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Shifting Issues
Hello all! My bike will inconsistently shift. I can't use the bottom gear, the chain slips off it and rubs on the wheel. The bike doesn't shift at around gear five out of seven, and then when I go to six it's on five. When I finally try to put it on gear seven, it shifts to six, and then immediately after slips a bit and shifts successfully to seven. I think one of the limit screws is off, but after doing some further research it seems that the derailleur hanger is bent. It make more sense to me given the situation. It took a fall on the drivetrain side on a trail a couple days ago. I don't have a park tools DAG 2.2 or similar, so I think I would have to resort to bending the part. What can I do to fix it? Yes, this is not a fancy bike or anything, which is why I would rather fix and spend less money. If I'm going to spend more money, I'd rather spend it on something with a greater longevity. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-Signature-Men-s-Chute-27-5-Mountain-Bike/710567794. I spent only $200 on this, and the only difference is the grips and the seat, which don't have an effect on the drivetrain i would imagine.

Also -- Is there any way I can take the Shimano S-TEC class without working for a bike shop? I would like to be able to do these things on my own, and I plan on owning a bike in some form for as long as I am able to ride one. If I can't take the S-TEC class/certification (i just want to learn, but working in a bike shop would be a cool summer job for a college student), what other options do I have in the way of basic maintenance and repair education? I'm not looking to spend much money, but I will if I need to.
If you are going to stay with bicycles then buy the dag tool and learn how to use it. You will also need a truing stand, plus a bicycle work stand to hold the bike while working on it. There are many tasks/repairs one can do using a fluid/mag trainer as these hold the bike also. Tools make you money, keep that in mind. Most tools for standard repairs will pay for them selves in time compared to the labor you may pay an LBS for even 1 repair.
If your life riding bicycles includes geared bicycles and it probably will, The true stand and dag tool are a must. To properly "Fine Tune" you must realize that everything on a bicycle system is connected. In your case "drivetrain". Just like your body, the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone etc.. With that said, you need to simply set your gears, right? well in order to do this you need to make sure all your connected bones if you will, are good. To tune the gears you need to make sure the Chainrings are tight and true, The bottom bracket is tight, smooth, with no play. The rear wheel is true, the axle is tight, cassette/freewheel tight. Now you may proceed to align the hanger with the dag tool, then set your H/L limit screws for the rear then the front Low and high. Kinda the condensed version but I hope you get the idea.
Working and contributing time to a local Co Op is a great way to learn and they have many tools for you to use. This site has many tutorials as does Parktool.com to help with many basic repairs.
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"

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