Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Taking the Front Derailleur for Granted

de·rail·leur noun 
gear-shifting mechanism on a bicycle that shifts the drive train from one sprocket to another.
Origin: 1945-50; <French dérailleur literally, a device causing disengagement or derailing, equivalent to  déraill  (er) to derail +-eur -eur
(It's kind of fun to look up words in the dictionary every now and then. Try the paper kind, too.)

Over the past months, my Trek's left thumbshifter was getting kind of cranky. It was hard to move, even a bit creaky. At the time I didn't think anything of it. I pushed harder, then the cable eventually leaped over the front chain-rings.

Last week it occurred to me that maybe the cable housing needed lubrication. So I tried that, but it didn't help. Then I followed the wire down to the front derailleur. Uh, when was the last time I cleaned and oiled that thing, I wondered? A bike mechanic had once said the front derailleur should last a bike's lifetime. In my mind, I suppose I took that to mean it's also maintenance-free. Oy vey! After two minutes of wiping and with dripping oil on the pivot points, the lever moved with ease. I had taken this mechanism—so integral and critical to the front cogs—for granted. Jeesh, I learned an important lesson.

What simple tasks do you easily forget?

*Dictionary spelling and origin borrowed from dictionary.com


  1. Hey Annie,
    This is an excellent post topic. Most of the "broken" derailleurs that come into my shop are fine. Other than the fact that they are filthy. I recommend cleaning both your front and rear derailleurs periodically. I like to use White Lightning "Clean Streak" after drying (I also wipe mine off with a clean rag) you should lubricate with a light spray of a silicone based lubricant. Then wipe off the excess. A little TLC will go a long way. Cheers

  2. I always forget to lube the chain, till it starts squeaking, then I get onto it. I have some very good chain lube too but that does not prompt me to do it.


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