How to Adjust a Bicycle Gear

Written by eric cedric
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How to Adjust a Bicycle Gear
Gear adjustments are done without tools. (bicycle image by Vitezslav Halamka from

Adjusting the gears on a bicycle keeps the shifts accurate. Adjust the gears while on the fly without tools. Modern bicycles use barrel adjusters on the shifter pods and derailleurs to provide a way of maintaining efficient shifts. Adjust your bicycle's gears after locating the barrel adjustment on the shifter pods found on the handlebar. A few quick turns of the barrel should get your gears shifting smooth and keep you on your way.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Sit on the bicycle and begin pedalling. While pedalling, turn the barrel adjustment of the shifter pod--found where the cable enters the shifter--one-quarter turn counter-clockwise. Shift through the gears and listen for sloppy shifts, and feel for missed shifts on the gears.

  2. 2

    Continue pedalling and turn the barrel adjustment on the right hand shifter pod one-quarter turn clockwise to tighten the shifting. Make these micro-adjustments while shifting the gears. Stop the adjustments when your gears shift to your desired settings. A smooth shifting gear change is when the chain quickly engages the next cassette gear on the rear cluster.

  3. 3

    Pedal further and turn the left hand shifter pod barrel one-quarter turn to the right and shift the left side shifter. Look down to the chain rings--the large toothed circles around the pedals--and check the chain is moving over the rings. Turn one-quarter increments until the chain ring shifting is smooth and all rings are covered.

  4. 4

    Continue your ride with the adjusted gears. Shift the left-hand shifter again to watch the chain move up and over the chain rings. Smooth shifting on the front gears manifests in near effortless changes. Listen for metal crunching noises; this is an indicator you need to continue the barrel adjustments. A smooth shifting set of front gears is quiet, with little metal noise.

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