Troubleshooting your Bike’s Gear Shifters and Derailleurs

March 02, 2023
Troubleshooting your Bike’s Gear Shifters and Derailleurs
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Servicing Disclaimer:

The suggested solution below is for experienced individuals with proper tools. We encourage anyone who is inexperienced with bike maintenance to contact a local bike servicing professional. The components involved with bike shifters can be complex, so take care with fixing problems yourself.

United Sport and Cycle has a team of trained, highly experienced bike mechanics. Please view our tune up packages or drop your bike off for a free inspection. We also carry a huge assortment of drivetrain components for DIY bike repair.

Servicing Your Bike Gears and Shifter

It’s usually quite obvious when your bike is shifting poorly; there could be a lot of noise, or it jumps over gears, sometimes your chain may completely pop off! The cause of these problems is not always as obvious, so we put together some of the most common causes of shifting challenges.

Dirt and Lubrication

There are many moving components to your shifting system, all of which require routine cleaning and lubrication. Before jumping to replace bike components, check and see if a thorough cleaning and lube gets the bike shifters working correctly again. You can read our article and lubrication here for more information.

Derailleur Adjustment

The derailleur is the mechanism your bike uses to move the chain between the various gears. This can be impacted through impact, debris, lubrication and just routine wear and tear. If your chain isn’t moving, or it’s jump skipping gears, it is often a problem with the derailleur. Replacing this component can be expensive, but they’re also complicated to service, so we suggest having professional servicing done.

Cable Tension

There are specific cables that control the derailleur that connect to the handlebars. Over time, this can stretch and become loose, which will impact your ability to shift. You can adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjuster on the shifters or the derailleur itself.

Chain Wear

A chain will degrade over time through use, rust, debris, etc. As this happens, the chain may no longer sit properly on the teeth of the gears. This may cause the chain to pop off the gear or slip in certain conditions. Many chains have a wear gauge that indicates if it is worn and requires replacement.

Derailleur Hanger

The derailleur attaches to the bike frame via a derailleur hanger. If this becomes damaged or bent, it will affect how your bike shifts. You can often straighten this component out if you recognize damage, or simply replace the hanger.

As we mentioned, the shifting system of a bike can be complex. If you have experience, identifying and correcting can be straightforward, otherwise we encourage you to give us a visit. We offer free inspections that will identify any concerns and the best approach to resolve your shifting problems.

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