A simple guide to adjusting a Shimano Nexus hub gear

I thought I’d impart a little bit of advice on an aspect of bike maintenance that was slightly foreign to me, and hopefully that I can explain with the aid of pictures. If you are an expert bike mechanic, then this probably isn’t the post for you, as I expect you know all this already. If not, then I hope it is of some use, if you have a gear set-up similar to mine.

The joy of a solidly built Dutch bike is that it is almost entirely maintenance-free, so these kinds of maintenance issues are something that you don’t really have to deal with. To put this into perspective, I’ve had my Workcycles Omafiets for about nine months now, and cycled with it in some pretty awful weather.

DSCN9832But apart from mending one puncture (a hawthorn spike went straight through my rear tyre), pumping up the tyres every month or so, and wiping down the frame and wheels with a cloth, what I am about to describe is the only bit of ‘servicing’ I’ve had to do. No chain cleaning, no brake maintenance – nothing else. (By contrast, my previous bike did require a fair amount of regular cleaning and maintenance of the transmission in particular, because it was exposed to the elements.)

After a few months of riding, I started to experience some small issues with my gears. Nothing too serious – just that they wouldn’t engage in the gear I wanted, or would jump from one to another. The problem results from the gear cable stretching with use, meaning that it is no longer pulling the parts of the hub gear into the proper position for smooth gear changes.

Anyway, here’s what you need to do to address this problem if you have a similar Shimano Nexus hub. The first thing to do is to set your gear adjuster in number 4 – it is marked with a small dot on the display, for clarity (mine is an eight speed, with a coaster brake – but the same principle applies for other Shimano hub gears; select the ‘marked’ gear).

DSCN9670 Next, you need to remove the chain case. Mine has a simple detachable rear section, that pulls off smoothly. Just squeeze in at the top to release –


then move back to detach.


This will expose the chain, and (for our purposes) the relevant part of the rear hub.


You will be able to see, by looking down on it, two yellow markings, just outside the chain – visible in the picture above.

If you want to eliminate clunky and uncertain gear changes, the two yellow markings have to line up (they represent the ‘fixed’ part of the hub itself, and the rotating adjusting section, that actually shifts the gears inside the hub – but that’s not too important).

It’s very easy to do this – you just need to fiddle with the gear adjustment knurl back up on the handlebars. It lies on the cable coming out of the gear shifter.

DSCN9671Rotating the knurl will allow you to line up the yellow markings. I was going to go into a description of which way you need to rotate it, but on reflection it’s much easier if you just turn it a little bit and see which way the yellow marking has moved. If it’s got closer, keep rotating in that direction; if not, you need to rotate it the other way.

Once they’re lined up, you’re all set. All you need to do is replace the end of the chain case (slot it in at the bottom first, then click the top bit in) and you’re ready to go. Done!

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58 Responses to A simple guide to adjusting a Shimano Nexus hub gear

  1. Paul M says:

    We have bikes with the Nexus 7 hub, with a lever-operated rear roller brake. Process is basically identical, with 4th being the reference gear, except that the the two marks on the hub are red.

  2. alisonsye says:

    Sorry to go off subject here, but where is that church?

  3. Andrea says:

    It is best to do the adjustment with the cable released in first gear; then shift back to fourth to check. A little more fiddly but more precise.

    • alf-peter says:

      thanks andrea, trying your approach first and having other suggestions present in the back if the mind got settings right,

  4. Mark Small says:

    Wow, that’s very easy adjustment! I’m definitely switching to hub gears for my next bike, derailleur gears are so faffy.

  5. Prawsk says:

    I own a Batavus Lento – fantastic Dutch bike – however, adjusting the nexus brakes at the rear end are the easiest maintenance issue. It has hub brakes and if there is any operation involving removing the rear wheel, for instance replacing the tire, getting the wheel off by undoing brake and gear cables etc is nightmarish, and gets worse when they all have to be put together again. I’m a fairly competent bike mechanic, but find this difficult and frustrating. My tip? Get rid of the ineffective rear tyre that comes with the bike and replace it with either a Schawalbe or Continental which are less prone to punctures etc.

