Ask a Mechanic | How to Adjust Campagnolo Front Derailleurs

Question: Can you do a video on how to adjust Campy front derailleurs? From: Carlos

Answer: No problem Carlos. The foundation that every good front derailleur tune is built on is correct derailleur alignment. So, you need to start by setting the position of the front derailleur. With the derailleur shifted into the small chainring, you want the outboard edge of the derailleur cage to sit 1.5-3mm above the top of the teeth on the large chainring. I like to err on the low side of the range to help with chain retention. The outboard edge of the cage also needs to be set parallel with the large chainring. Once you have the derailleur positioned where it should be, tighten the front derailleur mounting bolt down to 7 newton meters.

With the position set we can move on to the limits and cable tension adjustment. I like to work my way from the inside to the outside of the adjustments. That means setting the low limit, followed by the cable tension, and then the outer limit.

Set the low limit by first shifting the rear derailleur into the largest cog. Now adjust the low limit screw, the one closest to the frame, so that the inside edge of the derailleur cage is as close to the chain as possible without rubbing. Ideally that means you’ll just have half a millimeter of clearance between the chain and the derailleur cage. Turning the limit screw clockwise will move the derailleur outboard while turning it counter clockwise will allow it to move inboard.

Front derailleur tuning

It should only take 3 clicks of the shift lever to push the chain up to the big ring.

Now we can set our cable tension. With proper cable tension you should be able to shift from the small ring to the big ring with just three clicks of the shifter. To get this set, loosen the cable anchor and then turn your cable barrel adjuster, if you have one, to roughly 10-15% of its range to leave plenty of room to dial in the adjustment after you anchor the cable.

Release all of the cable by pulling on the cable while pushing down on the hood-mounted paddle repeatedly until the shifter no longer reels out cable. Pull the cable tight and anchor it by tightening down the anchor bolt to 5 newton meters. Shift your rear derailleur into 7th gear and perform some test shifts to see if you can execute a clean front shift with just three clicks of the shifter.

If it takes 4 clicks, use your barrel adjuster to tighten the cable. If you don’t have a barrel adjuster, you’ll need to release the cable anchor and pull the cable tighter before re-anchoring. If the derailleur executes the shift in two clicks, then your cable is too tight. Again, use the barrel adjuster to dial this in or adjust the cable tension at the cable anchor to release some of the cable tension.

With cable tension set we can now adjust our high limit. Shift the rear derailleur into the smallest cog and then adjust the limit screw so that the outer plate on the derailleur cage gets as close to the chain without rubbing. Turning the limit screw clockwise will move the derailleur inboard while turning it counter clockwise will allow it to move outboard.

Perform some test shifts to make sure that the chain makes it up onto the big ring and down to the small ring without falling off on either side. Use your limit screws to fine tune this. If you can’t get the chain to stop falling off of the rings without the chain rubbing on the derailleur cage, you’ve probably made an error on your derailleur positioning and you’ll need to start over from the beginning.

Welcome to our Ask a Mechanic column where our expert mechanics Daniel Slusser and Greg O’Keeffe answer your bike maintenance questions. If you have a question for us, please post it on the Art’s Cyclery Facebook Wall or e-mail Daniel directly at daniel.slusser@artscyclery.com. To see more great how to videos click on the highlighted link to subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay up to date on each episode of the Art’s Cyclery/VeloNews Ask a Mechanic Series.

2015-12-16T16:28:06-08:00