I had an issue where every time I put my bike in gear 3, it would just keep "skipping". By this I mean that it wouldn't stay in gear 3; the chain would go onto it, then fall onto gear 4, then go back onto it, then back on 4.

Some Googling showed me that I might need to adjust the rear derailleur. So I set about doing this today by first putting my bike onto the biggest cog and adjusting it so the derailleur was in line with the cog. Then I shifted it down to the smallest one and did the same thing (I think I got a bit confused between this and changing the screws to line these two up with something).

Anyway, as luck would have it, this fixed the problem of the skipping however I now can't shift into gears one or two (the two biggest cogs). Like I literally can't flick down the gear lever to put it into these gears.

What could be the issue? I would love some advice.


  • It sounds like you have adjusted things, but not correctly. Set the limit screws first - you can just use your hand on the derailleur to do this, you don't need to faff around changing the gears. Once they're set, leave them alone and concentrate on the tension.
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 18:45
  • @PeteH Is it dangerous if the tension is too high? Or is it just a case of me not being able to go to those two gears...as I will just be using my bike for commuting, if it's not dangerous then I will focus on this again next weekend.
    – Kaish
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 22:50
  • If the chain is jumping, or coming off the cassette, you could say it is dangerous in that you could unexpectedly lose traction. If not, then as you say, you're just losing some gears.
    – PeteH
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 10:50

3 Answers 3


If you were able to shift into all of the gears prior to your adjustments then it would make sense that you need to readjust. It sound like you you have adjusted it too far outboard. I would take it in significantly so that when in 1st gear position on the shifter you are on the largest cog. From there you can make fine adjustments for shifting between gears.


There are several reasons for bad shifting to happen:
1. cable is rusted or dirty or bent inside the housing. - need cable replace
2. housing is damaged or low quality. - need to replace housing
3. different number of gears on the shifter and the cogs like @Chris wrote. (doesn't apply if you have 6-7-8 gears).
4. cassette is worn out. - need to replace cogs
5. chain stretched or not the right length.
6. derailleur is weak and shakes.- should replace it
7. derailleur or it's hanger is bent. - commonly hanger can be repaired. the derailleur is harder to repair.
8. axle is bent and the cassette is shakes.
9. cable and derailleur aren't adjusted properly as @PeTeH wrote. - you can find on youtube videos how to adjust it.

The most common are 1, 4, 7, 6.
The 3, 6, 7, 8 are easy to see - the derailleur must be in strait line with the cogs. You can also easily check for cable condition. Chain and housing sometimes need some expert to check. Cassette condition you probably will not identify, but in LBS they will easily tell you.

  • Your option 8 is interesting - I've had a wheel with a guaranteed straight axle, but the rear freewheel wobbled while the wheel coasted and the chain held the cogs still. Never figured out that one... I think the hub itself was bent.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 2:15
  • @Criggie I saw what you speak about on many very cheap new wheels. Not sure thou were it bad hubs or bad freewheels...
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 7:54

I had something similar happen, after hours of calibrating, I realized I was using a 7 speed shifter on a 5 speed cassette. This might not at all be the case for you, but if it is, it would be worth checking.

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