Ask a Mechanic: Adjusting Shifter Reach

Question: Can you show me how to adjust the reach on my shifters? From: Boaz 

Answer: No problem Boaz. Because you didn’t specify which shifter you are using, I’ll do a brief overview of Campy, Shimano, and SRAM.

Campagnolo 10 and 11-speed levers are adjusted by installing a shim between the bar and the lever body. This means that Campagnolo levers can only be adjusted away from the handlebar and in the fixed increment allowed by the shim. You will need to remove the levers from the bar to add the shim.

Older Shimano STI shifters use shims that attach to the underside of the brake hood where the lever bottoms out. They come in two different thicknesses to fit more riders. The shims fit into place like rubbery Lego bricks.

Newer Shimano STI mechanical shifters use an adjustment bolt that allows you to fine tune the reach on your levers. It is accessed by peeling back the front portion of the lever hood. Turn the screw in to bring the levers closer to the bar and back it out to move the lever further away.

On Shimano Di2 levers the adjustment screw faces forward and is housed in the base of the upturned horn toward the front of the lever body. Turning the screw clockwise moves the lever closer to the bar while turning it counter clockwise brings it further away.

SRAM shift and brake levers have independent reach adjustments. The reach on the brake lever is adjusted by peeling back the front portion of the lever hood to access an adjustment screw. Turning the screw in pushes the lever closer to the handlebar while turning the screw out allows the lever to move away from the bar. SRAM shift levers are adjusted by turning an adjustment cam where the shifter attaches to the lever body. The independent adjustment makes it possible to move the shifter closer to bar for improved access in the drops without having to sacrifice your braking setup.

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