I'm building up a 2015 Salsa Colossal Ti with a full Ultegra 6800 groupset (though with the RS685 hydraulic shifters). I'm having an issue setting up the front derailleur. I've followed all the various tutorials online, but whatever I do, I can't seem to get the cable tension right. Too little tension and I can't get the derailleur to hit the high limit screw. But when I add the necessary tension, then the derailleur won't hit the low limit screw. I either have chain rub in the 50/11 or in the 34/32.

I even have the little plastic tool that tells you whether the converter should be on or off (off in my case). Out of desperation, I've tried the other converter setting, but no luck.

The factory built bike from Salsa comes with the same Ultegra components (apart from the RS685 shifters), so I know I should be able to get this to work. Am I making some rookie mistake?

  • Is there no micro barrel adjustment on those shift cables? Are you adjusting the cable by simply tightening the derailleur clamp in different cable locations? I would imagine it is touchy so as to be just almost perfect and hard to do without the ability to make a micro adjustment. I personally do not yet have experience on those newer hydraulic models though. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:19
  • Yes, I have a barrel shifter on the the frame. I can fine tune the tension. My problem is that it's either too low to hit the high limit or too high to hit the low limit. Feel like I must be doing something totally wrong.
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


The rotational position and height not being exactly right would cause this. Shimano now has a more specific procedure then in the past to establish them, which you can see starting on page 5 of the dealer manual.

If following the procedure in their manual to a T doesn't work, the other thing you may be looking at is a situation such as Lennard Zinn describes in his column on 11-speed Shimano road FD setup where the cable anchor has to be set in an unorthodox position going over the top of the bolt. The dealer manual demonstrates this as a thing you're not supposed to do on the page 14, the two graphics on the right hand side of the chart. It may be worth a try.

As is pointed out further down in that column, problems with these derailers almost always revolve around not having enough cable tension. All aspects of the setup have little if any margin for error and they need as much cable tension as possible. They also need the low limit screw set super close. That 0-0.5mm inner cage clearance number on page 15 of the manual is one that's been around for a while and used to be more or less unrealistic, but they mean business now. It has to be all but touching, and it will work better if it's almost kinda sorta touching (the "0" end of the range). Usually it's the case that if you set it up in the stand for the chain to just barely touch the cage sometimes in the low gear, it won't rub when you're actually climbing because the chain is under so much more tension.

  • I do have the dealer manual and I feel like I've followed all the suggestions. I even have the chain "kinda sorta touching" like you said. My issue seems to be that with high tension, there's not enough spring tension to pull the derailleur back to the low limit screw. I checked out the Lennard Zinn article. I'm a little lost in the technical detail at the end, but I'll definitely try the different cable mounting option.
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 14:17
  • Just to double check, you're familiar with the trim stops on the shifter? I think it has one for each ring. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:23
  • Yes, I know about the trim stops and they seem to function correctly. I believe I'm clicking all the way up or all the way down. First time setting up Shimano though. I'm used to SRAM.
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:15
  • So you say you seem to be short on derailer spring tension and the derailer isn't returning to the low position. If you downshift, see it's not returning all the way, and then shove it over the rest of the way with your hands, does it stay? Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:36
  • If I shove it over the rest of the way and then let go, then it doesn't stay. It moves back to it's original position. If I release some tension then it will hit the stop and stay, but then I have problems on the other end.
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 2:15

Hi did you resolve this? I had the same problem while building a bike with ultegra 6800. I found the following resolved my problem, and was detailed in the shimano manual:

-set converter to 'off'.

-attach the cable while setting the derailleur height I.e set the height over the largest chainring as detailed in the manual and only then attach the cable.

The above gave me the right tension and allowed me to reach the high and low limits.initially I just attached the cable while the derailleur was over the largest chainring which made a big improvement but it was still not perfect. I then set the converter to 'off' which made it perfect.

  • 1
    I was never able to resolve the problem with the 6800 derailleur. I ended up buying the new Dura Ace R9100 and it works perfectly. Got it right the first time and I haven't had to touch it since. I highly recommend it. I believe the new Ultegra level R8000 has the same design. It has the added benefit or much better tire clearance.
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 13:59

Is the front derailleur on straight and at the right height? Set the limits all the way out and check again with the bike on a stand. If that doesn't work, then while leaving the limits all the way out, take off the chain, and look closely to see how far the derailleur moves compared to the crankset gap. If its about the same then your problem is NOT solved. But if they are clearly different, then you know the problem is in how much the shifters are moving the derailleur.

You're probably thinking "impossible"! But the last 9 speed MTB rear derailleur I bought turned out to have that problem. Finally, I found that if I put the cable on the other side of the screw, where there was no groove and it clearly wasn't intended to go, it worked perfectly because that changed the pull ratio just right. I never figured out why it was like that, but I am guessing that either it was dual 9 speed/10 speed, with 9 speed relegated to poor side of the screw and no explanation, or I got a wrongly labeled product. Having got it to work, I kept it, and it's still going strong after several months.

You never know.

  • I don't understand what you mean by "see how far the derailleur moves compared to the crankset gap". If my crankset gap is 2mm, what am I looking for as I shift up and down?
    – Ben Mills
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 14:20

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