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Old 06-08-08, 08:54 AM   #1
kmart
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9-sp 105 shifter: play in brake lever?

My 9-speed 105 shifters (circa 2002?) have gradually developed a bit of play in them. The outer lever and paddle shifting functions themselves work fine, and the shift levers rotate and click smoothly on along the shifting axis. However, when squeezing the lever to actuate the brakes, there is 2-3mm of play in the motion before the brake cable pull starts.

I tried once to see what the cause of the problem was. I removed the top cap and unscrewed a nut threaded onto a rod which held the brake lever on (the lever rotates on this rod during shifting). I didn't want to go further for fear of breaking the thing, but putting the nut back on tightly did not seem to help at all. I am wondering if it is the sort of thing that can be repaired or if it will just slowly get worse over time until it dies.
Anybody else have this problem? What to do about it?

EDIT: The attachment illustrates where the play can be felt. Pulling the brake lever, there is 2-3mm of "dead" movement before the lever engages (a soft click can be heard/felt).
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File Type: gif play.GIF (6.8 KB, 12 views)

Last edited by kmart; 06-08-08 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 06-09-08, 08:29 AM   #2
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Anyone?
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Old 06-09-08, 08:46 AM   #3
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you are looking in the wrong spot. you need to replace your brake cable and housing. its dirty/corroded/gummed up and is not letting the slack out of the cable. replace cable/housing and problem will be solved.

hope that helps!
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Old 06-09-08, 09:42 AM   #4
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At the caliper, pull on the two arms by hand to move the pads as far away from the rim as possible. Now check and see if there is play. If it went away, then as fosmith said, its the cables/housing/caliper, not the shifter.
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Old 06-09-08, 05:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fosmith View Post
you are looking in the wrong spot. you need to replace your brake cable and housing. its dirty/corroded/gummed up and is not letting the slack out of the cable. replace cable/housing and problem will be solved.

hope that helps!
The cable and housing were replaced with new ones in February. Since then, the bike has not seen any rain or been stored outdoors. It's squeeky clean!

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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
At the caliper, pull on the two arms by hand to move the pads as far away from the rim as possible. Now check and see if there is play. If it went away, then as fosmith said, its the cables/housing/caliper, not the shifter.
I tried that, and I still have the same amount of play as before. In fact, this is different than when there is slack in the cable. In that case, the entire rotating assembly - the brake lever and the "head part" of it (where the brake cable is threaded), rotates as one unit. Here, just the brake lever, has some slack.

Attached is a video taken with my crappy cell phone camera that demonstrates this. It should play with the latest version of QuickTime. Look closely and you can see just the outer lever moving.
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Old 06-10-08, 03:56 AM   #6
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i can't really tell from the vid, but it appears that there is play in the pivot? is that what's going on?
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Old 06-10-08, 04:25 AM   #7
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There are two pivots - one pivot for pulling the brakes and one pivot for shifting. See the attached picture for a little more clarification.

In the drawing, the outer and inner shifter levers slide onto a rod (marked in blue) and are locked down with a nut (label 5 in the drawing). When you depress either shift lever, it rotates about this rod. If the levers slide onto the rod snugly and don't wobble, then when you pull the levers to brake they both rotate about the brake pivot (marked in red in the drawing).

In my case, the levers are not snug on the shifter pivot. When I pull a lever back to brake, first it rotates a bit until it grips the pivot axis and only after that does the lever assembly begin rotating about the brake pivot. This doesn't affect shifting much (not yet at least), but they rattle and make noise. Maybe the hole in the levers that the rod slides through has been enlarged or deformed by squeezing the brake levers too hard (should that be possible?). Another theory is that the nut labeled (5) in the drawing was loose. I took off the shifter cap and tightened this nut down, but it did not help.

Surely someone else has this problem with their old shifters?
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Last edited by kmart; 06-10-08 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 06-10-08, 05:57 AM   #8
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ok....so what you are saying is that the "blade" itself is moving independently of the shifter assembly. man, i'd really like to have one of these in front of me right now....

these shifters are one of those things that if you make a wrong move, they explode in a fury of springs and tiny parts, so you gotta be careful. however, it does sound to me like its in its death throes already...

on ultegra 9sp shifters there is a small screw on the backside of the cable release lever (small paddle) that can be tightened to remove play, but "nut #5" should also take play out. i know on Dura-ace (which i have done) there is a "castle nut" that requires a special tool that can be tightened.

i'd start looking on ebay.... is it a front STI? I have a 9 speed dura ace that i'm not using....
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Old 06-10-08, 09:33 AM   #9
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I checked the screw behind the large paddle and it's tight. Also took the top cap off to check that #5 nut one more time, it's still tight...If I were to remove it an pull off the paddles...well, the return springs for the shifter paddle would go flying for sure. So I guess I can't really do anything...Although I still managed to break one of the retaining tabs off the top cap, and so it is now permanently glued on. Not that there's anything that could be fixed by removing that cap, it seems :/ I guess I'll just ride these babies into the ground. If I make it 5 more years, maybe I'll reward myself with an 11-speed Dura Ace upgrade
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