I got my hybrid bike serviced 2 days back. Before the service, the handlebar used to turn freely, and the shifter was not stiff.

I had given it because the day before something went wrong with the rear derailleur alignment (the shifter was fine before this as well).

After the service, I am facing two major issues. The shifter for the rear derailleur is significantly tighter. Changing it a few times hurts my thumb now.

The second problem is that the handling is weirdly stiff and doesn't turn freely. If I turn it once it'll stay fine for a second or 2. As soon as I leave it and turn it again, I can feel a bit of resistance. While riding also, it feels stiff and needs extra effort to turn (before it was normal and loose. No hard work needed.)

I went back to the bike shop, and the guy told me nothing can be done about the shifter without spoiling the alignment. And he tried loosening and tightening the head screw. But that didn't help. I don't know what to do from here. I'm kind of an amateur in mechanical stuff like these. But I'm willing to do it myself.

The bike doesn't have any inside cable routing.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site - Sounds like DIY will give you better results than that bike shop ! Do you have any photos of your bike that could help here? A clear well-lit photo from the right hand side might be a good start.
    – Criggie
    May 27, 2023 at 2:07
  • What exactly is "head screw" ? I guess its the preload bolt in the middle of the stem cap? More terminology is defined at bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/…
    – Criggie
    May 27, 2023 at 2:13
  • 1
    Hi @criggie, I'll post pictures later today since I don't have my bike right now. And the by the head screw, i mean the the screw on the middle of the stem cap May 27, 2023 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


For the rear derailleur shifting issue, it seems there is too much friction in the system, starting from your shifter ending at your rear derailleur. Common problems are:

  • Dirt in the shifter
  • Bent or damaged housing
  • Bent or rusted shift cable
  • Dirt in the rear derailleur pivots
  • Cable has been pinched while being too tight to the rear derailleur (when on the smallest cog, the cable should not feel over-tighten. This would also often result in poor shifting though).

For the headset problem, it seems it is over-tighten. Is it only a bad adjustment or your headset needs to be replaced, I can't tell. But usually when it is not possible to adjust it properly, it means that the bearings/cups are worn out. There is also a possibility that one of the bearing has been put in the wrong orientation.

Adjusting shifting and headset require mostly non bike-specific tools that you may already have. I would suggest checking Park Tool videos so you get a feel of what it looks like. Even if you do not do the adjustment yourself after, you will be better equipped to understand what the bike mechanic tells you and be able to judge to some extent if it makes sense.

  • 1
    Check that all the housing ends are seated properly in the stops. Its not hard for them to just come loose when something else is being serviced.
    – Criggie
    May 27, 2023 at 2:05
  • Thanks, ill take a look and readjust the rear derailleur cable on my own. The shop guy did try to loose and tighten the headset polt but to no avail May 27, 2023 at 4:30
  • When i u screw the gear cable from the derailailleur, the shifter turns without any resistance(while the cable is still in there). May 27, 2023 at 6:30

"Head Screw" is the stem cap bolt, aka the preload adjustment. Turning the bolt by itself won't adjust the preload of the headset bearings UNLESS you back off the one-or-two bolts that clamps the stem to the steerer.

Process would be

  1. Back off both bolts on the stem so it can slide up/down.
  2. THEN tighten or loosen the stem-cap bolt, while testing by clamping on the front brake, wrap a hand around the top bearing so it touches the steerer/spacers AND the frame, and wiggle bike back and forth. There should be no play but the front wheel should turn without significant resistance.
    Then clamp up the two stem bolts so the stem lines up with the front wheel still.

If you can't get the headset tension perfect, then erring on the slide of very very slight play is better than too-tight.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.