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Old 08-21-07, 09:30 AM   #1
Podolak
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Shimano RSX STI Shifting Problem

Hey Guys,

I'm not all that familiar with STI. This is my first bike with STI shifters. I have Shimano RSX 3x7 Speed shifters controlling a 7 speed RSX rear dérailleur on a 7 speed cassette. The issue I am having is when I shift from the second smallest to the smallest cog or the third smallest to the second smallest cog or the fourth smallest to the third smallest cog it doesn't always shift. I push in the inner control lever on the shifter but it doesn't click. It is like pushing air. If I push it a few times, sometimes it will shift. If I try and pull the lever toward me and then in, it will shift most of the time. It doesn't always do this but it happens often. Once in a while it will shift with out me having to fidget with it at all. It never happens *knocks on wood* when shifting from a small cog to a larger one.

Does anyone have suggestions on what I can adjust? I'm guessing it is not with the rear dérailleur.

Thanks all,

-Podolak
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Old 08-21-07, 09:37 AM   #2
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RSX STI shifters get dirty easily. There are folks here who may be able to post about spray cleaning one. Taking one apart is usually not a good idea. (don't ask how I know).
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Old 08-21-07, 09:38 AM   #3
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Shimano STI's have nothing you can adjust and they aren't repairable.

One possible fix is to thoroughly wash the shift mechanism out with a solvent like kerosene or mineral spirits followed by liberal lubrication with a light oil such as Tri-Flow. This often washes out accumulated dirt and gets the mechanism working again.

BTW, how old are the shifters and how many miles? 7-speed RSX hasn't been current for many years.
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Old 08-21-07, 10:11 AM   #4
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They are on a 1997 Trek 520 that I purchased used. I would presume they are from 1997 though I couldn't tell you the mileage that the bike had on it prior to my purchasing it. The bike looked generally well maintained.
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Old 08-21-07, 12:00 PM   #5
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Hose them out with tri-Flow or WD-40 until they work again. I'm still using RSX brifters of that vintage everyday.
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Old 08-21-07, 12:33 PM   #6
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I agree with hosing them out. It's about all you can do anyway. I just bought a '95 Scott road bike with RSX stuff and it works perfectly. I have to assume it's because the original owner was rather fastidious about cleaning. Shifts as good as my 105/LX on my '98 520. Shifts better than my '06 105 on my Sequoia Elite.
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Old 08-21-07, 02:15 PM   #7
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+1 to the hose out. I'm riding the same setup on my Cannondale R300. No shift problems.
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Old 08-21-07, 02:16 PM   #8
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You just have to use more then you think you need.
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Old 08-21-07, 05:48 PM   #9
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Yeah, I've heard a whole can of WD40, or the like.
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Old 08-21-07, 06:08 PM   #10
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The shifters get gummed up inside. You gotta take the top cap off and put some type of other lubricant in there like tri flow, liquid graphite or wd 40, which isn't a lubricant, but a degreaser. They should index after you do this. I would reccomend the liquid graphite because that's what we do in the shop.
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Old 08-23-07, 09:22 AM   #11
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The shifters get gummed up inside. You gotta take the top cap off and put some type of other lubricant in there like tri flow, liquid graphite or wd 40, which isn't a lubricant, but a degreaser. They should index after you do this. I would reccomend the liquid graphite because that's what we do in the shop.
It seems that the tri flow did the trick. I appreciate all of your help. This winter I'll tear down the shifters and give them a really thorough cleaning. Thanks again to all who offered suggestions.

-Podolak
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Old 08-23-07, 12:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Podolak View Post
This winter I'll tear down the shifters ...
So you're in the market for new shifters?
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Old 08-23-07, 01:52 PM   #13
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You might tear them down, but you will have some serious trouble un-tearing them, which is what DMF is getting at. They are just not meant to be overhauled, sadly. Use and dispose.
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Old 08-23-07, 03:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Podolak View Post
It seems that the tri flow did the trick. I appreciate all of your help. This winter I'll tear down the shifters and give them a really thorough cleaning. Thanks again to all who offered suggestions.

-Podolak
NO! You'll regret that all the way to the bike shop to buy new shifters. Just hose them out again if you need to.
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Old 08-23-07, 03:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
NO! You'll regret that all the way to the bike shop to buy new shifters. Just hose them out again if you need to.
+1 If need be clean them out again with WD-40 followed by tri-flow. No need to remove the shifter from the bars. I have the same set up on my C'dale. Two cleanings this season did the trick. Those old RSX units are rugged and bounce right back.
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Old 08-23-07, 03:55 PM   #16
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I think someone ought to mention that it is not a good idea to take apart a Shimano STI shifter, they are not user serviceable...or mechanic serviceable...or magician serviceable...well ok maybe magician serviceable, but they won't touch the things for less than like 500 bucks.
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Old 08-23-07, 06:10 PM   #17
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It is possible to remove the entire shifter/brake lever unit from the base without removing the base from the bars. You remove the brake and shifter cables, then loosen the little allen head (2 mm IIRC) set screw under the lever body that's holding the pivot pin in place and drift out the pin.

NOTE: there is a return spring and a pair of plastic bushings at the lever pivot so be sure to pay attention to how they are installed before you remove anything.

Take the lever/shifter assembly and soak it in mineral spirits or a similar solvent with plenty of agitation for several hours. It's amazing how much crud comes out. Drain and let the solvent dry then lube profusely with Tri-Flow or similar.

Reinstall on the lever base being sure to fit the return spring and bushings correctly, insert the pivot pin and the set screw. Reinstall the cables and you should be good for quite a few more miles.

As noted, the shifter mechanism itself is non-servicable. Lots of folks have taken them apart. I don't know anyone who has successfully put one back together.
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Old 08-24-07, 05:47 AM   #18
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NO! You'll regret that all the way to the bike shop to buy new shifters. Just hose them out again if you need to.
Hehe, sorry for the confusion, what I meant was I would be taking them off the bars and soaking them, not actually taking the shifters themselves apart. Sorry!
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Old 08-24-07, 09:00 AM   #19
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I had the same problem on the front shifter on an old RSX equipped bike. The downshift to the small CR's would not catch. I read on a post and was confirmed by the LBS mechanic that Shimano was using a grease that hardened up with age and would cause shifting problems. The solution was long inverted soaking with TriFlow or equivalent to dissolve grease and free up mechanism. Do not disassemble!! You will regret it and have to go the cost of the replacement.
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Old 09-22-09, 02:04 PM   #20
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Bump...

I just revived some RSX brifters by using a lot of WD40 to loosen up the front and rears on a bike I'm going to sell. The rear reacted better than the front to the WD40 spray and freed up easily after a few minutes. The front took over two hours of shifting / waiting for the spray to loosen up the jammed up gears but now it all works again. I was about ready to give up! A little Tri-Flow and graphite Lock-Ease spray should keep them working for a while. Time to make some money...
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Old 09-22-09, 02:58 PM   #21
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I'd just hose them out really well with WD40.
You can also improve shifting performance by replacing the shift cables and cable housings, especially the short housing found just before the rear derailleur. It tends to collect dirt, water, and crud. It's the derailleur spring that pulls the cable through the housings as you shift to smaller cogs. Excess friction in the housings can cause the symptoms you have described. So can dirty shifters.

Al
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