Modern bike gears are indexed. As you click the gear lever into a certain gear position on your handlebars, the rear or front derailleur should put the chain onto the corresponding ring or cog. This should happen effortlessly and without any fuss.
If you are having a hard time staying in a chosen gear, your bike’s chain is falling off, or you can’t shift to a specific gear, adjusting bike gears can fix all these issues. In this guide, we will show you how to fix bike gears.
A Step by Step Guide on Adjusting Bike Gears
1. Raise the Bike Off the Ground
To adjust gears in your mountain bike, you will need the ability to spin the bike’s wheels without the bicycle moving. The most ideal way to do this is to raise your bike off the ground using a bike stand.
If you do not have a bike stand, you can turn your touring bike upside down, resting it on the seat and its handlebars. If you turn the bike upside down, you will have to reverse the spin direction while following the instructions below.
If turning the road bike upside down does not seem like a good option, you can find a low hanging joist or a tree notch and hang the bike’s saddle on it. This should raise the rear wheel off the ground.
2. Locate the Derailleurs
If this is the first time you are learning how to fix bike gears, you may not be familiar with the derailleurs. These are parts of the bike that physically shift the bike gears and keep the bike’s chain in place. One is present on your back wheel and is attached to the collection of the rear gears (cassette) and another derailleur (a smaller one) is located near the bike’s pedals.
The rear derailleur is more complex. It is made up of the derailleur itself, 1 to 2 smaller gears that the bike’s chain is threaded through, and an arm. A cable helps pull the derailleur’s arm back and forth – this allows the chain to switch gears.
The front derailleur is clamped to the frame of the bike and is made up of 2 derailleur plates and a spring. The derailleur plates are small metal plates that force the bicycle’s chain to stay in a single gear at a time.
Once you locate the derailleurs, check to make sure there is nothing on them. If you find mud, sticks, or leaves on the derailleurs, use a damp cloth to clean them off.
3. Test Each Gear to Diagnose Shifting Problems
Using one hand, pedal your bike lightly and then shift through a single gear per click. Start with the gears on your rear derailleur, going down every gear once and up each gear once. Note the places where your gears have issues shifting, where the bike’s chain slips off the gear, or where you need to shift more than once to complete the shift.
If your bike has 3 gears in the front and you are testing the rear gear, be sure to put the chain in the middle ring in the front the entire testing time. This will help you avoid stretching your chain.
4. Locate the Cable Adjusters
Follow the cables that lead to the bike’s derailleurs to locate the cable adjusters – these will look like barrels or nuts that surround the cables.
There may be 2 for each cable – one by the handlebars and one by the derailleur’s end. The cable adjusters make small adjustments to the cables, allowing you to make subtle changes to the gear shifting.
5. Shift to the Problematic Gear
When adjusting bike gears on your women’s mountain bike, you will need to shift to the gear you have diagnosed as having problems. While using one hand to pedal your women’s bike, shift the gear up until you get to an issue – for example, the chain won’t stay on the gear, skips the gear, or can’t shift. Stop shifting the moment you get to the problem, but keep the bike in the gear.
6. If the Chain Won’t Shift Down, Loosen the Cable Adjuster
One of the reasons bike owners learn how to fix bike gears is that the chain does not shift down. If you determine that you cannot shift to lower gears – these are the gears closer to your wheel – you will need to loosen the adjuster by simply turning it anticlockwise.
Turn the adjuster slowly while checking the chain. Stop loosening the adjuster when the chain falls into the right gear.
When loosening the cable adjuster, work slowly. At most, adjust by a quarter-turn at a time. Avoid loosening the adjuster too far – loosening it too far can cause it to detach from your derailleur. If you have to make a significant adjustment, simply thread the adjust into your derailleur, shift to the smallest gear, loosen the cable’s pinch bolt, and then just use your hand to pull the cable.
7. If It is Impossible to Shift Up, Tighten the Cable Adjuster
If you are adjusting bike gears because the chain struggles to move up the gears – away from the bike’s wheel – you will need to tighten your cable adjuster. To do this, you will just need to turn your cable adjuster clockwise. When it is tightened correctly, your bike’s chain should switch to the right gear on its own.
8. Shift the Gears Up and Down After Fixing the Problems
After successfully adjusting bike gears, you will need to test whether the chain can shift from gear to gear without any issues. While your hardtail mountain bike is still in a position where the rear wheel is off the ground, return to the low gear.
Next, cycle through each gear again to ensure that the bike’s derailleur can shift from and to every gear successfully. This should help you confirm that the chain can flow smoothly every time you use the gear shifter on your handlebar.
9. Take a Short Ride to See If There Are More Problems
One of the most common mistakes made by people who are learning how to fix bike gears is not realizing that commuter bikes behave differently when they are under their weight. Before assuming that everything is fixed, be sure to test whether the gears are working correctly with your weight on the bike.
In a driveway or the parking lot, ride the women’s touring bike around and cycle through all the gears. If there are any problems, note them and follow the steps above to adjust the bike gears accordingly. Once you are sure that everything is 100% okay, you can put on your biking shorts and take your dog cycling.
Q: How Do I Adjust My Bike Gears?
To adjust the gears on your bike, you will need to first determine what the problem is. Simply lift your bike’s wheel off the ground and then test the gears. If you determine that the chain cannot shift down the gears, fix the problem by turning the cable adjuster counterclockwise to loosen it. If the chain cannot shift up, tighten the cable adjuster by simply turning it clockwise.
Q: How Do I Make My Bike Gears Shift Smoothly?
The only way to make your gears shift smoothly is to ensure that they are adjusted correctly. If the cable adjuster is too loose, the chain will not shift up – you can fix this by tightening the cable. If the adjuster is too tight, you will experience problems while trying to shift down – this can be fixed by loosening the cable adjuster.
Q: How Do You Adjust A Front Derailleur?
When adjusting the front derailleur, you will need to focus on its height and angle. Both of these can be taken care of by making use of the positioning clamp that attaches the derailleur to the bike’s frame. Tightening the bolt on the clamp sets both the angle and the height. To make things much easier, tighten the positioning clamp in such a way that it is secure but also loose enough such that you can move it around with your hand.
Q: Why Are My Bike Gears Not Changing?
Incorrect derailleur adjustment is the main reason bike gears fail to adjust. The only way to fix this issue is to adjust the bike gears. Simply determine whether the adjustment cable is too tight or too loose and then adjust it accordingly to allow the gears to shift smoothly.
Q: What Is the Easiest Gear on A Bike?
The low gear – where the chain is on the smallest chainring in the front and the largest cog in the rear cassette – is the easiest. It makes climbing effortless – you get to pedal uphill with the least amount of resistance.
Globo Surf Overview
Efficient and smooth bike gears make all the difference to both the easiness of the ride and enjoyment. Poorly indexed gears are extremely frustrating – they can make the chain fail to shift into the right gear cog.
Similar to brakes, gears rely on the right adjustment and smooth cable operation to work well. If your gears are not operating correctly, adjusting them can fix your problem. By following the steps in this article, you should know how to fix bike gears.