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How to Adjust Your Rear Derailleur

How to Adjust Your Rear Derailleur

If you’re riding an electric bike and finding your gears are just not changing properly, the problem could be your rear derailleur. In fact, one of the most common adjustments performed on an e-bike is related to the rear derailleur. So, we’ll walk you through the process, below.

What Is A Rear Derailleur?

Your rear derailleur acts as the control that allows you to shift gears while riding your bike. It’s attached to the rear of your bike frame, with a mounting bolt, and the other end has a mobile arm that guides your bike chain. When you shift your bike up a gear or down a gear, the rear derailleur physically moves the chain to the right place. In addition, it keeps the mobile arm parallel with the other 2 gears, which means your chain won’t get stuck between gears or outside of the gearshift. 

How Do I Know I Need To Adjust My Rear Derailleur?

Typically you’ll hear a clicking or clunking noise coming from your bike that indicates something might be off. You also might see that when you try to shift gears, your bike shifts to the one either above or below the gear you’re actually looking for. In either case, at the first opportunity, you’ll want to take a moment to make an adjustment so that your bike will continue to function properly. 

How Do I Adjust My Rear Derailleur?

There are two ways you can adjust your rear derailleur. The easiest way is to use the barrel nut. The barrel nut is what controls the cable tension between the derailleur and the shifting gears. So, you can either tighten or loosen this nut to help your gears shift smoothly.

When you first start to make the adjustment, make sure you’re at the smallest cog. You’ll also want to make sure your bike is in the lowest gear. To see what kind of adjustment needs to be made, you’ll want to check the alignment of all three gears. All three gears should be in a straight line, but if one is out of line, that’s where your problem lies. 

The next step is to locate the barrel nut. When you find it, you’ll notice that the cable runs into it. It’s a fairly simple process from there. If you turn the barrel nut clockwise, it will slacken the cable which will give you room to move the chain closer to the small cog. Conversely, if you turn the barrel nut counterclockwise, you’ll tighten the cable, which will move the chain closer to the large cog. 

If you find that you’re not getting enough range with the barrel nut, you’ll want to check out where the cable clamps onto the derailleur. There are 2 screws called limiting screws that are designed to keep the rear derailleur in place. If you find that your bike chain is getting stuck between the gear and the frame or between the gear and the spokes and the motor, then your limiting screws will need to be adjusted. Limiting screws can be a bit temperamental, so you’ll only want to turn them a quarter turn. Otherwise, you could mess up the calibration of your bike even more.

Once you’ve made the adjustments, you’ll want to start pedaling the bike, shifting it up in gears, and listening for that clicking sound. Whenever you hear it, you’ll want to check the alignment and turn the barrel nut accordingly. If you methodically work your way up the gear shift and everything sounds fine, you’ll have fixed the issue. 

While this is a completely effective way to fix your rear derailleur, keep in mind that shifting issues can be caused by other factors. If you’re still hearing the noise, it’s likely a different issue causing it and you may need to investigate other sources for the problem. Worn cogs, a worn chain, or a sticky derailleur are all potential culprits for the sound that might need more attention or replacement depending on your bike’s performance. 

For your own safety, it’s important that you make sure that all aspects of your bike are in top condition to avoid a breakdown of your bike on a longer ride. If you have any doubt about the safety of your bike, you should absolutely consider taking it to a professional for evaluation before you ride it again. 

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