I only have two chainrings on the crank. The chain is stuck on the big one. When I hit the button on the shifter to shift down I am not seeing the cable move at all which is odd.

Not sure where to start, I can take pictures if I need to. The bike is pretty old and has been through a lot of abuse to be fair. With California closing indoor things again today I am looking to fix this myself instead of at the local bike shop.


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  • Please edit your question to include pictures of the shifter (you called it the button) that doesn't seem to be working, the two gears, and the mechanism that is supposed to move the chain from one gear to the other (the derailleur). Is there a cable coming from the shifter? If there is, if you pull on a bare part of the cable a little bit, can you feel the shifter trying to pull on the cable or relax the cable when you push the button?
    – rclocher3
    Jul 13, 2020 at 23:04
  • @rclocher3 I added a link to an imgur album. After seeing it in the light instead of my dark garage maybe I just need to scrub the crap out of it? But I would think the cable should still move no? Jul 13, 2020 at 23:24
  • There are several possible causes. Aside from outright component failure, the cable could be stuck, the limit screws on the derailer could be misadjusted, or the shifter could be sticking inside. Requires diagnosis. Jul 13, 2020 at 23:52
  • Disconnect the cable, does the FD move, does the lever move, pull the cable in and release it, does the cable move in the housing?
    – Carel
    Jul 14, 2020 at 7:19
  • So I disconnected the cable at the connector in my third picture and got it to shift down. What I am struggling with now is resetting it to normal. Not sure how tight or lose it should be when on my small or big ring. I tried a few different settings and I would either get stuck on big or stuck on little ring. Jul 15, 2020 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


Either the shifter, cable or derailleur is stuck.

Detach the cable from the derailleur, check the derailleur will move through its full range of motion. Tension the cable by pulling in it with a pair of pliers. Work the shifter and check the cable is payed out and pulled in smoothly. You can also pull the cable housing away from the shifter to expose the cable, grip the cable (gently) there, tension it and work the shifter. That should tell you what is jammed.

Often the cable gets stuck in the cable housing due to dirt, dried up lubrication or corrosion. Replacing the cable and housing is relatively easy and inexpensive.

If the derailleur is jammed you may be able to get it moving by applying a penetrating oil and pushing the cage back and forth to free the mechanism.

If the shifter seems to be the problem things can be a little trickier. The mechanism can be contaminated with dirt or corrosion, but sometimes shifters break and the only recourse is to replace them.

  • Been playing with the front derailer... Just purchased a new one and will try to install it on Sunday when it arrives. Jul 18, 2020 at 0:05

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