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Follow these derailleur adjustment tips to eliminate shifting issues

Experiencing issues shifting as you begin training for Kerrville Triathlon Festival on Sept. 28-29? Try your hand at a derailleur adjustment with these simple steps.

Derailleur designers provide a simple way for you to dial in shifting. You don’t even need tools (although, it’s easiest to make and check adjustments when the bicycle is supported in a repair stand). Keep in mind, these steps are for derailleurs that are not damaged or bent. If you suspect that it is, it needs more than this simple adjustment and you should call James Balentine with City Limit Cycles.

To adjust the derailleur, look at the point where the cable enters the rear derailleur. See that round, knob-like piece? That’s a barrel adjuster. It’s used to tune the derailleur adjustment.

Standing behind the bike, the barrel adjuster is turned either counter-clockwise or clockwise in half-turn increments until the shifting hesitation is cured. Which way do you turn it? It depends on what type of hesitation you’re experiencing. The most common problem is slow-shifting into easier gears (toward the spokes) due to the cable stretching. But, it’s also possible that you’re experiencing the opposite.

This rule will help you remember which way to turn it. If the derailleur is hesitating when shifting toward the spokes (the more common problem), turn the barrel toward the spokes (counter-clockwise). If it hesitates shifting away from the spokes, turn the adjuster away (clockwise) from the spokes. Turn it only a half turn, shift multiple times to check the adjustment, and repeat as needed to eliminate all hesitation.

You should strive for a clean drivetrain

While you’re hanging around this summer, why not try your hand at making sure you have a clean drivetrain? With these simple steps, you’ll be the grease monkey you always dreamed of being! Not only that, but keeping your drivetrain clean and lubed extends the life of your bicycle and helps maintain proper shifting performance and pedaling efficiency.

Steps:

1. When riding primarily on roads, you should clean and re-lube your chain at least once every three or four rides, depending on the conditions (rain, excessive road grit, etc.).

2. Run the chain backward through a clean cotton rag until the chain is fairly clean and dry. Lube the chain with your favorite lube, making sure that some lube gets on each link. Run chain back through the rag once more to remove excess lube. Don’t have a favorite chain lube? Check out 2 of our favorites White Lightning Clean Ride or Bike Medicine Purple Extreme.

3. Clean the cassette or freewheel. You can “floss” the cassette or freewheel with a clean rag to remove built-up gunk. If it is really dirty, you may want to scrub the cassette or freewheel cogs with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

4.  Wipe off your front and rear derailleur. Afterward, spray the derailleur pivots with a light, penetrating lube.

5. Wipe off your chainrings from time to time with a clean rag. If they are really dirty, you may want to scrub them with an old toothbrush and some de-greaser.

6. Clean the rear derailleur jockey wheels from time to time with a clean rag to prevent the build-up of gunk.

Tips:

If your chain is really dirty, you may need to remove it to clean it properly. However, if you regularly follow the steps above, you will not need to do this. You can buy chain cleaning kits which run the chain through a solvent bath. You can also use a wide mouth soda bottle, Gatorade bottle, or old water bottle as a chain bath. Again, following the recommendations above should keep your drivetrain clean.

You should generally replace your chain every 2000 miles. If you wait longer than that, your old chain may begin to put undue wear on your cassette or freewheel. Don’t forget to wash your bike!

Happy cleaning!

James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles