is floating gears bad


Is Floating Gears Bad?

Floating gears are a common issue that can arise when the drivetrain, or the assembly of elements that transfer power from the pedals to the rear wheel, is improperly set up and maintained. While this issue can be an annoyance for cyclists, it is important to understand the root cause and potential solutions to ensure the gears are functioning as they should.

What Causes Floating Gears?

Floating gears occur when the tension on a bicycle’s rear derailleur is not proper and the derailleur starts to move on its own. This begs the question – why isn’t the tension correct in the first place? The answer has several components:

    • Cable stretch: as cables age, they become looser and start to stretch, which reduces their tension. This loss of tension could potentially cause the same symptoms as a floating gear.


    • Faulty cable housing: tightened cables squeeze the housing around them and cause tension on the cable which helps prevent jerking when shifting from one gear to another. This can be affected by damage to the housing, improper installation, or even just the passage of time.


    • Incorrect alignment: when the jockey wheel of the derailleur is not properly aligned with the cassette, it will cause the derailleur to move out of its ideal position, resulting in a floating gear.


Is Floating Gears Bad?

Having a floating gear on a bicycle is not the worst thing in the world and usually won’t have a drastic effect on its functionality. However, it is important to identify the cause and resolve the issue to prevent any further damage or decreased performance. This could be as simple as replacing a cable or doing some fine-tuning of the derailleur’s alignment. It’s also a good idea to consider replacing components as they age or if they become heavily worn. By properly setting up and maintaining the drivetrain, you should be able to avoid a floating gear in the first place.