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  1. #1
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Stiff rear shifter (SRAM Red)

    I have Red shifters from ca. 2009 on my bike. Both derailleurs are new - the rear is a wifli model and the FD is that new yaw contraption. I recabled the rear when I replaced the rear derailleur in March and installed an 11-32 cassette. Everything has worked as expected since then until Saturday. The cable routing is internal (2012 Specialized Roubaix SL3 frame) and I did the california cross inside the downtube. I've had the frame since about March of 2013 and it's been configured this way the entire time with no difference in shifting performance from my previous externally cabled, non-crossed frame.

    I was participating in a century and after lunch, I noticed that my rear shifter was really stiff when shifting to a larger cog. Shifting the other direction seemed normal. It seemed to get a little better later in the day and I had high hopes it worked itself out (hah!) but Monday's ride featured stiff shifting again. To quantify what it feels like, it's like I've reached the end of the cable travel and I'm over shifting, but that's not the case. I have not paid enough attention to notice if it's worse at one end of the cog or the other. It was an immediate issue though, not gradual, which leads me to think that something happened. Before lunch, fine. After lunch, what the heck. Very noticeable difference.

    While I was digging around, I found a recall for SRAM Red wifli rear derailleurs and mine is affected by the recall. It doesn't appear to be contributing to my current issues and the rear derailleur moves freely by hand, so I don't think that's my problem.

    So... later this morning I'm going to put the bike on the stand and check it out. After doing some digging around on the internet, it sounds like the two most likely possibilities are that there's something interfering with cable travel, possibly where the cable exits the frame and goes under the bottom bracket. Another possibility is that the shifter itself is dirty or gummed up - I've seen stories about people cleaning the ratchet mechanism without disassembling the shifter, and that seems to help.

    Any tips on what else to check? If I can't figure it out I guess I'll have to find a local shop that represents SRAM and see what they say but I'd rather ensure it's unfixable by me before handing over my only completely assembled, functioning bike.

  2. #2
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    I would carefully check your inner shift wires for broken or frayed strands whenever there is a sudden change in shift behavior. Check everywhere the wire enters or exits its housings for worn places, including at/inside the levers and derailleur.

    I do not have experience with the new SRAM stuff, but having the wire break off in a Shimano brifter will put you in a world of hurt, it is MUCH better to find and fix it before it breaks than after. Getting the broken end out is exquisite torture.

  3. #3
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    +1. You need to isolate to determine the source of the problem. The fact that you notice it at the lever does not mean the lever is the cause. Release the cable at the clamp and hold the cable next to the down tube with your fingers as you operate the lever to see if there's much resistance. You can also try moving the cable back and forth manually at the BB.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    If you run sports drink in your bottles it's possible it might have dribble out of the bottles and run under the BB making the cables and guide sticky.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
    I would carefully check your inner shift wires for broken or frayed strands whenever there is a sudden change in shift behavior. Check everywhere the wire enters or exits its housings for worn places, including at/inside the levers and derailleur.

    I do not have experience with the new SRAM stuff, but having the wire break off in a Shimano brifter will put you in a world of hurt, it is MUCH better to find and fix it before it breaks than after. Getting the broken end out is exquisite torture.
    +1, inner wires suffer from metal fatigue and fray, then break at the lever. The end game of the process often causes a stiffer feeling or harder downshifting (rear)/ So if it's possible to pull the lever open and eyeball the cable where it winds on the spool, do so, and replace if you see a single frayed strand.
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  6. #6
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    Crud in the cables or possibly some debris binding the cables is the usual suspect. I've also had issues with plastic cable ferrules breaking and binding the cable so I only use aluminum ones now.
    Although installation may be a hassle, Gore Ride On sealed cables were the recommended setup for SRAM Red so it may be worth tracking down a set and re-cabling.

  7. #7
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips - the sports drink issue was one of the things I read about.

    I hadn't really thought about disconnecting the cable and checking the operation of the shifter on its own. Duh.

    As for Gore Ride on (which are no longer manufactured), I had a set the first time I installed the bike, then I put a set of DA cables on that I had laying around, and now I'm on jagwire cables and they have all functioned equally well (until Saturday, but the jury is out whether its a cable problem). As I mentioned, the rear shifter cable is new as of March, so I'd be surprised if there is a wear issue but of course, I'll check.

  8. #8
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Alright... dangit.

    Shift cable looks pristine, the RD moves freely and even loose, the shifter felt wonky so I thought I'd clean it out a bit (because that was one of the issues I read about). I kind of wiped at the ratchet mechanism with a cloth (very hard to see, much less get to) and squirted some WD40 in there just because, and exercised the shifter a bit. It felt GREAT so headed off for a test ride.

    Well, now it's worse. The shifts to a larger cog felt easier/crisper for a while but now the shifter lever doesn't want to return back to neutral after a shift to a smaller cog.

    I'm tempted to hose it down with some PB Blast tomorrow and then spray in a teflon lube when I'm done. Is that a bad idea?

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