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Barrel adjusters or not?

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Barrel adjusters or not?

Old 03-07-11, 11:56 AM
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Miller2
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Barrel adjusters or not?

When I built my bike I installed in-line barrel adjusters. I've since been told by a mechanic that these are not a good idea as they can work themselves loose and mess up the shifting.

I'm going to change the cables shortly and want to know if I should leave them out this time. If I leave them out, how does one adjust the front derailleur...by the cable bolt? Obviously the rear derailleur has the adjuster in the rear.

If I use the barrel adjusters, whats the best way to set up the shifting? Do I leave the adjuster loose and pull up all the cable slack at the the bolt and tighten the adjuster as I fine tune, or tighten up the adjuster, take up all the slack at the bolt and loosen the adjuster as I fine tune the shifting?
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Old 03-07-11, 12:02 PM
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I'd leave the adjusters on. Without the adjusters, if your shifting is off just a touch, you have to get off the bike and futz with it. With the adjusters is a quick turn of the barrel and you're good.

I'd put the adjusters mid way through their range, then adjust the derailleur with the barrel on the derailuer until its hitting perfect, then you have room to adjust either way as your ride if you need to.

Given that cables stretch over time, you could favor the side of the in line barrel being loose to start.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:08 PM
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I agree with Merlin as above.

Today's modern drivetrains can get finicky and the ability to tweak the tension with a 1/4 or 1/2 turn of the barrel is very helpful....I have mine on the headtube so I can even play with them on the fly.

I don't understand why your mechanic would advise against them.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:29 PM
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Another vote for keeping them. Its nice to be able to keep riding while you make your shifting crisper.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I don't understand why your mechanic would advise against them.
For exactly the reasons that he stated. There are countless examples of in-line adjusters that slip, shred cables, etc and end up being a bigger PITA than adjusting your shifting before you ride or having to hop off your bike for a second to turn the barrel a click or two. IMHO invest in a quality drive train that doesn't need to be adjusted constantly or invest in some wrenching skills that will get your shifting ready to go before you get on the road.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Shuke View Post
For exactly the reasons that he stated. There are countless examples of in-line adjusters that slip, shred cables, etc and end up being a bigger PITA than adjusting your shifting before you ride or having to hop off your bike for a second to turn the barrel a click or two. IMHO invest in a quality drive train that doesn't need to be adjusted constantly or invest in some wrenching skills that will get your shifting ready to go before you get on the road.
Well I am no expert but my ultegra 6700 needs adjusting every few thousand miles and the in-line barrel adjusters are very helpful...not sure if this goes across other drivetrains, however.
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Old 03-07-11, 12:47 PM
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Never had a problem with them. I rarely even touch them but when they are needed the convenience of being able to adjust on the move far outweighs the slight risk of adding another point were things could go wrong.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:03 PM
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I always use barrel adjusters for my front deraileur that does not have a barrel adjuster built into it but for the rear I just utilize the built in adjuster.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:08 PM
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I wish I had them on my Red setup. I change cassettes quite often as my fitness and terrain of the ride dictates. I almost always have to adjust the RD. 1/2 way through my Saturday ride my chain started rubbing the next larger cog and I had to stop and adjust the RD at the RD. Of course I forgot which way to turn it and just made it worse. Didn't have time to fix it until the end of the ride.

Moral is, if you can get and use barrel adjusters, do it. GL
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Old 03-07-11, 01:13 PM
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I no longer have any on my bicycles - I didn't feel like having to cut and adjust my housing for mid-housing adjusters. I sometimes wish I did, to make little adjustments while riding, but it has never really been an issue.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kleinboogie View Post
I wish I had them on my Red setup. I change cassettes quite often as my fitness and terrain of the ride dictates. I almost always have to adjust the RD. 1/2 way through my Saturday ride my chain started rubbing the next larger cog and I had to stop and adjust the RD at the RD. Of course I forgot which way to turn it and just made it worse. Didn't have time to fix it until the end of the ride.

