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Old 05-14-12, 12:25 PM   #1
Malcolm Hafner
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Replacement for Exage ES Components - who can help?

I have a Diamond Back Ascent EX circa 1993. I got it as a 30 birthday present from my wife. I'm now nearly 50 and I'm figuring out whether me or the bike is wearing faster!

It came with an Exage ES groupset. It's original apart from the BB/Crank/Cassette (i.e. brakes, derailleurs, hubs, shifters). Over the last few years I've been constantly trying to get both sets of gears to work, but they keep slipping between gears, not traversing all gears and various other problems. Finally, I took it to a qualified mechanic who said that the trigger shifts were worn out and it would cost a fortune to repair the bike (saddle broken and rims going fast as well). I guess given its age other things could be worn as well.

Trouble is I love the bike. It is pre-suspension (!) and I've got so used to it.

Can anyone advise me on either how to replace the componentry? I've looked on eBay but Exage ES stuff are like hens' teeth. Is there a more modern upgrade I can use? It is a seven gear cassette at the back and three at the front if that helps the youngsters!

All advice gratefully received. The bike has been a faithful friend for so long I can't bear to see it go.

Many thanks for the help.

Cheers!
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Old 05-14-12, 12:40 PM   #2
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Here's the good news, you'll end up with better parts than exage. Here's the bad news, depending on how many parts need to be changed, it may well cost you more than a new bike. The question is what do you need changed? Your mechanic should have given you a range of options. Are you ready to do your own work? If not, find a mechanic who can give you some reasonable options on fixing the bike up and then ask yourself whether you might not be better off with a new bike. If you really like your bike and want to keep it, then learning how to fix it up is the way to go. The Park big blue book of bicycle repair is a good place to start. You'll need to invest in some bike tools. And then you'll have to figure out which parts to replace. Don't sweat trying to get exage parts; you can do better but you'll have to shop around.
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Old 05-14-12, 12:53 PM   #3
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I'm with you on the early DBs being awesome rides. My wife and I have matching '92 Ascent EXs, our younger son has an early '90s Topanga and older son has an early '90s Sorrento. Along with these, I've brought several back to life for friends.

While I'm sure they can wear out, I've yet to run across a set of Exage shifters that couldn't be brought back to life with a little work. Often a few good soakings of the guts with WD40 to free up the pawls is all that's needed. On the most stubborn ones, I've poped the housing off and, after getting lots of WD40 into the mechanism, manually manipulated the pawls back and forth untill they moved freely. Then a light oiling and reassemble.

If you don't want to give that a shot or they really are worn out, 3 x 7 Shimano shifters are easy to come by and not very expensive.
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Old 05-15-12, 02:33 PM   #4
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Thanks bikemig. The mechanic gave me some options but with the new set of wheels and saddle he said the whole lot would come to about 150 ($200). I don't want to throw good money after bad but reckon I can get another season out of the wheels at least. He thought I could get a second hand bike say about 5 years old for the same money. Trouble is my head and heart aren't in sync. So I'm going to see whether I can fettle the bike into fitness again. I'll let you know how I get on.
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Old 05-15-12, 02:40 PM   #5
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Thanks CACycling. I think I will spend Saturday taking a look at the shifters to see what's up. I was originally put off this because of the tendancy for these things to throw springs and components all over the place when opened. Armed with wd40 I will take the plunge. It can't hurt too much and as you say I can get some shimano 3/7 if needed. I might be back for some advice in this if things don't work out. Would I need to get new braks and shifters or could non exage es shifters be fitted to the brake levers? Thanks again and good to see someone else loves these DBs. Each week my bike buddies delight in ripping me over my ancient bike.
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Old 05-15-12, 05:18 PM   #6
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The Bikepedia entry isn't much help as usual, but it tells me the bike's steel, which is a pretty good reason to hang onto it.

What's the OLD (distance between rear dropouts)? Are the brake and shift levers seperate, or integrated? Do you have cantis? Would you prefer V-brakes?