    • Koen says:

      Dutch bike repairmen dont remove the whole rear wheel. Nor do I. You’ll need a tool to spread the rear fork, (I used a claw hammer before I got one, lol). Just remove the nut from the axle on the side where the chain is not, then undo the clamps for the brake lever, spread the fork and wriggle out the old tyre and in with the new. Then fasten everything again. That’s about it. I used to do this myself from age 13, until I got a transport Batavus with an incredibly difficult Shimano 7-gear hub. Even the repair shop had difficulties adjusting that, and had to order a special tool for it. Nowadays it’s easy again. I think I’ll repair my bike myself again.

  6. S Pankhurst says:

    Just wanted to say thanks very much for taking the time to put these notes and photos up. Really useful and bike now fixed!

  7. jimjwright says:

    Thanks for writing this down so clearly, really useful!

  8. Tim says:

    If this doesn’t fix your problem, here is something else to look for if your nexus won’t downshift. When I tried to downshift my Nexus I found the cable casing would pop out of the adjustment knurl and no shifting would happen. No amount of adjustment would fix. After unattaching the cable from the hub, I realized the hub was not pulling on the cable the way it should. There is a spring inside the hub that wants to put it into 1st gear. Pulling on the cable with the shift lever works against that spring to pull it into higher gears. If the spring is not pulling, there is no way the cable can push it into lower gears, so it pushes out of the shifter instead.

    To see if this is your problem, find some instructions on how to remove the rear wheel (e.g., to fix a flat), the first step of which is to unattach the cable. To do this you put an allen wrench into a little hole, which allows you to push against the spring, removing tension on the cable. After the cable is unattached, use the allen wrench in the hole to move against the spring back and forth through the full range of motion. You should feel strong resistance through the full range. In my case, something was binding around 4th gear, and the mechanism would actually get stuck there. I took the wheel off thinking I would need to take it to repair shop, but then discovered the binding was no longer happening. There is a simple finger turnable lock ring that holds the cable “cassette” on the hub. This had become loose, which is what allowed the binding to happen. Tightening this into proper position fixed the problem. The last minute of this video shows how this lock ring works.

    • Steve says:

      Tim, thanks for the info. I had the same problem and your directions and YouTube link saved the day. Downshifting did not work; resetting the return spring worked perfectly.

      • Tim says:

        Hopefully, your fix is permanent. In my case, the problem re-occurred a couple weeks later. Eventually, I took it to the (Linus) dealer and they replaced the entire hub (for free). Possibly, it was defective from the start, or maybe riding with the lock ring loose caused some internal damage. The new one has been trouble free for almost 3 years now. Love this bike. Good luck!

    • Ozzy says:

      Super great! Thank you! This solved my problem. (Hope that it will work longer than it did for you. I suspect that the lock ring is starting to get worn out, maybe that’s why the problem occurs in the first place.)

  9. Ian says:

    I was able to fix my gears in a snap! I adjusted the cable then checked to see if I was turning the adjustment screw the right way and as luck would have it, the markers were spot on.

  10. Jan says:

    Great article for hub newbies. I was there some time ago and can appreciate the worth of this.

  11. katherine says:

    Wonderful! I’ve had my Azor omafiets for just two weeks and the gears were slipping (mostly from 5th to 4th/6th). Your guide was the best I’d find for a novice to internal hubs like myself. Thank you, problem solved!

  12. Yelp says:

    Cascades and yet again cascades, of semen.

  13. Frankie says:

    Thanks so much for putting this article out there. I bought a Cube Hyde pro with a Nexus 8 speed hub and the gears started to slip, it was infuriating. I took the bike to a local bike shop and he said there was nothing wrong it just needed ‘bedding in’. I have just adjusted the cable to align the markers ( which I hadn’t noticed before !) and the gears change perfectly with no slipping. YEHHHH

    • Richard says:

      I had the same experience with my Cube Hyde. My local bike shop took two days to service the bike, and the problem of slipping gears reappeared after a couple of days. After I find out this trick, I adjusted the gear cable myself, and haven’t had any problems since.

