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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 08-21-04, 07:22 AM   #1
Lysander
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Yes, I dare say you've all been here, bought the T-shirt............

I have a right shifter, Shimano 600/Ultegra (part ST-6400, from @1993 8 speed groupset), on which the inner lever no longer ratchets (well, not without a deal of fiddling and tweaking- useless for actual riding conditions). I've done a websearch for info on the problem, which suggests the word 'Knackered' is applicable. I've got it taken to bits (I detect shaking heads and sharp inhalations from readers now.......) and I'll give it a clean and relube, and likely will get it back together. However, I'm chary of using something which is basically flawed in design, and is likely to Go West again, probably 50 miles from home, stuck in the lowest gear, and raining!

So, I'm looking for a replacement setup- thinking of plain Aero brakes and bar end shifters (I use tri bars so that would be handy). I have SRAM/Gripshift on a mountain bike, and they're no hassle at all- is there anything similar for road bikes? I'd value any advice or suggestions folks can give with this.

Cheers,
Dav
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Old 08-21-04, 07:27 AM   #2
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I'd go with the bar ends. I have them on my "low maintenance" bike. They're great!
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Old 08-21-04, 07:34 AM   #3
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11 years for a complicated part like an integrated shifter is pretty good. But for realiability etc. go for the bar ends which can be used in friction mode. Check the Rivendell Bike Catalog for a cool option.
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Old 08-21-04, 10:45 AM   #4
seely
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The 600s were not one of the greatest shifters to come from Shimano unfortunately... I'm actually really surprised you got 11yrs. But the barcons are a really nice option and uber reliable.
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Old 08-21-04, 12:05 PM   #5
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Ta for the quick replies and advice, folks...........it may be more accurate to say that I've had the units for 11 years, but mainly over that time my work and leisure have both consisted of sitting behind a desk or a keyboard smoking ****................I doubt the actual mileage of the units differs much from the average failure stage (that's why it's kind of a bugger as well- if I had been riding regularly, they probably would have failed in warranty, or near enough to get a new set out of Shimano. After 11 years, I'm Onto Plums- the part number doesn't even get recognised on their site search!!). I did find some of the lower spec STI shifters, which are still 8 speed, nosing about on eBay today- decent enough price, and theoretically a 2004 RSX or Sora may not be that inferior to 1993 Ultegra, but I'm still wary of the design, since I came across reports of the same problem in the newer 9 speed units as well.

It looks like bar end shifters it is, then- kind of a pity, since the versatility of STI is great, but I suppose I can get used to it- bit like in them days of non-index shifting- you could usually get the gears in as smooth as silk by feel and listening once you were used to them, and since you had to take your hands off the bars to change, you either made sure you had the right gear for vertical hills, or just toughed it out......those were the days! The memories! The hernias!!.

Cheers,
Dav
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Old 08-22-04, 08:35 AM   #6
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I have the 600 Ultegra sti shifters from around '92. Like you I haven't ridden much in the last few years. Just this year I thought I'd try it again. On the first day out my right shifter wouldn't shift to a higher gear at all. A blast of silicone spray solved the problem. Now after every ride I give the shifter a blast of silicone and everything is working good. I'd still like to upgrade my old sti with something that's going to be reliable and shift great. But I heard the new ultegra shifters do the same thing. Oh well.
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Old 08-22-04, 10:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by dereknc
I have the 600 Ultegra sti shifters from around '92. Like you I haven't ridden much in the last few years. Just this year I thought I'd try it again. On the first day out my right shifter wouldn't shift to a higher gear at all. A blast of silicone spray solved the problem. Now after every ride I give the shifter a blast of silicone and everything is working good. I'd still like to upgrade my old sti with something that's going to be reliable and shift great. But I heard the new ultegra shifters do the same thing. Oh well.
They only do the same thing if they get crudded up or there are other issues. The shifters are packed with grrease. With non use or use in adverse conditions, it can either get stiff or crudded up.The fix is spraying with something like wd-40 and then blow them out with compressed air and relube with a spray lube.
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Old 08-25-04, 12:04 PM   #8
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Well, I've had the unit dismantled, and managed to again get it mantled (is there such a word?)......no sign of wear or any breakages, so it may well indeed be just the grease thickening up- which is no reassurance, really- if I'd found something obviously snapped or mangled, fair enough, but its worrying if something stops working without some kind of spectacular failure event!!

One thing I do notice, now that its 'working' again, is that the lever seems to 'lose' the ratchet at the ends of the shift range. Having got a good look at the components and how the thing works, it seems to me that the weakness is in the secondary lever- the torsional return spring arrangement seems to be a bit hokey, as is any method of keeping the lever well fixed and under tension into the body of the mechanism, which I suspected was the problem at the outset- it looks like it can easily be tweaked and modified using bits from an old floppy disc to function reliably- pity Shimano didn't pay more attention to this in their R&D of the mechanisms.

I will go with Retro Grouch's 'Low Maintenance' concept and the bar end shifters, though- I don't fancy riding with the Gear Lever equivalent of the British SA-80 rifle!!

Cheers, and thanks for all your help,
Dav

PS- Hard Cheese for us Brits in the Olympic Keirin- Dangerous Riding!!? I thought the whole concept of the race was kind of a Velocipedal Rollerball...........
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Old 08-25-04, 12:17 PM   #9
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The return spring isn't as critical as you think so it's not fair to label it as hokey. Most of the return power comes from the derailleur's spring. This is true even on my Dura-Ace STI 8-sp levers.

When I took my levers apart I think I had to reassemble them 10 times before I got all the gears working. It was a long time ago but I remember there was an art to winding up the unit and inserting it. I ended up using a piece of dental floss to tension the spring then slipping it out after I had the unit loosely assembled.
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Old 08-25-04, 12:24 PM   #10
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The return spring isn't as critical as you think so it's not fair to label it as hokey. Most of the return power comes from the derailleur's spring. This is true even on my Dura-Ace STI 8-sp levers.

When I took my levers apart I think I had to reassemble them 10 times before I got all the gears working. It was a long time ago but I remember there was an art to winding up the unit and inserting it. I ended up using a piece of dental floss to tension the spring then slipping it out after I had the unit loosely assembled.
Yeah, it's easy to put the return spring in,harder to put it in right.
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