Ask RIDE…Can I adjust my gears while moving?

Can you tell me the best way to adjust the rear derailleur on the run?



Hi Christian,

There is a simple solution to your question but the answer is a little more involved. The easiest way to adjust your gears is through changes to the cable tension. This can be done with in-line cable adjusters like those found on the Focus Izalco in RIDE #49. Instead of using a single piece of gear outer cable it is cut in the position where the adjusters will sit. They are placed between the two pieces and offer a large range of cable tension adjustment. Expect to pay around $20 for the pair.

Now that the solution has been covered let’s take a moment to discuss a few issues. Let’s assume the bike is serviced frequently and the mechanic who normally works on the bike is experienced enough to keep your bike running maintenance free between services – except for some cleaning on your part. If this is the case the gears shouldn’t need adjusting, unless cables were changed during the most recent service or that another outside influence has changed the alignment. If new cables were installed then the gears may need a small adjustment in the first few hundred kilometres. After that time everything should be settled, leaving the gears working properly and without issue.

Perhaps you had a fall or the bike was knocked over. If the gears are not shifting after such an incident then modifying the cable tension may improve the situation but will not repair it completely. The derailleur hanger, rear derailleur or otherwise may be bent and need repair/replacement.

And finally, having the means to adjust gears ‘on the fly’ doesn’t mean that one has the knowledge to do it. I prefer not to have these adjusters because they can serve to increase cable friction, with the inclusion of more cable ferrules (end caps) and then possibly poor shifting. Rear derailleurs have a barrel adjuster on the rear which can be quickly tweaked at a set of lights while the front derailleur is not as precise so requires less maintenance.


Thanks for the question.


Alex Malone is the Technical Editor at RIDE Cycling Review. Follow him on Twitter @alexjmalone.

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