How to Replace the Rear Derailleur on a Vintage Bicycle

Written by matthew ferguson
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How to Replace the Rear Derailleur on a Vintage Bicycle
Vintage bikes poised to race. (cdgale23 image by Paco Ayala from Fotolia.com)

Some vintage bicycles may feature their original rear derailleur, and after years and miles of use, the derailleur may be in need of replacement. Fortunately this part is detachable, and so long as a suitable replacement is found, there's little issue in swapping one for another. A vital component to multigeared road and mountain bikes, the rear derailleur has the responsibility of shifting the chain from one cog to another.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Allen wrenches (sizes will vary by derailleur)
  • Adjustable wrench (as needed)
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Cable crimp
  • Bicycle grease

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Instructions

    Removal

  1. 1

    Remove the lower pulley, known as the "tension" pulley, from the derailleur. There is a bolt at the centre of the pulley. Use a proper size Allen wrench and turn the bolt clockwise to remove it. The pulley can now be removed.

  2. 2

    Loosen the derailleur cable anchor bolt, using an Allen or adjustable wrench, depending on bolt design. This bolt secures the shift cable to the derailleur and can be found on the bottom of the derailleur.

  3. 3

    Cut the metal crimp from the end of the cable, using wire cutters, and pull the cable free of the derailleur.

  4. 4

    Loosen the fixing bolt at the centre of the derailleur, using an Allen or adjustable wrench, depending on bolt design. This bolt attaches the derailleur to the bicycle. Once loose, remove the old derailleur.

    Replacement

  1. 1

    Remove the lower pulley from the replacement derailleur, duplicating Step 1 above. Set the pulley aside for the moment.

  2. 2

    Grease the fixing bolt on the backside of the replacement derailleur and attach the derailleur to the bicycle. Make sure the chain passes in front of the upper derailleur pulley. Tighten the bolt in place.

  3. 3

    Press the lower pulley against the inside of the chain and push the pulley in place inside the derailleur. The chain should pass behind the pulley.

  4. 4

    Thread the bolt through the centre of the lower pulley and tighten the bolt in place.

  5. 5

    Pass the cable through the back of the derailleur and push the cable all the way through until it emerges from the other end.

  6. 6

    Pull the end of the cable taut with needle nose pliers and tighten the anchor bolt on the bottom of the derailleur onto the cable.

  7. 7

    Attach a fresh cable crimp onto the end of the cable to keep the end of the cable from fraying. Use needle nose pliers to squeeze the crimp in place.

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