Front Derailleur Cable Guide: All You Need to Know!

A front derailleur on the bicycle can be the most useful thing. The smooth-shifting of multiple gears is possible because of it. 

Although, in order for the functioning of the front derailleur, proper cable routing is important. Front derailleur cables can be confusing for beginners and even pros!

So, looking for a front derailleur cable guide?

There are a lot of sides to front derailleur cables. Firstly, front derailleur size affects every aspect regarding cables. Secondly, cables can be installed & replaced. Though you’ll need tools like a cable cutter & hex keys. Finally, you can select the types of cable pulls according to your needs.

Merely knowing this information won’t be enough. I’ve explained all the things in detail below.

So, don’t waste any more time and begin reading the article!

How to Determine The Size of Your Front Derailleur?

It is very important to know the size of the front derailleur you have. This also comes in handy while trying Shimano cassettes with SRAM derailleurs.

When you know the precise size, you can then proceed with the cables. There are also multiple front derailleur types and sizes.

The size of your front derailleur depends on the clamp size. There are usually 3 types of front derailleur sizes in general. The derailleur clamp sizes come in 28.6mm, 31.8mm, or 34.9mm in diameter.

The clamp sizes can change your saddle position or type. Although, there are some universal saddle sizes. For instance, the selle italia saddle works well with almost all sizes of clamps.

These sizes do not affect much in terms of speed. This becomes a huge issue while trying out different types of cassettes for different types of derailleurs.

It relies on how many sprockets you have on the front crank of the bicycle. You can easily measure it using any measuring tape or a scale.

If your front derailleur is not set up in the right position, you’ll need to reset it. Without the front derailleur in the correct place, the cables of it won’t work. 

You can just disassemble and reassemble the derailleur. If you know how to install front derailleur, it will help you immensely. It is not very time-consuming. 

To make your life easier here’s a video on installing front derailleur on your bike.

Now that you figured out the size, let’s move on to the cable part!

A Different Aspect of Front Derailleur Cables!

A number of things should be considered for the cables of the front derailleur. You might be choosing the cables, and installing or replacing the cables. Taking these aspects into account will make every decision more suitable for you. 

Let’s take a look at some of the different aspects of the front derailleur cables-+

Cable Replacement/Installation

A front derailleur can need a replacement for various reasons. For instance, a damaged front derailleur cable has to be replaced. Replacing the cable may seem like a very hard task. But is it really?

Remember to be careful and avoid common adjustment mistakes.

Front Derailleur Cable Guide: All You Need to Know!

Source: Protein Burger

Below, I’ve explained all the steps to successfully replace a front derailleur cable. Check it out!

Step 1 of 2: Get Rid of The Old Cable

In order to replace front derailleur cable, you’ll need to replace the cable that is already routed in the derailleur. 

First, loosen the cable. Rotate the wheels and shift to the lowest front gear. It will move the chain on the smallest front sprocket. Then, locate the cable fixing bolt. You will need a hex key (generally 5 mm) to loosen it. 

Here are some hex keys which are perfect for small fixing of your bicycle-

Any small work, tasks-related screws can be handled by these hex tools.

Finally, cut the cable with a cable cutter and pull the cable out. Remember the orientation of the cable while pulling it out. You’ll need it when for the front derailleur cable routing.

Step 2 of 2: Route The New Cable

After removing the old cable, proceed with the new one. Follow the following steps for a successful front derailleur cable installation.

Firstly, using the cable cutter, cut the cable at the same length as the old one. Then, locate the shifters. Insert the cable from the lateral side and grab it on the frame side and pull it. 

To lock the cable in place, you’ll need a ferrule. Insert it when the cable comes out from the shifter. Also, insert a ferrule where the cable entries the housing. 

You can get yourself Preciva’s ferrule crimping kit to get this job done.

Keep the ratio of the cable normal or you might find the front derailleur cable loose.

Front Derailleur Cable Guide: All You Need to Know!

Then according to the previous routing, route the cable back. Go through the bottom bracket underside, then in the cable fixing bolt. 

Finally, use the hex key and tighten the cable fixing bolt again. Cut any loose ends of the cable. 

You need to check the front derailleur cable tension after setting up a new cable. Rotate the handle of your bicycle right and left. If the turning is too difficult, that clearly indicates front derailleur cable tension too high. 

It can be dangerous for your cycle ride. So you’ll have loosened it. Unscrew the cable fixing bolt and let the cable in till it’s firm. 

On the contrary, if it’s loose, tighten front derailleur cable

3 Best Cable Pull in the Market!

There are 3 different types of cable pull. Cable pull is the direction the cable pulls the derailleur. The frame design decides this. The design of the cable route also determines this. 

Let’s look at some of the variants of cable pull.

Bottom Pull

If the front derailleur cable routing goes through the bottom tube it’s a bottom pull. Additionally, it takes the cable right beside the bottom bracket.

Top Pull

Similar to the bottom pull, top pull means being pulled from above/top. When the derailleur cable goes through the top tube and drops, it’s called a top pull.

Here’s a comparative picture of these two variants for better understanding.

Front Derailleur Cable Guide: All You Need to Know!

Source: Mountain Bike Review Forum

Dual Pull

Dual pull lets the cable be pulled from the top or bottom. It’s more of a universal solution for the cable pulls.

You’ll have to select a type of cable pull and implement it while routing cables. Keep in mind that, the type has to be corresponding to your style of cycling. 

Additional Tips Regarding Cables

  • Install front derailleur cable with caution and patience. Improperly installed cables may tear at any time and cause accidents.
  • Prevent using too much force on the cables. Instead, distribute the pressure on the whole cable so it stays firm.

By now, you know everything about front derailleur Cable.


How long do Bicycle shift cables last?

The shift cables of a bicycle can last multiple years. The front shift cable lasts more than the rear shift cable. The rear shift cable can last from 18 months to 2 years. It is important to keep the bike active. Grounding or leaving it out will decrease the longevity of the shift cables.

Are front derailleurs universal or not?

No, front derailleurs are not universal. They have a range of speed chains. For instance, 7-10-speed chains and derailleurs are designed differently for each of them. However, if you’re planning to use a different-sized chain, do adjust accordingly. It is possible but it’s not recommended.

How do I choose a derailleur for my mountain bike?

While choosing the derailleur for your mountain bike, be concerned about weight and speed. Mountain bikes are supposed to be lightweight. Choose a rear mech made with carbon fiber in this case. It will be expensive though! It’s also important to match the derailleur with your regular speed.

Wrapping up

I’m hoping this front derailleur cable guide has been very helpful for you. 

This cable guide can help you through issues regarding the cables. Still, if you need a more professional approach, consider contacting a cycle mechanic near you.

Let’s get to setting up the cables! All the best.

1 thought on “Front Derailleur Cable Guide: All You Need to Know!”

  1. Thanks for the great information. I hope you can help me! I’ve converted an old HT to a rigid front fork touring bike. I replaced the groupset parts that needed replacing and this included a front derailleur. The old Shimano Deore 3x had the gear cable attached up from under the BB to the back of the seatpost and into the derailleur. Its replacement, Shimano Alivio 3x, has the connection at the front of the seatpost and derailleur. I’ve never routed a cable this way before. What do you recommend as the best route from the left hand shifter to the front of the derailleur? Many thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top