5 Hacks For Perfect Shifting On Your Road Bike

5 Hacks For Perfect Shifting On Your Road Bike

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– Coming up, we’ve got five hacks to make setting up your gears easier, and also cure your shifting headaches. First up, correctly
setting the limit screws on your derailleurs is
a really important job. Potentially saving you from some very expensive mechanical disasters, particularly here on the rear derailleur, and our pro hack is to actually set our limit screws before we
even put a cable in. Firstly, we will look
at the high-limit screw. Technically this bit will be no different from normal when you’ve got your cable in. You simply stand to the rear of the bike, and you eyeball it from the back. You want to screw or
unscrew the high-limit screw until the top jockey wheel is resting just outboard of that bottom cog. Shouldn’t make any noise,
but being just outboard will help you shift
into that smallest gear. To set a lower-limit screw we’re gonna move the derailleur by hand, pushing on that cage with out thumbs, and shifting until we’re
in our largest cog. That way, when we set the low-limit screw, we know exactly where the
limit of the derailleur is, in respective of where the
cable might be limiting it. It’s like an insurance policy, basically. Pre-stretch your cables. You want to do this before
you actually index your bike, otherwise, as soon as you get on and ride around for two minutes, you’re gonna have to re-index it anyway. The trick is, you clamp
your cable and then, holding your derailleur
firmly with one hand, to stop it moving, you
click through the gears. Only a couple, that’s all you need. You don’t want to actually force anything. Because technically we’re not
really stretching our cable. What we’re doing is
making sure that all the cable ferrules sit squarely and compress as much as possible onto the cable outers, and then they sit firmly
in the cable stops. It will be tempting if
you’ve got external cables to actually pull on the inner cable itself in order to do this stretching. But there is a risk that
you actually kink the cable. So, definitely safer to do it that way. How about this for an indexing shortcut? Making the whole process just
that little bit faster to do. Now we’ve got our pres-stretched cables, I want you to shift from the smallest to the second smallest cog at the back. And then, shift back down,
without moving the pedals so that your shifter is
effectively in it’s hardest gear. Then, you need to unclamp
the cable and pull it tight, not exceptionally so, but
under it’s own natural tension, reclamp it, and then
when you move the pedals, the chain should go back
down into your smallest cog. At this point, while it might
not be perfectly indexed, it’s gonna be pretty darn close, and certainly much, much closer than if you were to do it by guesswork. Rumour has it, that
this is in fact the way that Mr.Shimano himself wanted
people to index their gears. Setting the cable tension correctly on your front derailleur
can be a fiddly process, especially if you don’t have some form of barrel adjuster somewhere on the cable, but this neat little hack
gets around that problem. Firstly, before you even clamp the cable, I want you to put your
bike in your lowest gear. And then, we’re gonna use
our lower-limit screw. You screw it in until
the derailleur is just starting to press the chain
against your outer chain ring. It’s at this point which you
clamp the cable, and then, when you screw the lower-limit screw out to it’s correct position, which is one or two mil,
onboard of the chain, then you should have almost
perfect cable tension. This one isn’t so much of a
hack as a headache reliever, because it might be that
no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, you just can’t get your gears to work correctly. And if that’s the case, it may
well be because of alignment. If you’ve had a crash, for example, or your bike’s just toppled
over and landed gear-side down, you may well have bent your gear hanger. That’s the bit that your rear derailleur actually bolts onto. To check, what you’ve gotta do is put your bike in it’s easiest gear, and then standing behind
it, you simply eyeball it to see whether or not the rear
derailleur is hanging straight. Generally if it is bent, it will be bent in the direction of the spokes. And if it’s bent badly, you
probably already know about it, because it would have bent so
far that the derailleur would have got caught into your
spokes when you change to your easiest gear and ripped clean-off. You may well be familiar with
that pain, I certainly am. You can try, very carefully, to bend your rear derailleur back. It definitely works better on steel bikes, or indeed heavier-duty
and fairly durable bikes, not necessarily top-end carbon. Many top-end bikes, or mid-range bikes, will have replaceable derailleur hangers, which is a very good thing. If you are gonna attempt the bend it back, with a replaceable derailleur
hanger, just make sure that your rear wheel is
tightly clamped in place. Otherwise, you’ll be putting
quite a lot of pressure on some fairly flimsy bolts
that aren’t really designed to actually withstand
much pressure at all. It’s gotta be said that
really this may well be a job for your local
bike shop, if nothing else, you hand the responsibility for the safety of your frame over to
them and their insurance. And what they’ll probably do
is get out this tool here, which is a DAG tool, the
derailleur alignment gauge. They’ll take your read derailleur out, bolt this bad boy into it,
and then it actually uses your back wheel to gauge what angle your rear mech hanger is hanging at. And then, once you’ve worked out which direction it is bent in, you can bend it back with your DAG tool. Oh yeah, that’s a good way to cure that. There you go, five hacks that will hopefully make setting up and maintaining your bike’s gear shifting system just that little bit easier. If you like maintenance videos then make sure you subscribe to GCN. We have a maintenance
video every week for you, every Monday, so if you subscribe you will always be in the right place. For a little bit more information about the process of indexing, either front derailleurs
or rear derailleurs, I’ve got videos on the subject. Up there and up there.

