How to Adjust Your Shifters Step by Step?


There are two things to do before you start adjusting your shifter. Adjusting it without checking these two important aspects could be a waste of your time. So, what do you do if your bike doesn’t shift properly?

First, check the length of the chain. And secondly, inspect the cable housing and check for cracks or bent spots, because the cable needs to travel smoothly in the cable housing for the shifter to work well. If both the chain and the housing are okay, follow the instructions on how to adjust your bike shifters below.

First of all, make sure there’s enough tension on the cable. If you can move the cable with your fingers, it needs tightening. Loosen the cable-tension screw and while pulling the cable, tighten the screw again with your fingers or with pliers.

Once the cable has the proper tension, you need to start setting up both high- and low-limit screws. Basically, what you want is to have the derailleur properly aligned on both edges of the cassette. So, working on the low-limit screw, make sure that the derailleur is directly below the biggest cog. And working on the high-limit screw, make sure that the derailleur is directly below the smallest cog.

We are almost there. The next step is all about giving the cable the right tension so the chain will travel smoother. To do that, you will need to work on the barrel adjuster. If you increase the tension by unscrewing the adjuster, the chain will travel more smoothly up the cassette. If you loosen the tension by screwing the adjuster, the chain will travel down the cassette.

Play with the tension by turning the adjuster just one quarter of a spin at time. Shift, and keep spinning the cranks and spinning the barrel adjuster until you feel that the chain doesn’t hesitate while traveling in both directions.

After you’re done, clean your chain and lube it, as we discussed in another article. This extends the longevity of the chain.

Pro tips

If the chain length and the cable housing are fine and you just went through the set up but your shifter is still giving you problems, there might be other reasons for this issue. So, what are the pro tips on how to adjust your bike shifters?

– A bent derailleur hanger that needs to be straightened.

– A worn-out cassette that needs to be replaced.

– The shifter is missing the indexing. This often happens when the grease inside the shifter hardens. If that’s happening with yours, open the shifter and give it a good spray of degreaser to get rid of the old grease. Regrease the shifter and you should be good to go.