How to Adjust a Rear Gear Video


If you have an old or a new bike the gears will at some time need to be adjusted. With a new bike after a short while the cable stretches or things like the chain bed-in and adjustments will have to be made, with an old bike as things get worn, again things will need looking at and adjusted.

photo credit: Lordcolus

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If you have a road bike or a mountain bike with Shimano or Campagnolo gears, they are all basically the same. This job is done more easily with your bike on a stand or the back wheel off the ground.

Where to start
First thing to do is to check all the bolts, the top bolt where the rear derailleur is bolted to the frame and the bolts that hold the jockey wheels in place all need to be tight. is cable tight
Next step is to check the gear cable, first make sure the cable is not frayed or rusty and that it runs smoothly, if it is frayed or rusty, change it…
(We will cover this in another article “How to replace cables on your bike”) and if its sticky put some grease on to the cable and run a bit of oil in to the outer casing, this should make things nice and smooth.
The next step

There are two adjusting screws that allow the gear mechanism to move in or out, these are very important as they stop the chain either going into the rear wheel or going off the smallest cog and in between the frame, but if they are adjusted in to much they will also stop you being able to use the biggest or the smallest of your gears.

With a small screwdriver adjust the screws in or out so that the chain will go onto the cog smoothly but not go too far and come off the end, onto the frame or into the wheel.

This is best done by pushing the derailleur in with one hand and turning the pedal with the other and letting the spring in the mechanism push the chain back, don’t use the gear lever as you haven’t adjusted it yet, if it is sitting perfectly on the cog the chain will not make any noise and will run smoothly.

Have you got trouble indexing?

Index gears are great, if you remember the way things used to be with friction gears you’ll know what I’m talking about.

With index gears all you have to do is move the leaver and it clicks in to the next gear, this is great when it works, but as with everything when it goes out of adjustment it can ruin your days ride.

First make sure the small screws are adjusted properly as described above, then with the chain on the smallest cog click the gear lever once and the chain should move slickly to the next cog.

If it doest go up, you need to tighten the tension of the cable with the cable adjuster either at the top of the gear mechanism or at the gear lever on a mountain bike or on the cable where it joins the frame on a road bike.

Click the lever up and down between 1st and 2nd gear adjusting the cable until it sound right or you go too far and the chain jumps to the next gear, if it does this turn the adjuster back a little, this is also what you do if the chain over changes when you first start adjusting your gears.

If the adjustment is correct between the 1st gear and the 2nd gear then it should be OK for the others as the clicks in the lever are spaced to match the space between the cogs.

Just to make sure all is good put the chain on another front chain wheel (double or triple) and run through the gears again, the cable adjuster might need a little adjustment, just a tweak, to fine tune the gear change, with practice you will be able to adjust any annoying miss adjustment noises away from your gear change.

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  1. Christopher

    Just bought my wife a mountain bike (not an expensive one) when she went a cycle she said the gears were clicking and didn’t want to go into gear. How do I adust this to make it work propoerly. I am a complete bike novice.

  2. randy rico

    learning through your video is faster and better than I type this message…LOL!

  3. KDC1956

    This video is great I now know how to setup my rear derailleur.This was the one part I did not understand until now.Thanks for a great video.

  4. Bing

    I am enlightened more of the mechanics in gear lever adjustments – the video helps a lot. Much more on the significant info that if it works on the two gears it should work on the remaining gears as observed by Sir Arthur. Thanks to


  5. maddaddypat

    That was one of the best expailnations i have seen. Direct and to the point, easy to grasp, works great too.

  6. Arthur Dempsey

    Hi,I would like to complement you on your video you make it so easy to understand, also the little tip that if it works on the first two gears it should work on the remainder.The other very true comment is sometimes it’s fine on the stand but when you go out on the bike you may have to make small adjustment.”So true”Well done keep up the good instruction.Regards,Arthur

  7. Mei

    Great tutorial. My 16 year old Lizard is now as new!

  8. Alastair Hamilton

    Hi Joe,it sounds like the middle cogs are worn and the cassette needs replacing.

  9. Joel

    The index shifter on my Rans Stratus XP works good at the top and bottom ends but slips in the middle. I need to keep on reading. Thanks

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