum and this is my first post. I don't quite know how to explain it but will try to do the best I can.

I have a Mongoose mountain bike which I picked up for nothing. It had 2 broken spokes which I fixed quite easily. Bike works really well apart from the gears for the back sproket. It will change from 4 to 7 and back from 7 to 4 but then doesn't go any further. I have uploaded a Youtube video



I don't know what the parts are but there is a little cog that works like a ratchet. Once this gets to 4 it reaches the max for the lever. i.e.... Read more >>

06/28 Cant down shift

Okay, so about a month ago I bought this used bike to have a cheap way into the sport. It's been working great for the past few weeks, but then I started to notice my rear shifter getting tight. I have twist grip shifters. It's gotten to the point where it won't down shift at all. I'm certain it's the shifter though and not the derailleur as I can I push the derailleur into gear and it allows me to downshift if I'm holding it in. It seems like the cable is too tight or something. I'm not sure how to go about fixing this issue.... Read more >>

06/26 Need help fixing rear derailleur

I have trek bike and use it occasionally. My rear derailleur is broken and part of it hanging. I tried it put it in but it doesn't hold on anymore.

Please suggest if it can be easily fixed or need to take to a bike repair shop. Added some pictures... Read more >>

06/23 Where to find downtube indexed shifters?

Where can I find clamp on 12 speed downtube indexed shifters?

Right now I have friction shifters mounted on the stemof my 86 Fuji Allegra and I'm looking to upgrade to indexed shifters.

Thanks!... Read more >>

06/15 Shimano 105 RD-5700 with Tiagra shifters

Hello,

I don't know if this has been posted before (since google didn't come up with any result) but I need a simple quick answer whether a Shimano 105 5700 derailleur will work with my current 2013 Shimano Tiagra shifters or not?
I have already seen in Shimano's documents instructions saying that for optimum performance it should be used either with 105 shifters or Ultegra shifters (5700 and 6700), and I also know that the ratio is a bit different between Tiagra and 105. For now I just need proper shifting and not very accurate, will this work?... Read more >>

New Thread
How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur
Repair Guide / Help Forums

Free Email Updates: