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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Jim Langley: Front Derailleur Adjustment
- Park Tool: Front Derailleur Adjustment
- Sheldon Brown: Front Derailer Adjustment
- Utah Mountain Biking: Tuning the Front Derailleur
- Bicycle Torque Specifications
- Park Tool HXS-1.2 Hex Wrench Set
- Park Tool Wrench Combo Set
- Tri-Flow Superior Lube
- Park Tool SA-3 Heavy Duty Shop Apron
- Park Tool SK-3 Starter Mechanic Tool Kit
- Park Tool PK-3 Professional Tool Kit
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Have an old Schwinn Le Tour 10-speed (not sure what year, its red and made in Chicago). When I'm coasting the chain sags badly, but when I'm peddling its tight and works fine. When I take my feet off the pedals when coasting the chain snaps back tight. Anyone know what's causing this?...Read more
Screenshot 2022-08-23 at 09.36.29.png (Size: 651.91 KB / Downloads: 76) IMG_2187.png (Size: 520.28 KB / Downloads: 77) IMG_2193.jpeg (Size: 56.84 KB / Downloads: 78) Dura Ace 9000 compact crank set (2016 done 12000km) Large chain ring collapsed inwards/sideways behind crank. Never heard of this happening before. Noticed a slight wobble early in the rid...Read more
Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...Read more
The bike, new, was $199 from an Amazon dealer, and it came with a load of great reviews and very few negative ones. That should be a warning to anyone looking for a new bike; the shills are out there. If anyone buys one with the idea of putting it together and going for a ride, they would be disappointed. Walmart bikes are better. Seriously! I knew that it would need some work because you do...Read more
How can I get my Eliminator Grid T9 tire off my rim? I've been at it for about an hour and it just doesn't want to come off....Read more
20D37CE7-EFD6-4AC6-A691-7A42F82E7D07.jpeg (Size: 31.14 KB / Downloads: 43) As the photo shows, cable is exposed. Is there an easy fix?...Read more
hello I, I just bought a e-trike that has a shimano derailer: Tourney RD-FT35A , is there a higher quality replacement ? thanks tee...Read more
New to forum, just signed-up, after reading an entry about constantly loosening crank-arm fixing BOLTS. In my case, my original BB, uses crank-arm fixing NUTS (original equipment, not jury-rigged), instead of BOLTS. I’m “dating” myself, but I’ve had this bike since new. I’m constantly re-tightening the nuts, every other ride, or worse, at times after a long ride. I have had difficult...Read more
The most common bikes with gears use a freewheel hub. Some bikes with gears have other types of hubs. Axles may bend and break in freewheel hubs. Heavy riders are more likely to bend and break axles than light riders. People riding on rough tracks are more likely to bend and break axles than people riding on smooth roads. Axles are more likely to bend and break in hard tails, than bikes with r...Read more
So I'm totally "new" to biking in a sense, I used to bike as a kid and picked it back up when I was around 20-23 or so (I'm 30 now). I had a Schwinn I bought from target back in 2011 or so. Took a fall once and I didn't want to spend money at a bike shop to fix it, so it just rode weird from then on. Then it got flooded in a hurricane and has just rotted in my backyard ever since. I just picked u...Read more
Make your own strong, inexpensive, freewheel removal tool, using a car wheel nut. The most common bikes with gears, use freewheels. There are other gear systems for bikes, but they are used on less bikes. The tool I will describe is for the most common type of freewheel, as shown in the picture. There are freewheels which require different tools, particularly on older bikes. free...Read more
On one bike I have either the bottom of the range Shimano rear derailleur, or an imitation copy of the bottom of the range Shimano rear derailleur. The spring tension is weaker than many other rear derailleurs. The chain sags more than it should. With a derailleur like this, the chain rides up on the sprockets more than it does with a derailleur with stronger spring tension. This results in the s...Read more
Hi Folks, Posted this on another forum as well. Hope to get the assistance here. I'm not a very handy ebike enthusiast. Don‘t really know the inner workings of an ebike, I just like riding them. Anyway, was riding my Core-5 that has around 1200 miles on it, and suddenly it made this strange grinding sound every time I engaged the throttle or PAS. Visited Ride1up’s support page and read...Read more
We have just changed a gear twist grip as previous broke. Have fitted a shimano 7 speed But now it jumps a gear in the middle. 1st fine 2nd fine 3rd fine But when change to 4th it jumps to the fifth sprocket so then twist gear just goes to 6th But is actually 7th on sprocket. It does the same going down gears, If you just turn twist half way through clicks 3rd / 4th it will go onto 4th. But a...Read more
20220806_113536.jpg (Size: 33.21 KB / Downloads: 61) Hello To Everyone. Need a help! Is this enough clearance between the lock ring and the fork. Some bike shops say Yes some of them No. The Lock ring was tighten to the specs. I would really appreciate your opinions. Thank you...Read more