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How to Adjust the Derailleur on a Mountain Bike

how to adjust the derailleur on a mountain bike

If you find yourself experiencing consistent clicking on the pedal or some shifting issues while on the road, it can be a sign that there is a problem with the derailleur of your bike. To address this issue, one must learn how to adjust the derailleur on a mountain bike.

But what is the importance of adjusting the bike derailleur? It is all about tuning your gears, and all the adjustments you will do can bring back the smoothness of your ride. As time goes by, your bike derailleur may bend and produce some issues, but an adjustment can be made to correct the problem.

Adjusting the Derailleur on a Mountain Bike

When it comes to adjusting the derailleur of your bike, you will need to be familiar with all the bike components and parts that will be used in doing so. These are the bike parts that you will check and use during the adjustment process. Please find all the parts below:

Front Shifter

You will find the front shifters near the brake levers on each side of the handlebar. Both of the shifters come with barrel adjusters on them, which are being used to take up the slack on the cable line needed to adjust the gear.

Front Derailleur

Located at the front of your bike, but usually comes in many types. Some front derailleur comes with multiple chainrings, while others only come with a single chainring. Those with multiple chainrings come with a cable tension clamp with an inner and outer limit screw used to align the chainring position.

Rear Derailleur

This part should be the most essential bike part when it comes to making the adjustment of the derailleur of a mountain bike. The rear derailleur usually comes with a parallelogram design with two sprung wheels and a whole jockey cage.

It also comes with three major points of adjustment, like the limit screws, which is to adjust the gear. The B-tension is used to adjust the height of the upper jockey wheel in relation to the size of the cassette you are running.


The cable tension adjustment is used to fine-tune the shifter on the barrel adjuster. Then, the clutch is used to add tension to the chain to prevent the chain from dropping off.

How to Adjust the Front Derailleur on a Mountain Bike

how to adjust the rear derailleur on a mountain bike


It is now common these days for a bike to have a single chainring in the front derailleur. It is called the one bar system, where if it is the case with your bike, you do not need to make the adjustment in front, only the rear derailleur.

If your bike has multiple chainrings in the front, you do need to include the front derailleur when doing adjustments. You will need to make sure that the outer plate is not contacting at all. You can leave the bike in the smallest gear at the rear to make it as further away from the bike as possible.

Doing this action will give you enough space to allow the chain to move its maximum range at the back to provide you with enough space. If it is too close, you can make the adjustment by looking down on the cage, adjusting a small amount of space to make sure it clears.

How to Adjust the Rear Derailleur on a Mountain Bike

When adjusting the derailleur at the back, you will need to make sure that the barrel adjusted is fully wound off, which means the cable should have no tension. If the cable is a little bit loose, then adjust it tightly.

If the chainring is rubbing slightly, you can check the derailleur and make the adjustment on the limit screws, specifically the limit of the high gear, which is the small sprocket. Use an Allen key or a screwdriver when adjusting the limit screws.

Then you can adjust the cable tension by just nipping it up. You do not need to pull it too much tight, just enough. Apart from the cable adjustment, you can also adjust the barrel adjuster who is located at the shifter end.

You can check if the adjustment is correct. The indexing of the gear should correlate, which is once click, then one gear change. You can also check the front derailleur and see if it is line up and not rubbing.

Other Things to Remember When Adjusting the Derailleur

These two factors below should be remembered when it comes to adjusting the derailleur down to your line of sight:

  • The cable tension will be responsible for the changing or adjusting of the gears.
  • The limit screws will be responsible for setting the upper and lower limit of the change of the gears.

Meanwhile, the clutch will add more tension to the drive train. So, when you are biking on a bumpy road, it will stop the chain from coming off or reduces the chances of it from happening while making the chain more silent.

Always remember that cable tension is key to shift the gears while the limit screws will adjust the range of where your gears are. So, once the bike derailleur is bent, you can adjust the limit screws to a certain degree.


Learning how to adjust the derailleur on a mountain bike is essential if you feel there are some issues with the bike, particularly on the shifting of gears. Common issues like clicking on the pedal, shifting issues, among other things, will need you to adjust the derailleur of your bike.

It might not be easy, but this article gives some tips in familiarizing the different bike components that might be affected when having these bike problems. You have to be fully aware of the importance of the bike derailleurs and how it provides comfort to your biking.

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