  14. Richard Watling says:

    I have tried the same procedure but it seems the knurl is jammed and I am worried that if I force it I may bust something – any ideas?

  15. Nico says:

    Just adjusted the gears on my brand-new Gazelle Cabby, thanks! I noticed the chain was lightly greased rather than oiled though, what’s up with that?

    • My chain was greased too – I didn’t need to clean it for well over a year, because it’s well protected inside the chain case. My guess is that grease works fine because it won’t pick up grit or grime like an exposed chain would. But I’ve since oiled by chain with standard lube (just because I don’t have any grease!)

  16. I followed your steps this morning (more or less, my chain case is different) on my WorkCycles Oma and it worked. What an easy fix. Thanks for the tip (and saving me a trip to the bike shop)!

  17. Pingback: The Skipping/Pedal Problem | bonjour bicycle

  18. BristolGirona says:

    On my Nexus 8 I only now seem to get two gears 1 and 4 – any explanations? Thanks

    • Mark Williams says:

      First make sure everything is assembled as it should be (adjuster barrel not completely detached from the shifter, no kinks in cable, end of cable attached to hub and wrapped around cam correctly, etc.). Then check out the brilliant master-class comments from Andrea and Tim above.

      On the 7-speed, it is the grooves machined into the surface of the metal cassette joint components which need to be aligned. The bright yellow or red paint which is used to highlight those might not be precisely centred over them. It isn’t on mine. Can you get some other gears by holding the twist-grip shifter somewhere inbetween `clicks’? What is the behaviour when other gears are selected (Nexus are not supposed to have `neutral’ gears like old Sturmey Archer hubs)? How can you tell it is gears 1 and 4 you are getting—as opposed to, say, 2 and 6?

      Also a cable outer full of gunge can prevent a linear extension/ retraction of inner for each click of the shifter in the relevant direction. In which case, time for a new cable!

  19. darrencope says:

    I’ve been having some issues with my Nexus 8, and was able to get it almost perfectly adjusted once, following the above steps. However, since then, I have taken the wheel off (unrelated to hub adjustment) and also had the bearings replaced at a shop. Since then. the yellow dot on the ‘outside’ is no longer visible in the window. I’ve been adjusting by aligning the painted yellow dots rather than those in the window, but can’t seem to get it quite right. Why would the second dot in the window be ‘missing,’ and how can I get it back?

  20. Pingback: Shimano Nexus 8 Hub Alignment Mark No Longer Visible | Search Results for Shimano Nexus 8 Hub Alignment Mark No Longer Visible | Ashver

  21. Peter Sanders says:

    This was really helpful. My gear was slipping very badly. I thought I had to align it using the nuts close to the hub but this put me right. Many thanks. Very user friendly. Thanks.

  22. Peter says:

    Maybe it’s easier on more modern versions of the Nexus, but my 20 year old Gazelle’s 7-speed is truly, as someone remarked on YT, ‘diabolical’ in its arcane contrivance. A simple matter of replacing a rear tyre at home, turned into a retreat from Moscow; this being exacerbated by my inadvertantly breaking the casette joint fixing ring.

    I too, consider myself reasonably adept at things menchanical. But since I like to ride out into the countryside, there is really nothing to recommend hub gears as far as I’m concerned. The prospect of requiring, say, the replacement of a rear inner tube on the side of the road in fading daylight, is out of the question. It is bitter experience of such a scenario which has made me dubious vis-a-vis the Nexus/rollerbrake combo for anything other than localised urban usage – i.e. easy walking distance from home or a bike shop.

  23. Bought a KTM Cross 8 e-bike in April and haven’t done 100 miles yet and the gears started slipping occasionally.. Thanks to you it’s now running smoothly again. And how simple to adjust. Why the man in the shop couldn’t have pointed this out I don’t know, and the paper work that came with the bike was as much use as a chocolate fire guard. I think you must be the bike equivalent of the plain English,campaign. Thanks very much again. As an aside the knurled adjustment has a click every quarter turn to make it even easier. Regards, Chris Davies. .

