Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Warning signs that a rapid fire shifter is about to die

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Warning signs that a rapid fire shifter is about to die

Old 10-29-16, 08:47 PM
  #1  
gauvins
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: QC Canada
Posts: 1,420

Bikes: Custom built LHT & Troll

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 555 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 26 Posts
Warning signs that a rapid fire shifter is about to die

[Planning in anticipation of longish tours in not so developed regions.]

My question is - are these (XT rapid fire) shifters subject to catastrophic failure (i.e. one minute all is good and the next nothing works) or do they give plenty of warning signs before they go?
gauvins is offline  
Old 10-29-16, 09:03 PM
  #2  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 15,036

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Raleigh Pro, Trek Cycle Cross, Mongoose tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2966 Post(s)
Liked 1,250 Times in 878 Posts
Unless something actually fractures/breaks the failure is usually a slow gumming up of the many pieces movements. Of course this reality is seen through a perception that's not linear.


So, yes a catastrophic failure can and does happen. Impacts increase this possibility. But the vast majority are maintenance related, a lack of lubing the shifter pod or dealing with cables. Andy.
Andrew R Stewart is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 02:41 AM
  #3  
gauvins
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: QC Canada
Posts: 1,420

Bikes: Custom built LHT & Troll

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 555 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 26 Posts
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
[]lubing the shifter pod or dealing with cables. Andy.
Didn't realize these needed lubing. Googling suggests generous spraying of WD40 if/when they gum up. This is what you had in mind?
gauvins is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 06:06 AM
  #4  
okane
Senior Member
 
okane's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,039
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
I've done the wd thing to free up shifters but I know the stuff will eventually turn "gummy." On one set I removed a cover and very sparingly applied a bit of synthetic grease (so it wouldn't attack the plastic parts) to the pivot points and cogs. They worked fine but I sold the bike soon after so couldn't say if this was a good long range solution.

Would also like to know what others have done.
okane is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 06:26 AM
  #5  
bradtx
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Pearland, Texas
Posts: 7,576

Bikes: Cannondale, Trek, Raleigh, Santana

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 305 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
gauvins, Generally the Shimano shifters will fail following a long period of non use or in cold weather. I wouldn't worry about a shifting failure during a tour. While WD40 will restore shifting, it needs to be followed with a lubricant like Tri Flow or LPS3.

Brad
bradtx is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 01:22 PM
  #6  
Got
Banned.
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Some of the most hardcore insane tourers I know carry an extra bike with them on tours just in case this kind of thing happens. If you are scared of this problem I recommend buying another bike and towing it along during your tour.
Got is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 04:57 PM
  #7  
jimc101
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Posts: 5,629
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 381 Post(s)
Liked 37 Times in 34 Posts
Have found Rapidfire+ shifter to be one of the most reliable parts on a bike, I have well over 10,000km on set of R770 (Ultegra level) and have had no issues with them, never managed to break/had any failures with any of the SLX, XT or XTR I have had over the years either.
jimc101 is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 06:11 PM
  #8  
wschruba
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 1,527
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 468 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
gauvins, Generally the Shimano shifters will fail following a long period of non use or in cold weather. I wouldn't worry about a shifting failure during a tour. While WD40 will restore shifting, it needs to be followed with a lubricant like Tri Flow or LPS3.

Brad
For emphasis, this. Just about any light-weight lubricant will work fine in a shifter. A drop on each pawl (pulling/releasing) will keep them moving smoothly after degreasing. Cleaning, as prescribed by Shimano, involves soaking the internals in degreaser--brake cleaner works very quickly, as does any solvent heavy lubricant (bonus, not having to apply lubricant after). The goal is to remove gummed up grease from factory assembly.
wschruba is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 08:18 PM
  #9  
well biked 
biked well
 
well biked's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 7,358
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 103 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 36 Posts
Slightly off topic, but if you work in a bike shop, it won't take long for a "tune-up" to come in, involving a '90's mtb w/ original equipment Shimano trigger shifters of some type that don't work. It's an amazingly regular occurence. A guy in our shop is so experienced (and good) at assessing these by feel when they arrive, he can basically tell the customer on the spot whether the shifter(s) can be made to work again, and he's almost always spot on with his predictions. If he can't bring them back to life, I'd bet it can't be done. Percentage-wise, even when the situation seems almost hopeless, he can usually bring them back to complete functionality. I rarely mess with them anymore, I just hand them over to him.

