How To Adjust Front Derailleur Step by Step guide

Are you facing trouble shifting chainring and moving it across using your foot during cycling?

A rider knows how frustrating it is.

To avoid this happening, you should learn how to adjust front derailleur.

Although the front derailleur looks simpler than the complicated looking rear derailleur, the setting up and adjusting a front derailleur isn’t straight forward as that of the rear derailleur.

Adjusting front derailleur is a complicated task, but by following our directions, you’ll be able to learn how to adjust front derailleur simply and easily. You just need some patience and a bit practice.

For the different bike i.e road bike, hybrid bike or mountain bike the procedure may differ very slightly, but from our instructive article, you’ll be able to get a usual idea of what to do to adjust the front derailleur.

The purpose of this article is to instruct you the easy process of adjusting the front derailleur of your bicycle.

Let’s Go!

The Factors That Effect The Smooth Shifting Of The Front Derailleur

  • Incorrect height
  • A bent chain plate
  • Chain or the derailleur itself
  • General wear and tear on the cable
  • Chain rings
  • Housings

Step By Step Procedure

The key adjustments are:

  • Height adjustment
  • Rotational angle adjustment
  • Limit screw settings
  • Index setting

 Front Derailleur Height Adjustment

What’s the effect of an unadjusted front derailleur?

  • If the derailleur is far away from the larger chain ring, it will shift poorly.
  • If the front derailleur is positioned too low, it’ll rub against the ring or drag the chain while shifting.

Height adjustment is necessary to set the front derailleur comfortably above the chains. It’ll be positioned so that it curves equidistant to the chain rings. To adjust the height, inspect the derailleur positioning.

Note: Some models that don’t have rotation or height adjustment, both rotation settings and height are preset.  

To Adjust The Height Follow The Steps Below:

  • Check the height positioning of the front derailleur. Inspect whether it is positioned too high or too low.
  • Keep the outer cage of the derailleur beyond the outer chain ring by shifting the derailleur to the middle front chain ring.
  • Using a penny, adjust the space between cog of the outer chain ring and the low side of the plate. The gap should be 1 to 2mm.
  • Relieve the tension of the inner wire.
  • Loosen the clamp bolt.
  • Change the derailleur height by shifting it up or down.
  • Re-tighten the bolt.
  • Move back to the front middle chain ring.
  • Inspect the height of the cage.
  • Repeat the process until the gap is 1 to 2mm.
  • Make sure the cable is tight enough to function the whole thing properly.

Rotational Angle Adjustment

It’s necessary for the front derailleur outer cage to be equidistant to the chain. For proper alignment, follow the steps below:

  • Transfer the chain to the outlying rear sprocket and outermost chain ring.
  • Note directions of the desired rotation of derailleur cage.
  • Shift the inner wire to the inner chain ring to release the tension of the inner wire.
  • Loosen the clamp bolt and rotate in the appropriate direction.
  • Tighten the clamp bolt.
  • Shift the outer chain ring and check the alignment.
  • Readjust if necessary.

Limit Screw Settings

The front derailleur is limited to move both the outward and inward. There are two limit screws.

  • L-Screw- Effects the lower limit
  • H-Screw- Effects the outer limit

L-Screw Adjustment

L-screw adjustment lets the chain to shift to the small ring. To set it properly follow the steps below:

  • Transfer the chain to the inner front chain ring and inner rear sprocket.
  • Loosen the tension of the inner wire. To do it, turn the adjuster of the barrel into the housing, loose the inner wire pinch bolt. Re-tighten the pinch bolt.
  • Make sure that the space between the chain and inner plate of the cage is about 1mm. If you don’t find any gap, loosen the L-screw. If space seems to be larger than 1mm, tighten the L-screw.
  • Shift the derailleur by pulling on the inner wire. If the chain shifts rapidly, L-screw setting is perfect.

 H-Screw Adjustment

The steps are:

  • Shift the outer front chain ring and outer rear sprocket.
  • Drag the inner wire with hand to enhance the tension.
  • Control the total pressure on the inner wire and check the space between the outer cage plate and the chain that must be about 1mm.
  • Pedal slowly and observe the gap. If the chain is touching the cage, loosen H-screw. If the gap is larger than 1mm, tighten the screw until it adjusts to 1mm.

Index Setting—Three Chain Ring Bikes

If your bike’s front derailleur system have index settings, after finishing all the adjustment mentioned above, adjust the index only.

  • Transfer the chain to the middle chain ring in the inner rear sprocket.
  • Inspect the space between the chain and inner plate of the cage. The gap must be as narrow as possible, but shouldn’t rub the chain.
  • To minimize the gap, extend the tension of the inner wire. To do so, turn the barrel adjuster counter-clockwise.
  • If the chain is touching the derailleur cage, turn the barrel adjuster clockwise.
  • If the barrel adjuster is all the way in or out, you’ll need to readjust the barrel. Transfer the chain to the inner chain ring. Loosen the inner wire pinch bolt. Completely turn the barrel clockwise. Pull the wire smoothly and tighten the pinch bolt.
  • Check the shifting of front derailleur to all the three chain rings.

Index Setting—Two Chain Ring Bikes

Follow the steps below:

  • Transfer the chain to the outer chain ring and outermost rear cog.
  • Check the space between the chain and outer cage plate.
  • If the chain is touching the plate, extend the tension of the inner wire. To do it, adjust the barrel counter-clockwise.
  • You’ll need to readjust the barrel if the barrel adjuster is all the way in or out.
  • Shift the innermost chain ring.
  • Loosen the inner wire pinch bolt.
  • Completely turn the barrel clockwise.
  • Smoothly pull the wire and tighten the pinch bolt.
  • Check the shifting to the both chainrings.

Conclusion

Thanks for your patience and interest to read our article on how to adjust front derailleur.

In our article, we’ve tried our best to represent the procedure of how to adjust front derailleur as simple as possible.

Hope, you’ve found our directions most useful and adjusting the front derailleur will be no more frustrating to you.

Now, it’s your turn to follow the step by step directions and be able to adjust the front derailleur.

Shift smoothly as well as quickly between the front chain rings!

Joe Carrow
 

Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Beside writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research based contents for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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