I have mountain bike which is around 1.5 years old. When I bought it, I used it without any hassles and all was fine. But one day I overshifted the friction shifter and the shifter was bent. Now it won't shift to chain levels. I knew that friction was of no use and I didn't look into this matter. A year passed, and now I am wondering about that issue because one of my friend bought a new cycle and he shows me, and I get burned up.

The main issue is that when I brought the cycle I didn't knew so much about gears. And when I shift gears to the 6th gear, it won't shift at all. I have a 18 speed bike, and out of them I can only use 15 gears. When I shift to 1st gear, one gear remains to be shifted. This was the problem since I bought the bike. But now I am jealous of my friend. And, my friction shifter is out of order. It is bent and not properly adjusted. When I shift to 1st gear the chain falls down, and the shifter rubs with the chain. So I can only shift between 5-2 gears. Please help me, I am not so expert in gears.

  • The best is to get it to LBS to adjust the gears. Your derailleur may be bent (probably can be unbent in the shop). You may need new gear cable, you can also replace the shifter with other design friction shifter.
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 14:09
  • For N x M kind of derailer gear, you can only use n-2 gear safely. For 18 speed, there is only 16 gear usable.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 16:46
  • It simply needs adjustment. Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 1:15
  • 2
    I haven't seen friction shifters on a mountain bike as stock factory equipment since 1980-something.
    – Kaz
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 6:29
  • 1
    Any bike bought new will need to have the shifters adjusted after several months of use. In particular, the cables stretch, and so the settings need to be tightened up a tad to compensate. Look for a web site that explains derailer adjustment. The Park Tool website is an excellent resource for this sort of thing. Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


A bike 18 months old is very unlikely to have a friction shifter. Did you mean its an older bike that you bought 18 months ago?

Raise the bike off the ground, either in a stand or hang it from a tree branch or rafters by rope. Then slowly pedal with your hand while pulling on the inner gear wire whereever you can get to it (front downtube is normal)

You should see the Rear Derailleur move through its whole arc of motion and the gear change should happen. This would isolate the problem to your shifter's mechanism.

If the gear change doesn't happen, the problem is at the back.

Consider posting some photos once you've had a closer look.

  • I mean to say the front derailleur . It looks like it has been bent . I will post some pictures soon .
    – Guest
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 9:56
  • 1
    @Guest - It's probably not bent. Front derailers always look a little wonky. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 11:48

If you have a bent front derailleur, there are two ways to fix it:

  1. Remove it and ensure it is the correct shape by bending it back.

  2. Fit a new derailleur of the same type.

The problem with the cheaper option 1 is that front derailleurs are not "straight" as such, but have a particular shape they are supposed to have. Unless you have another one to compare it with and and are skilled with tools, option 2 is often best. New front derailleurs are not expensive.

You can either get a shop to fit a new derailleur or use an online guide such as Park Tool's.

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