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DIY or Professional: Gear Adjustment Guide

Learn how to adjust your bike gears for a smoother and safer ride, and when to seek out a bike service or a bike mechanic for professional help.
  • Ryan Elson
    Published by Ryan Elson
    on 25 May 2021

Bike service and maintenance can be a mix of simple tasks for amateur riders and more complex jobs best left to a professional bike mechanic. In this guide, we'll focus on adjusting your gears, an essential part of ensuring a safe and enjoyable bike ride.

Steps to Adjust Your Bike Gears:

  1. Shift your rear cassette to the highest gear by turning the pedals and moving the chain to the smallest cog. If there's a cable adjuster on the gear lever or derailleur body, screw it in as far as possible (clockwise).
  2. Loosen the cable-securing bolt on the derailleur and move the cable out of the way to avoid catching on anything.
  3. Adjust the small adjustment screws, which set a 'window of travel' for the chain. Turning these screws changes the window's size.
  4. Turn the pedals and manually push the rear derailleur toward the rear wheel. Ideally, the chain will move onto the largest cog and stop. If it goes beyond the cog and falls into the spokes, the window is too large. Correct this by turning the derailleur adjusting screw clockwise until the chain stays on the largest cog. If the chain doesn't sit comfortably on the biggest cog, unscrew the adjusting screw slightly and try again.
  5. When satisfied with step 4, let the derailleur's spring push it outward onto the smallest cog. If the chain comes off or doesn't sit properly, adjust the other screw to move the derailleur's position accordingly.
  6. Reattach the gear cable, removing any tension, and tighten the securing bolt.
  7. Test your gears using the gear lever, cycling through all gears several times. If the derailleur is slow to shift into lower gears, unscrew the cable adjuster on the derailleur body. If it's slow to shift into higher gears, screw in the cable adjuster.
  8. Re-check that all securing bolts are tightened and take your bike for a test ride with the newly adjusted gears.

If you encounter any difficulties, visit the bikebook homepage to find a helpful bike mechanic near you who can assist you.

For more complex bike service tasks, like replacing bearings, gears, brakes, or cables, it's best to seek a professional "bike service near me". They'll have the right knowledge, tools, and parts for the job. Find a suitable professional at


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