  24. josh london says:

    If you find that you frequently have to readjust the shifter cable your issue may be that the nut on the cable that attached to the hub is slipping. It must be sufficiently tightened so it does not slip. Also there are very specific requirements about positioning of the nut on the cable. So for any reason you need to recable the Nexus be sure you follow the instructions precisely that come with the hub or shifter.

  25. alpincesare says:

    Thanks much for the article.

    > Rotating the knurl will allow you to line up the yellow markings

    An important thing: At least on the Shimano Alfine (so it might also be true for the Nexus), the barrel adjuster (knurl) contains a spring: You must first pull the adjuster outward, before turning it one way or the other by a quarter turn.

    Do NOT force-turn it (like some idiot did it on my bike, with a wrench, and ruined the shifter).

  26. Ben Heslop says:

    I’ve been running a 2nd hand nexus 7 with an electric motor (mid mount).

    Over 12 months the rear hub got slower and slower to change gears. Recently it stopped going above gear 4. After servicing by a bike mechanic (i know, a bit late) the nexus now changes very smoothly, except for 6 and 7, which are more like 3 or 4.

    Any thoughts? Have I stuffed it? Can Shimano fix this? Am I better buying new?

  27. adem witt says:

    hi brother tim,
    thanx a lot for that precise description.
    worked immediately and simple.
    my situation doesn’t allow me to just go to the next bike dealer.
    i’m sitting pretty much at the end of the road in the pampa in
    guanacaste northern costa rica.
    so once more hail to you

  28. George says:

    I am currently rebuilding a 10yr old Specialised Globe Comp with new wheels and an Alfine 8 rear hub (original one was Nexus 8)… encountered something I am uncertain about and has put the brakes on the whole rebuild until I can get a convincing answer. The cassette is not a tight fit despite attaching it correctly. I am get hold of the cable arm and wiggle the whole cassette slightly which I think is wrong. (By comparison the cassette on my old Nexus hub locks down nice and tight with its fixing ring). The parts appear to be all correct – the kit was supplied by the wheel builders. Essentially the fixing ring is not a reassuring tightness when it is put in position and rotated. Have Shimano relaxed their tolerances on this hub/axle assembly? Logic suggests not. Looking closely at the area of the fixing ring I see that it is supposed to gain its tightness through its own plastic “teeth/contours” on the outer edge of the ring engaging with some contours engineered on the bottom edge of the outer steel “nut” of the hub assembly – maybe this nut has been installed a fraction of a mm too far away from the axle centre resulting in the “gap” that the fixing ring teeth squeeze under being too wide? I have no idea…

    • Mark Williams says:

      Disclaimer: I have no experience of Alfine, only Nexus so cannot directly answer your questions. If you are certain you have matching hub and cassette (Sh*mano are notorious for changing parts through ‘continuous improvement’/ lock-in, but do change part numbers in the process) and haven't attached the parts to the hub upside-down or back-to-front etc., then the critical things are that the gear selector splines on the hub do not rotate independently of the cam and cable outer cannot move relative to the fixed part of the axle. You also wouldn't want any friction between the metal parts by being too tight. Wiggling side-to-side does not effect the selection mechanism much—my plastic lock ring once became completely detached for a year (including a ride to the South of France and back) without any noticeable detrimental effects!

      • George says:

        Thanks for info… I actually sent a video of the issue to Madisons (Shimano UK) and they told me that what they saw was ok so I had the confidence to complete the rebuild (included all new brake levers and cabling too).

        • Mark Williams says:

          Excellent. Top marks to Madisons, too—there was a time when questions to Sh*mano were self-evidently directed to /dev/null. Does the Alfine feel noticeably less lossy compared to the Nexus?

  29. alex says:

    I’m a dummy. I forgot to switch my gear to 4 and took the wheel apart from the bike, now I don’t know how to put it back:(
    My gear is switched to 3.

