Derailleur / Internal Gear Service

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Whether you have many gears or just one, we're happy to service your bike and make sure the gears are working well for you.

If you ever find yourself going uphill, or into a strong wind, having an easier gear or two can make life a little more pleasant.  Same goes for that high gear when you are late for work or you decide to "open it up" a nice long stretch of open pathway.

Multi-gear systems have more small moving parts than single speeds of course. All parts eventually need servicing. That means multi-gear systems eventually need repair. Single gears have their advantages, and some of it is mechanical. Single gear systems are simpler and many will find its all they need. But you can also transfer some of that extra effort on your body to the bicycle by way of gears.

First let's talk about the types of multi-gear system you will find on all bicycles, and the type of servicing they require with a focus on some of the difference between typical Dutch bikes and others in North America.

Multi-gear systems on bicycles come down to two basic families: internal and external.

As you might be able to guess, external systems are, well, external. They are more maintenance-heavy because they are exposed to the elements (snow, rain, rust, etc..) or to physical contact (with your feet, with bike racks or with the ground when your bike eventually falls over). External systems are the ones with a front and or rear derailleurs - the dangly bits dangling below the rear axle or above the cranks .

External systems also involve moving the chain itself laterally (side to side) along gears of different sizes. This is a mechanically vulnerable feature that you only ever find on bicycles. Everything from tractors to chain saws use a chain system to drive power from a motor, and they always run straight. Chains don't particularly like running at an angle as it slowly bends and stretches each little bushing in each link, eventually causing them to wear.

A straight chain line is a major advantage of any system where the chain itself does not have to move - like on an internally geared system. In an internal system, the gearing happens inside the hub shell and is activated by a cable/rod pulling the guts instead, much like the clutch inside a transmission of a car. Because it does not need to run at an angle, it also means the chain on an internally geared bicycle can be made thicker and stronger.

Internal systems have a number of other advantages, chief among them being less requirements for maintenance and far less likelihood of contamination from dirt, sand, salt, etc.. Everything is nicely encased in a shell, with the vulnerable moving parts kept safely out of harms way. They are also easier to use, and have only one shifter on the handlebars.

External systems can however be slightly lighter, are definitely more interchangeable and, in theory, are easier to replace and work on since everything is visible to the naked eye. That makes them appealing to big box stores and side-of-the-road fixes in the Tour de France. External systems are usually able to offer a much larger range of gearing too, which is why you see them on mountain bikes and why they were invented for road bikes racing through the Alps.

Dutch bikes always favour reliability and utility. The flipside of a side-of-road fix is not having to fix anything at all. Besides, daily riders almost never need more than a few gears, even against a powerful North Sea wind, and you will find three gears is usually plenty. On cargo bicycles carrying heavier more intervals tend to be handy - which is why you'll often see internal 7 or 8 speed bikes.A 7 or 8 speeds is often considered more comfy too, and older folks or anyone with sore knees might prefer them. It simply offers you a few more choices to match the grade or wind.  Importantly, since the chain runs straight, internal gearing easily accommodates fully enclosed chain guards. Trust us, your pants will thank you later.

Lastly, external systems "mate" together over time. Every little piece can and will ear out. A rear derailleur alone has multiple bushings and spring mechanisms for which there simply are no replacement parts available. Producers bury these costs by selling bikes as a package, but these often require full replacement to get working once something happe4ns. So while external gearing systems are found in every Canadian Tire or local bike shop and available for relatively cheap at the till, properly replacing any/all of the given aspects of the system when they fail (like chainrings, cassettes, chains, or individual derailleurs, etc..) can quickly run you into costs for replacement parts that rival the original cost of the bike itself. What tends to happen is a lot of people "make do" with shifting that was never quite as good as those first few weeks.

For 95% of riders, we're a fan of internal gearing because they last so long and get the job done. Its a message we are intent on spreading in North America because they used to be more common here, and its time we brought it back.

All bikes are fun, each type has its time and place. All need servicing and we are happy to repair all kinds of bikes. Its just good to know the difference, and as customer, the choices you have. Not all bikes can use an internally geared rear wheel so let's get whatever system you have up and running.

Note that 99% of geared systems also involve some kind of external shifter on the handlebars, so the labour rates quoted here consider these as part of the system and inspecting and adjusting or replacing these is considered included.

Adjust - refers to the quick adjustments periodically required on mutli-gear systems to ensure they respond well. Min and max screws on derailleurs an spin loose through vibration over time. Derailleur can get banged around and be shifted out of axis, etc.. When in need of adjustment, you will tend to notice poor shifting response or various clicking sounds, (especially with the various forms of "click" shifters out there). To work as well as the day you bought it, everything needs to be adjusted "just so". If the usual adjustments don't solve the problem, then you need to proceed to the overhaul step below.

On an internally geared bike, adjustment labour costs are cheap because there isn't often much to adjust. Just a barrel adjuster or two, and we are happy to show you how to do most of that yourself if you like. You should start to suspect a need for adjustment when you notice a lag in shifting when the chain isn't under load. The same is true if the bike feels like it shifts on its own. Luckily, internally geared bikes tend to come with a handy little yellow arrow/bar located right near the axle that should lines up with corresponding marks on the shifting mechanism when it is in a specific gear (for example gear 2 on Shimano 3 speeds). Stop by some time and we'll show you.

Overhaul - an overhaul involves taking parts of the bike off or doing some major re-alignments. Troubleshooting a bike with derailleurs can sometimes involve testing every part and can even regularly involve bending parts of the frame with specialty tools (don;t let your bike fall over on the gear side if you know what is good for it and never buy a child a bike with derailleurs)). Basically, it often involves solving/assessing more than one problem to get to the root of the issue. An overhaul also refers to replacing cables and housing. Note that cables and housing are included. Otherwise any other parts are extra including shifters and derailleurs that may need replacing.

Also note that on derailled (external) multi-gear systems, the chainring/cogs and chain are also intimately related to how the shifting will feel and can also cause similar issue. If we think a chain/cogset needs replacing too, we'll let you know and it is subject to additional service fees.

TMI? Bring your bike in so we one of our experienced technicians can take a look. We'll always offer you the best advice we can give and options to get going again.