Fools with Tools, Ep. 4 Pt. 2: Advanced Derailleur Tuning

This episode of Fools with Tools is the second and final chapter of our two-part series on derailleur tuning. Tori and Zach tackle their biggest challenge yet: Derailleur hanger alignment. It can be a little tricky, but it's doable with a few tips! Check out this episode for instructions on how to do it at home. 

We recommend watching Part 1 here to learn about adjusting limit screws, B-screws, and cable tension. 

Also be sure to subscribe to The Path Youtube channel so you don't miss out on more mechanical adventures with Tori and Zach!

How to Align a Derailleur Hanger

Tools Used:

  • Derailleur Hanger Alignment Gauge 
  • 5mm Allen
  1. Start by slowly shifting through the gears to check how they're functioning. Note: Avoid the chain going into spokes if it is misaligned.
  2. If there is improper function such as skipping or clicking, start the alignment process by engaging the cage lock for SRAM derailleurs or turn off the clutch on Shimano derailleurs.
  3. Remove the chain from the chainring to relieve any tension on the derailleur. 
  4. Unbolt derailleur from hanger using a 5mm Allen. 

  5. Install hanger gauge onto hanger by screwing it into where you just removed the bolt. 
  6. With hanger tool at the 12 o'clock position at the top of the wheel, use the depth gauge to measure distance to rim edge at the valve
    Note: Use the valve as your only point of reference and rotate it around the wheel to the various positions. Using two different spots will not give you a proper alignment. 

  7. Rotate wheel move the valve to 6 o'clock position and check distance between rim edge and depth gauge.
    Note: Remember that you are adjusting just half the distance seen in order to align the hanger.
  8. Pull on hanger gauge as necessary to make distance at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock equal. It may take a bit of effort, but don't over-do it as you do not want to snap the hanger.
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 until this distance is equal.
    Out of Alignment:

    Proper Alignment: 

  10. Once the first half is aligned, it's time to check the other. Begin with the hanger tool at 9 o'clock, and use the depth gauge to measure distance to rim edge, still using the valve as your guide.

  11. Rotate wheel and hanger gauge to 3 o'clock and check distance between rim edge and depth gauge. 
  12. Pull on hanger gauge as necessary to make distance at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock equal.
  13. Repeat steps 10-12 until distance is equal. 
  14. Verify that all 4 reference points (3, 6, 9, 12) are equidistant to the rim edge at the valve. If all 4 points are equal, hanger is true. If not, repeat these steps until it is. 
  15. Once completed, remove the hanger alignment tool and reinstall derailleur. 
  16. Unlock the derailleur.
  17. Reinstall the chain.
  18. Go through the gears and check to make sure shifting has returned to normal.