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Alfine hub - Versa 8 shifter — a most curious problem

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Alfine hub - Versa 8 shifter — a most curious problem

Old 11-11-13, 08:54 AM
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SlimAgainSoon
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Alfine hub - Versa 8 shifter — a most curious problem

I run a Shimano Alfine internal gear hub on my commuter bike, and I use Versa 8 shifters (road-bike style shifters for drop bars).

The shifters have worked fine for about two years. Recently, however, I could no longer downshift.

Big mystery. I finally figured out that the ferrule on the end of the shift cable housing was slipping into the Versa 8 shifter itself. It was not holding the cable in place. Just that little bit of give made the shifter not work.

I got some new cable-end ferrules — this time, I got brass ones (previous ones were a thinner aluminum or steel). Problem solved!

Except, now, about two months later, it is happening again.

Any ideas on how to fix this?

What I really need are bigger, thicker ferrules ... but I'm sure they are all similar size.

When I put on the brass ferrules, shifter worked perfectly. I believe that over time the ferrule pinched a bit or got squeezed into a slimmer shape, and ... no downshift.

Driving me crazy.

This is the only problem I've had with the Versa 8 shifters or the Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub. I like this setup, but I need to figure out a work around.

I still have the Shimano shifter that came with the hub, but it won't fit on the handlebars (sized for MTB bars — I've got larger-diameter road bars).

So, I would have to get a new bar, a new stem, and new brake levers to make that happen. That's my last-gasp scenario.

Help me out here!
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Old 11-11-13, 01:22 PM
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I have the same setup on one of my commuters, in fact I rode it to work today.

While I have not experienced the exact issue as you, I had an issue with "skipping" in 4th gear. After some troubleshooting, I replaced the entire length of shifter cable and housing and have not had any issues since. I think these can be somewhat finicky and it seems the internal cabling needs to be without any binding whatsoever, which is what I guess what was happening with mine.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-11-13, 02:16 PM
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Have you ensured that the cable housing ends have been filed or ground absolutely flat with no protruding wires? Stray wires which then get squished under pressure will cause deterioration of your shifting. It is best if you cut the cable when it has been bent to nearly its installed shape so that the wires are all in their final positions. Read under "compressionless housing" and "ferrules" in this article: https://sheldonbrown.com/cables.html#housing
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Old 11-11-13, 05:27 PM
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Ferules come in various types, which I divide into structural and non-structural. The difference is the shape and strength of the bottom and it's ability to support housing over an oversize hole in the fitting.

Traditional brake housing doesn't need a structural ferule because the spring coil acts like the face of a tube and stays in place even if the hole in the fitting is fairly large.

However Index (long spiral) housing presents the ends of the wires to the fitting or ferrule, and since there's nothing to keep the wires in place, the ferule can distort, and sag which forms a cone and the housing pinches in and tries to extrude through.

Also many ferules internal shape has a conical bottom left by the drill point that made the hole. That's OK with brake cable since the spring can sit on the outer rim, but it starts the pinch and extrude problem with index housing.

A proper index ferule will therefore have a flat bottomed hole, or a brass (or steel) washer pressed in to make the flat bottom. Better ferules have a bottom with an upward pointing conical shape, forcing the wires out to the rim. Then these ferules will also have a bottom strong enough not to say.

Most aluminum ferules aren't up to the task of working for index, if the hole they fir against is at all oversized, or shaped badly. You can solve the problem by looking for brass ferrules that were lathe turned rather than pressed, or plastic ferules with pressed in stop washers.
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Old 11-11-13, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Ferules come in various types, which I divide into structural and non-structural. The difference is the shape and strength of the bottom and it's ability to support housing over an oversize hole in the fitting.

Traditional brake housing doesn't need a structural ferule because the spring coil acts like the face of a tube and stays in place even if the hole in the fitting is fairly large.

However Index (long spiral) housing presents the ends of the wires to the fitting or ferrule, and since there's nothing to keep the wires in place, the ferule can distort, and sag which forms a cone and the housing pinches in and tries to extrude through.

Also many ferules internal shape has a conical bottom left by the drill point that made the hole. That's OK with brake cable since the spring can sit on the outer rim, but it starts the pinch and extrude problem with index housing.

A proper index ferule will therefore have a flat bottomed hole, or a brass (or steel) washer pressed in to make the flat bottom. Better ferules have a bottom with an upward pointing conical shape, forcing the wires out to the rim. Then these ferules will also have a bottom strong enough not to say.

