How to Adjust Front Derailleur on Mountain Bike

How to Adjust Front Derailleur on Mountain Bike

Generally, when the slope is higher, the mountain rider feels it challenging to ride because he has to force the pedal to climb up. But, when you have gears on your bike, it will allow you to travel with constant pedal speed.

Gear is a circular machine that has cut teeth on their circumference. When the two different size gears mesh with each other, they transmit torque and change in speed of the device. Thanks to the fantastic gear technology, which has made our rides comfortable and enjoyable. You will find three sprockets on the front and nine on the back to produce a good gear ratio in mountain bikes.

The derailleur is the main component of the gear mechanism in mountain bikes. It changes the gear with the help of a chain in your bike. So, its maintenance is quite essential. If you face any problem with the derailleur, then you can comfortably ride on your bike. If you had a problem with the front derailleur, you should know how to adjust the front derailleur on a mountain bike. This article explains it in detail.

What Is Derailleur?

The derailleur is a component in a mountain bike that plays a vital role in shifting gears. It shifts the gear when the chain moves from one sprocket to another. Generally, you have two derailleurs on your bike.

One is at the front end, and another is at the rear end. You get the highest gear ratio when the chain is at the largest sprocket at the front end and lowest at the rear end. Similarly, you get the lowest gear ratio when the chain is at the lowest sprocket on the front end and the highest sprocket on the rear end.

You should remember that you cannot keep your chain on the biggest or smallest sprocket both at the rear and the front end. That time it will be pretty difficult for a rider to ride a bike. The derailleur will have a problem in moving the chain from one cog to another. So, you should shift the gear wisely.

Front Derailleur

Generally, you have three sprockets on the front of your bike. The front derailleur moves the chain in between these sprockets. At the time of pedaling, the front derailleur keeps the front portion of the chain under tension. That’s why only at the time of pedaling can a rider shift gears on the front end.

Rear Derailleur

A rear derailleur shifts the chain on rear sprockets. Generally, you have nine sprockets at the rear end of your mountain bike. The top portion of the chain is under high tension. So, you need to put some force on the pedal with the help of your feet. This force pulls the chain tightly. As a result, the force transmits from front sprockets to rear sprockets. Then it becomes pretty easy for the rear derailleur to move the chain from one sprocket to another despite hard pedaling by the rider.

Guide on How to Adjust Front Derailleur on Mountain Bike
Rear Derailleur

Typical Problems on Front Derailleur and How to Fix It

You need to check your front derailleur from time to time. Otherwise, it will create a problem at the time of riding. It produces an unwanted noisy sound which is quite annoying.

Thus, if you are new to cycling, you might think: how to adjust the front derailleur on a mountain bike? Well, it’s pretty easy. You need to follow some steps.

I am listing here some of the common problems and how you can quickly correct them.

#1. Adjust to the Correct Height

On the derailleur, you will find a long cage-like section called the derailleur cage. The chain passes from the derailleur cage. This derailleur should lie approximately 2mm above the chainring teeth. The outer portion of the derailleur cage should also be parallel to the chainring. If it is not lying, you need to correct it by loosening the bolts, which usually attach to the frame. When you lose the bolt, you need to adjust the derailleur by placing either left or right or rotate sideways, and this you have to do manually and check it each time. It requires a lot of time to adjust the derailleur’s incorrect position. Once you keep your derailleur in the correct place, tighten the screw. Again if you find the derailleur cage is worn and tear condition, you need to change it.

#2. Adjust the Limit Screws

The limit screws control the inner and outer boundary of your derailleur. These screws are present on the front portion of the derailleur. There are two screws. One is the inner stop, and another is the outer stop. The outer stop determines how far the derailleur will move away from the frame and the inner frame determines how close the derailleur can move towards the frame. When you turn the screws clockwise, it limits the range of the derailleur. Remember one thing that incorrect adjustment of your limit screws can result in a crash.

Sometimes your chain lies outside the third chainring, or it lies below the first chainring. At that, the derailleur cannot perform its function well. So, it creates a problem for the rider. That’s Why you need to adjust your limit screws properly.

How to Fix Front Derailleur on Mountain Bike
Front Derailleur

To set the inner stop, you need to shift the chain to the smallest chainring and largest rear cog. You need to lose the cable that attaches to the body of the derailleur. A distance of 2mm should be there in between the derailleur and chain. Once you set it, you need to tighten the cable securely.

Similarly, you need to shift the chain to your largest chainring and smallest rear cog for the outer stop.

#3. Clean the Front Derailleur

Sometimes there is a problem with the front derailleur because they are dirty. So you need to wash the front derailleur in regular intervals with a cloth soaked in solvent. You also need to lubricate them every month.

#4. Adjusting the Barrel

You can use the barrel adjuster to place the derailleur in the proper position. You can keep your chain on the largest chainring and largest rear cog. Then shift it next to the smaller chainring and smaller sprocket. You need to check the distance of the chain’s inner surface with the derailleur’s inner surface. They should be very close to each other with a distance of 0.5 mm.


The mountain riders usually face front derailleur problems, and they search everywhere regarding how to adjust front gears bike derailleur. This article answers your question in detail with the hope that you like it.

Written by Lee Hill

Best Bike Computer With Cadence and Heart Rate

Best Bike Computer With Cadence and Heart Rate

Best Bike Rack for Carbon Fiber Bike

Best Bike Rack for Carbon Fiber Bike