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  1. #1
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    brifter failure?

    I was wondering if anyone could describe (or point me to the direction of a description of) what brifter failure is like.

    My buddy has Shimano Ultegra brifters, 8 speed, not sure how old. The rear shifter seems to have failed. Sometimes it doesn't engage at all, other times it feels sticky, but eventually moves the derailer. The problem definitely seems to be in the shifter--doesn't feel like a cable or housing issue.

    My understanding is that the shifting mechanism in brifters eventually goes up, but I've never encountered a broken one yet, so I don't know for sure what to look for. Could anything other than out-and-out failure be causing 'sticky shifting?'

  2. #2
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    Have you tried WD 40? Often a big shot of WD 40 will restore STI shifters to good performance.

  3. #3
    Soma Lover
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    The right brifter on my 5510's quit upshifting through the smallest 3-4 rear cogs. For a while it was only the smallest two cogs and I could downshift then upshift and it would work on the second try. The shifters just kept getting worse though and by the end of the season I couldn't even get to the smallest two cogs. Hosing it down with WD40 and blowing it out with compressed air didn't help at all.

    In the end, I pulled a bar-con shifter out of the parts box set the bike up as 1x9.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    Try the WD-40 ,see if things improve,if not then it time for replacement.
    bikeman715

  5. #5
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    *cough*

  6. #6
    sch
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    Brifters have ratchets inside that serve as the indexer. They also wrap
    the cable around a tight drum and between the wrap and tension a bit
    of fraying in the cable in the brifter can make for sticky shifting, as can
    extraneous debris. Loosen the cable from the RD and pull the cable our
    a few inches to be sure it is intact. Thorough rinse out of the brifter
    with WD40 working it a lot through full range of motion might flush out
    any debris. If this doesn't fit then likely one or more of the ratchet/detents
    inside the brifter has failed and the brifter is trash. Be sure to relube the
    brifter after WD40. I have had failures in as little as 2000 miles in a R
    brifter (9spd) or as late as ca 13K mi. It seems a crap shoot how long
    they last. Some owners get 20k miles out of a R brifter.
    Last edited by sch; 12-07-10 at 12:01 PM.

  7. #7
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Eight speed Ultegra is pretty old. 1997 was the last year for 8 speed Ultegra. So you are talking about a minimum of 13 years old. Could be several years older than that. Shimano stuff is all date coded, so its easy to look up for sure. Current Ultegra is ten speed, prior to that, they had several generations of nine speed.

    Your description sounds like the typical brifter failure. I have encountered it many times. Sometimes the WD40 flush revives it, sometimes it doesn't.
    Last edited by wrk101; 12-07-10 at 12:30 PM.

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    Thanks for the quick feedback. Kimmo's advice might be too ambitious this time around, but it's good to know it can be done. I think checking the cable and hitting it with WD-40 is in order.

    Quote Originally Posted by sch View Post
    Be sure to relube the brifter after WD40.
    What do you recommend for lube?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzyDunlop View Post
    Thanks for the quick feedback. Kimmo's advice might be too ambitious this time around, but it's good to know it can be done. I think checking the cable and hitting it with WD-40 is in order.


    What do you recommend for lube?
    A light spray lube, like Tri-Flow.
    Things are more like they are now than they've ever been before.

  10. #10
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Others said it, but:

    Use WD40 if you like, but also consider a more aggressive degreaser like carb or brake cleaner. Finish Line Speed Degreaser fixes brifters good.

    If things get better with the flush, replace the cable. If you don't know how old it is, replace it. Do both of them at the same time.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  11. #11
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    If you replace the cables (probably a good idea) be sure to replace the cable housings too.

  12. #12
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzyDunlop View Post
    I think checking the cable and hitting it with WD-40 is in order.
    Maybe the newer stuff is likely to break, but I'm betting yours is just gummed up. The WD40 flush might do it, but you may have noticed just how many pivots we're talking about here...

    I guess what I'm saying is that I reckon it's not actually busted even if the WD40 doesn't fix it.

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