No one loves that annoying sound of a derailleur that could use some adjustment. Not many riders know how to adjust bike derailleur – and yet it’s one of the simplest things you can do to improve the way your bike rides.
That’s why, in this post, I will specifically show you how to adjust rear derailleur. The spring is just around the corner and some riders are already riding their favorite roads out there.
Therefore, there’s no need to stay in your home or break your head in your garage trying to adjust your bike’s derailleur.
Down below, you’ll find a step-by-step process that will get you back on the road in no time.
How to Adjust Bike Derailleur
The good thing is that almost all bike derailleurs work in the same way no matter the type of bike.
All you need is a Philips screwdriver and the instructions which are listed down below to get rid of the annoying click sound that keeps following you.
The harder you ride – the louder it gets. Everyone knows that sound, right? Not anymore!
The Key Adjustment – Limit Screws
Limit screws are in 80% of the cases enough to properly adjust your bike derailleur.
Ideally, you’d want to put your bike on a bike stand and gently pedal forwards while you work your chain into the lowest gear possible (smallest sprocket).
Then, sit behind the rear derailleur and find the screw marked H. This is the screw you will use to adjust the frame of your rear derailleur.
If you turn it clockwise, you will move the jockey wheel closer to the wheel spokes. Counterclockwise will turn it closer to the frame.
But how do you know how far should you adjust the jockey wheel?
It’s simple! The jockey wheel should sit right underneath the smallest sprocket.
Tighten the Cable
If you have never adjusted your bike derailleur before, you might have at least noticed that there’s a cable.
The cable needs to be tightened properly, but with all the gear shifting – it can untighten over time. This is normal and it happens even with the most quality bikes on the market.
Therefore, to ensure that your bike’s rear derailleur cable is tightened properly, you should turn the barrel adjuster on the derailleur clockwise before proceeding.
Then, you have to put your chain in the highest, pull the cable as tight as you can, and attach it to the body of the derailleur with the help of the cable anchor.
When you’ve done this, put the chain into the third gear and pedal forward to shift the chain. At this point, shifting still might not be smooth – but that’s normal and it’s nothing that should concern you.
Set the Cable Tension
Now when you have tightened the cable – using the barrel adjuster, you will increase the tension of the cable.
But how tense should the cable be?
This is the part that you will have to judge depending on how well your shifter shifts the chain. If the chain doesn’t easily go up a gear – you should increase the cable tension by rotating the barrel adjuster anti-clockwise.
But in case the chain skips a gear on the way down, you should decrease the cable tensions by rotating the barrel adjuster clockwise.
Once you’ve set it up – listen to the chain noise. It will tell you if the gears are running smoothly or if the tension should be adjusted any further.
Shift the Gear Up
Your gears should be shifting pretty smoothly right now, but there’s one more thing you should adjust so you don’t get into an accident.
Most riders forget about this part – but it’s one of the most important safety things you need to do every time you adjust rear derailleur.
In order to do this properly, you should put the chain into the largest sprocket (highest gear). Sit behind the rear derailleur and find the screw marked with L which is just down below the H screw.
This screw is the one that limits how far the derailleur can move towards the wheel. If you don’t set this right, your chain could easily end up in the wheels when upshifting.
Push the body of the derailleur until it goes as close to the wheel as possible. If the jockey wheel moves further than the position directly below the largest sprocket – you should limit its movement.
To do this, you should turn the L screw clockwise until the derailleur is unable to move further than the position under the largest sprocket.
This means that whenever you shift upwards to the larger sprocket – your chain won’t be able to go further than the highest gear.
Check the B-Tensions Screw
B-tension screw is the screw that determines how close the upper jockey wheel is to the cassette. The way you should adjust it is to have it as close as possible to the sprockets without them actually touching.
If you turn the B-tension screw clockwise, the jockey wheel will move away from the cassette. Turning the B-tension screw anti-clockwise will move the jockey wheel closer to the cassette.
I prefer the gap between the upper jockey wheel and the cassette to be about 3 mm. This is perfect since these two components won’t touch and yet you will have a very efficient shifting process in place.
Did you think that learning how to adjust bike derailleur and actually being able to adjust rear derailleur will be this simple?
If you’re making the adjustment for the first time – it might take a bit longer. Nevertheless, you should be on your bike trouble-free and noise-free in under 15 minutes.
And if you need to adjust or replace any other component on your bike – I highly recommend checking out my Bike Maintenance 101 post for all information you could need in one post!