How to setup a Shimano Ultegra 6800 front derailleur

The following guide will help you correctly setup a Shimano Ultegra 6800 front derailleur. It also applies to the Shimano Dura Ace 9000 front derailleur and the Shimano 105 5800 front derailleur.

Firstly I take no credit whatsoever for this setup guide. All credit goes to Trailflow on BikeRadar who posted the information in this thread. The only purpose of this is to ensure this golden nugget of information doesn’t get lost.

Getting a front mech setup correctly is a black art. What appears to be a relatively simple task can have you swearing and pulling your hair out. I have had a Shimano Ultegra 6800 front derailleur on my bike for over 12 months. First on my Cannondale CAAD 10 and then on my Specialized Tarmac. On both bikes I have setup the mech myself and on both bikes I have done it wrong. This incorrect setup as resulted in chain rub in some shape or form. Either towards the bottom of the cassette when in the little ring or towards the top of the cassette in the big ring. On both bike I have spent ages trying to get it right and ended up just living with it. That is until I read the post made by Trailflow.

If you running Shimano Ultegra 6800/Dura Ace 9000 or 105 5800 and are struggling with the front derailleur setup then look no further. Your prayers have been answered.

Before you start you’ll need.

1. 5 mm Allen key

2. 4 mm Allen Key

3. 2 mm Allen Key

4. Phillips screwdriver

5. Pliers

6. Ice cold beer

The official Shimano FD-9000/FD-6800 setup guide is here. I suggest you use it for reference only.


The ultegra 6800 front derailleur has a trim function on both the big AND the small ring. So big lever and little lever. (if you dont know what the trims functions are – they are lever clicks that allow you to move the cage slightly to eliminate chain rub)

To set up the 6800 front derailleur correctly an inline barrel adjuster or frame barrel adjuster should be used. It will make set up much easier. if you dont have one, install one. Make sure it is screwed all the way in too, before starting.

Start off by making sure the outer limit screw is screwed outwards but not all the way that it pops outs (the limit screw closest to the chain rings)

Start over. undo the cable

When clamping the front derailleur to the frame make sure the gap between the big chainring teeth and front derailleur cage is around 2 to 4mm.

Toe the rear of the cage in slightly (around 5mm) when clamping. Then use the support bolt to align the cage with the big chainring. The support bolt is a small screw that pushes up against the seat tube to add stiffness to the front derailleur when shifting. It also moves the front cage outwards as you screw it in. See page 8 of the pdf below … 24&cad=rja

So first , with the cable de-attached. Put the chain on the small front ring and 25t (or biggest) back cog. –

Adjust the inner limit screw (closest to the frame on the front derailleur) so the gap is 0.5mm from the chain and the front derailleur’s plastic plate,and not rubbing on the chain.

Make sure to down click the left shift lever into its lowest position. Press the small lever 4 times

Clamp the cable (pull the cable fairly tight with pliers and clamp). Then shift the chain onto the 11t cog (or smallest) at the back, and shift the front onto the big ring. (if it doesnt shift up – add more tension by loosening the bolt and pulling more cable ,then re-tighten the bolt). Now when in the big ring there should now be some chain rubbing on the cage if you spin the cranks.

Now wind the inline barrel adjuster (adding more cable tension) until there is a 0.5mm gap between the outer cage and chain, and no chain rub. Look down at the front derailleur cage as you do it, and spin the crank until the rubbing stops.

Then wind the outer limit screw in until it touches the stop. (If the outer limit screw is in too much it wont shift up – this is why you screw it out at the beginning.)

Next shift the front down onto the small ring and keep the rear on the 11t (or smallest) cog. Then click into the front small ring trim position with the left big lever. now whilst in the trim position,add a little bit more tension with the barrel adjuster, until there is also no chain rub. This will eliminate any slop in the trim and make it feel more positive to click.

Now it should all be set. Check all gears and trim settings. Make sure the chain isnt being thrown over off the big ring.

If you find the shifting or the small ring trim click isnt very positive. Start over and try the second cable routing tab position. (remember to wind the barrel adjuster in again before starting.)

There will always be rub in the big/big combo. This is cross chaining. Edit. Depending on your chainline, chainstay length, the number of teeth on your big chainring, you may be able to get the full spread of gears.

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