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The front derailleur in my Velomobile needs adjusting and as it is a pain to reach it I rather not do it the try and try again method if I can avoid it.

The derailleur is a standard one, only the mounting is different due to the different shape of the cycle. I have an indexed twisting grip shifter, with about 9 positions and only the lowest (1), one in the middle (2) and the other end (3) have numbers on them, there are a few clicks in between which I can use.

When I go to one end of the change limits (1), I am on the smallest of the three chain rings and the derailleur makes quite a bit of noise, as if I am halfway to changing to a (not existing) smaller chain ring. I shift one or two clicks up and the chain sits happily on the small chain ring.
When gearing up when I reach the (2) the chain is still making noise in the derailleur and it sits happily one or two clicks higher up.
Gearing up again it sometimes gets to the biggest chain ring but often it does not go all the way, and even when it does go it still makes a bit of 'not really there' noise and feels like there is some resistance.

There is an adjuster at the shifter which is twisted to the outer end of it range. If it is twisted away from the outer end the situation is worse and I will not be able to get the chain on the big chain ring at all.

My question, if your gears are having those problems, do you look for a derailleur which is bend out of position or do you look at the settings on the derailleur which allow a wider or narrower movement of the derailleur. That will translate for me to try to move the derailleur on its post or to use the shrew driver on the settings.

In the past this setup has worked right, so I am sure something got damaged or gotten out of alignment or the settings have been altered (by themselves or in an attempt to adjust while there was somethings else wrong, which has since been repaired.)

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  • One thing I've found useful is to get the rear wheel(s) off the ground. I use a triangle stand that clamps on either side of the rear axle. Mine is too light to hold the rider as well but a roller-style trainer would work too if it fits the wheel. This allows me to stand in front of the head tube, and actuate the gear control with one hand while pedalling with the other. Your other problem is getting access through any covers/shell - does it unclip ?
    – Criggie
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:16
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    The shell, if you want to call it that, is all around, with only two slits meant to get the feet on the ground through the bottom. So no, it does not unclip. I had to roll the VM on its side to reach the parts I needed to reach, which did bring the tires all from the ground. The alternative is to put a crate (with a cushion) under the back and use a long umbrella to pedal (but that does not give access to the parts.) For testing I just put it all wheels on the ground, outside and rode it round the block. (Very low traffic, I only met one family walking.
    – Willeke
    Nov 13, 2022 at 18:02
  • I do not envy you having to work on this bike - would it be easier with one person in the seat pedalling and shifting, and a separate person on the outside doing the adjustments ?
    – Criggie
    Nov 13, 2022 at 19:40
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    It would be easier to take the top half of the cover off but that is two hours work they tell me, in which case you can reach everything easier, but I am not even sure I would be able to do this job easier. Pedaling for testing is not hard, you can move the pedals around through the openings in the bottom. Living alone I do not have that second person around to help me.
    – Willeke
    Nov 13, 2022 at 20:06

1 Answer 1

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You're describing having an offset at every position. When you're in the lowest shifter position, it's too low. In the middle shifter position, it's too low. In the highest shifter position, it's too low.

So you'd need to "tighten" (that is, screw counter-clockwise, to extend) the barrel adjuster. But it sounds like that's already screwed all the way out.

This means your shift cable is too loose, probably by 7-12 mm. You need to loosen the cable clamp bolt on the front derailleur, pull the slack out of the cable, and tighten the bolt again. Before doing this, screw the barrel adjuster almost the way in, so it will be usable for adjustments later.

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  • Thanks, that is one I had not even thought about. (I will not yet accept but it sounds like this is the solution.)
    – Willeke
    Nov 13, 2022 at 12:43
  • I did not manage as much as 7 mm, but I did get enough that I could get it back on the bigger chain ring.
    – Willeke
    Nov 13, 2022 at 15:31

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