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  1. #1
    Light Cyclist madopal's Avatar
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    Broken gear cable in Shimano 105 STI shifter

    So, I'm riding yesterday. I feel a nice pop, and the shifter cable housing pops out of my right Shimano 105 STI shifter. I'm gearless in my small set, but I figure I can get home and just replace the cable.

    I get home and inspect the shifter, and here's what I find (after pulling out the frayed cable in an attempt to get at it):




    My question is this: is the shifter toast? I've looked at the disassembly instructions, and there's nothing for getting at the innards of the shifter, only the brake part. For some reason, it appears the shifter pull has rotated all the way down past where I can get at the metal nub end of the cable. And if I can't get that over, I can't get the remaining cable part out. I've tried pulling at it with some pliers, but it seems like it won't budge. Any advice for getting the remaining cable out of there?

    If it is gone, can anyone recommend a path? This was a recent build (I put it together myself about a year and a half ago). The whole drivetrain is Shimano 105, 9-speed, and I'm having trouble finding 9-speed Shimano shifters. What should I do? Switch to 10-speed? Rebuild the whole drive train?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Downshift all the way, remove cable end, install new cable. Ride on.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Try to grab the end of the frayed cable and downshift (if you can) then try to extract the cable head with tweezers, picks, anything you can get into it. You really can't disassemble it to get to it (serious design flaw IMO)

    I've had 3-4 shimano shifters come in that have broken or break cables inside of them this past month. Check your cable heads regularly (shift up to largest cog, then w/o pedaling, downshift to slack the cable, pop out the cable to inspect)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by capwater View Post
    Downshift all the way, remove cable end, install new cable. Ride on.
    Well put!

  5. #5
    Light Cyclist madopal's Avatar
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    I've taken a hack at it, but I'm seeing two problems. First, it's pretty badly frayed, and downshifting seems to be pulling the cabling in weirdly. I might have exacerbated this by pulling the cabling out the wrong end, but as it was broken so short, I couldn't get to it from the other side.

    Second, downshifting appears to be pulling it further INWARD, which doesn't make sense to me.

    I'll try holding it with pliers as was suggested.

    Any clue why this might have happened? The cable is only a year and a half old, so that seems pretty short to me.

    I was looking through the assembly instructions, and I noticed that the frame I bought (Nashbar X-Cross) didn't have any braze on or anything for the outer stopper on the down tube. I just have both of the cables for the shifting going into these small metal routers (they look like sorta cupped off funnels).

    Could the lack of the outer stopper be causing undue stress on the cable?
    Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.
    ~H.G. Wells

  6. #6
    Light Cyclist madopal's Avatar
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    Oh, and thanks for the advice on how to regularly check the cable. That's good, I'll have to remember that.
    Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.
    ~H.G. Wells

  7. #7
    Double Secret Member CaptMatt15's Avatar
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    well it looks like from those scratches on the brifter right around where the cable goes in, you may have wrecked it/smacked it on something - that probably has something to do with the break in the cable (like it got kinked, and eventually started fraying at that point)
    2007 Redline Conquest
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by madopal View Post
    Second, downshifting appears to be pulling it further INWARD, which doesn't make sense to me.
    Yeah, for the right shifter you need to upshift (small shift lever).

  9. #9
    Senior Member raverson's Avatar
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    I bought a Trek 1220 a while back that had a RSX shifter with a stuck cable head. I'm not sure how, but the previous owner had managed to wrap the cable head counter clockwise in the mechanism halfway past the cable entry porthole. I had to use the dremel to get it out and the result wasn't pretty, but it saved an otherwise functional shifter.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by raverson View Post
    I bought a Trek 1220 a while back that had a RSX shifter with a stuck cable head. I'm not sure how, but the previous owner had managed to wrap the cable head counter clockwise in the mechanism halfway past the cable entry porthole. I had to use the dremel to get it out and the result wasn't pretty, but it saved an otherwise functional shifter.
    you realise that you could have just pulled it apart right?

    The front cap comes off with a hex key, there's a spring and a little rubber ring under this, spring makes the lever return properly, rubber ring (I'm guessing) is to keep the dirt out.

    Pushing the brake/shift lever out as far as it goes, and the smaller shift only lever to halfway or so exposes a screw at the back. This screw is a pain to get at but it takes the brake lever and casing off the brifter, letting you get at the insides.

    It's a pain in the arse to get back together though, the spring on the face is especially difficult.

    As for the OP, looks like they've done away with the hex nut on the front for the 105 levers, so you're probably out of luck unless you can pull the cable out the hole.

  11. #11
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    I had a similar problem with 105 shifters. About 20 minutes of upshifting, downshifting and grabbing at the end with tweezers and holding onto it while shifting eventually sorted it out.

    My best guess as to what is causing it is if the cable isn't moving freely (e.g. the cable outer near the derailleur is rusted or something like that) then when you upshift, the cable bunches up in the shifter and gets damaged over time.

    You can get exploded diagrams on the Shimano website if you need to take it apart to get the cable out.

  12. #12
    Condor commuter London UK
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    Broken 105 shifter cable

    Hi. I commute about 9.5 miles Croydon to London UK on a condor fratello. Very nice to ride, except the rear derailleur cable breaks about every 3 months. So far, condor have replaced it at minimal or zero cost.

    It's just happened again after their free replacement in February. Thanks for all the tips etc; but trying for 2 hours could not get the 105 shifter to rotate back to get the stuck cable head out.

    So it's back to Condors when I get to work tomorrow.

    Oh well, at least I know a route to work with minimal hills (used to use it when I commuted on my brompton)! Tomorrow I will again be experiencing single-speed riding, except when I change down on the 2-speed front derailleur!

    I do wonder if it's my riding style that's doing it. I read with interest comments about changing gear gently etc. It'd be nice if condor could give me some idea, though.

  13. #13
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    I've seen this before twice, once on my Ultegra brifters. Just keep picking at it. Mine was worse. Most of the cable was gone. You may need to remove it from the bike so you can shake it and such. But it IS fixable
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  14. #14
    Condor commuter London UK
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    Well, today Condor excelled and did the repair - turns out it was a defective right shifter from the start! Very pleased all done under warranty - those things aren't cheap! They admitted the defective part had been stressing the cable, hence the 3-mothly cable replacements. Had a more confident ride home this evening.

  15. #15
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    alternate fix

    I just had a bad break inside DA shifters.... and found a great way to recover cable end.
    Drilling extraction hole in shifter to remove broken cable head stuck inside

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