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Derailers and Shifters - Adjustment help needed
Hello. I'm new to this message board - thanks for reading this.
I'm almost at my witts end with adjusting my wife's mountain bike. It's about 15 years old, Specialized brand 21 speed. Original Shimano shifters seem to be locked up - I've read that the grease hardens over the years. I tried loosening them up with Brake Clean spray, but to no avail.

I found a new pair of Shimano Shifters online (Amazon Prime) with very good reviews, so I decided to completely replace the ones that were on the bike.

The installation was easy, but adjusting the shifters - front and rear - to work has proven to bemore than I can figure out. I've spend 3 nights working on the adjustments, watching You tube videos, - and even watched one video on my Iphone right at the bike, pausing it each step of the way.

I've taken a few photos of the bike. Once I get this figured out on my wife's bike, I'm going to replace the ones on my bike too. I don't know if I'm arrogant, or pig-headed, but I refuse to take the bike in to have them adjusted. I do everything myself and I'll be darned if this is a job that I can't figure out how to do.

The rear shifter derailer seems to be pretty well adjusted right now, but the front derailer/shifter is now the problem for me. It seems like if the cable is tight enough to shift shift from the smallest grear to the middle gear, the cable won't allow the shifter to move into the 3rd gear index because the cable is too tight. And if I loosen the cable enough to shift from 1 to 3 - largest gear - it's too loose to move the chain. I'm completely confused.

Front derailleurs are a ______.  I hope you have watched: http://bikeride.com/adjust-front-derailer/ which is the best.

Personally, I use friction shifters on the front; less of a _________.

With indexed shifters, the ramps and pins on the big chain ring MUST be in good shape.
I'm making good progress finally. The instruction online helped me understand better. Adjust the two limiter screws, then adjust cable tension.

One more problem to resolve and I think I'll be done:
The rear shifter and derailer is working fine now, shifting up and down nicely.
The front shifter is a 3 speed indexer - Shimano. The only problem left to solve is that it is shiifting fine up and down, but at the #3 position of the thumb shifter/indexer, in order to make the final shift onto the biggest #3 sprocket gear on the front, the cable is so tight that it is very difficult to depress the thumb shifter/indexer to the position where it clicks into place at #3. Hope that makes sense.
If I loosen the cable a little bit, to make it easier to index up to #3 position, it isn't tight enough to move the chain to the #3 sprocket/gear.

I can move it fine, but I think my wife will have problems with it.
I think I read somewhere that there are different location options for the cable to be attached to the derailer (Shimano) to move it more or less with each index?

Also, I don't see an adjustment to be able to move the complete derailer inward our outward to allow it to move to the #3 large sprocket easier, with less cable tension.

Thanks again.
So, I read another post where someone said the tech at the bike store bent, or moved the front derailer a little bit to make the shifter shift into 3rd gear (front gears). Then someone said they squeezed the front of the cage on the front derailer to make it easier to shift.
Finally, someone said to adjust the screw for the largest sprocket so the cage moves more to the outside withough having the chain fall off.
I did that, played with it a little more, and it now seems like the thumb shifter works a little easier than before.

I'll tell you this. The adjustments between the chain making noise, shifting up, and shifting down are so small, I think part of the problem most people have is that they adjust too much at one time.

Anyway, I'll wait for anymore comments.
Someone wants me to call them on the phone, I'm sorry, but I'd rather not do that yet.

Thanks anyway.

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