# Bicycle Mechanics - Barrel adjuster - which way?

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View Full Version : Barrel adjuster - which way?

steinrr
04-28-07, 01:56 PM
I have seen many posts about the barrel adjuster saying turn it clockwise or turn it counterclockwise, but I am really wondering which way is which? :)

Is the direction from the "wire side" or the "shifter side" - e.g. shall I hold my hand above the wire or the shifter when adjusting clockwise/counterclockwise, if you see what I mean. Clockwise will be counterclockwise if done from the opposite side of the adjuster...

One thing more, I reckon:

clockwise = more tension
counterclockwise = loosen wire?

Correct?

peripatetic
04-28-07, 02:17 PM
One thing more, I reckon:

clockwise = more tension
counterclockwise = loosen wire?

Correct?

The easiest way to think of this is to look down on the barrel and adjuster with the brake behind/beneath it. I always pull up on the housing a little bit, then back the adjuster away from the housing. So you actually unscrew the adjuster (counterclockwise) to make the brake tighter, and screw it in clockwise to make it looser (b/c the adjuster is screwed into something else.)

Another way to gauge this is to note how many threads you see between the barrel and the adjuster body: the more space there is, the tighter you've made the housing.

steinrr
04-28-07, 02:58 PM
Hmmm...still not sure if I understand which direction is which. I do understand that counterclockwise will unscrew it, and therefore tighten it, but I don't really understand from which side counterclockwise is...

Which is true:

If I grab the adjuster and my hand is above the steering handle, and turn it counterclockwise, it will tighten the cable (image position A)

If I grab the adjuster and my hand is above the wire, and turn it counterclockwise, it will tighten the cable
(image position B)

See URL for ugly sketch:

http://www.photo-host.org/v/photo-dating/008288barrel.jpg

http://www.Photo-Host.org/view/008288barrel.jpg

Sheldon Brown
04-28-07, 03:36 PM
I have seen many posts about the barrel adjuster saying turn it clockwise or turn it counterclockwise, but I am really wondering which way is which? :)

Is the direction from the "wire side" or the "shifter side" - e.g. shall I hold my hand above the wire or the shifter when adjusting clockwise/counterclockwise, if you see what I mean. Clockwise will be counterclockwise if done from the opposite side of the adjuster...

One thing more, I reckon:

clockwise = more tension
counterclockwise = loosen wire?

Correct?Nope.

Adjusting barrels don't actualy act directly on the cable (wire.) Rather, they act on the housing.

For the clockwise/counterclockwise/deasil/widdershins issue, you look down along the piece of housing that leads to the barrel.

Turning it counterclockwise effectively makes the housing get longer. This is equivalent to making the inner cable shorter.

Sheldon "Widdershins" Brown

SOS
04-28-07, 03:43 PM
Long story short: wire side.

steinrr
04-28-07, 03:45 PM
So then "B" in my second post is correct I presume?

04-28-07, 05:20 PM
who's on first?

MtbVA
04-28-07, 06:21 PM
"Righty Tighty & Lefty Loosey"...Just like any other normal thread pattern..You rotate a bolt Clockwise to tighten (screw in) and you turn Counter Clockwise to loosen (screw out).

Loosening (screw out), turning "Lefty" or Counter Clock Wise; will effectively put more tension on the cable.

So then (screw in) "Righty", or turning Clock Wise; will allow more slack in the cable.

who's on first?...what's on second.

Camilo
04-28-07, 06:59 PM
When thinking clockwise or counterclockwise, your orientation should be from the "distal" side of the barrel adjuster, the side opposite from where it attaches to the brake or derailleur.

Just like when you're turning a screw clockwise or counterclockwise into a piece of wood, you're looking at the head of the screw from above, opposite of where it enters the wood.

Another way to look and/or think of it:

Look at your barrel adjuster. The adjuster is something you can grip and rotate. It is connected to the cable housing, thus moving the cable housing. This mechanism screws up and down on a hollow threaded thing (barrel) that the cable runs through on its way to the attachment point, pulling the cable housing when turned in one direction, or pushing it when turned the opposite way. When you turn it one direction, it pushes the cable housing away from the attachment point, in effect making it longer. (often/ usually this also exposes more length in the threaded barrel). This tightens the cable. When you turn it the other way, it moves the other way on the threaded barrel, (often shortening the length of exposed threads) making the cable shorter. This loosens it.

