At this point, the new Surly is almost complete. There were really only a few hiccups in the entire process (grumpy bike store staff notwithstanding). For me, the most difficult part was installing and adjusting the rear derailleur. This was due in large part to two factors:

  1. I am impatient
  2. I am (slightly) stubborn
  3. The rear shifter was not assembled correctly

I would like to blame the week-long delay in getting the derailleur on correctly on #3 above, but I suspect it was largely due to #1 and #2. In any case, I thought I would highlight a few of the problems I ran into. The ideal basic steps (assuming you’ve already installed handlebars, and rear wheel/rear cassette) are:

  1. Attach shifter to handlebars
  2. Attach rear derailleur to hanger or attachment point (this will depend on your bike frame; most decent bikes will have a place to screw on the derailleur rather than a separate hanger).
  3. Install cable housing and shifter cable
  4. Install your chain
  5. Adjust the high and low points for your rear derailleur
  6. Attach the shifter cable to the derailleur and verify that it shifts correctly between gears

Of course, that’s the ideal process. Needless to say, it did not go that smoothly for me. I won’t dwell on my inability to cut two pieces of cable housing to the same length (think of Ernie slowly making his and Bert’s cookies the same size, nibble by nibble) or how many times I had to adjust the high range of the derailleur. There are a LOT of great articles out there that can show you in great detail how to do these things.

However, I would like to point out one thing that really stumped me for a while. I’m using Shimano SL-BS77 bar-end shifters on this bike. They’re made for either an 8- or 9-speed rear derailleur, working in either indexed (“clicky”) or friction (“not clicky”) mode. I was having problems getting them to work well with the derailleur, though. I had the limits correct, but when I shifted one click, the chain would jump 2 or 3 gears. Eventually (after many iterations of (1) tweaking random screws, (2) swearing under my breath when the adjustment didn’t work, and (3) going upstairs for another beer), I came to the realization that the shifter was only clicking 6 times as I moved between the highest and lowest gears. After a little bit of searching, I realized that the shifter was not assembled correctly, which was resulting in inconsistent movement between the different index positions. After that, it was a pretty simple matter of getting the shifter parts lined up correctly and reassembling/reattaching the shifter and derailleur.

I came up with the following resources, which I hope will be helpful to anyone else that is having similar problems:


Hope these help!