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Having difficulty tuning rear derailleur properly

Old 03-10-21, 11:59 PM
  #1  
speedyspaghetti
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Having difficulty tuning rear derailleur properly

Hey everyone -

So I coach cross country / track, and a kid I coach told me he just bought his first road bike and asked me to give it a once over. It's a Cannondale R600 / CAAD5 in pretty good condition, cool bike overall. It has a bit of a hodgepodge of components - 105 shifters, Claris FD, and Ultegra RD. I was able to get the brakes perfect and the FD smooth, but I can't get the RD to sound right. It shifts perfectly fine, I've got that all tuned right, but it is very noisy, especially in the largest chaining (it is a triple). Throughout pretty much the whole range of the cassette I get a constant clicking while pedaling which I've tracked down to the derailleur pulley as it comes at a pretty steep angle to the outside chainring (you can see this in the video). The small cog / large chainring combo is especially noisy, although this seems to be more due to a lack of clearance between the cog itself and the other RD pulley (again this is all visible in the video below). Is this a matter of the chain being too long? Is this just normal with a triple?

Thanks!

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Old 03-11-21, 05:53 AM
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It sounds like the chain is routed on the wrong side of the metal tab on the derailleur cage. The chain should not touch the tab that sticks out from the derailleur cage, between the jockey wheels. It is a pretty common error and the chain rattles as each link slides over that tab.
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Old 03-11-21, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dsaul View Post
It sounds like the chain is routed on the wrong side of the metal tab on the derailleur cage. The chain should not touch the tab that sticks out from the derailleur cage, between the jockey wheels. It is a pretty common error and the chain rattles as each link slides over that tab.
It does sound like that, but it doesn't make this noise at all in the smallest and middle chainrings - wouldn't that rule it out? I can double check the chain routing, but it looked right to me.
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Old 03-11-21, 10:06 AM
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It is very hard to see what is going on in that video with the camera angle constantly moving and wobbling around. The view from the top doesn't provide much information and from the side and back the camera is moving around too much to actually see what is happening with the chain.
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Old 03-11-21, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
It is very hard to see what is going on in that video with the camera angle constantly moving and wobbling around. The view from the top doesn't provide much information and from the side and back the camera is moving around too much to actually see what is happening with the chain.
I can use my tripod and get a better video today when I get off work - how should I angle it so you guys can see it best?
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Old 03-11-21, 11:49 AM
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1. Take rear wheel out.
2. Check dish.
3. Put properly dished wheel back in - centered between stays.
4. Check derailleur hanger alignment against the properly dished rear wheel.
5. Then do your derailleur adjustments.

Also check to see that the derailleur cage hasn't been twisted.

I can tell from the few seconds you gave from the rear view that the derailleur hanger is out of alignment - its angled in toward the front non-drive side.

=8-|
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Old 03-11-21, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
I can use my tripod and get a better video today when I get off work - how should I angle it so you guys can see it best?
I'd want to see more of the very last 1-2s of the video -- from behind to we can see how vertically aligned things are. Also need to see the FD when in big ring/smallest cog. From that last little bit, it does appear the RD cage is misaligned/bent, and maybe the chain is rubbing on the RD, which could be a bent hanger. Also check you're not hitting things up front, you may be rubbing on the inside of the FD cage, which can happen with triples, the FD cage is definitely more finicky.
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Old 03-11-21, 12:04 PM
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The derailleur cage looks a bit bent to me. The bottom pulley doesn't seem to be in alignment with the top one in the very end of the video.
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Old 03-11-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
I'd want to see more of the very last 1-2s of the video -- from behind to we can see how vertically aligned things are. Also need to see the FD when in big ring/smallest cog. From that last little bit, it does appear the RD cage is misaligned/bent, and maybe the chain is rubbing on the RD, which could be a bent hanger. Also check you're not hitting things up front, you may be rubbing on the inside of the FD cage, which can happen with triples, the FD cage is definitely more finicky.
Yeah it appears to me that the sound is coming from the cage near the pulley where the chain is hitting the cage. I'll get a better video later, but here is a photo I took. The RD cage definitely looks bent. Would this be something I can fix, or should I just get him a new RD?

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Old 03-11-21, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
The derailleur cage looks a bit bent to me. The bottom pulley doesn't seem to be in alignment with the top one in the very end of the video.
It appears that you're right - check the photo I posted.
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Old 03-11-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
Yeah it appears to me that the sound is coming from the cage near the pulley where the chain is hitting the cage. I'll get a better video later, but here is a photo I took. The RD cage definitely looks bent. Would this be something I can fix, or should I just get him a new RD?

There's a few things you can do.

1) You can bend the cage back straight but it's easier said then done. There's a few different methods one of them being you take it completely apart and you hammer it flat again against a straight surface. Or using a vice and a crescent wrench you can sometimes straighten it out. It will never be perfect again but you can get it close enough.

2) Most people don't bother with the first step. It's easy to simply buy a replacement cage. I'm cheap so I at least try to do the first

3) If the derailleur is too old and you can't find a replacement cage then replace the entire derailleur
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Old 03-11-21, 02:29 PM
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Bent derailleur = Bent derailleur hanger.

