Is my shifter dying?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is my shifter dying?

    I'm suddenly getting big resistance from my old (10 yr+/-) XTR shifters. They still work, but the thumb action is really hard - hard enough that I thought I had it maxed out but I just was not thumb clicking hard enough. New cables/housing a month ago when the shop revived the rear derailleur after I tweaked the limit screw for forward/back action in a crash so that it "missed" the frame stop. Can't see anything "wrong" with derailleur or cables, & forefinger trigger works OK. Any ideas?

    Another clue: I took the cable/housing out of the stops and the shifter action seemed normal, so it may be the RD, although I can't see anything wrong there.
    Last edited by mtbxplorer; 09-05-2012 at 04:20 AM. Reason: Should have mentioned it's a "rapid rise", those backwards type derailleurs where a thumb click puts you in a smaller cog.

  2. #2
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    I don't suppose you have another shifter to try with that RD or another RD to try with that shifter?

    Might be worth posting this in the drivetrain section...

  3. #3
    CB of the East
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    Try putting it in a high gear and shifting it by pulling on the bare cable (between the stops) to see if it is stiff.

    Sometimes a gritty cable guide below the bottom bracket can bind a little.

    You can also work the derailleur by hand to see if that feels stiff. Put it in a high gear and pivot it by hand to shift into the bigger cogs.

    Taking apart the shifter cleaning it and lubing it with an all temp oil/grease could help too but depending in the shifter you may end up with springs everywhere. Usually you can take the outer housing off without getting in trouble but I can't promise it.

  4. #4
    Bedwards Of The West
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    Yep, easy to troubleshoot by detaching the cable from the derailleur and shifting while pulling a bit on the cable...all the way up through the gears, and all the way down. If it clicks consistently and acts 'normal' when doing this, it's not the shifter. You can grab the cable just after each section of housing, and find where the resistance is (if it's in a section of housing). If the resistance is the same everywhere (and the shifter is acting normal during this test), then the issue is in the derailleur.

    edit: Did the shop put housing ends/stops on the new sections of housing? I've had housing 'guts' do really weird things when there's no endcaps on there...working their way through cable stops on the frame and gumming thigns up, etc. most recently I had some long metal housing guts work their way pretty far up into my shifter, causing major resistance. I was shocked at the section of cable housing I pulled out of the shifter when I finally tore it down. No idea how it was still working at all.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice and suggestions, all. I believe I have eliminated shifter, housing/stops/cable problems, leaving the pesky derailleur itself, even though I can't see/feel any issues with that either. I also want to blame the removal of my trusty rollamajig when the cables/housing were replaced, although I know better. I'll have to investigate it further and/or bring it in, as by chance I will be in the neighborhood of the not-so-local bike shop tomorrow.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I'm suddenly getting big resistance from my old (10 yr+/-) XTR shifters. They still work, but the thumb action is really hard - hard enough that I thought I had it maxed out but I just was not thumb clicking hard enough. New cables/housing a month ago when the shop revived the rear derailleur after I tweaked the limit screw for forward/back action in a crash so that it "missed" the frame stop. Can't see anything "wrong" with derailleur or cables, & forefinger trigger works OK. Any ideas?

    Another clue: I took the cable/housing out of the stops and the shifter action seemed normal, so it may be the RD, although I can't see anything wrong there.
    Take out the little plug screw that protects where the shifter cable goes into the shifter...

    Squirt in some WD-40...then blow it out with compressed air...repeat several times...

    This will loosen up the grease and hopefully remove what ever is in there that is blocking the motion....

    If that doesn't work take it apart clean and reassemble...

    BTW the WD-40 trick works good for de-icing as well.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Thanks for the advice and suggestions, all. I believe I have eliminated shifter, housing/stops/cable problems, leaving the pesky derailleur itself, even though I can't see/feel any issues with that either. I also want to blame the removal of my trusty rollamajig when the cables/housing were replaced, although I know better. I'll have to investigate it further and/or bring it in, as by chance I will be in the neighborhood of the not-so-local bike shop tomorrow.
    Stiff RD especially at the end of travel is usually salts and grit stuffed into the bearings...and stop...

    My front got that way, so I out an old one on and soaked the stiff one in first tranny fluid, then CLR, then rinse and dry then tranny fluid....after several repeats it finally loosened up....might take several weeks as well..

    Also lots of flexing back and forth.

  8. #8
    Bedwards Of The West
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    ^^ Yay for automotive solutions... I'm a huge fan of aresol cans of carburator cleaner for that kind of thing. Nothing like high pressure solvent to clean stuff like really cruddy cassettes, etc. It will eat carbon fiber and paint though...
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  9. #9
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    Well, I worked on this a bit and am still puzzled! Everything seems to work individually; the shifters, cables and RD action seem smooth as butter until I link them back together - then the thumbshifting takes crazy effort. Only oddball thing is a kink in the cable between where the housing enters the RD and an inch or so later where the cable is anchored at the RD. But I see neither a cause for the kink nor a reason why the kink would cause the hard shifting. Will report back after the LBS takes a look, hopefully she will not have to be hospitalized.

