Provided by Lifesport Ltd.
411 Pembina Highway www.lifesportshops.com

Many view the proper set up or repair of a bicycle as a very complex and timely task. The truth is that with the right information, applied the right way most tasks can be performed quickly and with ease. This guide is not intended to give an in-depth view of all aspects of cycling repair. Rather, with the help of this manual you should be able to properly set up your bicycle for longer rides, increase its efficiency, and accomplish basic repair tasks with few tools. I sincerely hope you enjoy this manual and that it will aid in your understanding of both the sport of cycling and bicycle repair. Regards, Sebastian Jozwiak

The most common part that requires adjustment. Located on the rear of your bicycle, this component is responsible for physically moving the chain from one cog to another, thereby shifting gears. It’s symptoms are common, easy to fix, and adjustment results in crisp, precise shifts.

• Poor shifting on the rear shifter • “Clicking” noises are audible • Chain may get lost (shift off the cassette) between the cassette and the frame, or the cassette and the spokes

• Adjust “limit screws" (Fig. 1a). • Secondly, the tension of the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur should be adjusted (Fig. 1b). • Lastly, make sure that the derailleur is tight to the dropout by tightening the bolt as in Fig. 1d.


FIGURE 1A: THE LIMIT SCREWS There will be two screws here, marked H and L. The H screw controls the action of the derailleur at the smaller cogs, while the L controls it at the larger ones. To properly adjust, shift to the smallest cog and release all tension in the blot in Fig. 1c, and let the derailleur collapse. Tighten the H screw until the center of the wheels are aligned with the center of the smallest cog. Tighten the bolt in figure 1c to clamp the cable, and shift to the large cog. Adjust the L screw until the farthest the derailleur will move is that large cog. In this way, the derailleur will never shift the chain off the cassette, as it is now physically limited to that range, regardless of cable tension.

FIGURE 1B: THE BARREL ADJUSTER The barrel adjuster is used to adjust the tension in the cable that moves the rear derailleur. To properly set up the rear derailleur, shift to the highest (smallest) gear, making sure the adjuster is not fully tightened or loosened. Now pull the cable through through Fig. 1c with moderate tension and tighten as in Fig. 1c, clamping the cable. Now, while pedaling the bicycle, shift ONE up on your shifter (from “8” to “7”, say). The chain will probably not make a perfect shift, requiring you to turn the adjuster. While turning the pedals, if the derailleur is not shifting up the cassette, turn the adjuster CCW. If there is too much cable being pulled, i.e. the chain is moving up TWO cogs, turn the adjuster CW. Repeat this process until smooth shifting is achieved.


Operating very similarly to the rear derailleur, the front derailleur shifts the chain up and down various chainrings at the crank set. It important to remember during front derailleur setup that not all gears are intended for all chain rings. Take the “triple” as pictured to the right. Once properly set up, this derailleur will not rub so long as an appropriate gear on the back is chosen. If riding on the inside chainring, restrict yourself to only riding on the largest cogs of the cassette. If riding on the middle chainring, restrict yourself to only riding in the middle third of the cassette, and if riding on the large chainring, ride only the middle third to the outer third of the cassette. Once proper gear selection is achieved, there will be minimal chain rub.

• Chain won’t shift between chain rings • Chain falls off either the inside or outside of the crank set • Chain rubs on inside of the derailleur cage

• Adjust limit screws (Fig. 2a) • Adjust tension in cable (Fig. 2b) • Adjust height and angle of derailleur (Fig. 2c)

FIGURE 2B: TENSION After having shifted onto the small chainring, pull the cable so that it is tight, and tighten the bolt as indicated in the figure. You may also use the barrel adjust to fine-tune this tension, to ensure proper shifts. Once tightened, shift from the inside ring to the middle ring. If the chain isn’t coming onto the middle ring, turn the barrel adjuster CCW, to increase the tension in the cable, pulling the chain over more. If the chain is pulling over too much, tighten the barrel adjuster.

FIGURE 2A: LIMIT SCREWS Very similar in operation to the rear derailleur limit screws, these physically restrict the overall motion of the derailleur, regardless of cable tension. One screw will adjust the inside motion, while the other will adjust the outer. There is wide variation as to which controls which, so a simply turning one will let you know what yours does. Release all cable tension by loosening the bolt in Fig. 2b, and adjust the inside bolt so that the derailleur is just in line with the chain. Reconnect the cable, and shift onto the large chainring and small cog. Tighten the limit screw such that you cannot shift the derailleur cage over the large chainring. This will restrict the chain from falling off the inside and outside of the chainrings.

FIGURE 2C: HEIGHT AND ANGLE Adjust the height of the derailleur such that when shifted onto the large chainring, there is 1-3mm of clearance from the cage to the ring. The angle of the derailleur should be parallel with the chainrings. You can adjust the height and angle by loosening the bolt indicated above and simply sliding it up and down the seat tube. Remember: When adjusting height, the tension (Fig. 2b) must be re-adjusted.

