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Your gear hanger is your friend

So far this week I’ve had four bikes in with bent gear hangers. One owner knew the hanger was bent, another complained of a bad gear change, the other two were unaware.

It happens to the best of us – a minor crash, bike falling over, transit damage etc. The problem is, a gear hanger needs to be straight to deliver smooth, consistent gear changes. A bent one piece fork end and gear hanger can usually be straightened by a mechanic with the right tools. A removable hanger such as the one pictured is best replaced as they only cost in the region of £20.

If your bike has had a bump, fall or could have been damaged in transit (new mail order bikes can suffer a bent hanger in transit) then follow these simple steps:

  • Take a look at your bike from the rear – the cage containing the jockey wheels on the rear dérailleur should be vertically in line with the sprockets on the cassette.
  • If it looks like the dérailleur cage is out of alignment then be very careful about changing to the larger sprockets on your cassette as the dérailleur could end up hitting the wheel spokes or worse.
  • Come and see me or any qualified mechanic to get your alignment checked. Any good mechanic will have an alignment tool. I personally wouldn’t charge for checking alignment in the same way I wouldn’t charge for checking your chain wear. It is hard to tell if a hanger is bent just by looking it. This is why you need to assess the alignment of the dérailleur or use an alignment tool.

If you feel confident, you can replace a removable gear hanger yourself but note that there are hundreds of different types of gear hanger. I can usually obtain a new one within 24 hours. Fitting a new hanger may also involve re-indexing the gear and adjusting the limit screws.