Most aluminum ferules aren't up to the task of working for index, if the hole they fir against is at all oversized, or shaped badly. You can solve the problem by looking for brass ferrules that were lathe turned rather than pressed, or plastic ferules with pressed in stop washers.
wow!

that an impressive bit of detailed and (no offense) obscure, knowledge. well done.
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Old 11-11-13, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
wow!

that an impressive bit of detailed and (no offense) obscure, knowledge. well done.
Yep, and very useful too. That and $2.50 gets me on the Subway.
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Old 11-12-13, 01:37 AM
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I worked on a bike with this setup last week... first time I'd seen the Versa. It's a dinky little unit, and the left one's kinda funny, but it seemed like it'd do the job okay.

I'm sure you can find a ferrule that will do the job perfectly, but it's a bit of a hit-and-miss affair; the most efficient way to find what you need would be at a bike co-op or something. Or maybe you have a kindly mechanic at your LBS who's willing to trawl through his collection of odds and ends for you...

Anyway, it struck me that in addition to sorting out the ferrule, you probably want to have a look at the housing length too, since that can render the best ferrule in the world useless. Too long or short, and you'll get a kink, or excessive movement at the ferrule.

The best way to size this bit of housing is to poke a ferruled end into the shifter and turn the bars all the way to the left (or to the right if the cable goes around the left side of the head tube) and feed as much housing past the stop on the frame as it takes for the housing to just make it without too much contortion (just loose enough not to be damaged), and holding the housing next to the frame stop at that point, move the bars through their range of motion and watch the housing. You might need to add a little length but IME just enough to allow full movement is usually perfect.

It might be a slightly different story with this shifter since the cable comes out of it at a different angle to that on a STI... probably not though.
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Old 11-13-13, 02:19 PM
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Well, looks like I came to the right place — who knew Bikeforums would be the font of all knowledge on ferrules.

The cable housing, when I pulled it out, was showing the wire wrap — it definitely wasn't showing wire initially. I cut the housing square, or so I believed. So it may have worked itself into a state of poor performance.

I'll be diligent about the housing end with this repair.

The ferrules I bought recently, and which temporarily solved the problem, were made of brass. I doubt, however, that these ferrules were turned. They just didn't have the heft of a turned piece. I was lucky to find them among the local bike shops. I don't hold hope of getting any ferrules more robust, unless I go online.

I went to Ace Hardware near the homestead and grabbed small (but not small enough) washers. I've ground one down (using a Dremel tool) and will use it to bolster the best of the brass I have on hand.

I'll give that a try this evening, if I have time, or may not get to it until this weekend.

I'll report back on results.

On Megalowatt's comment on the Alfine being finicky about its shifter cable, I've found that to be case as well. The cables need to be in straight lines or nice curves — any bind will significantly slow the shift.

Thanks to all.
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Old 11-13-13, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
I have the same setup on one of my commuters, in fact I rode it to work today.

While I have not experienced the exact issue as you, I had an issue with "skipping" in 4th gear. After some troubleshooting, I replaced the entire length of shifter cable and housing and have not had any issues since. I think these can be somewhat finicky and it seems the internal cabling needs to be without any binding whatsoever, which is what I guess what was happening with mine.

Hope this helps.
In bold is what I would guess the issue was...
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Old 02-21-22, 06:01 PM
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Hello,
Italian steel here and I help Fix the engineering design the versa 8 shifter.
your problem is it needs to have the gears cleaned and re greased.
or the gear tabs are worn or your cable needs to be cleaned and regreased.
Start with the cable then the hub shifter. if all is fine then go to the shifter.
Microshift stole that design from Versa that was owned by Dynamic bicycles Bristol Rhode Island.
I still have a set if interested
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Old 02-21-22, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Italiansteel View Post
Hello,
Italian steel here and I help Fix the engineering design the versa 8 shifter.
your problem is it needs to have the gears cleaned and re greased.
or the gear tabs are worn or your cable needs to be cleaned and regreased.
Start with the cable then the hub shifter. if all is fine then go to the shifter.
Microshift stole that design from Versa that was owned by Dynamic bicycles Bristol Rhode Island.
I still have a set if interested
I would think 8-9 years later they have probably fixed the issue now, you would hope?! Cool if true would love to see the original stuff. It looks like now they are just re-branding huffy-esque bikes for corporations.
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