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Shimano Ultegra 65XX 3x9 Shifter not work?

Old 12-18-21, 12:34 AM
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galyons
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Shimano Ultegra 65XX 3x9 Shifter not work?

I recently purchased a 2002 Cannondale RT3000 road tandem and have started the process of refurbing the bike. Structurally the frame, brakes, (cantilever front and back, drum on rear), and most of the drive drivetrain are in very good shape with the exception of the chains and the left ST6500 shifter. The drive train is a combo of Shimano Ultegra FD and Deore XT RD. This is the stock configuration. I put on a new SRAM 971 chain for the drive and a new SRAM 850 for the timing. The RD is working fine.

The left shifter, 3x9, does not shift properly going from small chainring to larger. Shifting from the middle to the small seems to work as expected. Going from small to larger, there are clicks, but the derailleur only shifts to the middle ring sporadically and the does not shift to the large chainring at all. The move from the small to the middle only happens if I push the lever all the way to the right. The FD does not move at the clicks. I checked height and alignment of the FD both are fine. I fine tuned the lower limit and backed the high limit off to try to get the FD to shift to the big ring. No luck. Adjusting cable tension helps with the shifts, but I cannot find a tension level that lets the shift go up the the large ring.

I am not unfamiliar, nor inexperienced in tuning a bike, I have run Campy on my single bike since 2006, so I am not really familiar with the finer details of the Shimano shifting system. Is there a definitive way to determine if the issue is actually the shifter or perhaps, my poorly done adjustment. My LBS said they could do a FD adjustment, but if it is the shifter, they cannot help me. I can buy a used shifter, but do not want to simply change out parts if the issue is elsewhere.

I would appreciate any thoughts. I would lie to get the bike on the road!!

Cheers,
Geary
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Old 12-18-21, 05:32 AM
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I'd start with flushing the shifter with WD 40. Also, pull the FD cable by hand to be sure there is nothing obstructing movement to the big ring.
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Old 12-18-21, 06:53 AM
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Before you conclude that your Ultegra 6503 triple front shifter is faulty you might want to try this:

Shimano indexed triple shifters have a set-up procedure that must be followed to have everything work correctly on all 3 chainrings. Someone may have put new cables on and pulled out all the slack in the cable while in the small chainring. This is the logical procedure for double cranks so most folks think that you do the same with a triple. Not true - Shimano provides that orange set-up block which pivots the cage halfway between the small and the middle ring. This is your starting point for tightening the cable and pulling out the slack. The low and high limit screws are set in the normal way. If you donít have the orange block, Iíve heard you can pivot the cage and insert a 5mm Allen key in there (to hold it in the starting position).


Once the cable is tightened down go ahead and test the shifting in the stand. You should now have no problem pulling enough cable to shift easily from the middle to the big chainring. Fine tune the high stop if needed to eliminate rubbing in the big front, small rear combo but prevent throwing the chain, and the low stop the same. The adjuster barrel is done last and is to move the cage side to side to your preference on how many rear cogs you would like noise free operation on before you have to deploy the half click ďtrimĒ position. On my 3x9 bike I have it so it does not rub through the highest 6 or 7 cogs then when giving it a half click, it now centers the chain on the biggest 2 rear cogs (lowest gears).

I hope this helps. I actually have put on new cables over the years on either of my two triple chainring road bikes and embarrassed to say that I forgot this setup procedure each time. My results were the same as yours - inability to shift to the big chainring. I learned my lesson and when it works correctly you will know it and be greatly relieved. I hope this helps.
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Old 12-18-21, 07:41 AM
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https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/si/SI-53H0B-000-00-ENG.pdf
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Old 12-18-21, 09:40 AM
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Disconnect the cable from the front DR and then pull on the bare cable and keep tension on it. Then shift up and down on the shifter. If you feel all the detents and also feel a certain amount of cable let out or taken in then you can probably assume the shifter is working correctly. Don't forget the trim click. It will only release a small bit of cable.

Also, have you pulled the cable end out of the shifter and made certain the cable isn't frayed inside it? Is this an STI or a shift lever for something other than a drop bar?

I think shifter that old might can be rebuilt. Finding part for something long not manufactured or sold will try you patience. If it turns out to be the shifter, then get another one used or a new one that is compatible.

Letting it be the shops headache might let you ride it sooner.
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Old 12-18-21, 08:32 PM
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KCT1986
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First step would be to check that the shifter is working properly. Disconnect the cable verify that it is fully working. You should get "clicks" as in the diagram.
From low to top: first full sweep of lever A, 2 trim clicks and click for middle position. Second full sweep, top position, cable holder should look like pic below.
From top to low (in purple): first sweep of lever B and release for middle position. Second sweep, 1 trim position for middle ring (small click) and full release to small ring.
Proper cable tension setting is done in the standard middle shifter position (in green), with the chain in the middle ring and largest (low) cog in the rear.

