1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Changing chain and Derailleurs

    What order should I change and do adjustments to them in when changing all at one time?

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    Why would you do that?

    Let's start from the beginning. What are you trying to do, and what's the goal?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Replacing front (shifting does not work properly after several attempts at adjustments). And have spare money for rear as well.
    Will change chain if needed, but haven't checked chain length yet.

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    They really have minimal effect on each other.

    However, before considering replacing a derailleur, I'd start by looking at the cheap parts that can really screw up shifting. It doesn't matter how expensive your derailleurs are if your chain is nasty or worn out or your cable housings suck. Front shifting is also heavily influenced by quality and condition of the chain rings. And the shifters are the brains of the operation, so if they're messed up, they'll mess up the whole thing.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    some background. bike is 2005. rear cassette and chain changed last year. shifters changed 2 weeks ago to shimano slx (left had crapped out). have had front derailleur issues for a while. going to upgrade rear just because i can but have no issues with rear shifting. New cables and housing with shifters. read about all the different types of chains on park tools so i want to get the same chain bike came with, i don't know what it was changed into last year.

  6. #6
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    You should change middle chainring, chain and cassette at the same time if you can swing it. You're going about this the most expensive way possible: SRAM X-9 Drive Train Kit 2012 at Price Point
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Could be anything from just bad adjustment to everything being worn out. You need to take a systematic approach to identifying what is worn and what is just poorly adjusted. Front derailleurs tend to last almost forever so I would hedge my bets that it is some combo of worn chainrings and adjustments.

    Keep in mind that depending on how much you ride, chains and cables often need replacing more than once per year. That is why it's better to look at maintenance intervals in terms of miles or time ridden and not in terms of absolute time

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    sorry all chain rings have also been replaced...all new components have less than 50 miles on them

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    If they have that few miles, check your adjustments

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    i've checked my adjustments myself several times; had it serviced at REI earlier this year (prior to getting back into biking), and had shifters changed by another LBS...on the stand, it shifts fine, when i'm on it, it is does not shift consistently...sometimes it will be fine, other times it has problems going to smallest chainring, on some trails with lots of roots, the chain will jump off the rings...it's a pretty new development that this started happening

    so here's the timeline:
    - end of last year, beginning of this year (about 50 miles no bike since then), changed chain and cassette - done myself
    - REI - serviced bike (silver tune)
    - 1 month ago - changed all 3 chainrings (they were obviously warped)
    - 3 weeks ago - changed shifters (front shifter stopped working)
    - on trails, shifting in front still not consistent - followed adjustment procedures on parktools and youtube (i think from bikeradar.com), works fine at times, especially on pavement; once on grass/trails, does not shift well again

    so everything's been switched out other than the derailleur, so that just tells me that's the problem

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    i've checked my adjustments myself several times; had it serviced at REI earlier this year (prior to getting back into biking), and had shifters changed by another LBS...on the stand, it shifts fine, when i'm on it, it is does not shift consistently...sometimes it will be fine, other times it has problems going to smallest chainring, on some trails with lots of roots, the chain will jump off the rings...it's a pretty new development that this started happening

    so here's the timeline:
    - end of last year, beginning of this year (about 50 miles no bike since then), changed chain and cassette - done myself
    - REI - serviced bike (silver tune)
    - 1 month ago - changed all 3 chainrings (they were obviously warped)
    - 3 weeks ago - changed shifters (front shifter stopped working)
    - on trails, shifting in front still not consistent - followed adjustment procedures on parktools and youtube (i think from bikeradar.com), works fine at times, especially on pavement; once on grass/trails, does not shift well again

    so everything's been switched out other than the derailleur, so that just tells me that's the problem
    not necessarily. It could still be something else that we can't pin point because the bike is not in front of us, and there could be a detail that we aren't getting. For instance, when the shifters were changed, was the housing changed as well? Was the chain changed? ( not sure if you said that or not). It could be a compatibility issue as well, where the new chainrings aren't the right chainring for your cranks, chain, gearing etc.

