Fixing a Gear Shift on a Bike: Step-by-Step Guide

When it comes to bikes, the gear shift is one of the most important parts. It allows you to easily switch between gears depending on the terrain and your desired speed.

A properly functioning gear shift ensures that you can enjoy a smooth ride without having to worry about any issues. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong and your gear shift may stop working correctly. In this guide, we will show you how to fix a bike’s gear shift step-by-step so that you can get back on the road quickly and safely.

What is a gear shift?

The derailleur is situated at the rear drop-out of the bike frame and moves in o...

A gear shift, also known as a derailleur, is a component found on many bicycles that allows the rider to change between different gears.

It is made up of two main parts – the shifter and the derailleur. The shifter is usually located near the handlebars and consists of levers or buttons which when pressed will move the chain onto a different sprocket on the rear wheel cassette.

The derailleur is situated at the rear drop-out of the bike frame and moves in order to place tension on different-sized cogs located on this cassette. Together these components allow for multiple combinations of gears for varying terrain or speeds, allowing riders to adjust their pedaling resistance as needed.

What tools are needed?

To successfully fix a gear shift on a bike, you will need the following tools: an adjustable wrench or Allen key, a flathead screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and some lubricant.

Depending on the type of bike you have, you may also need Phillips head screwdrivers and/or other specialty tools. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions before attempting any repairs.

Additionally, if you don’t feel comfortable with making repairs yourself then it is best to have it done by a professional mechanic. It is important to note that if your gear shift is not functioning correctly then it can be dangerous so make sure that all safety precautions are taken when fixing it.

Step-by-step Guide

Fixing a gear shift on a bicycle can be an intimidating prospect for many cyclists, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and some basic instructions, anyone can learn how to fix a gear shift on their bike.

This step-by-step guide will take you through all the steps necessary to get your bike’s gears to shift smoothly again. First, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools for the job—a flathead screwdriver, adjustable wrench, cable cutters or pliers, and grease or lubricant of your choice.

Next, locate the shifter cable that runs from your shifter lever to your derailleur and use your cable cutters or pliers to disconnect it from both ends.

Then remove any dirt or debris that might be obstructing the shifter cable and apply some lubricant if needed. Now you’re ready to reattach the shifter cable onto both ends of its route—first at one end of the handlebar near the shifter lever, then at the other end near your derailleur.

Finally, adjust any tension in your shifter cables as necessary with an adjustable wrench until they are properly adjusted and everything is running smoothly again!

Removing the old gear shift

Removing the old gear shift from your bike can be a daunting task, but with a few simple steps, you can have it done in no time. First, locate the cable housing running from the shifter on your handlebars to the derailleur at the rear of your bike; this is usually located under the bottom bracket or near where the chain runs along its path.

Next, loosen and remove any bolts that may be holding it in place using an appropriate-sized Allen key or wrench. After removing these bolts, carefully detach the cable housing from both ends and pull it away from your bike.

If necessary, use pliers or wire cutters to cut any zip ties that may be securing it in place. Once completely detached, take out any rubber grommets that are keeping everything together and set them aside for later use.

Finally, unscrew and remove the old gear shift lever itself by loosening any screws that are holding it in place with an appropriate-sized Allen key or wrench.

Installing the new gear shift

Installing a new gear shift on your bike is an easy task that can be done in just a few simple steps. First, you will need to make sure that you have the right parts and tools for the job.

You will need a new gear shifter, cable housing, and cable end caps, as well as a flathead screwdriver or hex wrench. Once you have all of the necessary items gathered together, it’s time to start the installation process.

Begin by loosening up any existing cables or wires connected to the gear shifter so that it can be removed from its mounting bracket.

Then, line up the new shifter with its mounting bracket and use either a flathead screwdriver or hex wrench to secure it in place. Next, attach one end of the cable housing to the back of the shifter and then thread it through its corresponding routing path before attaching it to its other end on top of the front derailleur.

Adjusting the gear shift

Adjusting the gear shift on a bike is an important task that should be done regularly to ensure smooth and safe riding. A properly adjusted gear shift will allow you to easily switch between gears, allowing for more efficient pedaling and greater control over your speed.

This step-by-step guide will show you how to adjust the gear shift on your bike, so you can get back out there and enjoy your ride!

First, make sure that the chain is aligned correctly on the front and rear sprockets. If it’s not, use a pair of pliers or an Allen key to loosen the bolts holding it in place and move it into position.

Next, check that all of the cables are connected correctly by following their path from the shifter to each derailleur. Then adjust each limit screw until they stop when shifted up or down – this ensures that no further adjustment can be made without unscrewing them first.

Testing the gear shift

Testing the gear shift is an important part of the process when fixing a gear shift on a bike. The first step is to ensure that all components of the drivetrain, such as the chain, cassette, and derailleur, are in good working order.

