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How to Adjust a Shimano Derailleur

bike gear ratios

Who does not know it: In front of you there is a steep counter climb, you turn the handle back two or three gears looking forward to the right gear shift ratio, but apart from an unhealthy chattering, not much happens. The right gear just doesn’t want to jump in and you yourself desperate on the slope. If your Shimano hub gear currently shows such symptoms and is a bit stubborn, you can read here how to set the gear correctly again.

Basic Maintenance

A Shimano hub gear is usually very low-maintenance and rarely needs to be adjusted. If you stick to the regular oil changes (approx. Every 5000 km or every two years), you prevent premature wear and thus ensure long-lasting good performance.

However, it is normal for the gearshift to change from time to time, as the shifting cable takes a little longer to use. But you can breathe a sigh of relief: the setting is relatively simple and can also be carried out by everyone – usually you do not need any tools. You can save yourself the trip to the specialist. The gearshift is set at non-critical points, which is why there is very little that can be broken – at least as long as you do not try to open the hub body.

When should I adjust my Shimano Derailleur?

It is usually quite noticeable that a hub gear must be reset. Most of the time, the desired gear cannot be selected, or only with a lot of force, or you have to turn the rotary handle further than the printed display would indicate. Unwanted switching operations are also common problems.

However, it does not always have to be the setting. Especially in the case of stiffness, it can sometimes be due to an old, dirty or damaged cable cover. As a result, the shift cable can no longer slide properly inside, which requires a lot of force with every shift. So it’s worth looking here. If you don’t find any defects, just read through in the next section how to set your derailleur.

Step by Step: Adjust Shimano Derailleur

The setting of a Shimano is quite similar for all models, but there are differences in the details. We have written down the suitable handles for each hub step by step below.

1. Shift into the right gear

In order to correctly set a Shimano derailleur, you must always select the appropriate reference gear on the rotary control handle. This varies depending on the model:

Type of Shimano DerailleurGear
Shimano Alfine 116th Gear
Shimano Alfine 84th Gear
Shimano Nexus 84th Gear
Shimano Alfine 74th Gear
Shimano Alfine 32nd Gear

2. Check the yellow marking

With a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub you can find the marking on the silver hub gear box directly at the dropout. Here the yellow stripe should lie in the middle between the two white boundary lines.

With Nexus 7- / 8-speed and Alfine models, however, the markings are attached directly to the hub body. To see the yellow stripe, all you have to do is move the chain guard slightly. Now the small stripe should line up with the second yellow mark. Practical: The markings are attached at the top and bottom, so that they can be seen both on a bicycle upside down and in the work stand.

The following applies to all models: If the markings are not as described above, readjustment is necessary. This works by means of the tension of the shift cable

3. Adjust the tension of the shift cable

Depending on the model, the tension of the shift cable is set on the shift lever or on the hub. The latter is the case with the Nexus 3-speed hub, which is why you have to loosen the nut on the hub gear box either by hand or with a 10 mm spanner. Now you can turn the adjusting screw until the yellow marking is in the middle between the white boundary strips. Then you tighten the nut again so that the set screw cannot fall off. For the correct tightening torque, please refer to the information provided by the manufacturer.

With the other Shimano models, you can set the tension directly without tools using the adjusting screw on the shift handle. Again, turn left or right until the yellow marking fits.

After setting the tension, you should shift once to first gear and once beyond the reference gear for all hub gears. The markings should then still be a perfect fit in the reference aisle.

If adjustment using the set screws is not possible because you cannot turn them far enough, the cable on the hub must be loosened and tightened with a little more tension. This is best done with narrow pliers. It is important that the adjusting screws in front are turned to a middle position in order to have enough leeway afterwards. The fine adjustment is done again with the adjusting screws.

4. Test the setting

When the yellow markings are back in place, you should test the shifting. It’s very easy: Shift through all gears slowly without turning the rotary handle over the respective display. If all the gears can be engaged precisely, crisply and with little effort, you seem to have done everything right. The next climb will be easy.