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Thread: Sticky Shifters

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    Sticky Shifters

    I noticed on my ride today that my LX shifters are getting sticky/gummy in the cold. Time to clean/relube them.

    My question is what's your favorite lube to use in them?

    The last time I had this problem I cleaned them out with WD 40 and lubed them with whatever chain lube I happened to have on hand at the time. It worked...sorta. It was better than it was before, at least. This time I want to do it better. So is there anything approaching a consensus about the best lube to use inside shifters?

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    i just hose them down with liquid wrench penetrant and done

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    My preferred: wd-40, blast with air compressor, tri-flow. Sometimes it's worth it to pull it apart and clean out stubborn crud with a toothbrush.
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    Tri-flow, cleans and lubes. I've had very good luck.

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    White Lightning Clean Streak is hands down the best I've used for cleaning them, leaves virtually no residue. I've had good results using Tri-flo spray for lube.

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    I typically used a regular degreaser to clean out all the old crappy stuff and then would use the 3in1 lithium spray grease to re lube it. But for winter time I would probably suggest some lighter weight lube like a regular 3in1 or something similar.
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    Best bet

    Best long term solution I have found -- Spend a few bucks and buy a set of PTFE teflon coated shifter cables. Clean your cable housings by spraying WD40 inside until it flushes all the loose dirt out. Blow out the housings with compressed air (or allow them to 'drip dry') and install the teflon coated cables. This will last many times longer than trying to clean/lube uncoated cables, and you will be amazed at the improvement in shifting performance. You should not need to lube the teflon coated cables.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankinMich View Post
    Best long term solution I have found -- Spend a few bucks and buy a set of PTFE teflon coated shifter cables. Clean your cable housings by spraying WD40 inside until it flushes all the loose dirt out. Blow out the housings with compressed air (or allow them to 'drip dry') and install the teflon coated cables. This will last many times longer than trying to clean/lube uncoated cables, and you will be amazed at the improvement in shifting performance. You should not need to lube the teflon coated cables.
    You don't know what I'm talking about, do you? Fyi, when Shimano's shifter lube gets old or contaminated with water, it gets gummy and sticky and can actually render the shifters useless in subfreezing temps. I have also seen this happen in freehubs so the pawls won't engage. I worked in a shop in Michigan for awhile and saw what happens to bikes that get ridden year round in all conditions.

    I run fully sealed Gore Ride-On cables that are butter smooth when it's warm and my shifters are working well. My problem is the aforementioned one where the lube in the shifters (like I said in my first post) becomes gummy and sticky in subfreezing temps. The solution is to clean them and relube them. It is an issue irrespective of the cables.

    The shifters are otherwise fine and do not warrant replacing yet.

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    Deep Creep is where it's at, freed up some ultegra shifters in no time flat on a road bike that had been sitting unused for a few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    You don't know what I'm talking about, do you? Fyi, when Shimano's shifter lube gets old or contaminated with water, it gets gummy and sticky and can actually render the shifters useless in subfreezing temps. .

    You don't know what he's talking about, do you?


    He's saying install teflon coated cables. No lube needed. Take a look at Jagwire cables.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoban View Post
    You don't know what he's talking about, do you?


    He's saying install teflon coated cables. No lube needed. Take a look at Jagwire cables.
    No thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoban View Post
    You don't know what he's talking about, do you?


    He's saying install teflon coated cables. No lube needed. Take a look at Jagwire cables.
    OP's talking about the shifter itself being sticky, not the cables.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoban View Post
    You don't know what he's talking about, do you?


    He's saying install teflon coated cables. No lube needed. Take a look at Jagwire cables.
    he's talking about trying to clean/lube uncoated cables vs. doing the same with PTFE coated cables. which isn't my problem. and I said that I use Gore Ride-On sealed cables. Better than what you suggest.

    my SHIFTER is sticky. It has nothing to do with the cables. I was clear about my problem. some folks seem to understand just fine and have provided me with some good advice, and I will be looking up some of the products mentioned earlier in the thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    he's talking about trying to clean/lube uncoated cables vs. doing the same with PTFE coated cables. which isn't my problem. and I said that I use Gore Ride-On sealed cables. Better than what you suggest.

    my SHIFTER is sticky. It has nothing to do with the cables. I was clear about my problem. some folks seem to understand just fine and have provided me with some good advice, and I will be looking up some of the products mentioned earlier in the thread.

    I apologize for offending your sensitive sensibilities. Also for evidently having shitty reading comprehension. I have good luck with Jagwire and no lube on the shifters, but it doesn't get crazy cold here.
    Last edited by Hoban; 01-07-2013 at 05:03 PM.

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    I'd second Clean Streak as a cleaner. Triflow does a good job of not gumming up and keeping it working smoothly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    he's talking about trying to clean/lube uncoated cables vs. doing the same with PTFE coated cables. which isn't my problem. and I said that I use Gore Ride-On sealed cables. Better than what you suggest.

    my SHIFTER is sticky. It has nothing to do with the cables. I was clear about my problem. some folks seem to understand just fine and have provided me with some good advice, and I will be looking up some of the products mentioned earlier in the thread.
    Like I said before, DEEP CREEP Sea Foam | Deep Creep | General Content - Deep Creep

    Spray it into the shifter, and they are freed up in less than a minuite and working as good as new as long as no parts are worn out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlienRFX View Post
    Like I said before, DEEP CREEP Sea Foam | Deep Creep | General Content - Deep Creep

    Spray it into the shifter, and they are freed up in less than a minuite and working as good as new as long as no parts are worn out.
    I saw your post the first time. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    White Lightning Clean Streak is hands down the best I've used for cleaning them, leaves virtually no residue. I've had good results using Tri-flo spray for lube.
    Talked to my LBS today. They had a bike on the stand they had just done this very work on, and they also recommended Clean Streak, so I picked up a bottle.

    The mech also said he liked Phil's Tenacious Oil in there for the lube, so I grabbed some of that, too. I thought about getting the Tri-flo instead but the mech justified his preference by saying the Tenacious Oil clings to the parts better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Talked to my LBS today. They had a bike on the stand they had just done this very work on, and they also recommended Clean Streak, so I picked up a bottle.

    The mech also said he liked Phil's Tenacious Oil in there for the lube, so I grabbed some of that, too. I thought about getting the Tri-flo instead but the mech justified his preference by saying the Tenacious Oil clings to the parts better.
    I respect the mechanic's opinion (and in fact, it does lubricate better) but I personally will stick with triflow, for the exact opposite reason. Stickier lube gums up more in cold weather.

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    3 step program:

    prep: remove cable from shifter.

    1. spray PB Blaster in that shifter, just in case there's any issues that the next 2 won't solve.
    2. spray clean streak in shifter.
    3. spray tri flow in shifter.

    all 3 steps should have fluid sprayed from both the cable insertion and exit points. then run through the full range of index clicks. you can blow out with comressed air between steps if you need to, but leave the tri flow.

    it's a messy job, so have rags on hand, but you'll get another year out of your shifters for 5 bucks and 5 minutes before you have to do it again.

  21. #21
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    Tri Flow works great. It's very thin and will do a great job in the cold. You'll have to re-apply more often than a thicker lube but it will work in low temperatures better. Tri Flow also breaks up a bit of old grease which causes the stickiness. If it's really sticky, hit it with a solvent like WD-40 before applying Tri Flow.
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