important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Adjust Your Front Derailleur

Applies to most 3-chainring derailleur systems.

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.

Related Links

Recommended Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

NordicTrack U300 Knocking

Lastest post 7 hours ago

I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what is causing the knocking sound on my NordicTrack U300 stationary bike. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Here is a video of the knocking sound: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AnBkAt1Ty5oGiGDlEifMjPDihGr7?e=08qsm9...

Read more

1962 Varsity - Move Stem Shifters Ok?

Lastest post 21 hours ago

  varsity.jpg (Size: 152.97 KB / Downloads: 105)   varsity2.jpg (Size: 77.64 KB / Downloads: 106) Hi. This is my first post. I have a 1962 Varsity that I've enjoyed riding since I was 10. I'm in my 60's now and just want to putz around the neighborhood. In order to make the bike more comfortable I put a super big seat on it and 12" high handlebars. It's my Lazy-Boy on w...

Read more

Horrendous noises when pedalling

Lastest post 2 days ago

I have just started hearing horrendous noises when pedalling my 7 week old Trek Powerfly 4 ebike. The sound is worse than clicking and clunking and I can’t tell exactly where it is coming from. So have uploaded a video here: https://youtu.be/G3X2tLHk4Bk. Has anyone had similar or know what if could be? I’ve not heard these types of noises before....

Read more

Gear shift is stuck!

Lastest post 2 days ago

On both my bike handles, the gear shifts are stuck and I can’t move them. They’re currently stuck on gear 5 now (the highest). How do I fix it without needing a new gear shift?...

Read more

Brake wire

Lastest post 2 days ago

Took my bike out after a couple of years only to remember that my left brake broke off while using it last and there is an unusual cable hanging from my bike that gets in the way sometimes, is it okay for me to cut it off? Will it affect the right brake?...

Read more

I bought a can of mineral oil from motorex and it came in 250ml aluminium can with big cap, and I need to fill my brake lever with that oil but I don't have syringe or bleed kit. How could I fill it up without syringe or bleed kit and tips? Anything similar to syringe that would work?   54e2f371.jpg (Size: 152.52 KB / Downloads: 49) ...

Read more

Freehub body change compatibility

Lastest post 5 days ago

I have a single speed kona unit with a formula dc52 hub (only single speed drive) and was wondering if anyone knew what freehub bodies were compatible so I can switch is to more then just a single. I would prefer not to have to buy a whole new wheel or rebuilding with a new hub. Thanks...

Read more

Hi, I'm new here. Just need some help right now for my grandson's Shocker 20 bike. The cable holder has come loose at the gripper handle and having trouble getting it back in. Any suggestions or where to get another 7 speed shifter for his bike? Thanks a lot. Sorry for not filling in any other "newbe" message, I'm currently baby sitting my other grandchild . That probably explains it all. 2...

Read more

Also if you guys know the code for the bearings and bearing size, I have a shimano 105 crank   B735B1FC-9997-4A08-9590-3B4A5798E21D.jpeg (Size: 79.89 KB / Downloads: 16) ...

Read more

I need to know what bottom bracket I have but I can fin a number or code on it to read it. Any experts in here, this is my first post.   006BA1F3-FE4D-4D22-85F0-095E72284B3D.jpeg (Size: 46.12 KB / Downloads: 19) ...

Read more

I've read other threads and lots of info online, and I'm still stuck. My son is unable to shift the gears on his new 6-gear bike. We tried adjusting the derailer to release some tension and tinkered with adjustments here and there, and nothing seems to be working. Is there anything that we can do? I really want him to be able to shift his own gears. Going uphill today we had to stop several t...

Read more

Hello everyone. After many winter rides, my 29er MTB began to throw out creaking sounds last week. It's nothing too loud, just a gentle yet annoying creak that happens on every other stroke but not constantly. Could it simply be the case of pedals (I have clipless Shimano MTB pedals) being "tired" and not the bottom bracket? Where should I look first?...

Read more

  IMG-0104.JPG (Size: 69.13 KB / Downloads: 14) Hi I was in the process of putting upright handle bars on an old mountain bike frame.. ( help take the pinching out of my neck when i ride) I noticed a small hairline crack in the headset (i guess that is what they are called ?) I am only looking for something i can go out and ride simple flat probably paved trails.. to keep my c...

Read more

Hey guys I was recommended to post here to see if I could get any additional opinions. Would be great if you guys could help me out. Images: https://imgur.com/a/HvH98By I bought a second-hand carbon bike that looked mostly fine on inspection but when I took it apart to put in the car I noticed that the carbon around the dropouts might've been cracked? This is my first time seeing these 'enclos...

Read more

Hi... I bought 2 second hand wheels for my Gary Fisher bike.. The rear wheel came with a new 8 speed cassette marked... Shimano Hypergluide HG. After reading the spec. list of the bike it lists the chain as Shimano CN-IG51, 1/2 x 3/32" ..and the front gear chain as SR XCC-150 42/34/24 crank.. The original cassette was SRAM PG830 11-32 8spd My question ...is the new cassette OK with the original c...

Read more