Garage Files: How To Keep Your Derailleur & Cables Finely Tuned

How To Keep Your Derailleur & Cables

Finely Tuned

Your rear derailleur and shift cables are put through a lot. Thankfully, these precisely made components can work with no hiccups for a long period of time; however, don’t expect that crisp shifting to stay that way without a little TLC at some point.


—Repair stand


—Hex wrenches

—New shift and cable housing

—Cable/housing ends

—Cable cutters

—Cable crimps

—Internal routing tool

Galvanized stainless steel and even Kevlar cables will eventually lose their buttery slide within the shift housing. The cable and housing are used to communicate with the shifter and control the derailleur. If the cable or housing is not up to par, the derailleur will not be able to index properly and move through each step of gears available.

A bike’s derailleur performs two basic functions. Its primary function is to move the chain from cog to cog. Its second function is to keep tension on the chain. This is to compensate for the different lengths of the chain being engaged by different gear combinations. That’s the basic idea without going too deep into all the variations on the market.

In the not-so distant past, mountain bikes utilized a front derailleur accompanied by a rear derailleur to achieve the large range of gears needed on the trails, but modern advancements have made the front triple ring obsolete. Now, we usually see modern mountain bikes utilizing a 1x system since they can achieve a similar gear-ratio range with fewer components. Although there are many brands that have their own unique features, there are some fundamental steps that can be applied to maintaining all rear derailleurs. Even the latest and greatest electrical shifting requires knowledge of how high- and low-limit screws function. But, we are not here to dive down into the electrical-versus-mechanical shifting debate.

Today, we cover the basics of replacing a worn-out shifter cable and refreshing



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