How To Adjust Bike Gears

How To Adjust Bike Gears

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Are you experiencing consistent clicking or grinding sounds as you pedal?

Or are you getting some inconsistent gear shifting or can’t shift into some cogs on your cassette.

If so, you might have a problem with your bike gears, and you need to adjust them.

Failure to adjust your bike gears correctly will do more than harm to your bike components, but its poses a safety hazard.

Having a sound and well-structured bike gear system will not only ensure that you experience the easiest of rides but also experience the enjoyment that comes with operating an efficient bike gear system.

At first glance, it might seem that understanding the bike gear system is much more complicated, but getting your bike gear system to operate smoothly is not that complex as many choose to believe.

And in the article below, we shall take you through a step by step procedure on how to adjust your bike gears.

Step by Step Guide on How to Adjust Bicycle Gears

What You’ll Need

  • Open-end wrench
  • Nose pliers
  • Screwdriver

Set the Bike

The first step is to set your bike in a raised position or upside down.

The idea is to allow you to spin the wheels and observe the shifting system without moving the bike.

So, either raise the bike or let it lie with the handlebars rested on the ground.

Locate the Derailleur

The derailleur is the bike component that allows shifting on the bike gears while maintaining the bike chain in its correct position.

In particular, check the derailleur lying near the pedal and the one at the back cassette.

Test Gears or Shifting Errors

Lightly pedal your bike using your hands, while engaging the different gears.

This way, you’ll easily spot the gear that has an issue.

An easy way to spot an issue is to look where the chain or links slips out of the derailleur.

Ideally, we recommend that you start checking the gears from the back.

Shift to the Problematic Gear

This step allows you to diagnose the gear with the problem.

Before you start working on it, you need to loosen the cable adjuster.

To make any adjustments, the cable adjuster should not move to lower gears.

Adjusting the Rear Derailleur for a Better Ride

Step 1

Move the chain to the smallest cog using your shifter and by turning the pedals. If it cannot reach there, move the chain to the farthest it can go.

Step 2

If your bike features a cable adjuster, turn it in an anticlockwise direction.

Step 3

Once the gear level is fixed on top, alleviate the bolt that secures the cable.

Step 4

Move the derailleur closer to the spokes using your hands. If the derailleur screw is adjusted correctly, the chain will automatically fit the largest cog.

Step 5

In case the derailleur falls short from the cog and does not get into the spokes, fine-tune the screw in a right-handed motion to make it overlap while focusing on alignment 

Step 6

Make sure the cable is held tight under the retaining bolt to support the cable properly. This will help to remove any instances of slack on the cable.

Further, you can cycle the gears before moving the cable to the largest cog.

Step 7

Shift the gears each at a time.

While shifting, the entire process should be flawless, and if shifting into the big cog is not fast enough, loosen the barrel adjuster.

On the other hand, in case conveying onto smaller cogs is time-consuming, fasten up the barrel adjuster by half a turn.

Adjusting the Front Derailleur

Step 1

Using the shifter, turn the pedals and this will put the chain into the smallest chainring and to the biggest cog.

Once the chain is positioned onto the biggest cog, let go of the bolt retaining the cable after riveting the barrel adjuster. 

Step 2

Examine the derailleur and ensure that the plates are pushing the chain in an equal length to the chainring.

If they’re not parallel, unbind the clamp supporting the derailleur, and then align it to a parallel position.

Step 3

Calibrate the curb screw to ensure that the chain is placed in between the derailleur plates. 

Step 4

Using your hands, twist the derailleur while pushing the chain into the biggest chainring.

Step 5

Rotate the chain back to the smallest chain ring by releasing the derailleur. 

Step 6

Ensure the cable is under the holding bolt and fasten it to hold the cable.

This will help to remove any instances of slack on the cable.

Further, you can cycle the gears a couple of times before shifting the cable to the biggest cog.

Step 7

The final process of adjusting the front gear is fine-tuning the gears.

If the shifting to a bigger chainring is slow, try loosening the adjuster half-way.

On the other hand, if shifting into a smaller chainring is slow, stiffen the adjuster by half turn.


As you can see, adjusting the gears on your bike is easier than you had imagined.

If you follow these guidelines, you should have an easy time adjusting the gears to your bike.

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