100 thoughts on “5 Hacks For Perfect Shifting On Your Road Bike”

  1. You guys are perfect 99 times out of 100. But home many home shops have a rear mech alignment too?!? Come on.

  2. Great tips! One tip i would add… After a ride DON'T store the bike with the chain on the big ring. When the chain is on the big ring the rear derailer is stretched out. The springs in the rear derailer will out wear prematurely if stored this way over a period of months/years, which leads to sloppy shifts. The shifting will be far more crisp if after a ride the chain is put on the lower gears (12, 13) in the rear and the small chain ring in the front. As a result, the rear derailer will be its most compact and not stretching/wearing out the return springs in the rear derailer.

  3. Would there be any reason for my experience on cable tension to be opposite? (Having to tighten the cable while on the largest cog in order for the shifter to have the tension to move through to the lowest cog?

  4. My bike was ghost shifting, turns out the rear bolt in the hanger of the rear derailleur was loose, all good now.

  5. thank you! I travel for the first time with my bike and it got a bit damaged. I used this video to figure out what was going on and fix it! really handy when there are no bike shops where I live!

  6. If it is necessary to adjust the derailleur hanger, it's important to make sure that the wheel is true because the tool depends upon the wheel to align the tab with the cogs.

  7. Another "hack" is to make sure the chain is optimally lubricated. There are some excellent videos on waxing a chain which is, by far, the best way to lube it.

  8. Don't do the chain stretch hack he suggests unless you want to ruin your front shifter. Don't even do it "gently."
    Throws DA 7800 shifter in bin

  9. soooo gratefull for this video: I was on a ride today and my gears were acting funny, turned out to be a worn lower pulley. Bought some new ones on the way home, replaced them and fixed the shifting issues thanks to your video's. Now i can ride tommorow morning ??? Thanks GCN!!!

  10. I'd like to ask. I have 11-speed Shimano 105 and when I shift into the 11 teeth and push hard, it makes kind of a rattle. Is this normal? Because I had ridden an Ultegra once and it did the same thing… And I am sure that the limit screws are ok…

  11. probably one of the most helpful videos ever, My rear derailer seem just out and the gears kept jumping and would not settle into the right gear, this helped me solve the issus in less then 5-6 minutes. i am very impressed ty.

  12. Thanks a lot, GCN! I've been riding bicycles for many years and never bothered to learn this stuff. Then again, when I started riding, there was no Internet, hence no YouTube. SO glad to have survived into the 21st century.

  13. I have just done this on what i thought was a knackered bike and nothing more could be done with it, i have yet to go on a ride but the test ride looked perfect. The only problem is that the front chainset adjustment didn't work in that i didn't have enough screw length to set the derailleur back to normal low speed mode, i also had to use some intelligence for the high gear ring as you didn't mention that, but no problem there. Thank you

  14. Do you tighten the barrel all the way in (clockwise) before doing all the steps here for indexing the rear wheel?

  15. For some frames the new hack is upgrading to 5801 r8000 or r9100 front deraillur . Some frames work just fine but other cable angle makes the long arm fd not so good

  16. Looking in the manual of my derailleur shimano has a very neat methode of setting "pre-stretching" the cables. If you have external cables, just clamp your cable and pull on it at the downtube. Simple, yet effective.

  17. Simon, this is the most important video with respect to front derailleur adjustment for bikes lacking barrel adjusters and internally routed cables. before I came across this video, I was not able to shit to the big chainwheel and was convinced that my new front 105  mech was defective. I was literally losing my mind. I actually signed in and subscribed because of this video. many thanks, cheers and happy trails……

  18. The indexing hack aka Shimano's hack that starts at 2:22 is amazing. This is the best advice I have ever seen for indexing rear deraillaur. It has always worked for me. 2 minutes tops. I don’t even bother with barrel shifters and guesswork gear indexing which might take upto 10-20 minutes to get right. Just use this method. Top marks to GCN.

  19. This video screams we are running out of content to film now and put out on a daily basis.

    But we will still put out content we dont fully believe in and if we did it would have already been made within 2 years of the channels inception.

    Can you do a video solely dedicated to asking what video the viewers will like to see with ideas ij the comments (more comments are good towards YouTube's algorithms)

    You will get some pretty good answers and i'd imagine some out of the blue ones with thumbs up leading the way for best ideas to be put at the top.

