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
I just bought some spacers on amazon. Can I take these bars up higher? Right now it’s at seat height, maybe. B244096A-8E83-4716-B335-7FC45A98D0AB.jpeg (Size: 56.94 KB / Downloads: 13) ...Read more
Just out of curiosity; has anyone ever tried using those "super lubricants" in the automotive aisle (e.g. "Slick 50", etc)? Seems I remember a commercial with Al Unser Jr. (or some race car guy) draining their oil from the car and then running around the track at full speed. I am, as an experiment, going try a few drops on a "test" bike just to see how the BB and hubs feel w/o grease. I used to kn...Read more
Hi! Many apologies for my state of panic, but a friendly commenter on Reddit (/r/bikewrench specifically) suggested that I cross-post my question here to see if anyone here could help, so please forgive the rough copy-paste-edit job from my original post there. Basically... with the pandemic going on I recently got a nice custom gravel wheelset built for me using White Industries CLD hubs, which...Read more
My Apollo feud rear gear set was trashed when the bike was loaned ,the click on lock on was damaged how can I fix it please so I can be mobile again.thank you...Read more
Hello! I have a grinding sound coming from my front wheel and I can't figure it out. I took apart the hub and cleaned the ball bearings, which made the wheel spin more smoothly but the sound is still there. I have attached a link to an audio recording of the sound. The sound seems to occur at a slow and steady pace, even when i'm biking pretty fast. I have a single speed bike with rim brakes. any...Read more
Hi. I have a fairly cheepish bike, Appolo Evade Mountain Bike. (The reason for it having a freewheel was probably due to price not age). Anyways. So, there is a tiny bit of freewheel wobble which I have come across on a lot of freewheel bikes so I never considered this a problem. Freewheels just tend to get a little bent right? Despite this, shifting is just fine and smooth and the whole drive ...Read more
I have an original 2010 Trek District 1st edition. I need the rear cog 22t 9 spline replaced, I've stripped out my original one. I can not find this part anywhere and if I go to trek website or even gates, they say the part does not exist. When I contacted gates they informed me that they do not have any and that I could maybe find it through a 3rd party source. I really do not want to change it ...Read more
I'm a former racer attempting to build a business selling bike bleed kits, and I am in this class where we are working on a product/service feasibility assignment. If you're a biker or have some knowledge in the cycling industry, could help me out in taking this quick survey for a business idea of selling bleed kits for bikes, motorcycles, and other vehicles? It involves looking over a one-page ...Read more
Greetings all, Looking for a little advice on why and how to fix the Presta air valve on my Park Tools floor pump. It’s a dual presta Schrader attachment (that in not removable) on the pump and air flow simply stopped flowing into the presta despite lock being on to block Schrader flow. There has been some lead up warning as it became harder to pump and would ‘pop’ when whatever was blocki...Read more
I'm looking for a compatible thumb or bar-end shifter for a Campy 9-speed derailleur. The Jtek ShiftMate 3 looked like the perfect solution as it would allow me to use a cheap Shimano-compatible shifter, but they're only sold by SKS Cycles in the UK and I'd prefer not to ship back to the US from overseas. Does anyone know of other solutions out there (besides friction shifters)?...Read more
All, Just had my brakes replaced and repaired. I noticed that my rear v-brakes were skewed to one side. Not sure how to fix or reconfigure this. Any help is appreciated. The attachment shows the skewed v-brakes leaning to one side. rear-v-brakes.jpg (Size: 57.44 KB / Downloads: 107) Thanks....Read more
I am building my dream bike and I want to put a Chris King bottom bracket in it. It is just very hard to figure out which one is the right one. I plan on getting a Sram DUB crankset because it has the look I´m going for, with a decent price tag. I have a Cinelli Vigorell disc frame. I believe that in order to put the DUB crankset on I would need the King Threadfit 30. I don't know what the differ...Read more
Hi, I followed the park tool instruction for the front and rear derailer alignment but the Front Derailer moves to the bigger cog only when I'm not riding the bike. On the stand, it moves to the bigger cog just fine but whenever I ride it doesn't move. It shifts perfectly on the stand but seems to hit the h limit screw when sitting and actually riding (the cables are not being clamped in any way ...Read more
I've watched the Park Tool video on removing and installing a new crank. I've completed the removal/install and torqued to 45Nm (hoping this is correct for a cheap SR Suntour XCT since I can't find manufacturer guidance). I used a tiny bit of grease (but let's not go down that rabbit hole for this question). Here's where I'm starting to find conflicting info. This document on Sheldon's siteexpla...Read more
Hi! I recently got a cheapie old mountain bike. A few minor thing had to be done to it to get it into a good usable condition. The old thing thats still up with it is a slight wobble in the rear freewheel. It makes the rear gears slip a bit. I don't know much about freewheel mechanisms... is there user serviceable bearing in then or is replacing that the only option? i've uploaded a video to sh...Read more