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  1. #1
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    Cleaning Shifters.

    Hello,

    I've owned my current bike, KHS aluminum frame with Shimano 600 for almost 7 years. Recently I checked and cleaned every component except the bottom bracket and the sti shifters. I just did not want to deal with checking the bottom bracket as everything still felt fine. But my shifters are becoming very sticky and half the time are no longer shifting, at first I thought it could've been my cables stretching. After replacing my cables I am still getting times when i won't get a shift. When i move the levers it just sounds like the inside is completely gunked up. I tried googling on how to clean shifters, and searching here. Forum searching never really gets me what I need. I prefer working on bikes myself and I am able to do nearly all maintenance with ease, but I don't want to accidentally find out I destroyed my shifters as I don't have the money to spare for a new pair but how I would like some.

    So I was wondering if anyone could explain how I would go about cleaning stishifters, or post a link. I will continue my search in the mean time and post if I find out.

    Thanks in Advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Did you replace the housings when you replaced the cables?

  3. #3
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    Yes I did.

  4. #4
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Shimano shifters are not rebuildable. I would try flushing them with mineral spirits (or similar) to clean them out and then re-lube with a light lubricant. Don't try to take them apart.

  5. #5
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexei
    Yes I did.
    When you replaced the housings did you make sure to "hollow" out the openings? When cable housing is cut, the inside liner sometimes does not get a clean cut - the housing liner is crimped, therefore collapsing inside of the housing. I use a sharpened spoke inserted into the end of the housing and gently move it around in circles to open up where the lining might have collapsed. If you don't do this, the ends of the housing liner will drag on the cable.

    Another thing to check is under the bottom bracket where the cable lines are, put a little dry wax lube there.

  6. #6
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    maybe check in the Park Tools maintenance book?
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  7. #7
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    Full disclosure: I don't use STI. I'm still friction shifting all four bikes. But I've rarely run into a shifting problem that can't be cured by flushing (as somebody else recommended) and lubing everything you can reach. I'm embarrassed to say I often use WD-40 for the flush, and it doesn't seem to hurt anything.
    Also be sure to lube the place where cables pass under the bottom bracket. That area gets really cruddy, and cleaning it and maybe putting on a dot of some dry-wax lube can help.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Hold them open and flush them with WD-40, Tri-Flow, or and other light lubricant. I had to do this to get my RSX brifters to come to life when I bought my Cannondale four years ago, after it had sat up unused for almost 10 years. I did it once, and haven't had to do it since. I also live in a warm climate.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

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  9. #9
    * vpiuva's Avatar
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    Get a can of WD-40 and spray and spray and spray into your shifters. After they free up spray with something that is a better lubricant. The WD-40 flush is probably one of your LBSs favorites.

  10. #10
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vpiuva
    Get a can of WD-40 and spray and spray and spray into your shifters. After they free up spray with something that is a better lubricant. The WD-40 flush is probably one of your LBSs favorites.
    +1

    Worked wonders on my older Tiagra levers. I put about half a can of WD40 down there. It's been fine since.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind
    When you replaced the housings did you make sure to "hollow" out the openings? When cable housing is cut, the inside liner sometimes does not get a clean cut - the housing liner is crimped, therefore collapsing inside of the housing. I use a sharpened spoke inserted into the end of the housing and gently move it around in circles to open up where the lining might have collapsed. If you don't do this, the ends of the housing liner will drag on the cable.

    Another thing to check is under the bottom bracket where the cable lines are, put a little dry wax lube there.
    Yes I did smooth out, hollow out, the openings but I did notice that my cable was getting stuck in the housing, I took it out and it had god knows what all over it. The cable was old anyway so I took this moment to order a new set of shift and break cables.

    I went the WD-40 route with my shifters and well it worked quite well. The only problem is that I did not have the straw so it was a-bit misty. After a quarter of a can they started shifting, I can still hear it sticking every now and then and if I don't shift for a while it does tend to get stuck for a second.

    Well, after 7 years of owning this bike and probably 3 years owned with previous owner I think this bike has lived up well. After cleaning everything it feels almost like new, once I get my new chain and cables this week it should feel wonderful. But my next set of components is not going to be Shimano...unless all of the sudden they decide to come out with a better design for their shifters.

  12. #12
    Senior Member stokessd's Avatar
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    STI shifters may not be rebuildable, but they can be disassembled and cleaned. I just did a pair of RSX shifters on my wife's Terry Symmetry (1999 vintage). The rear would not shift down when cold. The shift mechanism was completely encrusted in old grease. I took them all apart and soaked the mechanisms in mineral spirits and scrubbed them with a toothbrush for like 10 minutes each to get all the crusty grease out of all the nooks and crannies. There's no way that a wd40 flush without disassembly will get those things clean. It may "reconstitute" the grease a little which may solve your problem, but that’s not really a complete cure.

    After the mineral spirits scrub, I lubed the whole stack with a fairly thick synthetic oil, then greased the ratchet pawls and racks. They shift like butter now. The difference is really surprising.


    Sheldon

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