Concerning the wheels, what do you weigh?
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Old 05-15-12, 06:35 PM   #7
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i believe all the Exage shifters were independent of brake levers. easy to check,just look for two clamp bolts on each side.
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Old 05-15-12, 07:29 PM   #8
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There's a million ways to do this. Here's what we need to know:
-what exactly is broken or thoroughly worn to the extent it'll need to be replaced?
-do you really want to keep it original? Finding Exage ES stuff in good nic will be close to impossible, but getting new/newish stuff that'll fit and work together will be easy
-what are the physical parameters of the frame? the spacing in the rear and the headset specs would be helpful
-offering an estimated upper-level budget will help, too. I, personally, try not to tell ppl whether or not the price of fixing their bike is "worth it" or not, but a lot of ppl will try to do just that. That's entirely up to you to decide. Personally,for my own bikes, I think it's goofy to say a beloved bike isn't worth fixing up for @$200, b/c getting a newer used one might save me some money, but it isn't necessarily a bike that I'll love. Further, whatever new parts I hang on the old DearlyBeloved can be salvaged and used elsewhere/sold should I decide, suddenly/mysteriously, that the bike wasn't "worth it".

Last edited by surreal; 05-15-12 at 07:30 PM. Reason: clarity!
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Old 05-16-12, 01:04 AM   #9
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Although if you need more than a handful of bits, you may well be better off getting another bike just for parts... buying individual components is often far more expensive, even second hand.
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Old 05-26-12, 11:27 AM   #10
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The ES brake levers and shifters are in one housing. A bolt on the brake lever housing allows you to disconnect the shifters from it.
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Old 05-26-12, 11:40 AM   #11
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So, I took the plunge and decide to keep the bike and repair it. Last weekend I removed the shifter, stripped it down inspected it and reassembled it. There was little if any noticeable wear. The pawls had made rub marks but that was it. Since they're metal they're very sturdy. They're now back to full working order.

I bought a new chain and have fitted that and have adjusted the gears using the Park Tools website (very useful). However, I still seem to get these symptoms whichever way I adjust the derailleur and barrel adjusters (FWIW on the Exage ES there are adjusters at both the derailleur and shifters):

Can't get clean shifts across the 7 gears. Sometimes it will require two shifts to change one gear and sometimes when pressure is placed on the pedals when riding uphill the gears keep slipping between two gears. My natural instinct was to say that it needed further adjustment, but I have tried this several times now and can only get it working sweetly for some but not all gears.

So, do I need to change the cassette as well? I am always told that when changing a worn chain the cassette should be changed as well (the mechanic said my chain was on the cusp of wearing out so I just bought a new one to be sure).

Do you think it could be anything else?

Again, any help is greatly appreciated. I guess this might be a gradual process of elimination but would like to keep the time and expense down to a reasonable low!

Thanks in advance. You've all been wonderful, helpful and encouraging!
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Old 05-26-12, 11:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
There's a million ways to do this. Here's what we need to know:
-what exactly is broken or thoroughly worn to the extent it'll need to be replaced?
-do you really want to keep it original? Finding Exage ES stuff in good nic will be close to impossible, but getting new/newish stuff that'll fit and work together will be easy
-what are the physical parameters of the frame? the spacing in the rear and the headset specs would be helpful
-offering an estimated upper-level budget will help, too. I, personally, try not to tell ppl whether or not the price of fixing their bike is "worth it" or not, but a lot of ppl will try to do just that. That's entirely up to you to decide. Personally,for my own bikes, I think it's goofy to say a beloved bike isn't worth fixing up for @$200, b/c getting a newer used one might save me some money, but it isn't necessarily a bike that I'll love. Further, whatever new parts I hang on the old DearlyBeloved can be salvaged and used elsewhere/sold should I decide, suddenly/mysteriously, that the bike wasn't "worth it".
Hi Surreal, thanks for this. The key for me is to get the gears working properly again.Everything else can be done more easily. I can buy replacements without too many mistakes, but diagnosing the problems with the gears is a real issue. If I can get that done then the other will hopefully be plain sailing
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Old 05-26-12, 12:26 PM   #13
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The one thing I did not see is you replaced the housings and cables; the problems you describe can be caused by a gunked up derailleur housing. If you want to go cheap, you may be able to flush the cables with WD 40, but at the very least you probably need a new rear derailleur cable.
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Old 05-28-12, 08:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Malcolm Hafner View Post
Hi Surreal, thanks for this. The key for me is to get the gears working properly again.Everything else can be done more easily. I can buy replacements without too many mistakes, but diagnosing the problems with the gears is a real issue. If I can get that done then the other will hopefully be plain sailing
As onespeedbiker says below, if you haven't changed the cables/housing, that can lead to problems with indexing. You had also mentioned that you might look into a new cassette. While i personally do not change the cassette each time i replace a chain, some folks do. In any case, you may well be due for one, especially if your ghost-shifting problems occur between the same 2 specific cogs most of the time. Shimano still makes 7 speed cassettes (hg50, i believe) with a few different gearing options.

