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Bad shifting Ultegra 6800 groupset

Old 02-29-24, 11:25 AM
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Bad shifting Ultegra 6800 groupset

Hello All,
I have a 2016 Trek Domane 5.2c. It's worked flawlessly for years, now I'm having trouble with shifting. When I upshift/downshift on the rear derailleur, it "clunks" when moving into the next gear, and it also makes that hesitating noise a lot of the time.
I've taken it to 3 different bike shops, and I've had this work done: new chain, new derailleur hanger (old one was bent and adjusted a few times, so I just replaced it), new Bontrager Pro shift cabling/housing, and a new R8000 cassette. At each shop I showed them the issue, and said "fix my shifting" and they did their thing. Each time, they said it was as good as could be, and I disagreed with them. I also adjusted the derailleur myself, like 3 times, and I can't fix it either.
Well, it still shifts like garbage compared to what it should be. The only things I can think of to do next is: clean/lube the shifters (none of the bike shops did that, seems like they should have if the shifting still wasn't right, but none of them even suggested it, and I didn't think of it at the time), replace rear derailleur (shouldn't need it, none of the shops said it was in bad condition), or replace the jockey wheels, or have the shop that installed the shift cabling redo the install job in case they messed that up.
My derailleur is clean, I degreased the jockey wheels and washed the whole thing, so that should be good. I'm at my wits end here.
Anyone have any ideas?
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Old 02-29-24, 11:58 AM
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I think clean/lube of your shifters should be top of the list. I use WD-40 to blast out the gunk, others use brake cleaner then a lube. Removing the plastic cover (or covers) on the bottom of the shifter is critical, this exposes the delicate pawl and ratchet guts so you can shoot the cleaner right in there while operating the levers. IME, this means taking the shifters off the bars, and ack, the bar tape too. The hoods come off too, they don't love WD-40 or brake cleaner.


Shimano Dealer Manual - cover removal on P23
https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/produ...0/ST-6800.html,
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Old 02-29-24, 12:55 PM
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Definitely the shifter. Sensitive to gummy grease or a piece of grit.
You missed the best time to perform a thorough cleaning during cable & housing replacement.
As a last resort, one can find new or used 6800's all day long on eBay.
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Old 02-29-24, 01:04 PM
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Add me to the check the shifter group, but with a caveat.

RDs do wear. They develop increased play at the 4 pivots, and cage pivot.

So, while checking the shifters is a must, it's also possible that it won't help.

BTW. despite having replaced the cables, there's still the chance that that's the issue. Badly cut ends, poor routing, and bad rear loop length all can cause sticktion, leading to the hesitate/jump problem you describe.
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Old 02-29-24, 01:58 PM
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Thank you all for your advice/thoughts. I wish I'd thought of cleaning the shifters when they were replacing the cabling! They had me buy new bar tape at that time, and you're right, it was the best time to clean them. I'm going to try to get my hands on some T9, though I doubt my tiny LBS has any. They don't have much. I went to my LBS for the new chain first, and they didn't do the job right (they even put the new chain on backwards!). Then I did an 80 mile round trip to a shop in another town, went there twice, and then went on a 260 mile round trip to the big city to a Trek dealer. This has just been crazy and expensive/time consuming.
I'll put the shifter cleaning on the top of my list, and once that is done, I'll try my best to check out the rear D (not very knowledgeable about derailleurs but I've been watching a lot of Park Tool and GCN videos on it these last 2 weeks).
All else fails, I'll have the shop that put on the new cables redo them. That one is the 80 mile round trip.
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Old 02-29-24, 02:02 PM
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Without knowing what kind of plastic is in the shifter I'd shy away from brake cleaner
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Old 02-29-24, 02:06 PM
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Try some spray lube first before you go the full clean. May just be a pawl getting lazy.
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Old 02-29-24, 02:34 PM
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You originally asked for ideas. Hearing your travails, I now have one. Learn how to do some basic repairs, including replacing cables on your own.