Moral is, if you can get and use barrel adjusters, do it. GL
Which raises the point of wheel changes in races. Get a different wheel, and cassette, and it's often enough to throw the shifting off just a touch. Having the inline adjustment is nice in that circumstance.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:24 PM
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Didn't even bother with with one when I put together my current bike.

if it's off then i rather do a quick tune up, it takes no time to do.

I never have to fiddle with the barrel adjuster on the road, didn't feel like introducing another thing to the system.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Miller2 View Post
When I built my bike I installed in-line barrel adjusters. I've since been told by a mechanic that these are not a good idea as they can work themselves loose and mess up the shifting.

I'm going to change the cables shortly and want to know if I should leave them out this time.
You'd know better than us if you've been having a problem with them. After all, only you've had experience with those particular adjsters on that bike. I don't understand why there is even a question.
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Old 03-07-11, 01:50 PM
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if no barrel adjuster on the front derailleur, how does one make adjustments to it?
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Old 03-07-11, 01:57 PM
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I would put them on. I have only put together a few bikes, including all new cables, but the intial stretching the cable and tightening the bolt to clamp the cable in place is the rough adjustment. The barrel adjusters are the fine tune mechanism to get the tension just right. After you have it just right via the barrel adjusters you really don't touch them again. If something gets a little out of wack down the road then you should be able to solve it with the barrel adjusters. Think about it this way. Barrel adjusters were invented for a reason and the reason is a sound one. Why else would everyone go thru the trouble and expense of putting them on.
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Old 03-07-11, 02:33 PM
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I also see no reason to get rid of adjusters. I've had them for many years on multiple bikes and I have yet to encounter problems with them. On the other hand, I have used them to quickly get things tuned perfectly after swapping a wheel. If you change a cable or RD, you may find that they're convenient for getting things adjust right really fast.
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Old 03-07-11, 02:39 PM
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I plan on keeping them...was just curious.
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Old 03-07-11, 02:44 PM
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I don't know how you could get a precise adjustment of the front w/o a barrel. However, they may tend to screw in of their own volition over time. I generally mark the front adjuster. I screw the rear adjuster all the way in and use the one on the rd.
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Old 03-07-11, 02:59 PM
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I had one adjuster that liked to adjust itself on bumpy roads. I removed the internal spring and stretched it out, which fixed it.
Adjusters can be useful in race situations like Merlin explained above.
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Old 03-07-11, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
Adjusters can be useful in race situations like Merlin explained above.
Or a commuting situation where you just don't want to pull over and jack with stuff. They've been handy for me. When I built my bike I had everything shifting smoothly on the stand and even on the first few rides. It didn't take long before I found myself tweaking and fine-tuning the tension. I guess a pro mechanic could probably get it right the first time, but I certainly didn't. I still have a spot in the middle of the cassette where it sometimes wont shift perfectly when I click once, but I'm getting there.

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Old 03-07-11, 03:17 PM
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Surprised no one's mentioned the weight saving by not having them. Nothing else to add that's not been said. I have never not had them. I rarely use them, but I am extra glad that I have them when I do.

Cables do stretch for any number of reasons; nice to be able to compensate on the fly.

I do think that inline adjusters WITH barrel adjusters is unnecessary overkill.
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Old 03-07-11, 03:25 PM
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In-line for the front and none on the rear works for me, as long as the cables and housings are in good shape. This is true for Shimano, but since SRAM uses more cable pull than Shimano, it's less sensitive to cable vagaries.
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Old 03-07-11, 05:55 PM
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Another vote for keep them, I have used them in the beginning and end of winter to compensate for the affect of temperature changes on the shifting, I think its quicker and easier than full adjustments when the temps change frequently.
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Old 03-07-11, 06:23 PM
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Imagine trying to adjust your brakes without them. Slightly different, as pads wear but you get my point.
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Old 03-07-11, 07:24 PM
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If you have barrel adjusters on the cable stops on your downtube, why bother with inline ones? I've never had a geared bike that didn't have them.

Last edited by clink83; 03-07-11 at 07:28 PM.
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