The worst thing you can do to trigger shifters is to go long periods without using them. They're extremely reliable and will last a long, long time, as long as you keep them moving regularly.
well biked is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 08:39 PM
  #10  
American Euchre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yeah, I had to open up some deore shifters and sprayed a bit of tri flow and now the shifters are working quite well.

Why do they stop working with non use?
American Euchre is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 09:00 PM
  #11  
Jeff Wills
Insane Bicycle Mechanic
 
Jeff Wills's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: other Vancouver
Posts: 9,547
Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 678 Post(s)
Liked 318 Times in 210 Posts
Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
Yeah, I had to open up some deore shifters and sprayed a bit of tri flow and now the shifters are working quite well.

Why do they stop working with non use?
Factory grease hardens and the pawls stop springing back. The typical symptom is that you push a shift lever and it doesn't "catch".
__________________
Jeff Wills

Comcast nuked my web page. It will return soon..
Jeff Wills is offline  
Old 10-30-16, 09:55 PM
  #12  
well biked 
biked well
 
well biked's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 7,358
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 103 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 36 Posts
Originally Posted by jeff wills View Post
factory grease hardens and the pawls stop springing back. The typical symptom is that you push a shift lever and it doesn't "catch".
+1
well biked is offline  
Old 10-31-16, 12:09 AM
  #13  
American Euchre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Factory grease hardens and the pawls stop springing back. The typical symptom is that you push a shift lever and it doesn't "catch".
Ah. Well, I had that problem but I opened 'er up and gave the innards a good dose of tri flow. I'm assuming that since lube can't harden so I won't have a repeat of this problem.

Is this a potential issue with STI brifters also? I hope not.
American Euchre is offline  
Old 10-31-16, 12:12 AM
  #14  
American Euchre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Didn't realize these needed lubing. Googling suggests generous spraying of WD40 if/when they gum up. This is what you had in mind?
I opened the pods and sprayed tri flow. Clicking action has returned to something akin to full force. To be honest, I don't even recall what shifting action was like day one, but its certainly a major improvement over the sluggish stuck in the mud clicks I was getting before.
American Euchre is offline  
Old 10-31-16, 02:46 AM
  #15  
bradtx
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Pearland, Texas
Posts: 7,576

Bikes: Cannondale, Trek, Raleigh, Santana

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 305 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
Ah. Well, I had that problem but I opened 'er up and gave the innards a good dose of tri flow. I'm assuming that since lube can't harden so I won't have a repeat of this problem.

Is this a potential issue with STI brifters also? I hope not.
Yes it is. Same repair steps.

Brad
bradtx is offline  
Old 10-31-16, 10:28 AM
  #16  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 11,947

Bikes: Stormchaser, Paramount, Timberjack, Expert TG, Samba tandem

Mentioned: 67 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2375 Post(s)
Liked 1,111 Times in 722 Posts
Since you asked about XT, they do have some improvements over the cheaper ones, too. They tend to have more aluminum and some ball bearings. So, less likely to rust and should wear slower. The grease will still cake up, though. (Similar differences between components across the groups.)
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 10-31-16 at 10:39 AM.
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 10-31-16, 10:36 AM
  #17  
gauvins
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: QC Canada
Posts: 1,420

Bikes: Custom built LHT & Troll

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 555 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 26 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Since you asked about XT, they do have some improvements over the cheaper ones, too. They tend to have more aluminum and some ball bearings. So, less likely to rust and should wear slower. The grease will cake up, though. (Similar differences between components across the groups.)
thanks for pointing this out. was indeed prime motivation for going to that group.
gauvins is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 01:31 AM
  #18  
pressed001 
glorified 5954
 
pressed001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Posts: 728
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 111 Post(s)
Liked 27 Times in 18 Posts
I wonder if my XTR M952 shifter has this gumming up problem. Between 3rd and 4th gears, it doesn't seat all the way to 3 when shifting down. So that eventually it snaps into place. This used to be a bigger problem but I opened up the shifter and greased it up. Since then, it never snaps into place, but rather just doesn't fully seat correctly. So it just rubs on the cassette a bit, which I hear while pedaling, so I just push a bit more on the shift never which seats it into correct position. I will take it apart again, looking for this caked up old grease. I just assumed that the gear mechanism inside was just a bit too worn due to lack of grease.
pressed001 is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 01:44 AM
  #19  
Abu Mahendra
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Bali
Posts: 2,244

Bikes: In service - FSIR Spin 3.0, Bannard Sunny minivelo, Dahon Dash Altena folder. Several others in construction or temporarily decommissioned.

