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Front Derailleur 1 or 2, 2 or 3?

Old 04-29-23, 12:56 PM
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Front Derailleur 1 or 2, 2 or 3?

Just bought a Trek FX 7.2 Disc. Vintage is TBD as I bought it used and the seller couldn't tell me. Only issue is the front derailleur. When I bought it it would only go into the two lowest gears (smallest and medium). Okay fine. I was going to walk away but then the seller lowered it to a price I couldn't walk from so I got it. I had pretty much resigned myself to just paying the LBS to adjust because I don't have a bike stand. So just for yucks I thought I'd just back out the barrel adjuster. Now it will only go to gears 2 and 3 (middle and biggest). Shifts perfectly otherwise. No noise, chain doesn't fall off (thankfully). Also now the gear indicator reads 1 and "2" regardless I tried moving the chain the middle cog with the gear indicator at "2" and no dice. Clearly the front derailleur wants to be there. Anything else I can try? I don't want to play with the limit screws after watching the park tool video. I don't want the chain falling off as my neighborhood is hilly. Is there anything else to try?
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Old 04-29-23, 01:18 PM
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First thing I'd do is make certain that DR is for a 3x front. Look on the backsides of it and you should see a part number. Copy all of that or take a picture of it and maybe we'll know. As well you need to be certain the STI or shifter for the front DR is for 3x fronts. For Shimano, you can pull up the rubber hoods and the part number will be embossed on the body of it or if a shift lever, then it's probably on the underside. So just lift the front of the bike and look on the side that's facing the ground. And you do admit the indicator on the shifter only has 1 and 2.

I haven't had an indicator for gear position on any of my bikes for over 50 years. But I'd think a 3x crank with a 3x front DR should have 3 positions indicated if it has a indicator on the STI or shift lever.

edit... well actually I guess that last statement is no longer true. I have Di2 with d-fly. And the gear position of front and rear are indicated on one of the screens of my Garmin device.

Last edited by Iride01; 04-29-23 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 04-29-23, 01:21 PM
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it's not vintage... open youtube... search: "Front Derailleur Cable Adjustment".

Watch a few and learn that not all youtube videos are good videos. when you find a good vid on the subject (Park Tool Vids are typically good vids), follow it's instructions and report back.

it has thumb/finger operated Click Shifters, correct? from what you describe, it sounds like the the SHIFTER is not functioning correctly.. the light grease inside gets old and sticky causing the upshift pawls to not engage the cable spool well.... there are vids on how to clean and re-lube the shifters too. Use PB blaster, not WD-40, IMO. WD-40 tends to Turn into sticky goo fairly quickly.

Symptom of a "sticky shifter"... when you shift from 1st to 2nd, it does so fairly quickly in the lever swing... the next shift never happens aa the shifter fails to "click" and hold it's "3rd" place...... the Right Side (rear gears) Shifter will act similar, but you may get 3 or 4 gears before it refuses to click... each shift takes more and more lever travel to execute.

I striongly advise cleaning BOTH shifters at the same time.. they Both have the same age grease in them, typically.

if it's a twist grip shifter.. all bets are off. upgrade to click shifters.

Last edited by maddog34; 04-29-23 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 04-29-23, 01:52 PM
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Thanks for the info. The indicator has numbers 1 2 and 3. Sorry if that wasn't clear. This is for sure a stock bike. I did watch a few YouTube xvideos. I think I even mentioned watching specifically the park tool one. But I appreciate you guys trying to help.
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Old 04-29-23, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadWearier
Thanks for the info. The indicator has numbers 1 2 and 3. Sorry if that wasn't clear. This is for sure a stock bike. I did watch a few YouTube xvideos. I think I even mentioned watching specifically the park tool one. But I appreciate you guys trying to help.
i added the right side info for future readers of this thread... Sticky/stiff grease in shifters is a fairly common thing. I tore down and cleaned a headset last night that had me using a small screwdriver to CHIP OUT the hardened grease! it was THAT old... not one spot of rust in it,, just old grease... 35 year old grease.
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Old 04-29-23, 02:18 PM
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try locating a nearby Bicycle Co-op.. they'll be busy this time of year...

and to repeat... I strongly advise cleaning BOTH shifters at this time.. they Both have the same age grease in them, typically.

and those limit screws are nothing to fear... they rarely need moved unless the crankset gets swapped out or the derailleur gets bent, twisted, damaged, or replaced.... unfortunately, some folks feel that they are the answer to other issues... all they change is the stopping points of the derailleur movement, not the actual shifting.

the symptoms you list point to a sticky click shifter, not the derailleur or cable.

