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bike 101: adjusting your shifter cable

November 1, 2010

First of, thank you to everyone who wrote with really helpful suggestions regarding my hub and shifter problems mentioned last Friday. My personal bike mechanic was gone for a conference last week, but as soon as he returned home on Friday night, I showed him my post and your comments and asked him to take a look at my bike once more. So on Saturday morning, he propped Fiona up on our bike stand and commenced to work on the shifter cable and the wheel alignment.

When my pashmina got stuck in the chain of my Raleigh Sports last week, it pushed the wheel out of alignment and that affected the shifting mechanism of the bike. T. had already re-centered the wheel, but as it turns out, the wheel also needed to be raised to it’s proper position. Once the wheel was back into its intended spot, the shifter cable and pin were adjusted and T. could manually rotate the wheels and shift through all three gears.

I can’t explain this process nearly as well as a pro, so I will let the Sturmey-Archer Catalog speak for itself…

Thanks to Dave of Portlandize for sending me a copy of the catalog and to ‘dedhed’ for pointing me to these links on old Sturmey-Archer hub repairs. There you can find the above pictured section (page 4 of the catalog) on hub adjustments for yourself.

On a side note, I’d like to take the opportunity to mention something that has proven a must-have for all our bike repair and work: the Park Home Mechanic bike stand. It lets you lift the bike off the ground and raise it to whichever position you need in order to work on it without the assistance of another individual (acting as bike lifter and holder extraordinaire – as fun as that job can be, it’s nice to relinquish it to an inanimate object). It’s compact, extremely sturdy, and definitely worth the money if you’re someone who regularly works on their bike and does maintenance work from home.


It’s a bit of a splurge but T. asked for it for Christmas last year and his parents willingly obliged. It has been one of his favorite additions to his garage workshop and one he cannot say enough good things about. Here he is using it to work on his commuter bike, a Trek Soho. He also used the Park tool to lift Fiona off the ground and to adjust my wheel and shifter cable. You can lift the bike straight-up as pictured above or in more creative ways (as shown below) to suit your maintenance work needs. Just something to keep in mind for your wish list this holiday season if you or someone you love is mechanically inclined.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2010 15:21

    So glad the issue was fairly easily resolved for Fiona, as I’m sure you are. I also second the bike stand purchase… certainly one of those makes-life-much-easier kind of tools for working on bicycles. :)

  2. November 1, 2010 16:57

    Glad that all worked out, and fairly easily! That would be a real shame to have to replace the hub.

    I’d love to get a bike stand, but have nowhere to put it unless it all folds up into a very small thing – I should look into those though, I’m sure they exist. Definitely would be a nice alternative to just flipping my bike upside down and balancing it on the seat and bars. Though thankfully, I haven’t really had any reason to need to work on it in the last 6 months, except to put some lube on the chain.

  3. November 1, 2010 18:05

    I need to start working on my own bike more – it’d save me money and the smugness of some (not all!) bike shop employees.

  4. November 2, 2010 09:55

    Bike stands make life so much easier, particularly when there isn’t someone around to hold the bike for you. I have two repair stands (like this: http://www.parktool.com/product/home-mechanic-repair-stand) in work with adjustable clamps for the seatpost, seattube or top tube, and after seeing them in action, they will be my first purchase when I move to a bigger apartment/ house.

  5. dedhed permalink
    November 5, 2010 02:19

    I love my work stand. It actually folds up pretty small and still is stable.
    It’s an Ulimate Support Pro. I would never have spent the dollars for a top of the line unit, but received it as a Christmas gift. I often use my car’s trunk rack for quick lube/adjustments in summer. I also bent & looped a piece of steel that I chuck in the vise at work for quick checks or lubing. (Seems I’m everyone’s personal bike mechanic at work!)

    http://www.rei.com/product/729321

  6. November 6, 2010 13:03

    Cool bike stand! And love the addition of the gold and orange leaves on your bike!

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