I recently bought a Tandem from the 90's and now trying to adjust the derailleurs. But, no matter what I do, I don't manage to properly set up the 3-way front derailleur. It either

  • properly shifts from lowest to 2nd or
  • properly shifts from 2nd to highest.

I noticed that the crank and chainwheels don't seem to fit to the rest. The front/rear rear-derailleur and the captain crankset are a black and Shimano Deore LX FC-M563 to my best guess, while the stroker crankset is silver and some "Shimano" which I cannot further specify.

I am therefore wondering if that could be the reason for the derailleur not working properly. Or should one-shimano-fit-all, no matter which model?

I also noticed that the chainwheels seem to be not equally spaced. It's ~8mm from lowest to 2nd and ~5mm from 2nd to highest. As far as I can tell, on all my other bikes the spacing is equal and ~5mm. Are there such 'weird' cranksets or has it just been incorrectly assembled? i.e. could I possibly fix my problem by exchanging some spacers instead of buying a new crankset?

https://preview.ibb.co/i8Ka0d/2017_08_27_1839_GEDC1059.jpg  From OP's comment

  • Guessing - your front mech is original, but someone has changed the rear mech and both shifters to something more modern. The bike probably had friction shifters originally, so the weird chainring spacing wasn't an issue - just pull the lever further.
    – Criggie
    May 14, 2018 at 20:13
  • Sorry, I confused it a little (now edited): The captain crankset is a black Deore LX and so are both derailleurs. The stroker crankset is some shimano. The stroker left crank is also Deore LX. It would be really weird to change everything except the chainwheels. And it would make little sense to change the captain crankset at all... May 14, 2018 at 20:22
  • Have the shifters been changed ? Indexed wasn't really a thing in the early 90s, and tandems tended to use older tech at the time .
    – Criggie
    May 14, 2018 at 20:27
  • The shifters are attached to the brakes... they seem to fit there. And they are indexed for sure. Maybe the bike is a bit more recent, don't know the exact model, but here's a pic ibb.co/mavtmJ May 14, 2018 at 20:36
  • Can you provide close up pics of the stoker crank, front derailleur and shifters? We may be able to ID them May 14, 2018 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


First of all, IMHO, when you buy an old bike you should always change inner and outer cables (cable housing) for the brakes and shifters. This will ensure that the cables have low friction and won't get stuck somewhere

Then this part "It's ~8mm from lowest to 2nd and ~5mm from 2nd to highest" makes me think that someone got the order wrong. I think the highest and the middle sprocket are on the wrong side or the crank(outer side). Or the smallest sprocket has spacers that shouldn't be there. Or maybe the middle one is lacking spacers.

99/100 Sprockets are equally spaced, because that's the way the shifter handle pulls.

Lastly, check the "front" dereaullier alingment. It should be parallel to the sprockets.

  • Great thinking! Yes flipping a chainring could have this exact effect.
    – Criggie
    May 14, 2018 at 22:13
  • Sounds plausible! I accept for now and check when I'm back at the bike. Btw, cables are already exchanged ;) May 15, 2018 at 5:28

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