Last edited by maddog34; 04-29-23 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 04-29-23, 02:23 PM
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I agree with maddog that it’s probably the shifter. I would start by spraying some thin lube into the shifter to flush it out. You may or may not have to remove a plastic cover first, using a small Phillips head. Sometimes you can access the intervals right where the lever comes out of the shifter “body” without removing a cover.
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Old 04-29-23, 05:06 PM
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Ok guys I'll give it a look.
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Old 04-29-23, 05:36 PM
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ok here are two pictures with the cover off. I've squirted in wd-40. There is no grease to be seen. What next
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Old 04-29-23, 05:40 PM
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Actually I think I see the problem. I think the barrel adjuster is broken off.

Ugh
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Old 04-29-23, 05:48 PM
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cable looks good and not frayed, that's good. you might want to disconnect the cable from the FD. doing that would allow you to manually move the FD to see if it can do the full motion. you should be able to move the shifter too. yo may have to pull on the cable with it disconnected though. i am not a pro so this could be a can or worms but it is something that i would try to rule out one or the other.
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Old 04-29-23, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadWearier
Actually I think I see the problem. I think the barrel adjuster is broken off.

Ugh
good catch.
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Old 04-29-23, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
good catch.
Well now I'm not sure. There's another video on YouTube that shows that piece is separated on his bike too. I dunno. Time for the bike shop. Or just ride as is. I only paid $105 for the bike so....
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Old 04-29-23, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadWearier
Actually I think I see the problem. I think the barrel adjuster is broken off.

Ugh
I don't think it is broken off, looks like it is just fully screwed out, Needs to be screwed back in and then reset the cable anchor bolt after insuring that the limit screw is properly set for the low gear (smallest) on the crank.
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Old 04-30-23, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeTBM
I don't think it is broken off, looks like it is just fully screwed out, Needs to be screwed back in and then reset the cable anchor bolt after insuring that the limit screw is properly set for the low gear (smallest) on the crank.
Well I will screw it back in then. I'm not 100% sure it's a limit screws issue though as the gear changing mechanism on the handlebars will only "click" once
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Old 04-30-23, 07:03 AM
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Remove the cable from the derailleur. With hand tension on the cable, try shifting up and down. If oil soaking doesn't get you two clicks, you'll have to get a dental pick in there, locate the spring-loaded pawls, and work them back and forth until they're loose. A few drops of good penetrating oil will work better than WD-40 for this task.

While the cable's loose, try sliding the housings on the cable. Check for fraying and kinking. Clean the cable with steel wool, lubricate it.
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Old 05-01-23, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
Remove the cable from the derailleur. With hand tension on the cable, try shifting up and down. If oil soaking doesn't get you two clicks, you'll have to get a dental pick in there, locate the spring-loaded pawls, and work them back and forth until they're loose. A few drops of good penetrating oil will work better than WD-40 for this task.

While the cable's loose, try sliding the housings on the cable. Check for fraying and kinking. Clean the cable with steel wool, lubricate it.
RoadWearier We also blow out the housing with compressor to remove debris and crud.

Here is your picture with the pawl (red arrow) that gets gummed up typically that andrewclaus talked about above.




We find that PB Blaster and also 3-in-1 penetrating oil work really well on these gummed up controls

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Old 05-01-23, 11:45 AM
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Thanks so much. I was embarrassed to ask where the "prawl" was. I found this bike sluggish AF just on my short ride and I found a buyer for it. I'm now looking for something else.
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Old 05-01-23, 03:12 PM
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Triple shifter front derailleurs require a specific set up procedure for proper indexing. If you are only getting 2 out of 3 gears, then most likely the cable set up is not right. Usually to set up a Shimano indexed triple shifter you have your shifter in position "1" with the cable slack. When you tighten the cable, your front derailleur cage should be midway between the small and middle chainrings or ~ 5 mm from the small chainring. You then test by clicking for position 2 and 3.
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