The Worst Bicycle Repair Job Ever!

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  • The Worst Bicycle Repair Job Ever!
  • Nichola

    Good afternoon all (just). I introduced myself on my earlier enquiry but “Hi” again to you all.

    Surely the most maddening job on a bicycle has to be setting up the front and rear derailiers? I’ve picked my way through cabling it all up with kind assistance from the park tools website and that’s gone beautifully. I quite enjoyed that to be honest, quite cathartic but setting up the awful things is driving me to drink!
    Does anybody have a quick fix if I start from the very beginning? I’ve put the adjustment screws back to somewhere where they were on the rear from new. The front is working but not wonderfully.
    Can anybody estimate what it will cost to have them set up in a bike shop assuming they’re willing to do it? I’d rather not phone just yet as that would be admitting defeat just slightly before I’m ready to concede it and I’m counting every penny at the moment in a bid to get to the magical “Enough For A House Deposit” figure.
    Indeed, does anybody feel that there is a worse job to do in maintaining or repairing your bike?


    line up the rear limit screws by eye by aligning the jockey wheels and top/bottom cogs WITOUT the chain on. The is some movemnt in the upper jockey but you can make small tweaks later. pull cbale through and give it a good tug to seat the housings before tightening cable bolt.

    Fronts are a pain. Start by guesstimating the right height and getign the cage parrallel, it may swing round abit when tightenign up, makiggn it un- parrallelel.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    It’s more likely to be cable tension than adjustment screws.
    Rear mech: With the chain on the smallest cog pull the cable through til it’s tight(ish) then, while pedalling, click it up to the next gear. If it doesn’t go, tighten the cable via the barrel adjuster. If it goes too far, loosen the cable. Go through the gears and it should settle down. If the mech doesn’t reach the far end or it throws the chain into the spokes only then do you need to start turning the adjuster screws on the mech.
    Same sort of thing with the front mech except that the barrel adjuster is on the shifter.

    Good luck. 🙂


    I paid £13 in my lbs to tune the gears after I made a complete hash of it, also included a new cable and sheath.


    Hiya Nichola

    Put the chain into the middle gear on the front.

    Now get the chain onto the smallest cog on the rear, use the H adjusting screw to line the rear mech jocky wheels up with the smallest cog, so the chain is running in a straight line.

    Get the chain onto the biggest gear on the back and repeat above using the L screw.

    The stops are now set, next slacken the cable tension off to the rear mech. Then start to reapply tension while trying to change gear (up and down) you might find that the difference between smooth shifting and not is only takes half a turn or so.

    Hope that helps, if not then we’re running one day MTB maintenance courses this year along with everything else we do

    Cheers Stuart

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable

    I would say be patient and go through it stage by stage.

    Set your limit screws first. You can usually do this by eye and tweak them later if you have problems.

    Then install your cables and get the tension right, you want to have them slack but not baggy. Make sure all the outer cables are properly sat in the stops.

    Then give each derailleur a trial run and adjust accordingly. A barrel adjuster works just like a screw – turn clockwise to wind it in (and reduce tension), anti-clockwise to wind out (and increase tension). A workstand (or even turning your bike upside down) makes things easier. If you can’t get into the top or bottom gear try tugging the cable gently – if that sorts it you need to add tension via the barrel adjuster, if not you may need to adjust the limit screws.

    If you still can’t get it to work, and assuming you’re using new parts, you might have a bent derailleur hanger. A shop will be able to check this for you and sort it if necessary. Setting up the mechs is a 5-minute job and they might charge you a tenner or they might do it for free, depends very much on the shop in question. Good luck!


    Get a local STW stalwart to help you out – and show you how it’s done at the same time?

    Premier Icon aracer

    Surely the most maddening job on a bicycle has to be setting up the front and rear derailiers?

    I enjoy setting up gears, as it has a satisfying end point, and involves going through a set procedure rather than anything more abstract. Can’t really add anything to others’ suggestions though.

