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  1. #1
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    chainring shifting question

    hey i have a couple questions about shifting in the front chainring
    i used to never do it, but in houston, we have a lot of dips and ups, so i figured shifting up front would be faster when i needed it

    however since i used to never to shift that way and because my bike is old (2004 gary fisher tassajara), i have some questions

    i generally shift to the smallest chainring when i'm at the bottom of a dip and about to head back up, incline of at least 15% grade (up to even 45%). when there is tension on the chain as i start heading up, i typically can't shift down...even with just a slight grade going up...is this typical or a derailleur adjustment i need to make?

    also when shifting to a higher gear, i have to push the thumb past the click and hold for a split second for the gear to engage properly...on flat terrain, shifting is perfectly fine...only on even very small grades do i have shifting issues

    i recently changed out shifters to shimano SLX...have original derailleurs

    can someone help me out? i feel like i do have to shift the front chainring because a steep incline is waiting just ahead (rather than downshifting the rears several times)...the trails in houston have long flats with lots of drops and short climbs, so getting to the highest front gear is necessary at times

  2. #2
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    it sounds like you need a front derailleur adjustment.

    Use the barrel adjuster and looking at it with the cable sticking out and coming at you, turn it counter clockwise (loosen it) until your shift happens at the click.

    You don't need to justify your usage, FWIW. FYI, I tend to do the same, on rollers. I tend to keep my rear gear around the middle and shift around on the front most of the time when I have a 3x9 setup. When I am running 2x9, shifting patterns are a bit different.

  3. #3
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    First of all, shifting often is a good thing. Then the fact that front shifting is weak and under load, so most of the time you'd not be able to shift in the front in the middle of the hill. Rear shifting is not under load so shifting in the middle of the hill is possible.

    Do you know your trail well enough to anticipate the shifting? More important, how long is that climb, if it's a short one you can always climb it in the middle ring. Best is to try it. I've done some crazy climb on my SS that I've never imagine I can do til I try it.

    Learn to time the front shifting, it takes some practice, however according to your post I think the dips and climbs sections can be done entirely in the middle ring.

  4. #4
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    Mimi:

    middle ring is possible but I have to shift rear to lowest gear. i'm trying to eliminate extra steps if possible, so i would prefer to use smallest ring...i've biked slickrock in utah with this bike, but with pedals and never using the smallest ring...i'd like to do it again clipless and with smallest ring available, and i know i'd be so much more efficient

    once i hit the bottom of the drop, i do downshift, but because there is already an incline waiting for me, it doesn't always shift

    -------------------------

    iamholland:

    i'll try the barrel adjuster, i've never touched those before. i haven't taken MTB very seriously until the last 6 months, and it seems that in these 6 months i've had the most problems with my bike (or i just wasn't using it like i should have been)

    thanks for the help, guys

  5. #5
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    oh and one more question:

    with the chain on the smallest cog on cassette, should there be any problems shifting to smallest chainring (so that the chain is not absolutely straight)...likewise for largest cog to largest chainring

    that is not smooth at all...maybe barrel adjuster would help too?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    oh and one more question:

    with the chain on the smallest cog on cassette, should there be any problems shifting to smallest chainring (so that the chain is not absolutely straight)...likewise for largest cog to largest chainring

    that is not smooth at all...maybe barrel adjuster would help too?
    Yeah, don't do that. It's called cross-chaining and it's a good way to wear out drivetrain parts. I'm not following how shifting in the front is somehow saving all this effort over shifting the rear but if you are having trouble shifting in the front you need to adjust your derailleur. Either the angle, height, limits, or cable tension are not properly set. There are a lot of good videos and things to read online about how to do this properly, I would start with the Park Tools website.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Yeah, don't do that. It's called cross-chaining and it's a good way to wear out drivetrain parts. I'm not following how shifting in the front is somehow saving all this effort over shifting the rear but if you are having trouble shifting in the front you need to adjust your derailleur. Either the angle, height, limits, or cable tension are not properly set. There are a lot of good videos and things to read online about how to do this properly, I would start with the Park Tools website.
    I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) he is saying one quick shift with the front as opposed to clicking 3-5 gears on the rear. I've never thought of doing that but I could see how it could make sense. Of course my FD seems to always give me issues.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Yeah, don't do that. It's called cross-chaining and it's a good way to wear out drivetrain parts. I'm not following how shifting in the front is somehow saving all this effort over shifting the rear but if you are having trouble shifting in the front you need to adjust your derailleur. Either the angle, height, limits, or cable tension are not properly set. There are a lot of good videos and things to read online about how to do this properly, I would start with the Park Tools website.
    ^^This

    Cross chain is bad I lost a wheel and a rear derailleur to that once. It proved to be quite expensive. I think I understand what you mean by efficiency, if you shift the front you just shift once, but you have to go thru the series of gears when shifting the rear. Well, you just get used to it.

