How to Fix Bike Gears Shifter?

How to Fix Bike Gears Shifter

Several causes of inaccurate shifting can affect all kinds of bikes, such as chain and gear cable issues.

We go over solutions on how to resolve the problem.

Bike gears play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth and pleasurable ride on a multispeed bike for riders. But if your bicycle gears are poorly indexed or have other issues, it can make changing gears difficult.

This can prevent you from speeding or slowing down quickly and make climbing hills a chore for you. You will also have to pedal more while shifting from the left shifter to the right one.

If you have trouble shifting gears easily and need to fix clunky bike gears, here’s a handy guide on how to fix bike gears shifter.

This will help you diagnose and smooth out common gear shifter problems and ensure your bike gears work well always.


Common Problems With Gear Shifters

Common Problems With Gear Shifters

There are different causes of inaccurate shifting that can affect all kinds of bikes – be it mountain bikes or road bikes.

These include the following:

#1 Derailleur Hanger Issues

If you have a damaged or bent derailleur hanger, it can make it difficult to change gears smoothly and efficiently. 

Your front or rear derailleur should not be bent, damaged, or in the wrong position. Both of them should always be perpendicular to the rear wheel and cassette so that your derailleur shifts properly.

#2 Gear Cable Issues

Problems with the gear cables can also cause your bike gear shifter to not function properly.

Cable stretch or misalignment can cause poor shifting and slow down your bike on a ride.

#3 Limit Screw Misadjustments

Limit screws control a derailleur’s range of movement. Poorly set up derailleur limit screws can affect how efficiently bike gears perform on a ride. A low-limit screw can restrict the bike chain from easily reaching the lowest gear. 

In this case, your bike will not shift to the lower gears as the lower limit screw will prevent the chain from doing its job.

This can lead to the chain slipping off either end of the front chainring or cassette. That’s a hazard every biker needs to avoid. 

Meanwhile, a high-limit screw will be loose and have a negative impact on the smallest cog on your bike cassette.

#4 Chain Issues

Usually, your bike chain will affect the performance of your bike gear if it is dirty and needs cleaning.

The build-up of dirt, oil, and rust can cause the chain to malfunction and make it hard to shift gears smoothly.

How to Resolve the Problem

How to Resolve the Problem

Once you’ve identified the root cause of your bike gear shifting problem, you need to fix it before it causes any mishap.

Here is our step-by-step guide to help you fix bike gears:

Step #1: Put Your Bike on a Bike Stand

Before you start adjusting bike gears, place your bike on a bike stand.

This will help you get the right angle when fixing your bike gears and also allow you to spin your wheels without moving the bike. 

Step #2: Clean the Front and Rear Derailleurs

Now, identify the location of your front derailleur and rear derailleur. Your front and back derailleurs help you shift gears and keep the bike chain intact.

Make sure that the derailleurs are clean and do not have any dust or dirt build-up. Dirt and grime can prevent the derailleurs from doing their job right and impede biking performance.

If the front derailleur and rear derailleur are dirty, clean them with a damp cloth and remove unnecessary particles like leaves, twigs, mud, and stones.

Step #3: Identify the Gear Shifting Problem

Next, you will have to test all the gears to diagnose the shifting problem. Use your hand to turn the pedals of your bike. Start with the rear derailleur and slowly test the different gears.

This will help you determine whether your bike shifts from the smallest gear to the front gears or the highest gear without difficulty.

While working on one derailleur (in this case — the rear derailleur), make sure that the front derailleur is in the middle gear. This will prevent the bike chain from overstretching and suffering damage.

If the gears are hard to shift or the chain jumps off the gear wheel, shift the gear wheel twice. This will put the gear wheel in the proper position and ensure the chain runs smoothly.

Now repeat the same process with the front derailleur and check if the bike moves to the largest cog easily.

Step #4: Inspect the Cable and Cable Adjusters

You should frequently check the position of the cable that leads to the derailleurs for it to be in top working condition. Clean, degrease, and lube it up for optimal performance. If the cable looks worn and the bike gears won’t shift, it’s time to replace the cable.

If the cable is not worn but is nonetheless unresponsive, get a barrel adjuster to fix the problem. You have to properly adjust the cable tension with the barrel adjuster until the chain moves smoothly through the second smallest gear.

Now look for the cable adjusters. A cable adjuster looks like tiny nuts or barrels around the cables.

Every cable has two adjusters for the derailleurs and handlebars. If they are misaligned, you need to adjust them properly, too.

Step #5: Fix the Problem Gear

Now that you know which gear is not working, pedal the bike with your hand to inspect the gear wheel. Shift the gear wheel up and identify the actual problem.

Perhaps the chain isn’t shifting smoothly or the gear is skipping. With your bike on that gear, proceed to the next step.

Step #6: Loosen the Cable Adjuster if the Chain Does Not Shift Down

Twist the cable adjuster counterclockwise if you find the shifting to be unresponsive while moving to the rear gears.

This will let the cable adjuster loose. Keep doing this slowly until you find that the chain falls into the correct gear wheel.

Step #7: Tighten the Cable Adjuster if the Chain Does Not Shift Up

If you find shifting gears hard when you go to the high gears, tighten the adjuster by rotating it clockwise. Continue doing this until you notice that the chain falls naturally to the right gear.

Step #8: Test the Gears Again

Pedal through the gears again to check if they are shifting smoothly. Make sure the derailleur shifts easily at every turn of the gear wheel. Once everything is running smoothly again, remove the bike from the bike stand.

Should You Ask for a Professional?

Should You Ask for a Professional?

You can usually fix a bike gear shifter at home with the right tools, a little effort, and some patience.

But if you find the process difficult or simply dislike doing it on your own, you can always go to your local bike shop and seek a professional’s help.


Accurate shifting is vital for a smooth ride on a multispeed bike. Issues with the chain and gear cables can cause inaccurate shifting, but following the steps in this guide can help you resolve these problems.

By cleaning and inspecting the derailleurs, adjusting cable tension, and addressing specific gear issues, you can fix the gear shifter at home.

However, seeking professional help at a local bike shop is an option if you find the process challenging. Ensure your bike gears are in optimal condition for a seamless and frustration-free riding experience.


Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

About The Author

Leave a Comment