How to Fix a Poorly Shifting Bicycle

Fixing a bicycle with gears might become a tricky task to perform, especially when your bike is shifting between gears poorly. To detect poor shifting problems requires some practice from you and basic knowledge of certain parts of the bike. Almost all bikes these days have at least 24 speeds (3 sprockets at the pedals and 8 at the rear wheel) and these speeds are controlled by the levers present at the handlebars. Cables connect the levers on the handlebars to the derailleurs. Hence, any problem in the shifting is either due to cable tension or derailleur alignment.


  • 1

    Start your inspection from the gear lavers located on the handlebars. Look for any lose screw on the levers. Tightening the screws of the levers normally fixes the minor shifting problems and you have to make sure at the start that this is not the issue related to your bike.

  • 2

    Next, you have to look for loosen up cables connecting the derailleurs. Look for the cable coming from the handlebar to the front derailleur attached on the frame right above the front gears. Take an Allen wrench and unbolt the bolts and nuts to bring out the cable.

  • 3

    Use pliers to pull out the cable taught and while still holding it, re-secure the cable with the bolt tightly.

  • 4

    Repeat step 2 and 3 to re-affix the cable at the rear derailleur. Go for a test ride and try shifting all the gears. If the problem still persists, it means you have to adjust the alignment of the derailleurs.

  • 5

    You will need a helper to slightly lift the back wheel of the bike off the ground.

  • 6

    Now turn the pedals slowly with your hand and bring the front derailleur at the midpoint of its movement range by shifting the gears from the levers at the handlebar.

  • 7

    If there is a problem with the alignment, the chain will not shift to the largest rear gear. You will need to tighten the side-by-side screws on the rear derailleur. Turn the left screw anti-clockwise a quarter round and this shall fix the problem.

  • 8

    If you have observed initially that the chain is not shifting to the smallest gear at the front after step 6, you will need to turn the right screw clockwise, tightening it until you hear a click sound.

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