  30. GiantChicken says:

    Like the user Prawsk, I have a Batavus Lento Weekend, great bike but I definitely don’t like the gear hub (Nexus 7), it gives me trouble. Maybe it’s because it’s second hand and it’s worn… from time to time the cable does not recover its position when switching to a lower gear, which means the end of the cable shows at the shifter. You have to squeeze it in while riding or you may be stuck in between gears, preventing you from pedalling. I’ve put oil in the cable housing, cleaned the cable spring clamp… The cable is well adjusted because it shifts fine once it’s in place. Also, being used to freewheel gears, I feel that the force I do is laggy, I’m not over torqueing, it just feels spongy. I’m already planning to convert it to chainring gears and some dropbars.

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  32. Allen Ballard says:

    Have a question. On my Nexus the two markers are perfectly aligned, but it’s in fifth gear, not fourth gear, and the second line doesn’t even appear in the box when it’s in fourth gear. There’s no difficulty in shifting however, shifts are smooth. Should I just leave it alone the way it is? Thanks.

    • Mark Williams says:

      On my 15 year old 7-speed, both sets of marks are always in fourth gear—but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that newer models have moved the alignment marks or that the number displayed by the shifter is out-by-one. You can download the specific instruction sheet for yours from the Sh!m*no web site.

      If you can select all of the gears (e.g. all 8 on an 8-speed) accurately and they’re all different ratios, then it’s almost certainly adjusted properly. If not; it sounds like your gear cable inner has been set ~5 mm too short, you’ve got two identical first and no top gear!

      • Allen Ballard says:

        Mark, thanks a lot for this very helpful reply. It’s a 2016 model and it’s seven speed. As it’s working properly, I’ll just leave well-enough alone. Thanks again.

        • Allen Ballard says:

          It’s a year later and I just had the lbs check out my gear Nexus seven speed. Sue enough, it had been misadjusted from the factory and was missing one gear. Now it definitely has seven gears. Thanks, Mark

          • Mark Williams says:

            Next time it goes into the LBS; ask if they can get the secret reverse gear working, too 😁👍?

  33. Kenneth Alway says:

    thank you very much for the info. I have a Trek with a earlier Shimano 7 speed I bought about 15 years ago although not rode hard as bought after I retied to use local, the tips have use full to help maintain my bike

  34. dduff617 says:

    Very useful article. I’m trying to adjust a Nexus 8-speed that was factory installed on a bike I purchased last year. I made the cable-length adjustment to bring the yellow marks into alignment when shifter indicates 4th gear. Now shifting seems smooth for gears 1-6, however it feels like I hit a hard limit and even with a lot of effort, can not move the shifter above 6, thus can’t get it to indicated 7th or 8th gear. Any ideas what might be wrong?

  35. dduff617 says:

    In case anyone else has a similar problem of not being able to shift into 7th or 8th gear on an 8-speed Nexus hub… I solved this thanks partly to info here. First, I found a link to the Shimano Dealer Manual on Sheldon Brown website: https://web.archive.org/web/20160809154735/http://si.shimano.com/php/download.php?file=pdf/dm/DM-SG0003-01-ENG.pdf

    On the bottom of p. 21 of that guide there is a specific picture showing correct and incorrect cable routing. My bike came from the factory in the “incorrect” configuration. After finding this diagram the fix took all of 10 seconds, then re-adjusting the proper alignment of yellow marks took another 30 seconds. Now the bike is back to shifting perfectly through all 8 gears.

  36. Scott Pendergast says:

    I also found the same problem as dduff617 for the Shimano nexus SG-C6001-8D where the grears could not turn past 6. The updated manual is https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/dm/DM-CASG001-02-ENG.pdf page 27 diagram 4.

  37. tomstickland says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve just got round to needing to adjust the gears and I’d noticed the yellow markings. Now I know what I need to do!

  38. mhashizu says:

    Thank you so much for writing this up. I was having issues with my hub and you saved me a trip back to the shop. Easy fix!

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