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  1. #1
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    Brifters not working in cold weather

    I think I may be alone here, but with the cold temps, it seems my rear brifter will not downshift (to the bigger cogs) without having to shift if back and forth many times, even as long as 10 - 15 minutes. So, the bike can upshift to the smaller cogs as much as I want, but when I need to upshift, it can be a real pain.

    So, I use a spray lube in a can. It is labeled as a type of a silcone spray. So, my question is: Is this normal for brifters?

    I have had it happen on two seperate brifters. Also, are there other lubes that prevent this from happening, or is it time to just switch to the mtn bike for road riding?

  2. #2
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    THe grease used by Shimano at the factory is notorious for hardening with age and cold weather and causing either the upshift or downshift levers to stop functioning. Many have had success by heavily flushing the internals of the STI lever with WD40 or degreaser, allowing it to dry, then spraying in something lighter - possibly the silicone lube you mentioned.

  3. #3
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    As LarDasse says the grease within the levers stiffens up when cold. In my experience it shouldn't be enough to bind the lever, except maybe a bit at first.

    I suspect that it's equally likely that the problem isn't in the shifter mechanism as much as in the cables. Lube within the housings also stiffens when cold, and is enough to overcome the RD return spring tension. Before thinning the lube in the levers, possibly giving you cause for regret next summer, slacken the cables by shifting to low gear, then with the bike stationary s bring the lever to the high gear position. Wick some very light oil up into the housings from both ends and see if that solves your problem.
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  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Ill suggest replacing cables and cleaning, relubing, the brifter.
    a top line cable set?
    -Gore-tex ride on- seem to supply end seal functions to resist contamination..

    could just ride the fixie trainer or single speed till spring thaw.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-28-10 at 10:15 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    As LarDasse says the grease within the levers stiffens up when cold. In my experience it shouldn't be enough to bind the lever, except maybe a bit at first.

    I suspect that it's equally likely that the problem isn't in the shifter mechanism as much as in the cables. Lube within the housings also stiffens when cold, and is enough to overcome the RD return spring tension. Before thinning the lube in the levers, possibly giving you cause for regret next summer, slacken the cables by shifting to low gear, then with the bike stationary s bring the lever to the high gear position. Wick some very light oil up into the housings from both ends and see if that solves your problem.
    When I try and shift down, I can fully move the lever back and forth, but nothing engages. So, I will check both of these symptoms. and see if that elivates the situation.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Ill suggest replacing cables and cleaning, relubing, the brifter.
    -Gore-tex ride on- seem to supply end seal functions to resist contamination..
    The cables are probably 1 year old. I belive I replaced last year. I've put about 3,800 miles on it through the course of the year, but I haven't lubed them since the initial install. So, I will try all of these.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    As LarDasse says the grease within the levers stiffens up when cold. In my experience it shouldn't be enough to bind the lever, except maybe a bit at first.

    I suspect that it's equally likely that the problem isn't in the shifter mechanism as much as in the cables. Lube within the housings also stiffens when cold, and is enough to overcome the RD return spring tension. Before thinning the lube in the levers, possibly giving you cause for regret next summer, slacken the cables by shifting to low gear, then with the bike stationary s bring the lever to the high gear position. Wick some very light oil up into the housings from both ends and see if that solves your problem.
    The way the OP was worder, I suspect the mechaniosm is not 'binding' but that something internal is not catching and the lever will go back and forth freely. This is classic Shimano-Green-Grease-Stiffening

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    The way the OP was worder, I suspect the mechaniosm is not 'binding' but that something internal is not catching and the lever will go back and forth freely. This is classic Shimano-Green-Grease-Stiffening
    This is exactly what it does. I can fully move the brake lever back and forth. I end up doing it for about 10 minutes, 1 - 2 miles about. before, I thought the grease would warm up enough to shift, then eventually, sometimes it will shift. Other times, I just give up and live with the gear it is in.

  9. #9
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    This is classic Shimano-Green-Grease-Stiffening
    +1. I'll add that it's not just Shimano shifters that do this. We've cured SRAM grip shifters with a WD-40 flush, as well as SRAM road shifters now that they've been on the market awhile. This time of year it's much more common because of the cooler temps.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    +1. I'll add that it's not just Shimano shifters that do this. We've cured SRAM grip shifters with a WD-40 flush, as well as SRAM road shifters now that they've been on the market awhile. This time of year it's much more common because of the cooler temps.
    So, I'm assuming that the WD-40 flush would be to spray wd-40 in the brifter, while the wd-40 is in the brifter, shift the gears up and down. and then repeat a few times. Let it dry. Then add a lube that gives the lubrication. Right now I use a spray can that says it is a silcone lube. Are there better lubes that would work better on the brifter?

  11. #11
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    I had the exact same thing happen on my old bike. I would have warm up the brifters with my hand to get them to shift when it was 40 or less.
    I ended up dousing them with tri-flow a few times and the problem went away.

    --Colin

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