I can't adjust the rear derailleur to shift properly. Sometimes it hesitates to downshift from 1st to 2nd and when it shifts to 2nd you can hear a faint clanking sound, like the chain is trying to skip teeth and change gears. Sometimes while upshifting or downshifting from between 3rd and 4th, the derailleur moves, but the chain stays at the same cog. Thats the best adjustment I could do. Basically, when I get the shifting to work correctly with the low gears (1st to 4th gear), the high gears (from 5th to 9th) stop shifting properly. And the exact same happens when I get it to work correctly at high gears. The shifting on low gears breaks. I can't get them all to work correctly.

Here are all of my parts:

SHIMANO ALTUS CS-HG201-9 cassette

SHIMANO ACERA RD-M390 9 speed rear derailleur

SHIMANO ACERA SL-M3000 9 speed shifter

The shifter and the cassette are brand new. The rear derailleur is a few months old. With my previous setup with the 7 speed freewheel it worked just fine.

I checked the derailleur hanger and it's not bent. I even replaced it with a brand new one. Still not shifting right. Also I checked the cable housings. The cables move into the housing freely with no binding or friction. The only housing that had a little friction was the last one that meets with the derailleur. I also lubed them all.

Update: It turns out it was the cable housings as Jeff implied. Now it shifts perfectly! I had to compare the "feel" of the old housings to the new ones by sliding a cable in each one of them. Then I could compare them and feel how a good cable feels like. The new one definitely felt much smoother and had less friction, so I decided to replace all of them.

  • 3
    Are cable and housing new also ? It can make a huge difference : try to shift (to smaller cog) and check if the derailleur moves, or if the cable tension becomes loose.
    – rvil76
    Jun 14, 2021 at 12:33
  • @ArnaudVILLANOVA i didn't have any shifting issues with the previous components until i did all these upgrades that i described above. How could the cable housing "break" and cause bad shifting in just a few days? I shifted to the smallest cog and yes the derailleur moves fine and the cable isn't loose Jun 14, 2021 at 12:58
  • 5
    Is the hanger straight? That’s usually the cause of wonky shifting like this.
    – MaplePanda
    Jun 14, 2021 at 15:25
  • 1
    @SteliosLiakopoulos ; 9-s systems require more precision than 7-speed. A cable only slightly sticking in a housing will mess up everything. If you didn't do so, replace all the cables and the housings with coated ones.
    – Carel
    Jun 14, 2021 at 15:59
  • 2
    @Carel I replaced all the housings and now it shifts perfectly! Jun 17, 2021 at 8:38

2 Answers 2


The number one cause of poor shifting is excess cable friction somewhere along the line. You describe "hesitant" shifting coming down from largest cog to the next. This is a symptom of either too much cable tension or excess friction. With the symptom of "nothing happens" when shifting between 3 and 4, which involves not enough cable tension, I would bet that there is something causing the inner cable to get hung up. What you need to do is first do an inspection of the cable from shifter to derailleur. Note whether the cabling takes a smooth path between shifter and the first housing stop. There should be no sharp bends of the cable and it's housing. At the cable stops, make sure that the cable has a ferrule and is fully seated in the stop. The ferrule itself should have a nice round hole and be free of worn edges or burrs which can develop over time from the cable moving through the opening. The inner cable can even wear a groove in the ferrule so that it no longer moves through the actual opening in the ferrule. Check these thoroughly. The inner cable should be round and the strands tightly woven together. Look for any kinks or fraying especially near where it slides in and out of a ferrule at a cable stop. If the inner cable passes underneath the bottom bracket shell on its way back to the derailleur, make sure the cable guide under there is clean and also free of excess wear marks. Make sure the inner cable is routed correctly and cleanly through the cable guide. At the derailleur, the housing should be long enough to create a smooth loop back to the derailleur's housing stop at the barrell adjuster so that there is about 1-2 inches of straight cable coming into the derailleur. Check that the cable is routed through the pinch bolt area correctly.

If the cabling passes inspection there still could be dirt or kinks within the housing that is unseen. Now to check for excess friction you can release the inner cable from the pinch bolt. With your hand, take hold of the inner cable a few inches past where it exits the first housing stop and is without the outer casing. Using mild tension with your fingers, make some shifts at the lever noting the quality of the cable movement. It should slide very smooth through the housing. Keep going back this way past the next run of outer casing to determine if there is a section that is rough or take more effort to move the cable through. You can grasp the inner cable with your fingers on either side of an outer housing run and move the cable back and forth to determine if there is a hiccup along that stretch. If you isolate an area that you suspect might be causing excess friction, at least that stretch of housing should be changed. Any deformations of the inner cable and that should be changed.

If all seems ok, it's always beneficial to clean and lube the inner cable. Clean the exposed sections of inner cable first. Then take the outers out of their stops so you can expose and lube the inner cable that is covered by housing. I use a spray lube called TriFlow for this type of work. It's liquid and a good penetrant and leaves a nice slick coat of Teflon infused lubrication when the the carrier solvent dries off. Lubricate the shifter innards and the derailleur pivot points.

Make sure your derailleur moves smoothly by pushing the body to the inside mimicking it's movement caused by cable tension and it's spring return. Do this with the inner cable still disconnected. Poor shifting after inspection, cleaning and lubrication could be related to incorrect set up. If your confident the setup and indexing are correct, it still could be related to the cable or housing and they should be replaced.

  • 1
    the derailleur moves when shifting between 3rd to 4th, but the chain stays at the same place Jun 15, 2021 at 8:30
  • The hanger is not bent. I even replaced it just to be sure and the shifting is still not working correctly. I checked all the cable housings. The cables all slide smoothly except the last one that meets with the rear derailleur which has a little friction. Btw check my question again i added some stuff Jun 15, 2021 at 14:57
  • 3
    I replaced all the cable housings and now it shifts perfectly! Jun 17, 2021 at 8:34
  • 1
    That's awesome. I liked your perseverance on this problem. Quality, clean cabling that is replaced regularly can avoid a lot of shifting headaches. It takes very little to throw shifting awry. Consider how a few turns of a fine threaded barrel adjuster can dramatically affect shifting.
    – Jeff
    Jun 18, 2021 at 0:11

I had the same problem - it seemed that the setup was correct, but sometimes the shifting was all over the place.

Tightening the bolt from the rear derailleur hanger to the rear derailleur improved shifting a lot. Even minimal play in this connection can lead to poor shifting.

Otherwise I'd check the cables like the guy in the other answer said and check for a bent hanger.

  • are you talking about the B screw? Jun 15, 2021 at 8:30
  • No, the bolt in the derailleur hanger where the derailleur is connected Jun 15, 2021 at 8:31

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