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My 86' Raleigh 10 speed with friction shifters insists on not holding the lowest gear. If I hold it in the low gear, it will stay but the moment I remove my hand, it goes back up. I'm assuming it is a bent derailleur because it theoretically shouldn't resist a gear that much... I have fiddled with all the adjustors, but nothing is changing the problem.

  • Bent derailleur seems likely. I have had this problem before, but was able to solve it by fiddling with the limit screws. Could also be a bent sprocket? – renesis Oct 1 '15 at 21:32
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    Did you increase the friction in the shifter? Did you check that you're not too hard against the limit screw? – Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 '15 at 21:45
  • As the others have said, plus it also might be excess cable, or possibly a cable housing has fractionally collapsed. Either way too much slack in the wire won't pull on it quite hard enough to pull the derailereureurueruer overto the big cogs. Are you handty with a 10mm spanner ? If so try pulling ~2 mm of wire further through the clamp on the derailer. – Criggie Oct 1 '15 at 22:18
  • What do you mean by "hold it in the low gear"? Do you hold the shifter while riding, or you hold the derailleur while the bike is on a stand? If it's about shifter, then see Daniel's suggest. If it's about holding the deraiileur, then it should be the L limitation screw. About the derailleur's bending, you can pretty easily see it: the derailleur's cogs must be strait under the cassette's cog, therefor the chain is going strait. If you aren't sure about it, just post a picture of the wheel and derailleur from behind of the bike. – Alexander Oct 2 '15 at 10:33
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It may not be a bent derailleur, but a bent derailleur hanger. You can buy the park tool derailleur alignment gauge and bend it back to shape or have a shop do it for you.

After that I would check the cable tension, disconnect the rear derailleur cable and make sure that the chain stays on the smallest cog to start and then slowly the tension appropriately to make sure it shifts in to all gears properly.

Also, check to make sure you don't have a loose bolt on your friction shifter that is allowing too much play in the lever, which may let it slide out of the desired position.

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