    However the good news is if your bike can fit Hammerschmidt and you are up for the upgrade, you can shift up/down anywhere and anytime without any worries, and never have to worry about the cross chaining ever again.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    ...once i hit the bottom of the drop, i do downshift, but because there is already an incline waiting for me, it doesn't always shift

    -------------------------
    ...i'll try the barrel adjuster, i've never touched those before...
    What everybody else said plus...

    If you are getting to the incline before the shift on the chainring is completed, shift earlier while still going down and pedal a revolution or two as you do it. It will be waiting for you in the right gear when you start up.

    Front derailleur adjustment...Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog Front Derailleur Adjustments

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    once i hit the bottom of the drop, i do downshift, but because there is already an incline waiting for me, it doesn't always shift
    I know what you're talking about. You click it, the derailleur moves, but it just grinds against. The derailleur is basically not moving over far enough The downshift, check the lower limit on the derailleur itself. You might need a bit more space or the derailleur is not set up to the proper height.

    For the upshift, do the barrel adjuster, as it needs to move over more in the other direction. You may need to adjust the limit on the big ring as well, i.e., the other philips screw on the derailleur.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    ...i recently changed out shifters to shimano SLX...have original derailleurs...
    One other likely problem...If the cables and housings weren't replaced when the new shifters were installed, replace them before you bother with adjustments.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr View Post
    One other likely problem...If the cables and housings weren't replaced when the new shifters were installed, replace them before you bother with adjustments.

    ^^^ For sure, though I'm guessing the new shifters probably came with them. In addition to the above mentioned fine advice on getting the adjustment spot on- worn drivetrain components can cause slow ft. shifting as well. Chain, rings, etc.

    Beyond that you should attempt to ease up a tad on the pedal pressure during the split second during the shift. It became second nature to me because that used to be the only way to make a front derailleur shift, but it will make even the best modern derailleur shift better.

  13. #13
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    thanks for all your help guys

    cables/housings have been changed...also chain has less than 50 miles on it...i can shift on the drop/downhill, but these are pretty steep, so it feels awkward not having any pedal pressure until i go back up

    -------------

    so it looks like i have to look at these things:

    lower limit screw adjustment will help the downshift,
    and barrel adjuster (loosening of cable) and upper limit screw will help upshift

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    thanks for all your help guys

    cables/housings have been changed...also chain has less than 50 miles on it...i can shift on the drop/downhill, but these are pretty steep, so it feels awkward not having any pedal pressure until i go back up


    Well it takes some practice, you can try to pedal right up to a few second before you stall with your big/middle ring as long as you are not in the big cog in the back then back off the pedal pressure just a bit while you shift the front to smaller ring, it works just needs to get the right gear combo and timing, practice, practice.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post

    Beyond that you should attempt to ease up a tad on the pedal pressure during the split second during the shift. It became second nature to me because that used to be the only way to make a front derailleur shift, but it will make even the best modern derailleur shift better.
    I agree. If it shifts well on flat or downhill terrain and you are only having trouble shifting while climbing, this may be the problem. Some front derailleurs just don't shift well under heavy load. I always shift before the climb when possible. If I must shift during a climb, I peddle hard before clicking the shifter followed by an easy rotation without load until the shift completes. This is a technique you can learn quickly if you practice.
    If I try to crank hard through the shift on a steep climb,l it makes for a very rough shift and really sounds (and feels) like I'm damaging things.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atl-Biker View Post
    I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) he is saying one quick shift with the front as opposed to clicking 3-5 gears on the rear. I've never thought of doing that but I could see how it could make sense. Of course my FD seems to always give me issues.
    it is way better and faster to change front ring as opposed to 3-4 cogs in the back. back in the day when racers used triple or double chainrings - (at least the Chinese women's XC team) most of them were using front shifting way more than i thought.

    there is also a way to shift in the front even on the hill - but it does require some practice, where you would ease off the stroke while shifting for a second - until the chain is on required ring... works pretty good...

    even with rear shifting, there should be not much power in the stroke - particularly going up the hill...

    using small ring and small cog or big ring and big cog - not recommended, unless absolutely necessary - and even then - for a short period of time only...

  17. #17
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    replace them before you bother with adjustments.

  18. #18
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    Obviously, I don't know what you're riding, but often times it works out better if you don't shift to an easier gear in short dips if you can avoid it. Even if the hill is longer, it's still a good idea to try to harness as much momentum as possible. Shifting to a lower gear right off the bat is often a momentum killer.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    it is way better and faster to change front ring as opposed to 3-4 cogs in the back. back in the day when racers used triple or double chainrings - (at least the Chinese women's XC team) most of them were using front shifting way more than i thought.

    there is also a way to shift in the front even on the hill - but it does require some practice, where you would ease off the stroke while shifting for a second - until the chain is on required ring... works pretty good...

    even with rear shifting, there should be not much power in the stroke - particularly going up the hill...

    using small ring and small cog or big ring and big cog - not recommended, unless absolutely necessary - and even then - for a short period of time only...
    It's such an advantage to add front shifting skill in the bag of tricks.

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