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    index shifting differently in the cold

    I noticed with the bike I've been commuting on that the cold affects how it shifts. It wasn't shifting perfectly... there was always some gears that would try to shift on their own when I used them. I think it was because of a bent derailer hanger. But on cold mornings it would shift perfectly!

    I recently bought another bike that I am getting tweaked how I want it. It shifts great. But this morning (cold) it was trying to shift out of the gear it was in.

    Is this because the cables expand/contract with the temperature change? Is there a way to compensate for this?

    I live in south Texas, so it doesn't get really cold but it also doesn't stay cold. So I can't have a winter and summer setup. The temperature tomorrow might be back to blazing hot...

    Thanks for advice!
    Last edited by pauschl; 11-17-11 at 01:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    The most versatile advice to take heed of, for life, not just biking: Make sure everything is well-lubed.

  3. #3
    experience over lungs
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    When I lived in MN I had to use friction shifting in the winter because I stored the bike inside. When I went outside the cables would shrink enough to mess up the shifting. If I stored the bike outside, it wouldn't have been a problem, but when going from inside to outside, you have to keep adjusting until the bike is fully acclimated. The other reason for friction shifting was due to snow build up on the cogs and chain. This was over 20 years ago and gear has come a long way (I also hear MN is warmer now), so I'm not sure it would be a modern problem.

  4. #4
    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DG Going Uphill View Post
    (I also hear MN is warmer now).
    i wish

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DG Going Uphill View Post
    When I lived in MN I had to use friction shifting in the winter because I stored the bike inside. When I went outside the cables would shrink enough to mess up the shifting. If I stored the bike outside, it wouldn't have been a problem, but when going from inside to outside, you have to keep adjusting until the bike is fully acclimated. The other reason for friction shifting was due to snow build up on the cogs and chain. This was over 20 years ago and gear has come a long way (I also hear MN is warmer now), so I'm not sure it would be a modern problem.
    I store my bike in an unheated shed. But I think my cables might be doing something similar, since I get it adjusted in warmer temps, then it gets cold and the cables shrink.

    Buuuuut, I had an epiphany(or more like a "duh" moment). I have adjusters on my shifters so if the bike isn't shifting properly I can adjust it while riding. I love my "new" bike!

    Thanks for your input.

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    Indexing is over-rated.

  7. #7
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    Indexing is over-rated.
    +1

    I used to live in Maine, and had issues with indexed shifting when it got cold (I would ride at temps down to 0F). I switched to non-indexed shifting, using a bar-con, and have never looked back. I can use 7, 8, or 9 speed cassettes, no issues in the cold, life is good.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Buglady's Avatar
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    Plus, with friction shifters you can often shift with mittens on - warmer hands than with gloves! (It was -22C on my commute today. I was very happy I never changed out my old downtube shifters )

  9. #9
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    Don't grease your cables if you ride in sub-freezing temps. Instead, either run Teflon-coated cables, or use bare cables with a very thin, liquid lube (Boeshield or Pro-Link works well). I've found that my bikes with greased cables noticeably stiffen up when it's below freezing.
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    I rode bikes for years that were non-indexed. I am tempted to try it again. I like the simplicity and reliability. Can you get bar-cons that can switch from indexed to non? And is it possible to switch a twist shifter to non indexed? I'm using twist shifters on my bar ends.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    I have shimano acera index shifters and no problems at all. The bike is stored in warm place, but ridden all year - rain, snow, hot hot heat - no problems. All I do is adjust shifters in the spring and in the late autumn (when it gets cold). However, our winters are usually warmer than -10 degrees C (not F), with little snow (and lots of wind and wet weather).

    And yes, like MileHighMark said: good quality cables and cable guides. If they have to be more slippery, use thin oil, not grease.
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  12. #12
    experience over lungs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    I have shimano acera index shifters and no problems at all. The bike is stored in warm place, but ridden all year - rain, snow, hot hot heat - no problems. All I do is adjust shifters in the spring and in the late autumn (when it gets cold). However, our winters are usually warmer than -10 degrees C (not F), with little snow (and lots of wind and wet weather).
    .
    The highest temp.s I got to ride in that I was referring to was around -14 F (-26 C), often colder. Maybe you just need a little colder weather

  13. #13
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pauschl View Post
    Is this because the cables expand/contract with the temperature change?
    I'm still convinced that this is what happens. Musicians who play stringed instruments know that the strings' tension changes due to temperature (ambient air temperature, or bright stage lights, etc), and it goes far enough to throw the instrument out of tune.