Hope that helps.

cny-bikeman
04-28-07, 07:27 PM
Always look FROM the threaded object you are turning TOWARD the object that it is screws into or onto. Then it's righty tighty, lefty loosy with a normal (right hand thread) and clockwise/counterclockwise is from that perspective. It is very easy to get confused doing it from a "backwards" perspective, which is why I always taught students in bike clinics and novice mechanics to tighten spokes looking from the rim toward the hub.

fixedmonkey
04-28-07, 11:19 PM
It is easier to think about it in terms of turning the barrel to create more tension or turning the barrel to create less tension on the wire. In which case tuning it left(counter clockwise) will create more tension.

Good mechanics, however, will not use the barrel adjuster at all when dialing in a der. and leave it at zero.

fixedmonkey
04-28-07, 11:23 PM
Always look FROM the threaded object you are turning TOWARD the object that it is screws into or onto. Then it's righty tighty, lefty loosy with a normal (right hand thread) and clockwise/counterclockwise is from that perspective. It is very easy to get confused doing it from a "backwards" perspective, which is why I always taught students in bike clinics and novice mechanics to tighten spokes looking from the rim toward the hub.

WoW I hate to be one of the guys you 'taught'.

Barrel adjusters = left tighter, right looser. You can get a sense of the tension in the cable.
Spokes - left tighter, right looser.

steinrr
04-29-07, 03:25 AM
Thanks for all your helpful replies - I do understand about expanding the housing to create more tension, but the problem for me was that the adjuster is not screwed into the brakes, but does just sit on the housing 10cm from the brakes.

But the same principle does probably apply here as well, so thanks for all your advice!

Bill Kapaun
04-29-07, 05:57 AM
Turn it one way and see what happens!

steinrr
04-29-07, 12:21 PM
Turn it one way and see what happens!

If you knew how much time I've used to adjust it, you would not suggest just that... :)

04-29-07, 12:28 PM
Turn it one way and see what happens!

Exactly. Seriously, this is the only way you'll find out which way slackens or tightens the cable and its effect on derailleur movement. :)

cny-bikeman
04-30-07, 03:25 PM
WoW I hate to be one of the guys you 'taught'.

Barrel adjusters = left tighter, right looser. You can get a sense of the tension in the cable.
Spokes - left tighter, right looser.

WRONG - depends on which way you are looking at the wheel. Mantras smiply don't work when you have to remember several. right-tight, left loose holds for every right hand thread as long as you are looking from the object you are moving toward the stationary one.

Sheldon Brown
04-30-07, 04:15 PM
WRONG - depends on which way you are looking at the wheel. Mantras smiply don't work when you have to remember several. right-tight, left loose holds for every right hand thread as long as you are looking from the object you are moving toward the stationary one.
Actually, no. Two examples:

•Spoke nipples.

•Barcon expander bolts.

The problem is when you look at the clock from the back side.

Sheldon "All Generalizations Are False" Brown

cny-bikeman
04-30-07, 05:24 PM
Actually, no. Two examples:

•Spoke nipples.

•Barcon expander bolts.

The problem is when you look at the clock from the back side.

Sheldon "All Generalizations Are False" Brown

I'll give you the barcons, but if you read my rule carfeully it does apply to spoke nipples. I know many people adjust them looking toward the rim, but that is exactly the way many novices mess up truing If one wants to go the opposite way that's fine - everything is reversed. But if one looks from the rim, where the nipple is being turned, toward the hub, where the spoke is stationary, right-tight works.

As a mechanic I naturally turn them the correct way no matter what, but I found that many people in repair clinics got confused and started making their wheel worse rather than better, so if they had a problem I told them to always go right-tight and look toward the hub when doing so.

cny-bikeman
04-30-07, 05:27 PM
WoW I hate to be one of the guys you 'taught'.

Well, aside from your rudeness you obviously know everything so the feeling would have been mutual, I'm sure. I probably helped close to 1000 people in bike clinics and trained dozens of mechanics so I guess I misinformed a lot of people. For some reason the other bike shops in town valued my students very highly, though.