Of course, this assumes that the FD is the proper model, and the rings are the specified size and mounted correctly.

Also check that cable and housing is in good condition.


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Old 12-19-21, 02:32 PM
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Thanks to everyone for their input. Lots'a mea culpa's here!! Yes, I was trying to adjust the FD shifting just like I do on my double chainring bike. I readjusted from the middle front to large rear, but then I could only shift up to the large chainring or back down to the middle chainring. I tried various tension levels to no avail. I really appreciate the PDF and graphics! I am a visual learner, so these were very helpful. I slacked the cable and test for any blockage, gunk or corrosion. all good there!

I get the clicks, as expected, on the small lever, 2 trim and a solid third on the first shift and then a less distinct click on the second shift. The large lever gives the trim clicks and shift click along with the required pull on the first pass. The second pass there really is no click and it appears the lever travel is limited by the cable anchor bottoming out on the shift housing.

With pressure on the lever for second pass:


Second pass with pressure of the lever:


At this point, can we confirm that the shifter is functioning properly, or not? If it is, then I need to do a better job of following the proper procedure or haul it to the LBS!!

Cheers,
Geary
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Old 12-19-21, 04:02 PM
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KCT1986
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Originally Posted by galyons View Post
Thanks to everyone for their input. Lots'a mea culpa's here!! Yes, I was trying to adjust the FD shifting just like I do on my double chainring bike. I readjusted from the middle front to large rear, but then I could only shift up to the large chainring or back down to the middle chainring. I tried various tension levels to no avail. I really appreciate the PDF and graphics! I am a visual learner, so these were very helpful. I slacked the cable and test for any blockage, gunk or corrosion. all good there!

I get the clicks, as expected, on the small lever, 2 trim and a solid third on the first shift and then a less distinct click on the second shift. The large lever gives the trim clicks and shift click along with the required pull on the first pass. The second pass there really is no click and it appears the lever travel is limited by the cable anchor bottoming out on the shift housing.

With pressure on the lever for second pass:


Second pass with pressure of the lever:


At this point, can we confirm that the shifter is functioning properly, or not? If it is, then I need to do a better job of following the proper procedure or haul it to the LBS!!

Cheers,
Geary
In the second pic above, do you mean pressure OFF the lever? This should be the locked position for the top position. From here, the small (B) lever should need a sweep and release of lever to get to the middle position, no trim between the top and middle position.
Going from the middle to low position, you should get 1 trim and then full release to low, (per purple in diagram) one full sweep of lever B. Tension on the cable in the low position should be quite low.

If this is how the shifter is performing, it seems to be working OK. My concern is that the housing may be damaged or restriction the slack in the cable from reaching the FD. Also wonder if the longer cable run is having more stretch in the cable and thus requiring more tension than normal to get to the top ring. The cable housing, if not in good condition or the ends not prepared properly, may also be requiring you to use too much tension on the top gear.

Don't have any experience with a tandem and the long cable runs required.

Good luck...
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Old 12-19-21, 04:45 PM
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"In the second pic above, do you mean pressure OFF the lever? "

Sorry, yes, pressure off of the lever! I will check the cable housing. Yeah triple plus tandem is WAY OUT of my less than journeyman expertise!!

Cheers,
Geary
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Old 12-19-21, 09:49 PM
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I, too, had a non-functioning shifter on a tandem rebuild last spring. Both STIs were non-functional actually. But I had this job to do AFTER I went berserk on another Ultegra STI left shifter! I decided, "Dammit, I've been overhauling bikes forever! So I'm gonna FULLY disassemble that STI lever and FIX it!" I did and it ended up working out, but it wasn't easy. And after doing it, I realize it was indeed a big waste of time.

As others have said, just fully flush your STI shifter mechanism with light oil. Blow the excess out with a compressor and then inject the entire thing with new grease with a grease gun. This is what I did to the non-functioning Ultegra levers on the tandem and it worked like a charm! No need to pull things apart and have tiny parts, ratchets and springs to deal with. Flush and regrease. It's working like a charm! In fact, I can't believe how well the 10-speed shifting performs. Better than I expected.

And not enough can be said about replacing derailleur housing, especially on a tandem. The stuff simply wears out over time - contamination gets in the lining and the ends always seem to get "frayed." Cable friction is your enemy! (The plastic outer always "shrinks" back from the ends.).

