How to Adjust Bicycle Gears Efficiently – Expert Advice

How to Adjust your bike’s gears

Gears are awesome. They make the ride so much better with all those options. This is what a bike is made of. Well, I understand that everything on a bicycle is important, but the gears are what is most important. They give you speed and make the trails so much easier to get through. That’s why it’s also important to know how to adjust bicycle gears.

So, when they start misbehaving, you have to make sure that you have that problem fixed as soon as possible to prevent the problems that come with having gears that don’t work properly. So, we will take a trip through the problems that you will get how to adjust bike gears efficiently.

How to Adjust Bicycle Gears

 Process on How to Adjust Bicycle Gears 

  1. Possible Problems in Bike Gears
  2. Gear Indexing
  3. Setting the Derailleur Limits
  4. Putting in a New Rear Derailleur Hanger in Case yours is Bent
How to Properly Adjust Bicycle Shifting

 Possible Problems in Bike Gears 

  1. Gear Shifting– this is one of the most common types of problems that you will face when you have gear problems. The gear cables usually get extended in length, and that causes them to go all out of alignment which means that you have to get them aligned again.
  2. Chain Slips off– the derailleur limits usually are the first ones to cause this problem. When they are not properly set, you will find that the chain just won’t stay. It is a problem that is easily fixable.
  3. Downshift– Up shift Problems- these are also common where the gears will shift down properly, but when you try the other direction, they just won’t move as smoothly. This is something that will be addressed by cleaning the cables and the cable casings.
  4. Jumping Gears– You were riding fine like a minute ago, and then the gears decide that they have had enough hard gear and switch to something less taut. This is something that could cause imbalances that you won’t want to have especially in a downhill situation.

Gear Indexing

This is what you do when the gears are being difficult on you. That way, you will be able to have a better bike. Indexing will help with most of the common and simple problems before they progress to something more serious. That is why you need to learn how to do that for yourself.

Good old indexing will solve most of the problems that include the skipping gears, lack of smoothness in shifting and other minor problems. We are going to take a look at the things that you can do to get the gears indexed.

NOTE: You will need a hex key; it is a tool that you will use to get the derailleur working again. Should be anywhere between a size 4 and 5mm.

Part 1: The Derailleur

When you start, you will need to move the derailleur with your hands when you are taking it off to make sure that you do not drop the chain. You will then shift the front derailleur to the middle ring which is the smallest.

Then take the rear barrel adjuster and turn it in one clockwise motion that will let you remove it. You will have to take the cable mounting off. Do this delicately by unscrewing the mounting bolt that is usually at the back of the derailleur.

Part 2: Cable Tension

After you have finished adjusting the derailleur, you will then move on to the cabling which could be the problem that you have. Using the pedal, you will slowly move it to make sure that you can see where the problem is.

The shifter cable will be what you need to tighten until you can see that everything is moving in the manner that it is supposed to. This will allow you to see if the problem is with the cable tension or the housing of the cable. Lubricate the housing or replace if they are worn out.

Part 3: Shifting Problems

These usually happen a lot and you will need to know how to get them fixed. Here is how I would do it.

  • Shift the front derailleur to the smallest ring and then move the rear one to the cog that is in the middle of the cassette and make sure that the front is loose enough by winding the barrel adjuster in a clockwise turn just once.
  • Now make the cable less loose and tighten it to ensure that the retention bolt is also well screwed in.
  • When you have done that, you should try to shift the gears into the middle or the outer ring. If the shifting is not readily working, you will have to adjust the barrel adjuster again.
  • Repeating the same thing will help you see if you missed anything. it should be easy seeing as everything that you need is right there.
  • The adjustments should be easy to make, and once you are done, the gears should be shifting up and down with no problems at all.

If the problems persist, then you have a bigger problem than you thought and you might need an expert who knows this stuff more than you or I do.

Setting the Derailleur Limits

This is something that you will need to do to make sure that the chain does not keep dropping every time that you try anything. The limits are usually not hard to set if you know what you are doing. This is not good for either you or the bike as it can damage the bike and you.

You will need a small screwdriver. I would pick a crosshead one.

Part 1: Lower Limit Screw

When you have the screwdriver, this will be easy. All you need to do is find the screw that is marked L and then screws it fully clockwise. This will give you the tautness that you need to make sure that the lower limit is set. The gear shouldn’t jump when you are done.

Part 2: High Limit Adjustment

You will need to wind this out to make sure that you can go to the maximum size that is allowed. That means the highest gear should run smoothly without jumping or making any click noises. You will make sure that it can run with the chain in both the smallest ring and high gear.

Part 3: Jockey Wheel

This is the one that you will also need to look at and make sure that it is in the perfect shape that you need it to be. The clearance from the cassette is what you need to keep your eye on. You will find this to be very useful when you are adjusting it. They also call it the B tension I heard.

Putting in a New Rear Derailleur Hanger in Case yours is Bent

This is something that you will need to do to make sure that you have a smooth ride. You will find that there is nothing to be had from leaving this bent. You will need to either replace it or make sure that the one you have is in the shape that it is supposed to be.

The Derailleur hangers are there to make sure that the derailleur is not damaged when you hit something or in case of impact and you will need to make sure that the things that protect the derailleur are in working condition.

Part 1: Detecting the Bends

You will find that the bends happen inwards towards the tire and you will have to make sure that you have adjusted this to be straight or replace the whole thing. Sighting the hangers will be easy, you just have to see if it is aligned or not and then everything else will be easy.

Part 2: Removing the Derailleur

This will not be a hard thing to do when you have the right tools. All you will need to do is remove the rear wheel and then the derailleur from the hanger. This will have to be done delicately. You with then put it on the chain so that you have balance.

Part 3: Removing the Hanger

When you have removed the derailleur, you will then have to unscrew the hanger from its position so that you can have access to the hanger itself. You will then make sure that you do not loosen anything else just to be careful.


  • When you are loosening these things, you will need to make sure that you do not forget what went where.
  • Do not loosen anything that you do not know and if you are unsure how to continue, stop before you ruin the bike and seek out a pro.
  • Have the proper tools because improvisation just won’t do much for you with complicated bike equipment.
  • The gears are complex, and you will need to be very keen with the instructions that you have been given.


  • Because checking and refitting the gears is such delicate work, you will need to make sure that you know what you are doing before you start.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Qns: Can the gears be replaced altogether?
Ans: Yeah, they can be replaced, just not by you amateurs. That needs some pros.

Qns: Do gears cause the chain to slip?
Ans: In some cases…yeah. Check them out regularly.

Qns: How regularly should I check my gears?
Ans: How about every day after a ride? Things happen that you know nothing of when you ride.

Finally, You may find the information you’re looking on how to adjust bicycle gears. If this article helps you a little bit then please leave a comment under this article & inspire me more to produce article like this for cyclist community. Happy Pedalling.


Reference:  Bike Forums,  Singletrackworld

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