You might also include your approximate location in your profile. There's a decent chance that someone here on BF lives close, and might know a decent mechanic who's worth the trip.
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Old 02-29-24, 02:47 PM
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Maybe hit the shifter with finish line speed, work the mech a bunch and let it dry a bit. Then get some light lube in there some how. Drip some teflon lube, maybe spray silicone?

My 10 speed ultegra stuff doesn’t shift like it used to when it was new. Wear accumulates in the system over time, and it’s going on 19 years. I have improved things by cleaning the shifter like I describe above, and generally keeping the chain as clean as possible. It still usually has a bit of a hesitant shift somewhere along the cassette.
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Old 02-29-24, 02:47 PM
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And consider that if it is the RD, then a new Ultegra RD-R8000 ss or gs is only about 70 to $80 USD. You can also use a 11 speed 105 series RD which will be even less money. 5800 series if you can find it will probably be the least expensive NOS. But even the RD-R7000 series is almost half the price at $45 USD.
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Old 02-29-24, 02:59 PM
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Spray STI internal mechanism liberally from all accessible angles with this: Amazon.com: DuPont Non-Stick Dry-Film Lubricant Aerosol, 14 oz( bottle color may vary) : Tools & Home Improvement
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Old 02-29-24, 03:00 PM
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11 speed with the cover off during a recent spa treatment. It doesn't take much to cause interference in that clockwork. Flush that thang.
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Old 02-29-24, 03:46 PM
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Replacing bar tape is 100% a good thing. There is zero real downsides to it. Think of your bar tape as a safety item and it won't be an issue. It soaks all of your sweat from hands and dripping from your body and sits there day in and day out for years and it covers up your bars which you don't want to fail but will never know if they are failing without removing the tape. Yes you can clean your tape and there are probably a few people who do that but generally it sits there and can corrode your bars and I have seen some nasty bars with white powder from corrosion and sweat with holes in it.
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Old 02-29-24, 06:50 PM
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dedhed, correct, I won't use any brake cleaner. I have rubbing alcohol and some Tri-Flow that I just bought, since I can't find any T9.
FBinNY, that's a good idea and I have been working on that. I replaced the derailleur hanger myself, and I've learned to adjust both front/back derailleurs. I know how to put on bar tape! (haha). Replacing cables is something I should learn, so next time I can do them myself. I've watched a few videos on that process, doesn't seem to be all that hard. Putting a location in my profile is also a good idea, I'll do that.

So, I just took the hood off one of the shifters, and I see no way to clean it. Do I have to fully remove the shifters to clean them, as was mentioned before? I've watched several videos where they are able to clean shifters while on the bike, just by removing the hoods, but looks like that isn't happening with my model of shifter. I can't find a single video that actually shows/talks about cleaning/flushing the Ultegra 6800 shifters; or any that show how to remove the covers and such. I'll admit that I'm a bit afraid of ruining or breaking something.

EDIT: I figured it out. I removed the screw from the bottom cover, and that allowed me to remove the other cover that was hiding the internals. I'm going to clean it up and dry, lube, and see how it goes after that!

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Old 02-29-24, 07:04 PM
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Use a spray nozzle to shoot up between the two levers.
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Old 02-29-24, 09:39 PM
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OK. Both shifters have been thoroughly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, let dry, and then lubed with Tri-Flow. I put it on the bike trainer (with no resistance, just free wheeling) and worked all the gears several times to make sure the lube was worked in. The shifting has not changed, it is the same.
So that rules out dirty shifters.

Next step will be checking out the rear D, I'll do that tomorrow. I'm calling it a day for now.

Thanks all for your replies. I'll check in tomorrow.
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Old 02-29-24, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenoobDomane3
OK. Both shifters have been thoroughly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, let dry, and then lubed with Tri-Flow. I put it on the bike trainer (with no resistance, just free wheeling) and worked all the gears several times to make sure the lube was worked in. The shifting has not changed, it is the same.
So that rules out dirty shifters.