    For me, when the temperature takes a big swing, I have to adjust the cable tension; when it swings again the other way, I have to adjust it back.

    Back when I was tuning my older road bike with external cabling, I noticed that when I plucked the cables like guitar strings while turning the tension adjuster, their pitch would change, and it didn't take much of a change before shifting was affected. If I got the shifting spot-on, then changed the tension to raise or lower the pitch a step, the shifting became worse.

    I don't buy the idea that lube in the housing will affect shifting that much.

    I should try the same with my commuter, maybe even writing down the musical pitch that the shift cables make (particularly the one for the rear derailleur).

  14. #14
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DG Going Uphill View Post
    The highest temp.s I got to ride in that I was referring to was around -14 F (-26 C), often colder. Maybe you just need a little colder weather
    -14 F? You lucky bastard!
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    strings' tension changes due to temperature -- bike cables, too!

    [QUOTE=BarracksSi;13515898] Musicians who play stringed instruments know that the (ambient air temperature, or bright stage lights, etc), and it goes far enough to throw the instrument out of tune.

    The cold weather here in northern NH (-5F-20F) causes derailleur problems, incomplete shifting, de-chaining, I now realize from reading this and other cold weather biking forums.

    Whether the frame, the cable and the derailleur all contract, or what ... all four of the mountain bikes I use have difficulties. I commute over icy, snowy, sandy, gravelly streets and sidewalks, flat-terrain thankfully in this mountain valley. I thought I was losing my mind or my mechanical ability after carefully adjusting the derailleurs in my 70F kitchen at night, only to then have a de-chaining less than a block from the house the next morning.

    The auto-bike (autmatic transmission) I can use only when the temps are above 27F, otherwise she throws herself into neutral, and you have to walk home once she gets cold. Pity, since hers are the most agressive tires.

    Sometimes, on the 29 Mantis Colosus I can hold the cable tension to a point where it shifts without slipping, put that is a hassle.

    Thanks for this forum!

  16. #16
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MileHighMark View Post
    Don't grease your cables if you ride in sub-freezing temps. Instead, either run Teflon-coated cables, or use bare cables with a very thin, liquid lube (Boeshield or Pro-Link works well). I've found that my bikes with greased cables noticeably stiffen up when it's below freezing.
    I would bet that this is your problem.

    Try to "drizzle" a light oil (3n1, as an example) in the housing between your frame and RD for starters.
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    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    3n1 has a plant oil in it if I'm not mistaken. Put it next to steel long enough it will become hard and sticky.

    Mineral oil is a good choice in my experience.


    I'm sure 3n1 works fine, but I know it can be a poor choice for some uses specifically contacting metal.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pauschl View Post
    I rode bikes for years that were non-indexed. I am tempted to try it again. I like the simplicity and reliability. Can you get bar-cons that can switch from indexed to non? And is it possible to switch a twist shifter to non indexed? I'm using twist shifters on my bar ends.
    indexed to friction bar end shifters? yes, twist shifter to non indexed? I don't know about that one...
    if you go with barcons make sure they aren't shimano dura ace (unless you have dura ace components) because they won't work properly if you do decide to go with indexed...

  19. #19
    Senior Member blakcloud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
    indexed to friction bar end shifters? yes, twist shifter to non indexed? I don't know about that one...
    if you go with barcons make sure they aren't shimano dura ace (unless you have dura ace components) because they won't work properly if you do decide to go with indexed...
    I have 9 speed Dura Ace Bar End shifters on five bikes and they work with anything Shimano. I use Ultegra, Deore, and XT derailleurs.These are mated to LX, Ultegra, XT cassettes. All mixed and matched and all shift perfectly in indexed mode. I have never heard or experienced any problems. The new 10 speed Dura Ace bar ends does not have the friction mode anymore for the rear, so maybe there is something up with that.

