Help on adjusting SRAM derailleurs?


New Member
Nov 30, 2012
I'm a Shimano guy. I know Shiman equipment pretty well. If the rear derailleru is reluctant to shift to a bigger cog, I screw the barrel out a bit. If it is reluctant to drop down ot a smaller cog, I screw the barrel in a bit. If it's making noise, I look from the back and try and see if the idler wheel is centered over the cog and adjust the barrel till it is.. Aparently SRAM doesn't work this way. I installed a new derailleur and snuged up the cable and when I tried to shift to a bigger cog, it wouldn't catch. It would jump back down several cogs. I took it to the shop to let someone that knows what they are doing adjust it and he said the cable wasn't tight enough, that the pawl wouldn't catch if the cable wasn't pretty tight. If you did this with Shimano, it wouldn't shift down to smaller cogs and the idler wheel wouldn't be centered over the cog. What's going on here and if the shifter starts refusing to catch again, do I just screw the barrel out more or what?
Originally Posted by Randyforriding .

... What's going on here and if the shifter starts refusing to catch again, do I just screw the barrel out more or what?
Yeah, that's pretty much it.

I switched from many years on Shimano brifters to SRAM Force and Rival a few seasons ago. It took a bit to get used to the subtle adjustment differences but overall I'm much happier with the wa SRAM shifts in the back.

In terms of adjustments I do the following:

- Make sure the derailleur hanger is aligned properly in both planes, this is a bigger recurring issue on the cross bike with the abuse that it takes but the road bike has been knocked a bit out of alignment at least once when it fell over while leaning against a wall and that really screws up the shifting.

- Check the limit screws before attaching the cable by turning the crank and applying pressure with your thumb to the parallelogram body

- Run the barrel adjuster all but half a turn in and snug the cable down tightly but not enough to move the parallelogram body and tighten the retaining bolt.

- Run through the cogs and usually I have to take a bit more tension out of the cable to get clean upshifts, I'll also pull steady but hard on the exposed cable run at least once and recheck that there's no excess slack in the smallest cog which often means another half turn to turn on the barrel adjuster.

- With SRAM I know I've got it dialed when either single or double up-cassette shifts (to a larger easier cog) followed by single down-cassette shifts (to a harder cog) work well. IOW, I'll walk up the cogs all the way to the largest cog in extra long throw movements that jumps two cogs at a time to make sure I can get up to the largest cog and each double upshift should be clean right onto the cog. It often takes an additional tweak on the barrel adjuster to get this right. Then I walk down three single shifts (each should be clean) and go back up a double and so on down to the smallest cog. That sequence makes it real clear if I have the right cable tension and when it's dialed the chain drops neatly down one cog per short push, two cogs up per extra long push and then it also works clean for the single long push up-cassette shifts.

That last step probably sounds a bit strange but with SRAM it seems the best way to totally dial in the action. I've had it seem decent for single up or down cassette shifts but end up between gears and rattling for the extra long double throw up-cassette shifts so testing that tends to flush out any remaining cable tension issues.

That's what I've found works for me and over time it seems to stay dialed in better than even my older DuraAce 7800 that seemed to need attention much too often though it worked great when it was dialed in perfectly.

OK. That doesn't sound too complicated. Hopefully they won't need readjusting for a while. If the doubletap works the way it's supposed to, it does sound like a better system. My 6700 Ultegra works virtually flawlessly except that the two levers are so close together I sometimes end up pushing on both levers at once. This is especially problamatic with winter cycling gloves and mitts. Originally the bike came with a short cage Force rear derailleur and a Rival front. I was pushing the limits of the rear derailleur (I live in Colorado) and I had to change to the smallest cog to remove the rear wheel. The front derailleur didn't work well with my Rotor Q-rings. So I switched to a Force WiFli medium cage rear deraileur and a Red Yaw front derailleur. Should be a good setup.