It’s also important to make sure that the shifter cable is properly adjusted so that it can move freely. Once everything is checked and ready to go, you should check if your bike shifts correctly by shifting through each gear while pedaling at a low speed.

You should then adjust the high-limit screw or barrel adjuster on your derailleur until it shifts smoothly without skipping gears or not shifting at all. Finally, test out your new setup by going for a ride and making sure everything works as expected.


Troubleshooting a gear shift on a bike can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and instructions, you can diagnose and fix most gear-shifting problems quickly and easily.

Before beginning any repairs, it is important to identify the source of the problem. Many times, an issue with shifting gears is caused by something as simple as a loose cable or dirty chain.

Other more complex issues may require replacing parts such as derailleur pulleys or the cassette itself. Once you have identified the source of your problem, you will need to follow specific steps in order to successfully repair your bike’s gear shift.

This includes properly cleaning and lubricating all components involved in shifting gears; adjusting shifter cables; inspecting and aligning derailleurs; replacing worn or damaged components; and finally testing for the proper functioning of all parts before riding again.

Common problems

Common Problems. Common problems with bike gear shifting can range from the cable being too loose or too tight to a problem with the derailleur.

If your bike’s gears are slipping when you shift them, it could be due to any of these issues. It is important to identify the specific issue before attempting any repairs.

When diagnosing a problem with your bike’s gears, start by inspecting the shifter and cable for signs of wear and tear, such as fraying or kinking.

Check that the cable is properly routed through all its stops and that there is no dirt or debris blocking it. If everything looks good but you still experience slipping gears, then you may need to adjust your derailleur.

Look for misalignment between the upper pulley wheel and chainrings; if they do not line up correctly, this will cause problems when shifting into higher gears.

Additionally, check that there is enough tension on both limit screws so that your chain does not fall off either side of the cassette sprockets when shifting into lower gears. Finally, make sure there isn’t too much oil on any part of your drivetrain; excess lubrication can cause slippage as well.

Alternative solutions

If your bike gear shifter is not working correctly, there are some alternative solutions you can try before taking the bike to a repair shop.

First, check if there is any debris or dirt in the derailleur mechanism that could be preventing it from shifting properly. Clean out any debris and make sure all of the components are functioning correctly.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to adjust the tension on the derailleur cable by turning a screw located near the shifter or by adjusting a barrel adjuster located near your rear wheel hub.

You may also need to replace your chain if it has stretched over time, as this can affect smooth shifting. Finally, if none of these solutions solve your problem, take your bike to a professional for further inspection and adjustment.


In conclusion, fixing a gear shift on a bike is an important task that should not be taken lightly. It can be quite tricky to figure out the problem and then make repairs, but with the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to do so.

The first step of this process is to identify what exactly is wrong with the gear shift. Once you have identified the issue, you can begin to make repairs or replace any necessary parts.

After all of your adjustments are complete, it is important to test out your work by taking a few test rides before heading back onto the road.

Summary of the process

In conclusion, fixing a gear shift on a bike is an easy task that can be accomplished with basic tools and some patience. The process begins by removing the cable from the shifter and inspecting it for any signs of damage or wear.

If necessary, you should replace the cable before proceeding with the rest of the repair. Next, you need to adjust the barrel adjuster to obtain optimal shifting performance.

After adjusting the barrel adjuster, you should check for smoothness in shifting as well as proper indexing of each gear position. Finally, test-ride your bike to ensure that all gears are working correctly and that there are no issues with shifting performance or indexing accuracy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why won’t my bike shift gears?

When it comes to troubleshooting why your bike won’t shift gears, the first and most important thing to check is the tension of the cables.

The shifting system on a bicycle is indexed, meaning that it relies on precise cable tension in order for the shifters to move the derailleur into position.

If the cable tension is off even slightly, then this can throw off the entire system and prevent it from working properly. This issue can be easily adjusted by tightening or loosening the cable as necessary with an Allen key or similar tool.

If adjusting the cable tension does not resolve your shifting issues, then there may be other problems at play such as worn-out parts or incorrect alignment of components.

Worn-out parts like chainrings, freewheels, cassette cogs, and jockey wheels can all cause poor shifting performance and should be checked if you are still having trouble after adjusting cables. Additionally, incorrect alignment of components like rear derailleur hanger/dropouts could also cause misalignment in shifting so make sure these have been checked too before replacing any parts with new ones.

2. What causes gears not to work?

When a vehicle is put into gear but won’t move, it can be a sign of an issue with the transmission. Low fluid levels due to leaks can cause gears not to engage or stay in gear.

This could be caused by a problem with the shifter, shifter cable, or valve body of an automatic transmission. To diagnose and fix this issue, it’s important to take your vehicle to a certified mechanic who will be able to properly assess the situation and make repairs if necessary.