  20. Hey Si, is it possible to take my vintage Peugeot CP12 and convert it to a Cyclocross bike? If so what do I need to do?

  21. My 'hack' for Shimano derailleur limit screws is to use a Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) screwdriver instead of a regular Philips or flat blade type. The JIS standard screwdriver has extra teeth machined into the grip, which match the limit screws grip pattern, it fits very securely to JIS limits screws which many Shimano derailleurs have,  and prevents your screwdriver slipping out (annoyingly often) while you are adjusting them. #gcntech

  22. I had terrible problems with gear shifting and it turned out the derailleur hanger bolt had come loose, the derailleur was wobbling around all over the place while i minced around indexing gears and watching youtube videos. Amateur tip check that your derailleur hanger bolt is secure 🙂

  23. If you want the best shift,which look's good,too,get the best there is!
    CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD EPS,which kick's Shima(NO!)'s DA!!!

  24. Thanks so much,especially Mister you type Taiwanese on it made us read it without any problems.謝謝,mean thanks.

  25. if i summarize to understand clearly: actually we release all the cables first and adjusting the limiting screws both front and rear, then connect the cables with a hand tight and fine tune with barrel adjusters last. i think that's all the story.

  26. Please do a video on choosing the most efficient shifting map in the new Shimano r8000 series synchro shift e-tube software.
    I love your videos and learn so much from them! Thanks!

  27. Thx your front deraileur hack saved me 😉 i tried to adjust it and totally screwed it up…. i felt like crying and then watched your video and fixed it within 10 minutes and a few tries

  28. Not sure if someone’s already said it, but make sure there’s enough cable coming out of the frame for a nice easy radius at the rear mech. If the cable outer cable housing is too short, or the bend too sharp, it will bind and interfere with shifting. Currently dealing with this dilemma.

  29. my front derailleur rubs the chain when on its lowest ring when I press the lever to change it, it dosent move to next ring, instead it moves it enough to stop it touching the chain.

  30. The two cable tension tips are particularly massive time savers, jut tied them out and it got me within a tiny tweak of a barrel adjuster in no time! ?

  31. Hey GCN, follow you guys on almost everything. This video has helped me out tons. had major problems trying to correct my shifting and after this my shifting has been amazing. Just wanted to say thanks and keep it up.

  32. How is this a "hack"? And the best way to straighten a bent derailleur hanger is to remove the derailleur, take the hanger off, out it in a vice and use an adjustable wrench on it. The day I need that derailleur straightening tool is the day I'll quit wrenching on bikes. Also it's 10 times easier setting the screws with the chain off.

  33. Is it normal to have a tiny bit or. hair play of clearance after installing a cassette gear 11 x 50T . The hair play i am talking about is when i hold the 50t gear and move it back and forth towards the spoke and towards the hanger there is a very tiny bit of play or clearance which i think i need to put in a spacer at the back of the cassette gears. Is this normal???

  34. After this video I made better adjustments than the shop I last tuned it at. GCN has made me self sufficient with my bicycle as a whole. LUH YA!

  35. At last! The video about correct cable tension! There are DOZENS of vids talking about adjusting shifting, but almost none of them are giving enough attention to cable tension! I will definitely try your advice!

  36. Just got back into cycling over the past couple weeks after decades off the saddle. Now all I do is work, sleep, ride, eat, tune and tinker with my bike and watch GCN!

  37. Without watching this again did u mention to make sure your rear wheel is clamped in correctly ie donut before u put it on a stand
    Just saying as it's 2 am and I'm pissed and sad enough to be watching this !!!! ??☘️

  38. Hi bro, I have a question , I got new bike with shimano Tourney on front and shimano Acera on rear , I shift rear gear with one trigger,but when shifting fron I need to hold till the gear set , is all the front shifter will be the same or when I get the next version I will get the same like trigger

  39. Hi..you are great! nice video well explained..detail zoom in instruction straightforward keep em coming!! can you make one on how to install and adjust a road bike front derailleur from start to finish for a 9spd triple chainring? thanks!!

  40. My hack for perfect shifting……LEARN HOW TO SHIFT WITHOUT INDEX SHIFTING. 🙂

    I've been cycling for 30 years and shifting, indexed or not, has become second nature. 🙂

  41. Always remember this about the front chain rings: Big ring – High Speed, Small Ring – Low Speed.

  42. Very helpful video thank you. But why do you keep referring to the sprockets as cogs ? Cogs drive other cogs Sprockets drive chains ?

  43. All above listed problems is the reason bike mechanics exists. For me to avoid problems best never touch limit screws or cables. I know it is not that difficult to learn but honestly see no reason. It might save $20 once a year but next year I"d need to relearn it again. ALl that crap is only stays with you if you do it on regular basis.

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