Have to check both...

Else you will always be chasing a ghost when troubleshooting rear shifting issues.

=8-|
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Old 03-11-21, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
There's a few things you can do.

1) You can bend the cage back straight but it's easier said then done. There's a few different methods one of them being you take it completely apart and you hammer it flat again against a straight surface. Or using a vice and a crescent wrench you can sometimes straighten it out. It will never be perfect again but you can get it close enough.

2) Most people don't bother with the first step. It's easy to simply buy a replacement cage. I'm cheap so I at least try to do the first

3) If the derailleur is too old and you can't find a replacement cage then replace the entire derailleur
1 - I'll try doing this later tonight.
2 - Do they still make replacement cages for older 9-speed RDs like this?
3 - The RD is an Ultegra, I know that 105 and Ultegra are interchangeable (the brifters on this bike are 105), could I do a Tiagra RD to save the kid a bit of money if I have to replace it?
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Old 03-11-21, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
Bent derailleur = Bent derailleur hanger.

Have to check both...

Else you will always be chasing a ghost when troubleshooting rear shifting issues.

=8-|
Will do - I was looking for excuse to buy a new tool anyway lol. Park Tool DAG 2.2 on order from Amazon and will be here tomorrow...
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Old 03-11-21, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
1 - I'll try doing this later tonight.

2 - Do they still make replacement cages for older 9-speed RDs like this?

3 - The RD is an Ultegra, I know that 105 and Ultegra are interchangeable (the brifters on this bike are 105), could I do a Tiagra RD to save the kid a bit of money if I have to replace it?

Got to find the model first. I'm guessing its a RD 6600 so I could be wrong. Here is the spec sheet for the 6600 EV-RD-6600-2358A.pdf (shimano.com) You will see that there is both a long cage and a short cage. You can see the long cage is interchangeable with a RD-5600, RD-7800. The 5600 is a 105 version. So you will have to contact a bike shop that's a Shimano dealer. With the global parts shortage it might be cheaper to pick up a whole 105 derailleur.
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Old 03-11-21, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
Got to find the model first. I'm guessing its a RD 6600 so I could be wrong. Here is the spec sheet for the 6600 EV-RD-6600-2358A.pdf (shimano.com) You will see that there is both a long cage and a short cage. You can see the long cage is interchangeable with a RD-5600, RD-7800. The 5600 is a 105 version. So you will have to contact a bike shop that's a Shimano dealer. With the global parts shortage it might be cheaper to pick up a whole 105 derailleur.
So I think I'm just gonna replace the RD with a used 105 or Tiagra, but what I'm running into is that since this is a triple, I need a triple-specific GS derailleur, correct? Or would be able to get away with any Shimano long cage 9 speed RD?
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Old 03-11-21, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
So I think I'm just gonna replace the RD with a used 105 or Tiagra, but what I'm running into is that since this is a triple, I need a triple-specific GS derailleur, correct? Or would be able to get away with any Shimano long cage 9 speed RD?
A 'triple specific' RD is an SGS not a GS. A 'long' cage not a 'medium' cage. When triples were the thing the road derailleurs were SS and SGS, short and long. Now they are SS and GS...short and medium. Both SS and SGS had the same max cog size limit but the long cage wrapped the extra chain needed for a triple low gear.
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Old 03-11-21, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
A 'triple specific' RD is an SGS not a GS. A 'long' cage not a 'medium' cage. When triples were the thing the road derailleurs were SS and SGS, short and long. Now they are SS and GS...short and medium. Both SS and SGS had the same max cog size limit but the long cage wrapped the extra chain needed for a triple low gear.
Gotcha - so I ended up buying a used Tiagra 4400 - on the Shimano website it lists SS and GS as the two options with the GS being the one with 27 gear capacity - so I should be fine, correct?
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Old 03-12-21, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
Gotcha - so I ended up buying a used Tiagra 4400 - on the Shimano website it lists SS and GS as the two options with the GS being the one with 27 gear capacity - so I should be fine, correct?
Is the 27 gear capacity referring to the largest cassette sprocket?

Two specs you have to match:
One is the largest sprocket that the derailleur can handle, 27 in this case? Can often fudge +1 or 2 teeth on this one. This will be the same regardless of whether the RD is short, medium or long cage.

Second is the wrap capacity. This is what changes with the length of the cage. It is = (largest chain wheel - smallest chainwheel) + (largest sprocket - smallest sprocket).

My guess without looking is that the Shimano RD made for their road triples is designed for a max of 52-30 (often 50-30) in the front and maybe 27 or 28 -11 in the back. so a wrap of a maximum of around 38 or 39 is spec'd? Again, you might be able to fudge that a tooth or two with careful chain length.

If you want to use a larger rear sprocket for lower gearing, like a mountain bike cassette, you can use an 8 or 9 speed Shimano mountain bike RD with those 9 or 10 speed road shifters.

PS when you use that alignment gauge, go easy bending it back into place if you need to. It's easy to break a replaceable hanger and often not that easy to find one for an old bike.

Last edited by Camilo; 03-12-21 at 01:18 AM.
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