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  1. #1
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    Shifter is gonna break my thumb

    I have a Trek 820 mtb. The front derailler takes a lot of effort to shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. So much effort that it hurts my thumb. I believe that these are brifters. They are labeled Shimano Topswing S1S or 515. With this shifter you downshift with your trigger finger and upshift with your thumb.

    I have cleaned and lubed the shifter and the cables. It seems like the return spring is very stiff.

    I have another bike with the same shifter, but the cable on it comes up from underneath the BB and it wraps around the actuator. That bike shifts fine. On the Trek, the cable comes to the top of the actuator and it pulls up. I know this isn't a very clear description.

    Is there something I can do to decrease the shift effort? Can I easily upgrade this shifter?

    Thanks in advance.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  2. #2
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    Any ideas? This has got me stumped.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  3. #3
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I wouldn't call these brifters unless the brake lever is integral to the shifter, these are trigger shifters. Have you tried cleaning them? How old is the bike? I have replaced some old ones with Shimano shifters sold by Niagara. The 6 speed shifters go for about $8, the 7 speed go for $12, complete with cables.

    I have never had that good of luck rebuilding these shifters, probably a lack of skill on my part. So I tend to toss the old ones. Some report decent luck getting them working again. But for $12 complete with cables, hard to justify much work on old ones at least.

    Neither of these below have integral brake levers:

    7 speed:
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=15889

    6 speed:
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=6144
    Last edited by wrk101; 02-10-09 at 06:18 AM. Reason: clarification

  4. #4
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Some of these shifters from Shimano are designed to turn into a mound of parts if you so much as try to replace a cable. This happened to me with my Trek FX 7.5 when the cable broke. Also original equipment. But here's one thing you can try: Check the cable-tension with the bicycle resting with the chain shifter to the small cog in the back, and smallest chainring.The cable should have zero slack, and not be super tight. A bit tight - but not so tight that if was on a bow it could put an arrow through a tree. A little tight. If it is super-tight, release the cable anchor bolt and relax the cable. Then pull the cable as tight as your fingers will allow and tighten the cable-anchor bolt securely - careful, it's alloy and can strip if you go to far.

    The solution I finally came up with was to junk the Shimano shifters. I replaced them with SRAM Attack shifters. I've had no problems since. And installing new cables is painless.

    I'm all ears/eyes to other suggestions regarding the Shimano shifters.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  5. #5
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    OK. Trigger shifters.
    That looks a lot like them, but not exactly. I did open up the offending shifter and it looked clean. I did not lube it.

    It seems like the return spring down on the derailler is very stiff and all the effort comes from having to overcome the spring tension.

    Can just the derailler be upgraded?
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  6. #6
    Big Mac and No hills. 800over's Avatar
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    Yes they are brifters.

    Brifters: shifters that break my thumb.

  7. #7
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    The spring in the front derailleur (FD) is supposed to be very tight - it's job is basically taking a moving chain and throwing it across the chainrings. But this would not cause problems with shifting. The trigger-shifter is pulling, and relaxing, the cable over small distances inside. The shifters should require a bit of force - unless the cable has gone slack - to move them. A bit of force. Nothing like what you're describing in your original post. If your FD is dirty and grimy, I'd suggest removing it and cleaning it thoroughly. Then apply good oil to all the moving parts.

    To your question on upgrading. Sure! FD's are available so you can. And spend any where from $15 up to $150.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  8. #8
    I have senior moments... bikinfool's Avatar
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    An issue that comes up with older trigger shifters is the grease inside gets gummy after a number of years. While actual access by disassembly isn't much of an option, you can spray liberal quantities of a solvent type spray (WD40 works well enough) into the mechanism from an opening (like the cable access point), work it a while with the levers, and then relube (as the WD40 isn't much of a lube, more a water displacement with solvents). You really can't regrease due to access. That process has saved many a trigger shifter.

    Yours might still be brifters if your shifter units are integral to the brake levers...that's all that brifter means...
    suum quique
    Mountain bikes: Santa Cruz Hecklers (99, 02, 07), Santa Cruz Nomad, Moots YBB, Trek OCLV Pro Issue, American Breezer
    Road bikes: TST, Trek 2300 (Carbon/Alum)

  9. #9
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    It certainly won't hurt to lube the pivot points and perhaps spring of your FD (front derailleur or "actuator"). Something like Boeshield T9 is great for this, but a light oil should be fine, too. It may also be that your FD and/or cable tension are not adjusted quite right -- see the FD adjustment instructions at the parktool.com website, or a good book such as Zinn's.
    The different FD types you described are called "bottom pull" (cable comes up to FD from below BB and pulls down) and "top pull" (cable comes from above and pulls up).
    Last edited by Mondoman; 02-09-09 at 10:49 PM.

  10. #10
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    replacing shorter BB or BB axle may help! will place the chainrings a little bit closer to the optimum range for the FD to work more comfortable. Also check the way you attach the shiftcable to FD!

  11. #11
    )) <> (( illwafer's Avatar
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    you can also throw in a Falcon 5-speed friction thumb shifter for $.99 with your next Nashbar order to see if it is a shifter issue or not.