You said you've used the recommendations on the park tool site, which is an excellent resource. In case you've missed it, I find it is important to adjust cable tension when the derailer is in the slackest position... which would be in the smallest cog for your set-up. Basically, shift the right shifter into "7" and turn the pedals to get the chain down the cassette *before* you add/remove tension in the rear derailer cable, then try a run thru the gears once more to see if you've "nailed" it.

good luck!
-rob
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Old 05-28-12, 08:43 PM   #15
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+1 to the advice above.

- Replace all the cables and housing if you have not already done so. 20 years later, it's time. Should cure your shifting issues. Along with:
- New chain, time for a new cassette too. Should be less than $20. Again, 20 years later, it's probably worn out.
- Have the bearings been repacked recently? (Headset, hubs, and bottom bracket.) Do that when you get a chance.
- New brake pads would also be a good idea.

Rim brake wheels do wear out, but only when the brake track gets too thin. If they're not to that point yet, keep using them. If the spokes break have them replaced.
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Old 05-28-12, 10:55 PM   #16
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Did you flush the heck out of the shifter guts with wd-40 and then lube them with some lubricant? Please do that, those old shifters will love you for it.
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Old 05-29-12, 06:24 AM   #17
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As onespeedbiker says below, if you haven't changed the cables/housing, that can lead to problems with indexing. You had also mentioned that you might look into a new cassette. While i personally do not change the cassette each time i replace a chain, some folks do. In any case, you may well be due for one, especially if your ghost-shifting problems occur between the same 2 specific cogs most of the time. Shimano still makes 7 speed cassettes (hg50, i believe) with a few different gearing options.

You said you've used the recommendations on the park tool site, which is an excellent resource. In case you've missed it, I find it is important to adjust cable tension when the derailer is in the slackest position... which would be in the smallest cog for your set-up. Basically, shift the right shifter into "7" and turn the pedals to get the chain down the cassette *before* you add/remove tension in the rear derailer cable, then try a run thru the gears once more to see if you've "nailed" it.

good luck!
-rob
Thanks Rob,

For everyone's suggestions regarding the cables and housing, the cable was replaced, but the housing weren't. I'll have a go at them and either sluice or replace. The 'ghosting' does happen often happen between the same cogs, but tends to then shift which cogs as I change the barrel adjuster (I took it on a 2 hour hilly ride on Sunday and continually changed the adjust as I cycled the terrain. The good news is that it is better than when I set it up before the ride, but it still isn't faultless across the gears (i.e. the ones which aren't at the extremities of combination with the front gears).
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Old 05-29-12, 06:25 AM   #18
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Did you flush the heck out of the shifter guts with wd-40 and then lube them with some lubricant? Please do that, those old shifters will love you for it.
WD40 is my new best friend
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Old 05-29-12, 06:29 AM   #19
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The equipment is original apart from:

Cable which is new.
Housings are about 5.5 years old, but I last flushed them about a year ago. (I'm going to try that first, but didn't notice any difference last time I did this).
Cassette is about 5.5 years old (a new cassette is the likely next step).
Chain is new.

5.5 years ago along with the other work above I had a new bottom bracket and pedals fitted (can't remember whether the front chainset was replaced, but I think so)

Last edited by Malcolm Hafner; 05-29-12 at 06:39 AM. Reason: More information about chain and chain set
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Old 05-29-12, 06:32 AM   #20
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Good news though is that I bought a new saddle and this is a great improvement. One of the mounting rails on the last one was broken (ouch!), but the seat was a foam one and the new one is a Selle Italia C2 gel one and a better profile.
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Old 05-29-12, 06:34 AM   #21
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Did you flush the heck out of the shifter guts with wd-40 and then lube them with some lubricant? Please do that, those old shifters will love you for it.
Yes, I completely dismantled the shifters cleaned, rebuilt and oiled them. They do love me for it.
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