    If I were you, I'd bring the bike to another shop. Tell them what is going on shifting wise, and then let them actually fix it. I almost guarantee that there is something going on with atleast one of the possible things I said above.

  12. #12
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    i bought a raceface chainring set, same number of teeth as was stock (44/32/22)...and chain was changed less than 50 miles ago

    so here are some observatinos after doing some adjustments today

    - bikeradar.com's youtube video says to make sure the mech height is 2-3 mm above the teeth...parktool.com's website says 1-2 mm...i went with the shorter measurement this time
    - in order for the bike to shift somewhat back to normal, i had to misalign the mech with the teeth...if it is straight on, it won't shift to smallest chainring
    - on middle chainring, there is some rubbing of the chain on the mech when on the most extreme cogs on the cassette, but not too bad...on bikeradar.com's video, this should be fixed with barrel adjustments...if i fix this, it will cause rubbing on largest chainring

    so right now, i can't get perfect adjustments, i have to get the best adjustment possible

    going to a derailleur adjustment class at the LBS tomorrow...hopefully they can use my bike as an example

  13. #13
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    I like the Park Tool repair instructions better. Nice pictures and I can read them at whatever pace I want to.

    Also, if you didn't finish the ends of shift cables yourself, you can't assume it was done correctly.

    One of my teachers several years ago had a funny comment about one of the sound designers, who'd been entrusted with making our haunted house sound spooky with the cheap and chewed equipment the school had. He said the guy had done too good a job with it, and we'd never be able to get a donor to give up some nicer stuff.

    On bikes, if there's not actually play you can feel in the derailleurs, the shifter housings are a really key spot to get good performance. But it takes an extra step to do it really right.
    Cables

    The other thing that's really important is your ongoing maintenance habits. I try to wipe my chain after every ride, relube as needed, and pay attention to things that aren't functioning as well as they could. When you ride bikes off-road, things just change too quickly, get too dirty, get hit too often, etc. to take your bike to the shop every couple months and think you're maintaining it. It's not like I spend a ton of time on any of this stuff, in general - the extra wipe only takes a minute or so, including hitting my fork stanchions while I'm at it, a lot of the minor adjustment is stuff I do without even stopping during a ride, and the big stuff was probably going to require a shop trip in the near future.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    just because it shifts fine on the stand doesn't mean it will shift fine on the ground with weight on it. also, when you get stuff done like the shifters (shifters usually come with inner cables, so your cables are probably only 3wks old, too), you have to get adjustments done as those cables break in, or "stretch" (it's not really stretching, but the effect is more or less the same). and oftentimes, what appears to work fine on the stand is still slightly out of adjustment and will require further tweaking when someone is on the bike.

    When I do work on my bike, I get it working the best I can on the stand, then take it for a spin where I make more adjustments with the barrel adjusters at the shifter end while I ride to get it just right. and oftentimes, it will try to ghost shift when I get to the first steep hill on the trail and I will tweak it again and finally it will be good.

    the information you have given us does not suggest that anything needs replacing. chains occasionally jump off chainrings in rough stuff if you don't have a chainguide, but there's just not much you can do on a 3x system. SRAM drivetrains and the new Shimano stuff with the roller clutch drop chains less, but that's an expensive swap for a small problem. it's possible your chain is too long, but without seeing it, I can't say. you will have to check a guide regarding choosing chain length.

    I still think you can solve this without spending money on it. if you still want to buy new parts "just because" there's nothing wrong with that, but until you get your issues worked out, new parts won't fix your issues.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    Replacing front (shifting does not work properly after several attempts at adjustments). And have spare money for rear as well.
    Will change chain if needed, but haven't checked chain length yet.
    Have you adjusted for cable stretch? What front derailleur do you have?