Proper adjustment of the saddle not only provides better support and increased comfort, it also maximizes your stroke. This increases your overall efficiency, allowing you to go faster with no increase in overall effort. There are three key points to saddle adjustment: height, angle, and fore/aft position. While all of these elements are important for a successful bike fit, one should pay

particular attention to height. Far too many individuals ride with their saddles too low or too high. This causes unneeded movement and leads to an inefficient pedaling action.

FIGURE 3A HEIGHT Proper saddle height occurs when your leg is at the bottom of the stroke and your leg is almost fully extended. The knee should not lock, nor should your hips have to rock over to one side to fully depress the pedal. There should be a natural bend in your knee, just as if you were standing. There is some variation to this measurement; some people prefer to be slightly higher, others lower. This variation is on the order of millimeters, never as large as centimeters and there is a generally accepted “correct” saddle height. Adjust the saddle height by loosening the bolt in Fig. 3a. Your bicycle may be equipped with a “quick release” lever, allowing you to loosen this clamp without the need for any tools. This will allow you to slide the seat post up and down. ANGLE The angle of the saddle should be almost parallel with the ground. Again, as with saddle height, there is some subtle variation (1 - 2 degrees), but it is never extreme. In Fig. 3b, we see the progression of a saddle that (a) has a positive slope, (b) has a negative slope and finally (c) the correct angle. If the rise is too steep, this will cause numbness and discomfort, especially on longer distance rides. A negative slope will result in the rider constantly slipping forward, forcing more pressure on the palms and increased neck and back pain. This is uncomfortable and is to be avoided. A saddle that is almost parallel to the ground is ideal, as it supports the weight of the rider without causing numbness or putting excess pressure on the hands. Adjust the angle by loosening the bolt(s) as in Fig. 3c, and simply knock the saddle either up or down. Re-tighten the bolt to the correct torque. FORE / AFT POSITION The fore / aft position refers to how far the saddle is in relation to the seat post clamp. Generally speaking, with the crank arms in line with the chainstays the virtual line projected vertically from just under your kneecap should bisect the pedal axle. While this measurement is an important consideration, it is also suggested to have the handlebars obscure the front hub from your line of sight when in a riding position. Generally this can be accomplished by changing stem length or angle. Commonly for the recreational rider, changing the fore / aft saddle position is not only easier, it also yields a better rider feel and more pleasing result.



Proper headset adjustment is necessary to ensure a responsive ride.

• “loose” feeling handlebars • Jarring feeling when going over bumps • Undesirable play in front end

• Check for play in headset (Fig. 4a), then; • If there is play: • Loosen stem bolts (Fig. 4b) • Tighten bolt in Fig. 4c • Tighten stem bolts • Check for play once more to ensure proper adjustment • If there is no play, nor is it too tight: • You don’t have a loose or misadjusted headset! • If there is no play, but headset is tight: • Loosen stem bolts (Fig. 4b) • Loosen bolt in Fig. 4c • Tighten stem bolts • Check to make sure the headset isn’t too loose (Fig. 4a).

FIGURE 4C Adjust the headset by tightening or loosening this bolt

DON’T OVER TIGHTEN! In a properly adjusted headset, there will be no play (as in Fig. 4a), nor will the headset be too tight. While having no play, a headset that is too tight will not allow the bars to swing freely from side to side. If there is too much friction, this will also increase bearing wear and the headset should be loosened.

FIGURE 4A: CHECK FOR PLAY While applying the front brake with one hand, hold the headset as in the image above with the other hand. Gently rock the bicycle back and forth. If there is noticeable movement between the frame and the steer tube, your headset needs adjustment. This movement is fairly obvious and should be easy to feel. If you’re struggling to feel anything, chances are your headset isn’t too loose.

FIGURE 4B: STEM BOLTS There are commonly one or two bolts securing the stem to the steer tube. They can be readily tightened or loosened with a multi tool.

Brake adjustment involves proper tension of the brake cable and brake pad angle. Nearly all brake fixes are quick and simple and can be readily made with an ordinary multi tool. This guide pertains to “v brake” styles, although the techniques and overall ideas are applicable to road brake systems as well. If your bicycle is equipped with disc brakes, please consult the manufacturer’s website for technical information.

• “loose” feeling in brakes • Poor braking performance • Wheel constantly rubs on brake pad AN OPENED (DISENGAGED) BRAKE

• Check cable tension and adjust by releasing the bolt holding the cable taut on the caliper, pulling the cable tighter, and reretightening the bolt. This should be done when the brake is engaged to more accurately judge the correction tension. • Check brake pads for excessive wear • If wear exists, replace pads. • Check brake pad angle (Fig. 5a). • Adjust tension screws on calipers (Fig. 5b).

