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Troubleshooting Tips

Our desire is to have your chainrings working perfectly.  This page is for troubleshooting function as well as to give performance enhancementtips for your WickWerks chainrings.  See the topics below.  If you do not find the help you need here, please contact us with your questions.

Note:  When contacting us, it maybe necessary to send photos of the trouble area.  Thank you.Front Derailleur: The key in shift performance is Front Derailleur adjustment.  For many people this is a black art.  While it can be frustrating, the concepts are straightforward:

Shift Performance:

  1. There are several adjustment possibilities that effect performance.  Making one adjustment effects others, so understanding what is needed is the first step;
  2. Often to make a little change — like toe-in, toe-out, raise or lower — requires a restart on other adjustments all over again.  For instance, a slight twist for toe-out will require new stop screw settings and maybe a cable adjustment.

Keep in mind, the time spent for a perfect shifting pays big in superior performance — especially with WickWerks chainrings.The key to front derailleur adjustment is thinking carefully about what is happening, then being willing to make the adjustments even when it means starting over with other settings.

To start, check that installation is correct.  See “Adjusting the Front Derailleur”

Next, note where the shift issues are.  Look at the whole range, don’t concentrate on one little area – where is the chain contacting?  where is clearance too much or too little?  etc., then visualize what needs to change — toe-in, toe-out, stop screw adjustments, etc..  Adjust as needed.

Finally, there is nothing like learning from someone that knows.  Ask a friend who knows, or take it to a bike shop and learn from them.  Shifting with WickWerks chain rings should be a pleasure, so get the settings right.  It’s worth it.Toe-In or Toe-Out: For some bicycle geometry, it is necessary to Toe-In or Toe-Out the derailleur cage just slightly.  Toe-In is where the front tip of the derailleur cage is turned inward (toward the bike).  Toe-Out is the opposite — front tip of the cage turned outward.  Toe-In or Toe-Out may be needed to get the chain to shift up and down properly for all gears — especially on triple chainring applications.

The concept is the upper portion of the cage controls the shift – to and from the big ring.  The bottom portion of the cage controls the shift – to and from the small ring.  If the chain is making the big ring shifts fine, but the small ring shifts are hesitant, a Toe-In will help the small ring up-shifts, and a Toe-Out will help the small ring down-shifts.  This requires careful thought about how the cage position is interacting with the chain and rings.  Go slow and make tiny adjustments to see how the system as a whole is working.

Over-Shifting: The condition where the chain shifts from the smaller ring to the big ring, then goes right over the top and off the gear is called over-shifting.  This condition is usually the result of derailleur adjustment, but it can also be shift technique that is not proper.

If over-shifting is occurring, check derailleur positions for running and over-travel, but don’t forget to look at the shifting technique.  Over-shifting can easily be caused by improper technique.  See the section above about front derailleur, as well as the pages on “Adjusting the Front Derailleur” and “Proper Shifting Technique”Degrading Shift Performance: If shift performance was good, and gradually degrades, here are a few things to check:

  • First, check cable adjustment.  Cables stretch over time and must be re-adjusted.
  • Second, check for chain and/or ring wear.  Check chain wear and replace if necessary.  A worn or “stretched” chain will wear out the chain rings (and cassette) much faster.
  • Third, check the front derailleur cage.  Some cages are weak — meaning they don’t have the stiffness to handle repeated additional loads of fast shifting.  See “Recommended Equipment”.  A derailleur cage, if bent (bowed out), can be straightened or flattened to improve shifting.  Ultimately, a stiffer cage is required to really “solve” the problem.

Chain Suck: Chain suck is due to a combination of conditions.  It can be environmental (dirt or dry), or maintenance (lack of lube), or abuse (shifting under power), or damage to the chain or chainrings — but most likely, a combination of two or more of these.

To avoid it, keep the chain and gears clean and well lubed.  Replace worn or damaged parts, and avoid components that can be more susceptible — like chains with side plate holes that can hold dirt and contribute to chain suck.

If you experience chain suck:

  • First, examine the drivetrain looking for damage like bent a tooth tips or scars on the teeth or damaged chain links.  This is the most sure way to have chain suck.  If found, repair or replace the damaged part.
  • Second, make sure the drivetrain is clean, well lubed and in good condition.  Clean chains inside and out.
  • Third, avoid shifting under load — especially when the drivetrain is becoming warn.  The condition of forced chain suck is not the same as a dirty or dry chain suck, but the result is similar.
  • Finally, shifting in a cross chaining situation (see below) is known to contribute to chain suck.

Read this more complete discussion on Chain Suck, and this older one from J. Levy.Cross Chaining: Cross chaining is the condition where the chain is running significantly across the drivetrain centerline — like from Big ring to Biggestcassette cogs, or Small ring to Smallest cogs.  Neither condition is very good for the drivetrain or for shifting.

The diagram below shows the 2 different cross chaining conditions.  Top view, looking down on the chain, chainrings, and cassette. The industry used to say NEVER cross chain, but that has changed.  WickWerks chain rings can certainly run cross chain conditions (as good as any), but as a rider, you need to know it is not a best practice, and in spite of what the salesmen may tell you, there are some draw-backs.Cross chaining causes higher stress on the components, accelerates wear on the chain and gears, and is less efficient — meaning it robs energy from you.

In general, use the smaller 3/4 of the cassette with the big ring, and the larger 3/4 of the cassette with the small ring.  There is a lot of cross-over in the ratios, so finding the right gear is not usually a problem.  It will help with consistent shift performance, and it will minimize wear on the drivetrain components.