    Premier Icon nickc

    Carry on with the park tools instructions, it’s how I learnt. There’s also a good Haynes manual that you can buy. Halfords stock it


    just to re-hash whats already been posted.

    rear mech.
    set top/bottom screws.
    (chain on – middle ring up front)
    attach cable with chain on smallest cog (assumes non rapid rise mech)
    adjust with barrel adjuster (if you look down the back of the cassette, the top jockey wheel will be straight with the sprocket)

    there is also the b-tension screw if the top jockey wheel is too close/far from the largest sprocket.

    front mech.
    set height
    make straight with chainrings
    (chain on – largest sprocket)
    set granny gear stop.
    tighten cable
    (chain on – smallest sprocket)
    set outer ring stop
    barrell adjust to minimise rubbing on cassette extremes.

    it can be annoying, but just take it slow, it gets easier the more you practice

    if your anywhere near Reading feel free to pop by, im showing my housemate how to fix a puncture tonight, nothing like starting at the begining 🙂

    Premier Icon snowslave

    Second recommendation for Haynes manual for clear instructions on how to do this stuff…

    Premier Icon scaredypants

    druidh & thisisnotaspoon,

    has Houns nominated you in his absence for smoothing in on the ladies? 😆 (anyone else get reminded of Terry Thomas by that smiley ?)


    Be sure to take out the stretch in the new cable and settle the outers into their sockets. This will speed up the inevitable bedding in on the first ride.

    Without turning the cranks and with the gears smallest to smallest, give both the left and right shifter levers a firm push. Not hard enough to damage the mech’s just enough for you to feel it stretching a little. Any stretch after this can be tweeked up with the barrel adjusters.


    I kind of like fettling mechs, its really satisfying when you get it spot on.

    I dislike recurring punctures, tube patching and freehub body replacement when the bearings fall out by accident. Grrr.


    scaredypants – Member

    druidh & thisisnotaspoon,

    has Houns nominated you in his absence for smoothing in on the ladies?

    Not me mate – I was just trying to create an opening for someone else 😆

    ha! i already get as much fruit sallad as i can handle for fettling with my housemates bike, unfortunately thats not a euphamismn 🙁

    if its still impossible to get the rear working correctly it could be the hanger thats bent, check by setting it up perfectly in 3rd from bottom, then see if it works fine in 4th, 5th etc, but gradualy gets worse towards 8th (9th should still work if the limits are set right). Then repeat the process starting in 7th, and workign down. If it goes out of tune in either direction then the hangers bent and will need perswading back into shape or replacing.


    Thank you for all the pointers. I feel much more confident having another go with the information you’ve provided and having walked away from it for a couple of hours.
    Thank you also for the invites to show me how it’s done and for the course in Wales. Sadly, I’m in Buxton, Derbyshire but I’ll certainly be getting a copy of the Haynes book.
    Maybe setting up gears isn’t the hardest job on a bike? I hadn’t even thought about hubs and such like. I’ll definitely be leaving that to the bike shop for now.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I find setting up mechs just about the easiest job. I like bleeding brakes much less. But there’s not much I really hate apart from removing stuck seatposts. When you’ve tried to fix your own car and every bolt on the entire thing is rusted/seized/stripped/covered in crud and you have to try and work whilst lying in puddles sticking your hand up through a tiny gap between something sharp and something hard, working on bikes is easy.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable

    Replacing the ball bearings in a Shimano hub is pretty hideous. It’s bad enough having them roll all over the kitchen floor but the worst is when one falls into the middle of the hub and sticks there. I’ve never done it, but replacing the bearings in a freehub body sounds vile too, a bit like the “multi ball challenge” on a pinball machine but with 72 of the wee silver gits.

    I think the most ghastly bike maintenance chore I’ve done recently is setting up an old skool canti brake. I’m having a little shudder right now just thinking about it.


    Nothing to add to the above, but adjusting gears is nowhere near the worst job. I vote for replacing the bearings and races in a Cannondale headshok/lefty, that’s quite a fiddle.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Sadly, I’m in Buxton, Derbyshire but I’ll certainly be getting a copy of the Haynes book.

    Ah well I’m only just up the road from there so if you want a hand anytime… 😉

    I agree, mechs are a very easy job once you get the hang of it, the first few times i was poring over the giant fold out manuals trying to remember which screw was which though. Bleeding brakes is much less satisfying (apart from avids which are easy).


    You’re not alone in being driven mad by them. Lacking any degree of mechanical dexterity or patience I never got the hang of them. It got so bad that it led me to go 1×8, and now I’m even experimenting with singlespeed. It may be the lazy bugger’s way out but it works for me.

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