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
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.
(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, donâ€™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.
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.