FIGURE 5A: ANGLE ADJUSTMENT The angle of the brake pads can be easily adjusted by loosening the bolt as depicted in the figure above. Ideally, the brake pads should be parallel to the rim, and contact in the middle of the braking surface. DISENGAGING THE BRAKE To open the brake calipers to allow the tire to pass through, simply move the rubber piece over and wiggle the metal stop out, as pictured above. This allows the brakes to open and give enough clearance to remove the wheel. To reengage the brake, simply do this operation in reverse.

FIGURE 5B: TENSION SCREWS You can use the small screws to pull the calipers to the left or right. If one pad is contacting the rim before the other is, simply adjust these screws. Tightening the screw will pull that pad further from the rim. Likewise, loosening it will move it closer to the rim.

While this guide has been constructed with the best intentions in mind, an improperly adjusted bicycle not only endangers the rider, but those around them as well. Please, before you set out ensure that all bolts have been properly tightened, quick releases tightened, and brakes engaged. Neglecting to do so needlessly endangers all those involved.

conditions, and your cadence may fall into the range of 86-95 rpm. Once you get the feel for riding the correct cadence, it is the important to achieve this gear in the correct fashion. Riding "extreme" gear combinations can bend the chain at bad angles, reducing chain life and performance. By "extreme" we mean the small chain ring and the smallest cog at the back, or the large ring on the front and the largest cog at the back. You'll probably get a significant amount of chain rub on your front derailleur if you ride in these gear combinations. Riding the correct gear in the correct fashion does not only improve your bicycle's performance, but not mashing huge gears can greatly increase your endurance and reduce fatigue. There are instances where riding larger gears are useful for training techniques or certain other applications, however these are very specific applications and do not apply as an overall rule. TIP #3: MAINTENANCE Much like having the correct tools for the job, keeping those tools in good working order will make your riding far more enjoyable. Many people may not recognize the importance of maintenance or see how it can 'instantly' benefit you. The reality is riding with tires that are low on air or having shifters that are improperly adjusted or riding with an old chain does affect how well (and how fast) you can ride. Special attention should be paid to tire pressure. While it doesn't sound like a large difference, not pumping up your tires from 75 psi to 110 psi will greatly reduce how efficiently your bicycle rolls and really slows you down. Things like improperly adjusted derailleurs and rusty or worn out chains affects your smoothness of shifting and can mentally throw you off when the going gets really tough. The last thing anybody wants to deal with when they're having a tough time on a ride is to deal with a shifter that won't stay in gear!

TIP #1: RIDE WITH THE RIGHT STUFF Now that your bicycle is properly tuned and ready to roll, be sure that you are ready for the journey. Proper gear is as essential to enjoying a ride as having a bike in working condition. No matter what your goals in cycling are; winning bike races, beating the rest of your cycling group up the large hill, or just pleasure riding, having the right tools for the job ensure that you are not limited by your equipment. For general road riding, this equipment includes some, if not all, of the following: • • • • • • • • Cycling shoes with a clipless system Cycling shorts / bibs Cycling jersey Cycling gloves Water bottles Cycling helmet Cyclometer (bike computer) Cycling glasses (or sunglasses)

Riding in a group is one of the best things you can do as a cyclist. Originally, try to find groups that are right around your skill level, and once you feel comfortable there, find a group the is slightly beyond your level. Riding with more advanced riders helps you gain knowledge and insights that you wouldn't otherwise think of. Often these things include where to ride, what gear to ride, when to sit and when to get out of the saddle, and overall technique. You don't necessarily have to join two groups to do the aforementioned strategt; lots of groups have 'fast' and 'slow' days, so simply find out when the 'slow' or 'relaxed' days are and join that group then. This way, when you're ready to ride at a faster level, you'll already have established a friendship with some riders and you'll be familiar of how they ride, moves they make, and how comfortable you are with them, which makes a faster ride much safer. Lifesport is such a club, offering 'faster' and 'slower' rides with a relaxed, highly social atmosphere. Visit us at www.lifesportshops.com for more details!

This is a short list and does not include more expensive equipment such as upgrading your wheelset or the like. However, each one of these items contributes to how you feel about cycling and the kind of experience you have. You wouldn't go out and run a marathon after only having trained for 5K, would you? Then why would you go out on a road bike totally unprepared! You're going to have a bad experience! Things such as cycling shoes, jersey, shorts, and gloves are essentials every cyclist should have.  

TIP #2: RIDE THE CORRECT GEAR! Very often, people choose the incorrect gear while riding. Yes, your cadence can and will vary, however there is an accepted range that is deemed correct. Usually, for normal cruising on the flats, 90 rpm is the golden number. This, of course, depends on your riding style and

Lifesport Ltd.
This guide is provided free of charge and all instructions and methodologies are to be used at the rider’s risk. Lifesport Ltd. assumes no responsibility for any damages or personal injury incurred from adjustment described in this guide. If you are unsure about any adjustment to be made, please see a qualified bicycle mechanic.

Happy Riding,

Lifesport Ltd.

1 (204) 475-2352 info@lifesportshops.com 411 Pembina Highway Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L2E6