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WickWërks Tech Support

Adjusting the Front Derailleur

Front Derailleur adjustment is critical to achieve maximum performance.  The following are guidelines — guidelines because adjustment parameters vary by derailleur type (top swing / bottom swing), by derailleur stiffness and by manufacturer.

Please Note:  Some variation from the manufacturers recommended set-up procedures may be required for maximum shift performance with WickWerks chain rings.

Use the following suggestions as appropriate for your bike and your situation.  The following assumes indexed shifting.  Some iteration may be required to get the function just right.  (We’ve heard it said:  “FD adjustment is a bit of a black art”, so be patient, and get help if needed

  1. Mount the front derailleur so spacing from the derailleur cage to the big ring is 1-3 mm clearance, 1-2mm is optimal.  (Measure to the tall teeth, not the shorter ones.)
  2. Setting clearance of the front derailleur cage
    to the big ring.
  3. Set the derailleur cage parallel to the big ring outside surface or as typical for the bike.  This is a starting point, as some minor adjustment may be required.At times the derailleur can need some toe-in or toe-out for performance on a particular bike.  See “Toe-In or Toe-Out” in the Troubleshooting Tips.
  4. With the front derailleur in the small ring position, set the inboard stop so the chain just doesn’t touch the cage when running in the largest rear cog — then, adjust the cable so it is just barely not tight in this position.
  5. Move the chain to the large ring in front and a middle gear in the back.  Adjust the outboard front derailleur stop so the cage does not interfere with the running chain.  This stop position will be fine tuned later.
  6. With the chain in the large ring in front and the smallest cassette gear in the rear, adjust the cable so the chain just barely does not touch the outboard derailleur cage guide face when pedaling.
  7. Shift back and forth between the “small ring / big cog” (step 3) and the “large ring / small cog” (step 5) positions and adjust the cable untill both conditions run correct as described above.
    Note:  If this is not easily accomplished, some toe-in or toe-out may be required.  If needed, adjust the derailleur cage position, and start again at step 3.  Don’t get frustrated … proper adjustment is a balance of all the various possibilities, and it takes time.
  8. Move the chain to the large chainring in front and to a middle cassette position in the back.  Fine tune the outboard front derailleur stop — for the large ring — so it allows some (just a little) overshoot from the running position when full shift pressure is applied at the shifter.
    Explanation:  When the shift lever is pushed all the way, the derailleur will move to the outboard stop.  When shifter force is relaxed, the derailleur should move back just slightly (very slightly) to the running position set in step 5.  This allows positive shift pressure on the chain against the ring when shifting up, then as the shift completes, the derailleur moves back to a proper setting for chain line clearance.  Adjust for performance (it’s different for each bike).
    Warning:  Don’t allow too much overshoot or the chain may shift right off the outside of the ring — which is obviously not acceptable.  This adjustment may take some finesse, and should be balanced with the other chain positions and riding conditions.
  9. With the bike on a stand, turn the crank and shift.  Remember, shift fast; don’t baby the shifts.  (This means move the shift lever quickly to full stroke; don’t ease it into the shift.)  These rings work best when the shift is deliberate and quick.
  10. Fine tune cable and derailleur positions as needed for perfect, quick shifts.  If needed, go back to previous steps in this process and repeat.  Again, this process is iterative — meaning sometimes you have to go back and make changes to achieve perfect shifting.  This iterative process of getting everything set just perfect is why some call this a “Black Art”.
  11. Learn the quick shifting paradigms. Depending on your habits when shifting, it may take some time to get used to shifting with intent.  As you get comfortable with reliable front shifts, it will be easier to use the front derailleur more, and improve riding skills by quickly selecting the right gear for the situation.
  12. Additional fine tuning may be needed to maximize performance when riding the bike.  It seems no matter how perfect you make it on the stand, something always acts a little different when you’re riding.  Ride and adjust.
    A trick to note:
    Make adjustments in small increments.  A little can be a lot when fine tuning.Take the time for minor adjustments.  These pay big dividends in consistent, perfect shift performance.
  13. If Shift Performance degrades, check the following.  Some issues we’ve seen are:- Gradual degradation in shift performance over time.  The solution is usually minor cable tightening.- Slight front derailleur cage bowing.  For some equipment that is too weak, the derailleur cage may bend out slightly.  Correct this by bending (carefully) the cage back to straight (temporary solution), or purchase a better derailleur.  See Recommended Equipment.- Various occasional issues — like chain overshift off the outside of the large ring, or off the small ring on the inside, or rubbing on the derailleur cage.  All the above conditions are solved by fine tuning adjustments or cable tension.  Repeat the above steps.- More serious issues such as chain suck or tooth skipping may be the result of damage, wear, or other factors.  See the Troubleshooting Tips for more info.