Next step will be checking out the rear D, I'll do that tomorrow. I'm calling it a day for now.

Thanks all for your replies. I'll check in tomorrow.
Things to check on the RD.

With the RD still mounted, pull the lower pulley down toward the ground, then push/pull toward/away from the frame. There will be some movement but too much indicates wear to the pivots. Sorry but this is hard to quantify what is excessive.

Also check the upper pulley. The Centeron pulley should have some lateral movement as it slides on the axle, but not a lot of tilting play. Again hard to quantify.

A question of the RD hanger, was this checked after installation?
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Old 02-29-24, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by KCT1986
Things to check on the RD.

With the RD still mounted, pull the lower pulley down toward the ground, then push/pull toward/away from the frame. There will be some movement but too much indicates wear to the pivots. Sorry but this is hard to quantify what is excessive.

Also check the upper pulley. The Centeron pulley should have some lateral movement as it slides on the axle, but not a lot of tilting play. Again hard to quantify.

A question of the RD hanger, was this checked after installation?
OK, so I read your reply and just HAD to check that haha. When doing as you suggested, the RD has no play outward, and only moves about 1/2 inch inwards. I think that's probably good? I checked the jockeys, and both are pretty solid with very little lateral movement.
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Old 02-29-24, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenoobDomane3
dedhed, correct, I won't use any brake cleaner. I have rubbing alcohol and some Tri-Flow that I just bought, since I can't find any T9.
FBinNY, that's a good idea and I have been working on that. I replaced the derailleur hanger myself, and I've learned to adjust both front/back derailleurs. I know how to put on bar tape! (haha). Replacing cables is something I should learn, so next time I can do them myself. I've watched a few videos on that process, doesn't seem to be all that hard. Putting a location in my profile is also a good idea, I'll do that.

So, I just took the hood off one of the shifters, and I see no way to clean it. Do I have to fully remove the shifters to clean them, as was mentioned before? I've watched several videos where they are able to clean shifters while on the bike, just by removing the hoods, but looks like that isn't happening with my model of shifter. I can't find a single video that actually shows/talks about cleaning/flushing the Ultegra 6800 shifters; or any that show how to remove the covers and such. I'll admit that I'm a bit afraid of ruining or breaking something.

EDIT: I figured it out. I removed the screw from the bottom cover, and that allowed me to remove the other cover that was hiding the internals. I'm going to clean it up and dry, lube, and see how it goes after that!
Did you check the alignment of the new derailleur hanger with an alignment tool? New ones often (usually?) need tweaking.
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Old 03-01-24, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bikenoobDomane3
OK, so I read your reply and just HAD to check that haha. When doing as you suggested, the RD has no play outward, and only moves about 1/2 inch inwards. I think that's probably good? I checked the jockeys, and both are pretty solid with very little lateral movement.
Not sure if 1/2 inch is a lot. Maybe someone else with more familiarity can chime in. Is this a SS or GS cage RD? so we have a reference to judge.

