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I have a foldie which recently seemed a bit harder to pedal. Specifically back pedaling seems harder than it should be (if I kick the pedal back, it barely travels a quarter or half turn. I noticed that if I push the bottom jockey wheel up a little, reducing the tension on the wheel, the backpedal test results in 2-4 times as much travel. This problem is also only pronounced on the lower (bigger sprockets) gears. I recently detached and reattached the RD, to install a derailleur guard on the wheel, and subjectively it has seemed different from that time, though objectively I have checked a few times and it seems installed correctly. I also have a squeaky chain lately which I believe means it needs to be lubed, which I am going to do over the weekend.

TLDR: Does the dry chain explain why the back pedaling seems so bad? Is it a matter of lubing the RD jockey wheels? Or is it some other issue. I also see some rust on the RD springs, not sure if it has any effect.

  • Many RDs need to be re-assembled quite carefully as very similar parts are used in different places, but with subtle differences that cause parts to sit wrong (including assymetric jockey wheels and bearing parts that are the same diameter but different depth between the two jockey wheels) – Chris H Jul 6 '18 at 12:01
  • How far did you disassemble the derailleur when you installed the guard? Did you disassemble the cage and remove the jockey wheels? – Argenti Apparatus Jul 6 '18 at 12:37
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    I think i misled everyone with "Dissassembled" just detached from frame and attached back is all i did. – Karthik T Jul 6 '18 at 14:04
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An un-lubricated chain will definitely cause losses in the drive train. Problems with the jockey wheels may also cause some losses, but probably not as much as the chain

You should properly clean the chain, sprockets and derailleurs and drive train before lubing the chain. There are numerous guides on how to do that on-line that you can easily look up.

Servicing the jockey wheels is reasonable easy and again there are guides available on on-line. The Global Cycling Network YouTube channel has a good video.

General drive-train wear may also be an issue. so check the chain and rear sprockets for wear when you are cleaning them. There are inexpensive chain wear checking tools available such as Park Tool Company's CC-3.2. Checking sprockets for wear is more difficult as you have to examine sprocket teeth by eye. Worn teeth become asymmetrical and look like curved shark fins.

You say you disassembled the derailleur. If you disassembled the cage and took the jockey wheels out, is there a chance you swapped them around? The top and bottom jockey wheels are different.

  • Disassembled might be a bad word. Just removed and reattached to the frame. – Karthik T Jul 6 '18 at 14:03
  • I went the lazy way, just cleaned and lubed the chain (first time ever so taking small steps), but the problem has basically dissapeared and it works as if it is a different bike! The issue was totally the chain lubrication or lack thereof, and the deraileur tension was a red herring. Thanks! – Karthik T Jul 9 '18 at 3:46

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