HOW TO FIX A BROKEN DERAILLEUR ON THE TRAIL
ANSWERS FOR ALL THINGS MOUNTAIN BIKE
TRAILSIDE DERAILLEUR REPAIR
Question from an MBA reader: Derailleur being snapped – they happen. It happened to me and I made it out with my hardtail. I could bend it back a bit and run the chain through the top pulley since that was mostly straight. What do I do if the derailleur is so far mangled that it has to be removed? Thankfully, this hasn’t happened yet, but I’d like to try and be prepared. Fayetteville, Arkansas Tom Breacher
Our answer: Glad you were able to make it out after your first fiasco with a bent derailleur. That was some good trailside problem solving and if it ever happens again, you’ll need this same mindset to get the bike back rolling. The wrecking crew had a derailleur completely snap, deeming the pulleys and knuckle to shift completely useless. The last time this happened it was also on a full suspension electric mountain bike after a crash. On a hardtail, you could likely get away with removing the derailleur and setting the bike up as a single speed with just a bit of chain slack to get back home. Keep in mind, you’ll need to be carrying a chain breaker (or quick-link pliers if applicable) and a multi-tool to get these steps accomplished. On a full suspension, however, you need to have a tensioner on the chain. There has to be some give in the system for relief when going in and out of travel. If there isn’t, you’ll be binding the chain at some point. This could throw you off and likely snap your chain. On this occasion, we were able to make the bike chainless and make it back home safely. Although we had to push up a hill or two, no chain or rider was harmed past the initial derailleur destruction. We did have a zip tie with us as well and made sure to secure the cable housing out of harm’s way.
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