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Amongst the must have tools for optimal performance on your mountain bike there are a few that don't get much conversation. One of which keeps your rear derailleur hanger straight for crisp shifting. Our friend Adam shares his thoughts on the Park Tool DAG-2.2 Derailleur Alignment Tool. Check it out!
Have you ever gotten super frustrated trying to fix sloppy, jumpy shifting using the barrel adjusters on your shifters? You’ve watched several videos online and it looks so easy… you should totally be able to do this yourself! Just turn the barrel adjuster in/out a turn or two and it should be shifting as good as new, right? Well yes, but only if your derailleur hanger is properly aligned! (Among other things).
Some of those online videos fail to mention that the derailleur hanger must be properly aligned with the cassette so that the barrel adjuster can do the last bit of fine tuning. So, if you’ve crashed or had any impact to the derailleur area of your bike your derailleur hanger could be bent, which will make it difficult to get your bike shifting crisply. Luckily, once proper derailleur alignment is achieved with the tool however, the fine adjustment is actually an easy process.
I had a crash on my XC bike a few months ago and my SRAM GX Eagle derailleur took a digger into the dirt. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but afterwards my shifting was terrible. Using the barrel adjuster, I was able to get the bike to shift smoothly in either the big gears or small gears, but never across the whole cassette. After doing some research online, it seemed my issues were a classic symptom of a bent derailleur hanger. My options were either to drop $25 on a new derailleur hanger or buy a tool so that I could fix future alignment issues myself. The choice was a no brainer, I always opt for buying another tool! Enter the Park Tool DAG-2.2 Derailleur Alignment tool.
Simply unbolt your derailleur from the hanger, screw in the alignment tool, and proceed to check the alignment at 3 and 9 o’clock before checking 6 and 12 o’clock.
The tool itself has a very solid feel and is well built like all Park Tool products. No doubt this will be the last one of these I’ll ever buy (unless 32” wheels become a thing). It’s a strange looking apparatus, but thankfully once you watch Park Tool’s video on how to use it everything is demystified. Remember to rotate the wheel and check against the same point on the rim throughout the process (Park recommends using the valve stem as your check point).
I had no trouble attaching the tool to my derailleur hanger and once in place quickly discovered a gap of about 6mm vs the 3mm (or less) Park recommends. With a few gentle pulls on the lever I was able to bring the alignment back to within spec. At that point it only took half a turn of my barrel adjuster to get my shifting back to the crisp, precise shifts I was used to. Win! I would highly recommend the Park Tool DAG-2.2 to any home bike mechanic who wants to keep their shifting precise!
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