Why My Rear Derailleur Hitting Spokes?- Reasons and Solutions

Why My Rear Derailleur Hitting Spokes?

As a cyclist, you would like to keep your bikes in the best conditions without any funny noises. If your rear derailleur hitting spokes frequently, you should look for a proper solution as soon as possible. Most of the time the rear derailleur hits the spokes when its hanger is twisted due to a collision. Apart from that, inappropriate cable tension, improperly adjusted limit screws, and wobbly spokes are the other reasons. Here we will talk about all the possible causes and their solutions. We hope you can fix the problem by following the given tips.

Why Your Rear Derailleur Hitting Spokes?

Reason 01: Bent derailleur hanger

The derailleur hanger is an important part because it keeps the drivetrain safe and damage-free. The hanger gets sacrificed during collisions that can harm the drivetrain. So, you should replace it immediately after any such heavy impact.

A bent hanger starts rubbing against your spokes. Such a situation can vandalize the spokes as well as the derailleur.

How to check for a bent hanger?

If the hanger is impaired, its cage and bike chain will not align with each other. But, you can straighten the hanger if it’s bent only for a few degrees. On the contrary, replacement is the only solution if it’s extremely arched.

Follow the given steps to repair a bent hanger.

Step 1: Remove the hanger: Take out this component if you are confident that it’s impaired. First, shift the wheel into its smallest sprocket. Second, loosen the mounting bolts and take out the hanger.

Step 2: Straighten the hanger: The hanger alignment tool is a prerequisite for this step. Take the alignment tool and thread it into the hanger clockwise. Then, adjust the hanger arms against the wheel in the 6 o’clock position. Turn the wheel and then rotate the alignment tool to its 12 o’clock position.

If you don’t have the hanger alignment tool, then you can use an adjustable spanner. Tighten the spanner over your hanger. Then, twist this tool to fix the impaired hanger.

Step 3: Reinstall the hanger: Reattach the hanger as you remove it in the first step. Try to shift the gears and see if the derailleur hits your spokes. If not, then you have fixed the problem. If you still see the rubbing, try other solutions.

Reason 02: Loose spokes

If the spokes are not fitted properly, they can move towards the derailleur to create the rubbing noise. You can easily identify loose spokes by plucking them one by one. Identification of the detached spokes is easy because they make a buzzing noise when you pluck them. After finding all the unfastened spokes, tighten them using a spoke wrench.

How to tighten the spokes using a spoke wrench?

Place the spoke wrench on the spoke’s nibble and turn it anticlockwise. Repeat the same steps on all the loose spokes. If you overtighten one of them by mistake, reverse the process by turning it clockwise. If you don’t have a spoke wrench, you can try an adjustable wrench or needle nose plier.

Reason 03: Limit screws are out of alignment

The derailleur can rub against your bike spokes if its limit screws are not aligned properly. If this is the case, you have to check and adjust them correctly. Make a note that these limit or adjustment screws keep the chain at its place and prevent any dropouts. Tightening these screws means you are limiting the chain’s outward movement while loosening them means the bike chain can freely move outwards.

Reason 04: L- Screw (low limit screw)

This screw prevents the derailleur’s movement towards your bike spokes. When adjusted correctly, the L-screw settles the chain in the biggest cog when you pedal. So, you don’t notice any chain skipping or noise due to the collision with the spokes.

Follow the given steps to adjust L-Screw.

  • Make sure that the screw is not resting very far out.
  • If it’s the case, then shift into the smallest cog and then push the derailleur to the biggest cog. Use your thumb to push the derailleur.
  • If the pulley surpasses the biggest cog and moves towards the spokes, then rotate the L-screw clockwise and tighten it.
  • On the contrary, you have to loosen the L-screw if it’s too tight. So, shift the derailleur to the second biggest cog.
  • Push the derailleur into the biggest cog, hold it temporarily, and pedal.
  • Check if the chain skips. If it’s skipping, then loosen the L-screw by turning it anticlockwise. Turn it about a quarter and the skipping should stop.

Reason 05: High limit screw (H-Screw)

If your derailleur is hitting the spokes even after adjusting the L-Screw, it’s time to check the high limit screw. H-Screw allows your bike chain to easily move into the smallest cog without any slips. If this screw is not adjusted correctly, your derailleur might not perform appropriately.

Follow the given steps to adjust the H-Screw

  • Shift the chain over the smallest ring on your bike’s cassette. Loosen the cable tension, if the derailleur denies moving.
  • If the pulley comes underneath the smallest ring, turn the H-Screw clockwise because it’s not the right situation.
  • Pedal the bike to see if your rear derailleur hits the spokes. If you can notice the rubbing, then loosen the high limit screw for around a quarter and see if the noise stops.

Reason 06: Incorrect derailleur cable tension

The derailleur might rub against the spokes if its cable tension is not correct. This problem is called a cable stretch and you have to tighten it to maintain effortless shifting.

How to adjust the cable tension?

The first step is to find the barrel adjuster, which you can find where the derailleur cable comes out of its housing. Turning this adjuster clockwise minimizes the cable tension. On the contrary, turn it anticlockwise if you want to add some tension.

Final thoughts

Check for a bent hanger, loose spokes, incorrectly adjusted limit screws, and derailleur cable tension if your rear derailleur hitting spokes. Once you know the cause, it’s easy to fix the problem. We hope the given information can help you in both. Happy biking.

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