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    ok i haven't given thought to cable stretch...it's a deore lx, whatever is stock on i believe a 2004 or 2005 gary fisher tassajara...and i got shimano SLX shifters installed

    so to account for cable stretch, would barrel adjustment fix the problem, or should i go through the whole derailleur adjustment again?

    natehawk, what do u mean by ghost shifting

    i'll stick with this for a couple more rides and see if i can pinpoint the problem

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    i bought a raceface chainring set, same number of teeth as was stock (44/32/22)...and chain was changed less than 50 miles ago

    so here are some observatinos after doing some adjustments today

    - bikeradar.com's youtube video says to make sure the mech height is 2-3 mm above the teeth...parktool.com's website says 1-2 mm...i went with the shorter measurement this time
    - in order for the bike to shift somewhat back to normal, i had to misalign the mech with the teeth...if it is straight on, it won't shift to smallest chainring
    - on middle chainring, there is some rubbing of the chain on the mech when on the most extreme cogs on the cassette, but not too bad...on bikeradar.com's video, this should be fixed with barrel adjustments...if i fix this, it will cause rubbing on largest chainring

    so right now, i can't get perfect adjustments, i have to get the best adjustment possible

    going to a derailleur adjustment class at the LBS tomorrow...hopefully they can use my bike as an example
    I have always preferred the Park tool guideline of 1-2mm from the teeth. that's more similar to the mfr recommendation sticker that comes on a new derailleur and it works well when done right. IME, it is super rare to get your drivetrain set up so there's no chain rub on all gears in the middle ring. you really shouldn't be shifting your chain to extreme angles, anyway. if you are at the bottom of your cassette, you need to be in the big ring. middle of the cassette, middle ring, top of the cassette, small ring.

    what do you mean by "misalign"? in the front, the derailleur cage kinda has to go past the ring you want to go to a little bit just to make the chain move how you want. going to a bigger ring, you can give a little extra push on the shifter to do that, but going to a smaller ring needs just the right adjustment. if you mean you had to rotate the derailleur so the cage isn't parallel to the rings, then something is off.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    - in order for the bike to shift somewhat back to normal, i had to misalign the mech with the teeth...if it is straight on, it won't shift to smallest chainring
    - on middle chainring, there is some rubbing of the chain on the mech when on the most extreme cogs on the cassette, but not too bad...on bikeradar.com's video, this should be fixed with barrel adjustments...if i fix this, it will cause rubbing on largest chainring
    For the first thing - why won't the derailleur shift to your smallest ring if you align it straight on? Is there physical interference? A piece of grit hiding out in the links? Limit screw? (Sorry, have to ask.) Figure this out and you've probably also got your fix figured out. You may not really have the right kind of derailleur for your frame, or maybe the chainline on the new crank is too narrow for what you've got. How was shifting with the stock crank? What's your bottom bracket shell width? Did you install the correct spacers, in the correct places, when you installed the new bottom bracket?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    yes, misaligned means cage is not parallel...if it is parallel, it won't shift to smallest chainring...i just reached that conclusion today

    however, it has shifted better after making this adjustment while on and off the bike than it has in the past

    also as i follow the cage and measuring 1 mm to the teeth, i notice that the cage does not follow the chainring perfectly, so it is 1 mm at the top and the gap increases towards the back

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    ok i haven't given thought to cable stretch...it's a deore lx, whatever is stock on i believe a 2004 or 2005 gary fisher tassajara...and i got shimano SLX shifters installed

    so to account for cable stretch, would barrel adjustment fix the problem, or should i go through the whole derailleur adjustment again?

    natehawk, what do u mean by ghost shifting

    i'll stick with this for a couple more rides and see if i can pinpoint the problem
    ghost shifting = chain skips around and shifts on its own because it is out of alignment.

    usually, barrel adjusters are enough to address cable stretch unless you've let it go for too long and the barrel adjusters cannot take up enough slack in the cables.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    For the first thing - why won't the derailleur shift to your smallest ring if you align it straight on? Is there physical interference? A piece of grit hiding out in the links? Limit screw? (Sorry, have to ask.) Figure this out and you've probably also got your fix figured out. You may not really have the right kind of derailleur for your frame, or maybe the chainline on the new crank is too narrow for what you've got. How was shifting with the stock crank? What's your bottom bracket shell width? Did you install the correct spacers, in the correct places, when you installed the new bottom bracket?
    adjustment of limit screws while trying to shift to smallest chainring (with mech aligned) does nothing...i dont' see any interference...i see the cage pushing against the chain, but it isn't getting far enough

