How to Set Up Mountain Bike Gears?

How to Set Up Mountain Bike Gears?
Often overlooked by mountain bike riders, gears are one of key components in your bike's operation. Your bike's gears will need to be set up when you change your derailleur, shifter cables or derailleur hangers. Any local bike shop has the expertise and tools to do it, but you are at the mercy of its schedule and service rate. Learning how to set up your mountain bike gears on your own can save you money and time.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Hex wrenches
  • Cable cutter
  • Shifter cable
  • Cable housing
  • Cable crimps
Step 1
Mount the derailleur to your mountain bike frame and bolt it in place. Mount your chain through the derailleur and connect it in place. Remove any grips or other accessories on your handlebars. Install the shifter pod on your handlebars with the shifter arms facing to the outside of your handlebars. Tighten the shifter pod to the desired position.
Step 2
Remove the top of the shifter pod and insert the cable into the shifting mechanism. The ball on the cable fits into a holder, with the remainder of the cable hanging out of the shifter pod housing. Place the top of the shifter pod back on the housing pod and tighten in place.
Step 3
Place the cable housings in the designated locations on your frame. Cut the cable housings to the specific size your frame requires, using your cable cutters. Run the cable from the shifter pod, through the cable housings and into your derailleur. Cut the shifter cable, leaving approximately 2 extra inches for future adjustments. Tighten the alloy cable crimp on the end of your shifter cable.
Step 4
Pull the cable firmly with needle nose pliers and tighten the bolt with a hex wrench. Shift the derailleur to the smallest cog. Your cable should still have tension. Tighten any cables that lose tension in this position.
Step 5
Rotate the crank arms a few rotations and view the chain on the smallest cog. Stop any chain attempting to move past the smallest cog by turning the screw labeled "H"--in the back of the derailleur--clockwise until the cog lines up with the derailleur. If the derailleur does not make it to the smallest cog, turn the screw labeled "H" counterclockwise.
Step 6
Shift the derailleur to the largest cog and cycle the crank arms by making a few revolutions. Stop any chains attempting to move past the largest cog into the spokes by turning the screw labeled "L"--in the back of the derailleur--clockwise until the cog lines up with the derailleur. If the derailleur does not make it to the largest cog, turn the screw labeled "L" counterclockwise.
Step 7
Cycle your shifter through the gears, making sure the derailleur stops firmly on each cog. Proper tension will facilitate smooth, accurate shifting. Adjust each individual cog with the twist tension screws located on the derailleur and shifting pods.

Tips & Warnings

 
Properly-lubricated chains shift smoothly.
 
An improperly adjusted derailleur can result in physical damage to your mountain bike

Article Written By Jeremy Slaughter

Jeremy Slaughter is a tax, accounting and small business expert. After completing his master's degree in accounting at Keller Graduate School of Management, Slaughter co-founded an accounting and tax firm where writing plays a daily role.

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