This is the first post in a new series I’ll be running on Fit Recovery called Bike Quiz. I hope you either A), enjoy the post B) get a good laugh or C) learn something from one of my oft-made mistakes and get a laugh from my self-deprecating style of looking at life and, um, cycling. That said, here’s the scenario:
You just had a new cassette and chain put on your bike. The first time you take the bike out you notice a faint (minor) clicking when you pedal in the three smaller cogs on the cassette, but only when you pedal. What do you do?
A) Get off the bike mid-ride, slam it to the ground and walk home or call your significant other for a lift.
B) Sue the bike shop (or yourself, obviously, if you put the cassette and chain on) for poor workmanship, take to tweeter and the social media discouraging everyone on the interwebz from frequenting the establishment.
C) Take the 1m:24s required to index and dial in the rear derailleur after your ride (or during if you’re on a long one).
The answer is C of course.
First, try to pay attention to which way is slower shifting, either up (right to left) or down (left to right) the cassette*. That’ll make this process easier later. Shift all the way to the smallest cog in the back (the hard gear). Now, if the chain was slow shifting up the cassette, simply turn the barrel adjuster that way or to the left (counterclockwise or anti-clockwise for my brothers and sisters in chain rings across the pond)… If it was slow going down the cassette, you simply turn it to the right (clockwise). Do this until the clicking diminishes and then gets loud again – you want to be right in the middle and usually about 1/2 turn on the barrel adjuster separates the clicking. Once you’re in the quiet zone, still in the smallest cog (this is important, I didn’t choose that gear because it’s the cool one), try shifting up the cassette and then back down. Is it shifting slow either way? Fine tune with 1/8th turns until you shift quickly and crisply up and down the cassette. You’re done.
Total elapsed time (including putting the bike on a stand or flipping upside down if you don’t have a stand): 1 minute, 24 seconds. Give or take a few seconds. Having to index a derailleur after a new cassette is quite common and almost a given. The mechanic who worked on my bike did run through the gears but didn’t catch that there was a problem… Nor did I for the first ten miles of my first ride after the work was done. I heard that little clicking all the way home though. It’s important to note here that the noise was barely audible if there was no wind. If I was into the wind or had a cross-breeze, there was no way could hear anything – it was a minor noise in other words. Had it been something major I’d have fixed it on the side of the road.
*UPDATE: MJ, in the comment section, correctly pointed out that my instructions on figuring out which way the chain moves can be a little confusing if you view this in a certain way – and he has a very good point. If you were a little caught up by the wording after the asterisk, I’ll really mess you up. When I wrote “up or down the cassette”, I was not referring to the gear because doing so can be utterly confusing for noobs. If you look at the cassette as a “hill”, Up the cassette is downshifting to a larger gear – right to left. You’re shifting up the cassette but down in gears – and this is where that whole thing gets messy. For the purpose of this post, assume you’re on the bike and you’re shifting is slow… It’s slower going up the cassette “hill” into an easier gear. The chain is traveling right to left slowly. If you’re going down the cassette “hill”, you’re going left to right into a harder gear. Hopefully this should clarify everything for the purists who will rightly point out that up is down and down is up. And now you know why I worded it the way I did – and why MJ caught it. Chuckle.
UPDATE: Apologies for the use of the word “in” in lieu of “on” in the title. I want to change it, I do, but it’s been linked to enough that if I change it, all of those other links die a gruesome, horrific death… Stinkin’ Auto-Correct got me.