  12. #12
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    The issue is likely the cable routing on the front derailleur. I am guessing that you have a bottom-pull front Der, as they are most prone to this problem if set up incorrectly.

    After the cable comes up fron under the bottom bracket the cable should pass OVER a small tab on the cable arm of the derailleur, then behind the pinch bolt and tightened down.

    Running the cable under the tab looks better, but significantly shortens the lever-arm that the cable gets to pull on and makes the shifter feel stiff.

  13. #13
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    This sounds to me like you are fighting against the high limit screw. The OP states that the issue arises when shifting from 2nd to 3rd, nothing about the 1st to 2nd shift. Try backing out the screw labeled "H" 1/4 turn or so.

  14. #14
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonfortuna View Post
    This sounds to me like you are fighting against the high limit screw. The OP states that the issue arises when shifting from 2nd to 3rd, nothing about the 1st to 2nd shift. Try backing out the screw labeled "H" 1/4 turn or so.
    This is a really good point. Look at the derailleur and see if you are up against the limit. If so, back it off slightly. Being up tight against the limit would give the symptoms you are seeing.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Herbie53's Avatar
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    I had a similar front shifting issue after changing out a FD on my Trek 850. Messed around a good bit, and posted here somewhere. Eventually sorted that I had routed the cable a bit differently than it was.

    The cable routing made a huge difference -- it should be on the side of the fixing screw that is farthest from the pivot point. A screw width doesn't seem like a big diff, but it made a mine go from a thumb killer to shifting like butter.
    "Today me will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, then me will eat cookie." -Cookie Monster

  16. #16
    Senior Member Herbie53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    The issue is likely the cable routing on the front derailleur. I am guessing that you have a bottom-pull front Der, as they are most prone to this problem if set up incorrectly.

    After the cable comes up fron under the bottom bracket the cable should pass OVER a small tab on the cable arm of the derailleur, then behind the pinch bolt and tightened down.

    Running the cable under the tab looks better, but significantly shortens the lever-arm that the cable gets to pull on and makes the shifter feel stiff.

    ooops. just realized this is the same thing I just said... so, +1
    "Today me will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, then me will eat cookie." -Cookie Monster

  17. #17
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    I ended up backing the high limit screw off a full turn. No change.
    I checked the cable tightness with the chain on the small chainring and small cog. The cable was just barely slack with the chain in that position, I I don't think I'm fighting against an overly tight cable.
    This FD is designed as a bottom pull but it's rigged as a top pull. That's how it came from the LBS.

    This bike cost $275 new 3 years ago, so it's not high quality. Since then I've put a lot of money into it, including a hand built rear wheel after I had gone thru two previous ones.
    My point is I like the bike, and I would not mind upgrading the front derailler if that would solve the problem. If I did go that route what would I need to get?
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Might the cable be frayed? Last time I was having a lot of trouble shifting, the thing snapped a week later. Did you check the cable when you had it open?

    Alternately, shoot some WD-40 in there and see if things loosen up. Sometimes the grunge is deeper in the works than you can immediately see so the spray helps.

  19. #19
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    Can you simply remove the cable, and then see how freely the shifter does or does not move??

    If it moves freely, and springs back nicely, withOUT the cable, then your problem is farther downstream (cable, housing, bb cable guide, FD, etc.).

    If, OTOH, it's STILL a thumb-breaker, then you know your shifter is either gummed up or FUBAR.

    Hosing the pi$$ out of the shifters, with WD-40, though, quite often gives them a new lease on life!

  20. #20
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Agree with ^^^. But after using the WD-40 to clean out any embedded grunge, be sure to use a good quality oil on all the moving parts - including the spring itself. I recommend one that contains Teflon, it lasts longer in my experience.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  21. #21
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    I will try hosing it with lube.
    Last night I worked on it around 8-9pm. Then I just had to take it for a test ride. Bad thing is I ended up doing about 5 very hilly miles. I was so wound up after that I did not sleep well last night.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  22. #22
    Recreational Commuter
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    This FD is designed as a bottom pull but it's rigged as a top pull. That's how it came from the LBS.
    Ummmmmmm, I suspect that that might be exactly the problem.
    Riding the Ohio MS Central Ohio Challenge tour, July 12th.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kotts View Post
    Ummmmmmm, I suspect that that might be exactly the problem.
    This used to be quite common - usually with a little pulley mounted down low on the seat tube. From the OPs description, though, I can't figure out how his cable is routed.

  24. #24
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    This used to be quite common - usually with a little pulley mounted down low on the seat tube. From the OPs description, though, I can't figure out how his cable is routed.
    The cable runs from the shifter to the top tube, along the top of the top tube, then down the seat tube to the Derailler. It pulls up on the actuator. I can see the groove in the actuator that is meant for a cable, but the cable has never been routed through the groove.

    Like I said, my other bike has the same components, and the cable runs under the BB and around the actuator.

    I will try to post a picture this evening.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  25. #25
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    http://bike.shimano.com/media/techdo...9830638259.pdf

    Top right of the page shows a derailleur that can be set up top or bottom pull, and the manner in which one should do so. Whatever your problem is, I bet your LBS could spot it before the bike made it to the stand.

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