    the derailleur is the same one that came with the bike...i don't know about the chainline...i don't know much about bikes, so i just found a set with the same number of teeth and bought it...same with the chain last year, i just picked one up and threw it on with a friend's help...counted number of links so it matched with original chain

    no change to bottom bracket, just installed new chainrings

    i never really used the front shifting until recently, so i can't say...i bought it back in 04/05 and jumped on it and rode...didn't give any thought to geometry, handling, etc...put bike away for a few years, then picked it up again beginning of this year and trying to understand more about all the mechanics of this stuff now

  22. #22
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    Front derailleurs are often shaped to continue working okay with the largest sizes of chainrings that show up on mountain bikes and MTB-like objects. For example, a hybrid (or MTB for a beast-man from the '80s) with a 48t large ring.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    yes, misaligned means cage is not parallel...if it is parallel, it won't shift to smallest chainring...i just reached that conclusion today

    however, it has shifted better after making this adjustment while on and off the bike than it has in the past

    also as i follow the cage and measuring 1 mm to the teeth, i notice that the cage does not follow the chainring perfectly, so it is 1 mm at the top and the gap increases towards the back
    why won't it get to the smallest ring if adjusted parallel? I agree with Andrw that if you get this figured out, it will probably solve your trouble. I'd like more details on these Race Face rings you put on it. which ones did you install? you have to be careful about this stuff because there's 11spd, 10spd, 9spd, and even some 8spd parts on the market and the interchangeability is not all straightforward.

    yes, the gap between the top of the teeth gets bigger as you move to a smaller ring. It's supposed to do that, which is why it's better, IMO, to have a smaller gap at the big ring.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    adjustment of limit screws while trying to shift to smallest chainring (with mech aligned) does nothing...i dont' see any interference...i see the cage pushing against the chain, but it isn't getting far enough

    the derailleur is the same one that came with the bike...i don't know about the chainline...i don't know much about bikes, so i just found a set with the same number of teeth and bought it...same with the chain last year, i just picked one up and threw it on with a friend's help...counted number of links so it matched with original chain

    no change to bottom bracket, just installed new chainrings

    i never really used the front shifting until recently, so i can't say...i bought it back in 04/05 and jumped on it and rode...didn't give any thought to geometry, handling, etc...put bike away for a few years, then picked it up again beginning of this year and trying to understand more about all the mechanics of this stuff now
    I'm getting confused about what you have. Not that I really knew in the first place.

    What crank do you have?

    Another question - when the front derailleur is sitting against the chain and not shifting it into the smallest ring, can you push it further with your fingers? Or is there a hard stop it's running up against somewhere? If the hard stop exists, you should be able to figure out what it actually is in this case; usually they can be "customized" in one way or another.

    What front derailleur do you have?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinfony78 View Post
    adjustment of limit screws while trying to shift to smallest chainring (with mech aligned) does nothing...i dont' see any interference...i see the cage pushing against the chain, but it isn't getting far enough

    the derailleur is the same one that came with the bike...i don't know about the chainline...i don't know much about bikes, so i just found a set with the same number of teeth and bought it...same with the chain last year, i just picked one up and threw it on with a friend's help...counted number of links so it matched with original chain

    no change to bottom bracket, just installed new chainrings

    i never really used the front shifting until recently, so i can't say...i bought it back in 04/05 and jumped on it and rode...didn't give any thought to geometry, handling, etc...put bike away for a few years, then picked it up again beginning of this year and trying to understand more about all the mechanics of this stuff now
    if adjusting limit screws does not move anything when you're trying to shift into the lowest chainring, it's telling me that your limit screws are not likely to be the problem and that it's your cable adjustment that't the issue. namely, that the cable is too tight. if you pluck on the exposed length of bare cable, what's the tension like? is it the same as it is when the shifter is in the other positions, or does it loosen up a hair? it should be slightly more loose when you're in the smallest ring. too much tension will prevent the derailleur cage from returning to its innermost position to rest on the limit screw.

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