Give A Little ‘Front Derailleur Love’

Today, we’re in the midst of a Pacific Ocean storm; battered by wind, rain, and what-not. And I’m thinking of…my front derailleur.

You’re right, that’s a load of bull.

I’m actually thinking of my birthday, which for those of you who don’t know, and even for those who do know, (but may have forgotten) will be here in one month.  Hindered only by that annoying distraction called Christmas.

After a cold slap to the face (my own), I’ve awakened out of my focus on ‘gift-giving revelry’, willing to attack the subject of adjusting the front derailleur of your bike.

From the exhilarating to the mundane.

Don’t Put Up With Dropped Chains…Adjust Your Derailleur

The good folks at Park Tools demonstrate proper derailleur height.

You’ve weathered the storm of my self-indulgence, so let’s get down to business.

Your front derailleur can be the source of all sorts of annoyance if it isn’t adjusted correctly.

You might drop a chain, essentially shifting your bike into ‘neutral’ just when your riding partner needs to be disciplined by you on a challenging climb.

Or you may be unable to shift at all at the exact moment your legs turn to jelly on the big ring and need a little ‘small chain love’.

Start With Looking At It…Duh!

Here’s something just about anyone can do.  Look at the thing and see if it’s too high, low, or maybe even twisted.

Shift the chain onto the large chain ring, and check to see if there is room for a penny to be slipped between the ring and the edge of the derailleur.  Check out the first picture (above) to see what I’m rambling on about.

On a lot of bikes, a derailleur that’s too high or too low can be adjusted by loosening up the bracket holding the derailleur to the seat post and re-positioning it.

While you’re at it, look at the derailleur to see if it is pointing in the direction your bike’s going.

You know, not twisted.

Once again, a picture’s worth a Zeppelin of my hot air so look at the Park Tool’s image above to visualize proper alignment.

‘Limit’ Screws Need Some Attention Too

There are two little screws, marked ‘L’ and ‘H’ on the derailleur.  If your chain isn’t having trouble shifting from chain ring to chain ring, and isn’t dropping off, leave these screws alone unless you’re a tinkering fool.

Limiting screws staring right at you!

But if your chain shifts too far when you’re downshifting, and drops off toward your seat tube, get out a small screw driver and head toward the little screw marked ‘L’ (I suppose it’s short for ‘Low’ gear).  You’ll want to tighten the screw a quarter turn and recheck the shifting to see if your efforts keep the chain on the small chain ring.  Keep adjusting in increments of a quarter turn until the limiting screw has been adequately tightened.

On the other hand, if your chain fights you when you’re trying to shift down from the large chain ring to the small, loosen the ‘L’ screw.  Your problem may be that your limiting screw is a bit too enthusiastic when doing its job of keeping your chain from traveling toward your seat tube.  Loosen it in increments of a quarter turn until the chain shifts onto the small chain ring, and stays there without rubbing the chain when you’re riding.

If you’re having trouble keeping the chain from shifting up and over the large chain ring toward the right pedal, it’s time to adjust the ‘H’ screw

Same concept…tighten in increments of a quarter turn until the chain doesn’t shift too far.  And of course, loosen in increments of quarter turns if the limiter screw is keeping your chain from shifting up onto the large chain ring entirely.

The next time I’m back here pecking away at the keyboard, I’ll say a few words about proper cable tension.

Oh the joy that’ll be headed your way!

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