Hanger alignment?
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Old 03-01-24, 04:45 PM
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I was cleaning the rear derailleur and noticed that there is a slim housing on the cable between the pinch bolt and the part of the derailleur where the cable comes out. The housing is split, and open a bit. I called a bike shop and they said it's normal, it's a housing on the cable and it shouldn't affect anything, it's there just to keep things cleaner. Since it was broken, I removed it. Once I did that, I started shifting to check if that did anything, and when the cable was fully stretched out (chain on both small ring and small rear cog), I saw a piece of the cable was coming off. I think it's a protective shield over the cable? Not sure, but I know it shouldn't be frayed and coming off the way it is.
I'm guessing this might have something to do with the bad shifting???? That is a brand new cable, an expensive one at that. Did the bike shop screw up my cable? It's not from wear and tear, I haven't ridden the bike since this whole fiasco started. All I've done is adjust the RD and the testing that goes with that.
I tried to upload pics but I can't until I've made 10 posts.
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Old 03-01-24, 06:59 PM
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Personally, I never use Shimano's coated cables. The coating comes off too easily and can impact cable movement.
If you don't feel up to the task, take it back to the shop and demand they replace it with a non-coated stainless steel one.
Your problem still sounds like a shifter issue to me. If your aggressive cleaning/lubing did not do the trick, it might need replacement.
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Old 03-01-24, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenoobDomane3
I was cleaning the rear derailleur and noticed that there is a slim housing on the cable between the pinch bolt and the part of the derailleur where the cable comes out. The housing is split, and open a bit. I called a bike shop and they said it's normal, it's a housing on the cable and it shouldn't affect anything, it's there just to keep things cleaner. Since it was broken, I removed it. Once I did that, I started shifting to check if that did anything, and when the cable was fully stretched out (chain on both small ring and small rear cog), I saw a piece of the cable was coming off. I think it's a protective shield over the cable? Not sure, but I know it shouldn't be frayed and coming off the way it is.
I'm guessing this might have something to do with the bad shifting???? That is a brand new cable, an expensive one at that. Did the bike shop screw up my cable? It's not from wear and tear, I haven't ridden the bike since this whole fiasco started. All I've done is adjust the RD and the testing that goes with that.
I tried to upload pics but I can't until I've made 10 posts.
Shimano calls it 'cover with tongue'. Probably to seal and protect the outer coating of the cable. The fraying of the coating is common and some think it's a problem that results in clogging. Don't know if that is true or an issue with your brand of coated cable.

Shimano recommends replacing that piece with the cable replacement.

Other questions posted but unanswered is, was the hanger aligned after replacement? & is this a SS or GS (short or long cage)?
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Old 03-01-24, 10:09 PM
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Does the shifting change if you pull the brake levers slightly first?

There's a weird interference that develops with these shifters where the inner lever needs to release before the outer can shift, so they have external lever arms that cause this one/two release to happen. As they wear, this sequence gets screwed up.

If that's it, you fix it by bending the release arm fore or aft.
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Old 03-02-24, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
Personally, I never use Shimano's coated cables. The coating comes off too easily and can impact cable movement.
If you don't feel up to the task, take it back to the shop and demand they replace it with a non-coated stainless steel one.
Your problem still sounds like a shifter issue to me. If your aggressive cleaning/lubing did not do the trick, it might need replacement.
As stated earlier, I'm not using Shimano cables. I'm using Bontrager Pro cables. Bontrager doesn't actually say that the cables are coated, only that they are ultra low friction. They sure seem coated, cause something is peeling off. Where it's peeling makes no sense either. The cable goes into the barrel adjuster at the RD, and comes out. Where it comes out is where it's peeling. My point being, if there is enough friction or something there at that spot to strip the cable (which really shouldn't happen), then there is enough to also damage the cable, which is stupid and makes no sense. There should be no friction at that point at all, or else I'd be going through rear cables every season.

Originally Posted by KCT1986
Shimano calls it 'cover with tongue'. Probably to seal and protect the outer coating of the cable. The fraying of the coating is common and some think it's a problem that results in clogging. Don't know if that is true or an issue with your brand of coated cable.

Shimano recommends replacing that piece with the cable replacement.

Other questions posted but unanswered is, was the hanger aligned after replacement? & is this a SS or GS (short or long cage)?
I installed the new hanger, and no I didn't align it, I don't have that tool. However, before I replaced the hanger (I mentioned this earlier as well) I had my old hanger adjusted twice, by 2 different shops, while they worked on my bike, and after alignment, it did not fix or alter my shifting in any way. So I really don't think it's the hanger causing this issue. My RD is a medium, so it's a GS. I'm running 50/34.
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