I cut and carefully grind my housing ends flat, parallel and smooth. No burs, and nice and perfect to achieve excellent shifting. And with the extra cable and housing run on a tandem, precise shifting is even more important.

That said, it sounds like your issue was a set-up problem that you've resolved. Enjoy the tandem!!! (I have two Crack-N-Fails!)
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Old 12-20-21, 07:02 PM
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OK, I think I may be on the path to getting this sorted!! I was bugged by the difference in the position of the cable end in KCT1986's photo, (above) and the position of mine, (below). Then it finally dawned on me that the difference is that there was something obstructing the free movement of the cable near the shifter. (With due respect to all of the "free v. frayed" comments!!)

With pressure on the shifter, the cap end looks the same as KCT1986's. With pressure off of the lever, the shifter end cap housing receded, BUT the cable cap, hence the cable, stayed in place. Resistance was holding it there. I had checked that the cable moved freely at the derailleur and upper housing, but not between the shifter and adjustment barrel.

So some snipping and pulling and...CRAP! This is what I found:

Those frayed ends are not a result of my cutting. That was the area of obstruction! Looks like over tightening pushed the housing reinforcement wires through the cable end caps! Don't think that was me, but...

So new cables and housings are ordered. I will update when I get the new cable installed.

Cheers,
Geary

QUOTE=galyons;22345231]snip!!
With pressure ON the lever for second pass:


Second pass with pressure OFF of the lever:


[/QUOTE]

Last edited by galyons; 12-20-21 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 12-20-21, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by galyons View Post
OK, I think I may be on the path to getting this sorted!! I was bugged by the difference in the position of the cable end in KCT1986's photo, (above) and the position of mine, (below). Then it finally dawned on me that the difference is that there was something obstructing the free movement of the cable near the shifter. With pressure on the shifter, the cap end looks the same as KCT1986's. With pressure off of the lever, the shifter end cap housing receded, BUT the cable cap, hence the cable, stayed in place. Resistance was holding it there. I had checked that the cable moved freely at the derailleur and upper housing, but not between the shifter and adjustment barrel.

So some snipping and pulling and...CRAP! This is what I found:

Those frayed ends are not a result of my cutting. That was the area of obstruction! Looks like over tightening pushed the housing reinforcement wires through the cable end caps! Don't think that was me, but...

So new cables and housings are ordered. I will update when I get the new cable installed.

Cheers,
Geary

QUOTE=galyons;22345231]snip!!
With pressure ON the lever for second pass:


Second pass with pressure OFF of the lever:

[/QUOTE]
Yes, I noticed that too, but my thought was that you had been testing the shifter with the cable disconnected from the FD & was just pulling on the cable. Then that you had released pressure on the cable before releasing the lever for the second pic, thus causing the cable end to pop out.

That is surely your issue. Just need to replace that piece and you'll be in business.

In some situations that have high tension on the cable, replacing the plastic end caps with alloy may help. Another option that I use is to add a tiny steel washer into the plastic housing end cap (see below, scale in mm) to spread the load of the individual wire strand. This seems to help during initial setup also as the plastic end seems to deform less & don't need much further tightening.

Happy holidays,


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Old 12-22-21, 07:12 PM
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Wow! That's CLASSIC! I've seen similar before, but that's quite the disastrous explosion of your derailleur housing! Yup, gotta keep an eye on those ends!!!

Small washers in the ends of plastic cable ferrules are an excellent idea! And I thought I was OCD on cables & housing! I sourced plastic ferrules with protruding noodles for rubber dust shields to cover the cables. I've run Gore housing in the past with success, but it's so finicky and easy to damage. And pretty much impossible on a coupled tandem with cable splitters.

Either way, one should always remember that housing wears out and needs replacement at regular intervals. Your shifters will last far longer with reduced housing friction.

To the OP: isn't it nice when you discover an OBVIOUS reason for your issue(s)? New housing all around with nice flat, perpendicular ends should rectify your problem right away. It should be night and day improvement.
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Old 12-31-21, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
To the OP: isn't it nice when you discover an OBVIOUS reason for your issue(s)? New housing all around with nice flat, perpendicular ends should rectify your problem right away. It should be night and day improvement.
Yep! Spent WAY too much time muttering "This just ain't right!!". I should have gone to "take it off and start over" much earlier!!

Happy New Year!!
Cheers,
Geary
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Old 12-31-21, 04:20 PM
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New FD cable in!! Adjusted and shifting well!! My thanks to everyone for the ideas, commiseration and encouragement.

Happy New Year!!
Cheers,
Geary
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