  20. #20
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moochems View Post
    I'm sure 3n1 works fine, but I know it can be a poor choice for some uses specifically contacting metal.
    It solved a shifting problem when I first used it. I don't know how long it will last, it does last spring to spring for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
    I have 9 speed Dura Ace Bar End shifters on five bikes and they work with anything Shimano.
    My 8sp bar ends are DA and they work with a new 2013 105 RD.

    I think you're right about the 10sp DA shifter, although not through personal experience. My 10sp is a Microshift.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    I'm still convinced that this is what happens. Musicians who play stringed instruments know that the strings' tension changes due to temperature (ambient air temperature, or bright stage lights, etc), and it goes far enough to throw the instrument out of tune.

    For me, when the temperature takes a big swing, I have to adjust the cable tension; when it swings again the other way, I have to adjust it back.

    Back when I was tuning my older road bike with external cabling, I noticed that when I plucked the cables like guitar strings while turning the tension adjuster, their pitch would change, and it didn't take much of a change before shifting was affected. If I got the shifting spot-on, then changed the tension to raise or lower the pitch a step, the shifting became worse.

    I don't buy the idea that lube in the housing will affect shifting that much.

    I should try the same with my commuter, maybe even writing down the musical pitch that the shift cables make (particularly the one for the rear derailleur).
    i fully agree with you about the cold affecting the cables much like guitar strings. however the wrong type of lube can absolutely affect things when it gets too cold. I think it would most notably affect the speed/sluggishness of shifts, and not the actual indexing, though.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pauschl View Post
    I noticed with the bike I've been commuting on that the cold affects how it shifts. It wasn't shifting perfectly... there was always some gears that would try to shift on their own when I used them. I think it was because of a bent derailer hanger. But on cold mornings it would shift perfectly!

    I recently bought another bike that I am getting tweaked how I want it. It shifts great. But this morning (cold) it was trying to shift out of the gear it was in.

    Is this because the cables expand/contract with the temperature change? Is there a way to compensate for this?

    I live in south Texas, so it doesn't get really cold but it also doesn't stay cold. So I can't have a winter and summer setup. The temperature tomorrow might be back to blazing hot...

    Thanks for advice!
    I suggest friction shifting. No, I'm totally serious. When I bought my current bike, I struggled with the indexed shifting for months, constantly tweaking the barrel adjusters, etc. Then I switched to friction shifting, and the scales fell from my eyes. Set the limiting screws, and you're done. No more tweaking, and, with only a little practice, shifting is infinitely adjustable and smooth.
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  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Friction shifting is the best thing for winter cycling where it gets cold.

    Another issue is that with indexed systems the pawls in the shifters and lube gets cold and they slow down and mis-shift.

    My Ultegra brifters and Xt thumbies don't like cold at all... indexed dt shifters do not seem to complain as much.

  24. #24
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Another issue is that with indexed systems the pawls in the shifters and lube gets cold and they slow down and mis-shift.

    My Ultegra brifters and Xt thumbies don't like cold at all... indexed dt shifters do not seem to complain as much.
    That could be my true salvation----my bar ends work fine.

    Sixty Fiver is one to really know cold/bike problems. A vastly experienced mechanic that lives in a cold climate. His land of the tundra pics show that.


    As far as the OP is concerned, I think most folks that are thinking cold need to think cool. The OP lives in Austin. 25 (above zero) degrees is cold!!! That being cold to me too, I still believe he has a stiff lubricant problem. Riders across the south just don't have to take components jammed with snow into account when diagnosing problems more than a weeks worth of riding per decade.


    We were dragging tarps off a steel load one morning in Wausau, around -10 (bank sign) when my Georgia Peach said she had decided that I was right. Stunned at being right, I questioned about what. She said I was right, -10 isn't "cold". She declared it to be "ridiculous".
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
    I have 9 speed Dura Ace Bar End shifters on five bikes and they work with anything Shimano. I use Ultegra, Deore, and XT derailleurs.These are mated to LX, Ultegra, XT cassettes. All mixed and matched and all shift perfectly in indexed mode. I have never heard or experienced any problems. The new 10 speed Dura Ace bar ends does not have the friction mode anymore for the rear, so maybe there is something up with that.
    ok, I learned something so for 9/10 it works with all shimano components... but I guess I missed a bit of info on my end... I have 7/8 speed and dura ace 7/8 speed definitely don't work with all shimano in index mode.

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