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 897 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 12 Posts
For its price, XTR has no business showing up on this thread. How old is it?


Originally Posted by pressed001 View Post
I wonder if my XTR M952 shifter has this gumming up problem. Between 3rd and 4th gears, it doesn't seat all the way to 3 when shifting down. So that eventually it snaps into place. This used to be a bigger problem but I opened up the shifter and greased it up. Since then, it never snaps into place, but rather just doesn't fully seat correctly. So it just rubs on the cassette a bit, which I hear while pedaling, so I just push a bit more on the shift never which seats it into correct position. I will take it apart again, looking for this caked up old grease. I just assumed that the gear mechanism inside was just a bit too worn due to lack of grease.
Abu Mahendra is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 07:14 AM
  #20  
Bike Gremlin
Mostly harmless
 
Bike Gremlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Novi Sad
Posts: 4,176

Bikes: Custom made on Scott Speedster frame, Custom made on a 1996. steel MTB frame (all but frame changed at least once in the past 20 years).

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 994 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 31 Posts
friction shifters and up to 8 sprockets at the back. all else is less reliable.
Bike Gremlin is online now  
Old 11-01-16, 01:44 PM
  #21  
American Euchre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
For its price, XTR has no business showing up on this thread. How old is it?
XTR is packed with grease like every other trigger shifter, yes? If so, it can dry and harden and lead to shifter failure like any lower tier group. There is a simple solution however, as long as you have access to a mini screwdriver and some lube.
American Euchre is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 06:38 PM
  #22  
Abu Mahendra
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Bali
Posts: 2,244

Bikes: In service - FSIR Spin 3.0, Bannard Sunny minivelo, Dahon Dash Altena folder. Several others in construction or temporarily decommissioned.

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 897 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 12 Posts
For the price and price premium over XT, I'd expect it XTR to use the space-tech lube used on the Mars rover.

Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
XTR is packed with grease like every other trigger shifter, yes? If so, it can dry and harden and lead to shifter failure like any lower tier group. There is a simple solution however, as long as you have access to a mini screwdriver and some lube.
Abu Mahendra is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 07:34 PM
  #23  
sonatageek
Senior Member
 
sonatageek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Cleveland,Ohio
Posts: 2,784
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I have been running a set of Altus 7 speed rapid fire shifters that were freed up with WD-40 when the bike was purchased off Craigslist about 10 years ago. At the time of purchase both the left and right shifters were not catching.

They have worked wonderfully for over 10 years. I would imagine the higher end units should fair even better.
sonatageek is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 10:26 PM
  #24  
Jeff Wills
Insane Bicycle Mechanic
 
Jeff Wills's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: other Vancouver
Posts: 9,547
Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 678 Post(s)
Liked 318 Times in 210 Posts
Originally Posted by American Euchre View Post
XTR is packed with grease like every other trigger shifter, yes? If so, it can dry and harden and lead to shifter failure like any lower tier group. There is a simple solution however, as long as you have access to a mini screwdriver and some lube.
+1. I have some first-series XTR shifters (ST-M900, 8-speed) that didn't work after sitting for several years. (They were waiting for the right bike project.) I removed the plastic cover, hosed out the inside with WD-40, and they worked perfectly after that.

Nowadays I would used petroleum-based lube since WD-40 tends to congeal and gum things up. I'll find out one of these days- the shifters were put back in storage when I upgraded that bike to 9-speed. I have another project going together now- and I have M900 XTR hubs built into wheels already.
__________________
Jeff Wills

Comcast nuked my web page. It will return soon..
Jeff Wills is offline  
Old 11-01-16, 10:30 PM
  #25  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,599

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,318 Times in 828 Posts
In doubt?, replace it before leaving for your tour.
fietsbob is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.