  10. #10
    Bedwards Of The West
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    ^^ That kink could be causing you trouble, if it's close enough to the housing to get pulled up in there as you shift to a lower gear... shift all the way down to the small sprocket on the cog (so no tension on the cable), and watch that kink as you shift up through the gears... if it's reaching the housing, that could be your problem.
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  11. #11
    weirdo
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    Good luck, and may it be cheap! I haven`t suggested anything because I have nothing worth adding on top of what`s already been put out there, but I`m watching too with fingers crossed for you!

  12. #12
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    CB was right, hard to believe a little bend in a cable could make it so hard to shift, but that was it, just needed a new cable and some housing for good measure, since some of it was nice and rusty inside. Perhaps the rust is what caused the new cable to catch & kink - I don't recall anything"exciting" happening. I thought the housing was only 1 month old, so that threw me off, but I think only 1 piece was new. My shop did it while I waited, saving me another trip and any lost days with the bike , and changed another housing that was bent where it attached to the frame. $33 with parts & labor, I got off cheap.

  13. #13
    Bedwards Of The West
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    ^ To further demonstrate my awesomeness, let me long-distance-diagnose the cause of the problem

    ahem... the section of housing that was replaced a month ago was a slightly different length (longer) than the one that was removed (a typical mechanic move, a tiny bit of extra length won't hurt, and you know it won't be too short when you use the old piece to measure out/cut the new piece). This change in length effectively shortened the exposed end of shifter cable at the derailleur, forcing the mechanic to clamp the cable in the pinch bolt just a bit closer to the end of the cable. The 'kink' in the cable was the spot where the cable was clamped in the pinch bolt prior to the new piece of housing being installed.

    I always cut housing a tiny bit shorter if I have the luxury when replacing it (or else replace the cable at the same time), because of this very issue. The alternate ending to your little saga would have been a broken cable, right at that spot where it used to be clamped.

    Your free solution was just to cut some length off of the front section of housing (at the shifter, you can always get away with cutting a little from that front section), which shortens the cable length and would have let you clamp it above the old pinch point. But nothing wrong with the piece of mind of having a new cable and housing.
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  14. #14
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    ^^ I think you are only partly right this time, but the tips are appreciated. The housing was indeed replaced with a longer piece because I formerly had one of those rollamjigs on there that let the cable take a tight turn without having such a big housing loop at the RD. I always had good luck with the thing, but apparently they have fallen out of favor (see death of a classic Backbone Race Report: Avid Rollamajig, Death Of A Classic.), so they removed it when they fixed that bent B screw. So I believe the old cable would have been too short for the new loopy rear der loop, plus I clearly recall that the end of the old cable was starting to fray and thus would have been cut even shorter if it had been re-used.

  15. #15
    weirdo
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    Bummer it turned out to be expensive, but I`m glad its back in action already.

    From that article, it sounds like the author loves them, and was lamenting the fact that they wouldn`t be available anymore, not that they had somehow been thrown from grace. Besides that, you refered to it as your "trusty" Rollamajig, and you "always had good luck with the thing". Why did you ditch it? Just wondering.

  16. #16
    since 4/10/2009
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    Rollamajigs are still available. I ordered one from CRC a few years ago and I hear they are back available somewhere stateside now. Funny, I was using mine with the same derailleur (m952) until I replaced the derailleur. The xt shadow I replaced it with did not need the rollamajig. So I can see why they got so hard to find. And maybe they were completely unavailable for awhile...but not anymore. They really are worth using to eliminate that horrible cable loop on derailleurs that still have the loop.

  17. #17
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I usually fail when attempting to explain my awesomeness.

    I've never used a rollamajig... I have a SRAM rear D on the mountain bike, and it basically eliminates the need for one... pretty direct routing on the SRAM stuff. Of course then you'd have to replace your shifter, which kind of brings us full circle
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  18. #18
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    I believe I actually have another rollamajig new in the package in the basement, so it can go back on if desired. Honestly, Iím not sure why the shop removed the old one when they fixed the RD a month ago, I didnít notice when I picked it up. Since I havenít seen them used lately, I assume it was on purpose, but perhaps it was damaged or an oversight when reassembling. Had I been able to fix the RD myself I would have at least tried to put it back on.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I believe I actually have another rollamajig new in the package in the basement, so it can go back on if desired. Honestly, Iím not sure why the shop removed the old one when they fixed the RD a month ago, I didnít notice when I picked it up. Since I havenít seen them used lately, I assume it was on purpose, but perhaps it was damaged or an oversight when reassembling. Had I been able to fix the RD myself I would have at least tried to put it back on.
    I have ridden shimano RDs since the 90's never had a rollamajig...

    They have all shifted fine without it...

    Including several XTRs

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