Barrel Adjuster Won’t Screw-In (Read This First)

Barrel Adjuster Won't Screw-In

A barrel adjuster won’t screw in? It’s not a big deal, but you need to know how to fix it to keep your wheel from rattling when you ride. Luckily, fixing the problem takes only a few minutes.

First, you need to get the inner wire tension set correctly, and then you can quickly tighten the barrel adjuster.

So as you read this guide on fixing a barrel adjuster that won’t screw in, remember that knowledge is power in bicycle maintenance! 

Unscrewing your barrel adjuster to tighten your inner wire tension can be arduous because it doesn’t snag on the wire threads when you turn it. However, two things can help you with the barrel adjuster. First, don’t turn the barrel adjuster by hand; unscrew it while holding the brake lever.

Why Won’t My Barrel Adjuster Screw-In and How to Fix It?

Barrel Adjuster Won't Screw-In

Your barrel adjuster fails to screw in for several reasons; here are they:

#1. Limit Screw Adjustment

It may be a limit screw adjustment issue.

When adjusting limit screws, turn them counterclockwise until they can be fully unscrewed, then turn them one-quarter of a turn clockwise to allow for improved shifting performance and clearance.

If that doesn’t work, remove both limit screws and reattach the derailleur to your bike—the barrel adjuster should now screw in without any issues.

#2. Bent Derailleur Hanger

Your barrel adjuster not screwing in could be due to a bent derailleur hanger or other issues.

To fix this problem, you should replace your rear derailleur. In addition, it’s essential to ensure you do not screw your derailleur limit screws too far.

#3. Debris

Debris can also cause your barrel adjuster not to screw in.

If there’s no debris blocking your barrel adjuster and it still won’t screw in, you’ll want to check if both rear derailleur limit screws are correctly set.

If you find that one of these limit screws is turned counterclockwise past its fully unscrewed position, unscrew it until it’s loose, then rotate it one-quarter turn clockwise to correct.

#4. If Your Barrel Adjuster Isn’t Tight Enough

If your barrel adjuster doesn’t screw in, it may not be tight enough. To fix a barrel adjuster that turns quickly in its barrel, you need to tighten it by applying force to its opposite side.

To do so, turn your shifter until your chain is on its smallest cog and shift into its largest cog while pedaling.

Then continue turning your barrel adjuster screw about a quarter-turn counterclockwise.

#5. If Your Barrel Adjuster Is Stuck

Your barrel adjuster not screwing in might be because your barrel adjuster is stuck. If it doesn’t turn, you may need to detach your derailleur from its hanger.

This process can be slightly different depending on how your rear derailleur is mounted and what type of frame you have.

#6. Chain Slack

The barrel adjuster won’t screw in because you have too much chain slack. In other words, you need to limit your rear derailleur’s travel by increasing your limit screws (preload).

It will cause your chain to slip less and work more efficiently.

Remember, turn it counterclockwise. Turn your barrel adjuster clockwise one-quarter turn at a time until you get good shifting performance.

#7. Too Far Up On Your Limit Screws

If your barrel adjuster screw doesn’t screw in, you are too far up on your limit screws (meaning you don’t have any more adjustment to gain). 

To fix this, follow this procedure:

The first thing you want to do is check where your limit screws are. Remember that if you go past a certain number of clicks, it won’t gain any more adjustment.

On the other hand, if your limit screws are adjusted too far up, turning your barrel adjuster screw will cause it to scratch the derailleur and potentially damage internal components. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but make sure you have some range of adjustments left before using your barrel adjuster again.

#8. The Derailleur Hanger Alignment Is Off

If the derailleur hanger alignment of your bike is off, your barrel adjustment won’t screw in.

However, you will have trouble getting into gear if it’s angled up or down dramatically because the angle of your chainrings and cogs affects how your derailleur works.

To fix the error of your barrel adjuster not screwing in, you must check and ensure that your derailleur hanger alignment is correct.

The rear dropout and derailleur hanger should be parallel. If not, take a star wrench (or similar tool) and turn your derailleur hanger so that it is. 

You may have to adjust both sides for perfect alignment, but it’s better than having poorly aligned gears. 

How Do You Screw In a Barrel Adjuster?

As you would expect, a barrel adjuster screws in to alter the rear derailleur limit screws.

Typically, your barrel adjuster will be attached to your handlebar by a bolt that extends through it, using an Allen key (also known as a hex wrench) to secure it.

To begin, loosen both derailleur limit screws on either side of your rear derailleur’s stop plate. Then use your barrel adjuster to dial in your perfect chain tension.

Barrel adjusters are screw-in devices that control how far your rear derailleur moves to accommodate different gear combinations.

Barrel adjusters can move in either direction, so pay attention to whether you’re turning them clockwise or counterclockwise when tightening or loosening them

You may adjust the derailleur limit screws clockwise for shorter chain stays and counterclockwise for the longer chain stays.

Although barrel adjusters typically screw into a solid handlebar, some newer models also feature two mounting bolts and serve as standalone limit controls on their own.

Barrel adjusters come in both barrel and clamp styles. Barrel adjusters are mounted to a handlebar and move along as you change gears. 

It can reduce their range of motion but does give them more utility on their own.

Most riders use barrel adjusters for simple rear derailleur adjustments that are less visible to spectators than a complete turn on a limit screw.

Which Way Tightens a Barrel Adjuster? 

You can generally find barrel adjusters on rear derailleurs, and these devices may need adjusting if you experience shifting problems.

The barrel adjuster’s shaft will move in two directions: to tighten or loosen the cable tension.

If you turn it counterclockwise, it moves toward your bike’s rear-wheel; if you turn it clockwise, it moves away from your rear wheel.

If you’re wondering which way tightens a barrel adjuster, note that no rule says you must always turn it in one direction.

In other words, clockwise will tighten a barrel adjuster in some cases and counterclockwise in others.

Manufacturers designed other rear derailleurs to work only one way—their barrel adjusters move in one direction only, and you can never turn it backward.

So turning them counterclockwise will never tighten your cable, even if they have a left-side threaded area and a right-side threaded area.

Suppose you are working with a rear derailleur with only one direction of movement and are unsure which way to crank a barrel adjuster on it to make it tighter.

First, it would be best to remember that turning it to the right makes your cable tighter, and a left turn will cause your cable to become looser.

In other words, to tighten your cable using a left-only barrel adjuster, turn its shaft to the left.

Once you understand how to tighten a barrel adjuster on your rear derailleur, you’ll be able to adjust it properly in less than a minute.

First, however, you may need to consult your bike’s manual to determine whether its rear derailleur has a left-side threaded area and a right-side threaded area or only one direction of movement.


If your barrel adjuster doesn’t screw in, there are several reasons this could happen, such as a bent derailleur hanger or a stuck barrel adjustment.

However, one of the most common reasons this happens is loose inner wire tension. The good thing is that this article tells you how to fix these problems.

Josh Matthews

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