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ST-6501 grumpy

Old 05-29-14, 01:42 PM
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Bob_
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ST-6501 grumpy

I just acquired a bike with 9-speed Shimano gears, and the ST-6501 shifters. Shifting was a bit inconsistent, often skipping a gear or two up and down. I read a lot of forum posts, and finally decided to try lubing the shifters. This has made things worse, and now the right shifter works very badly. The small inside lever won't move independently from the large brake lever (or brifters), and it sometimes shifts from 1st to 9th gear in one swell foop.

However, if I remove the assembly from the handlebars, it works perfectly. What's up with that? Could the housing be compromised in some way? A crack?

Not much fun riding the new bike with this going on.

Thanks!

Bob
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Old 05-29-14, 03:21 PM
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Your shifter cable runs on the outside of the shifter, so any kinks or cracks your housing may have should be apparent even with the shifters off the bars. If they were routed under the bar tape, I'd say change the cables and housing. These are old shifters so you might want to do that regardless, just to start with a clean slate for troubleshooting.

I would try flushing the shifters with a degreaser, rinsing with water, thoroughly dry them, them generously lube them. You might also look at the assembly of the shifter, with it removed from the bars, and look for any debris stuck in there. The shift lever not moving independent of the brake lever sounds like there might be an obstruction of some kind in the levers.
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Old 05-29-14, 03:45 PM
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if i had ONLY lubed them and they got worse, i might not be too disappointed. it might indicate, to me, that a foreign object was inhibiting free movement. which might lead me to believe a more thorough cleaning could be beneficial...
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Old 05-29-14, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by jin_yeugh View Post
Your shifter cable runs on the outside of the shifter, so any kinks or cracks your housing may have should be apparent even with the shifters off the bars. If they were routed under the bar tape, I'd say change the cables and housing. These are old shifters so you might want to do that regardless, just to start with a clean slate for troubleshooting.

I would try flushing the shifters with a degreaser, rinsing with water, thoroughly dry them, them generously lube them. You might also look at the assembly of the shifter, with it removed from the bars, and look for any debris stuck in there. The shift lever not moving independent of the brake lever sounds like there might be an obstruction of some kind in the levers.
That's about what I've done, but somehow things are still gummed up, I guess. Replaced the cable housing, cleaned with solvent, cleaned with water, lubed with Triflow.

It's worse than ever now.

There's no evidence of a crack, upon close inspection. I'll try cleaning again.
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Old 05-29-14, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob_ View Post
That's about what I've done, but somehow things are still gummed up, I guess. Replaced the cable housing, cleaned with solvent, cleaned with water, lubed with Triflow.
Did you replace the cable as well as the housing?
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Old 05-29-14, 05:01 PM
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Not the cable. It looks like new. However, I just discovered that the cable was misrouted at the rear derailleur. Suddenly it misses no cogs, going up or down! However, the two brifter levers still don't move independently. Well, the small one doesn't. I did spray more Triflow into the shifter, with no apparent improvement yet.
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Old 05-29-14, 05:27 PM
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That's great you fixed the routing problem!

Originally Posted by Bob_ View Post
the two brifter levers still don't move independently. Well, the small one doesn't. I did spray more Triflow into the shifter, with no apparent improvement yet.
Just to make sure, when you shift up (to the larger-toothed cogs) using the brake lever part of the shifters, both levers move together, dependently (as they're designed to) right?
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Old 05-29-14, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jin_yeugh View Post
That's great you fixed the routing problem!


Just to make sure, when you shift up (to the larger-toothed cogs) using the brake lever part of the shifters, both levers move together, dependently (as they're designed to) right?
Yes, shifting to a bigger cog works correctly, with both brifter handles moving together.
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Old 05-29-14, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
if i had ONLY lubed them and they got worse, i might not be too disappointed. it might indicate, to me, that a foreign object was inhibiting free movement. which might lead me to believe a more thorough cleaning could be beneficial...
I cleaned them thoroughly before lubing them. Perhaps the lever movement will improve if I let it sit for a while. Some folks report this result, I believe.
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Old 05-29-14, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob_ View Post
I cleaned them thoroughly before lubing them. Perhaps the lever movement will improve if I let it sit for a while. Some folks report this result, I believe.
New cables & housings....

And you may not be really clearing out the old dried up grease. You've got to really use the degreaser (WD40 for me) and hose/blow out the old stuff. If you're not making a big mess; you're not getting in there. There is some credence to letting them sit and soak. I've put parts in a ziploc bag to soak in mineral spirits and saved them. WD40 is cheap compared to shifters. Buy a big can and use it all.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:26 AM
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Should I dismantle the shifter to any degree? I've just been squirting in Seafoam, letting it work a while, and then the Triflow.

I recall using Teflon-coated cables in the past, but the LBS here didn't have any. Perhaps that would help.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:54 AM
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I would remove any covers that are simple to do. I'm not good enough to disassemble any kind of brifter. It sounds to me that you're not accomplishing any "rinsing". I'm assuming the grease has solidified. It'll take some effort to get all that gunk out.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:00 AM
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Shifter is worn out. These things do not have infinite lifespans, nor are they rebuilt easily (if you can find parts) as Campagnolo. Buy another used one, or find a nice Tiagra lever.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:35 AM
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Yeah, those shifters aren't exactly service-friendly. Soaking them with oil is about all you can do, and if they still malfunction (probably due to a broken spring or ratchet, or bent part somewhere) you chuck them in the trash and buy a new one. Shimano used to sell the individual shifting units separately as a small part: http://www.kurbelix.de/Shimano_Technische_Daten_Anleitungen/Shimano_Anleitung_ST-6501-B-02.pdf

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Old 05-30-14, 08:11 AM
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Usually this symptom is a pretty bad sign... 9s levers are prone to it when one or two of the springs get tired and it's impossible to fix without disassembly... I've only had limited success anyway.

But if your levers weren't doing this until you hit them with degreaser, the sudden change of behaviour strongly suggests that you've managed to dislodge some crud which has then caused a jam. I'd pin a bit of hope on continuing to work the lever repeatedly while periodically flushing with more degreaser. The flushing won't do much by itself; you need to work the shifter.

If it's done for and you want to have a look inside as a last resort or for curiosity's sake, click the STI overhaul link in my tag.
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Old 05-30-14, 08:23 AM
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Thanks for all of the comments. Yeah, I kind of suspected that I messed up something that was at least functioning. I'd been thinking of going to a Shimergo setup, but of course that takes a little investment. I'll have to say that the shifting is now very crisp, aside from the lever sticking issue. This is on a Santana tandem, and the cable run to the RD is pretty long. It goes through a couple of guides on the bottom tube along the way. There might be some friction there.

Edit: I now have no doubt there's extra friction going through the guides. I need to find some very small-diameter cable housings to feed through the holes. One cable already has one through one guide. So I need three more. Any suggestions?

Last edited by Bob_; 05-30-14 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 05-30-14, 12:29 PM
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One more question: If both levers move when I'm only pushing on the small one, is that because the pawl of the small one is not catching on the ratchet cage? If so, I'll keep trying to clean it, and perhaps it will start to catch.
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Old 05-30-14, 01:09 PM
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WD40 is the correct solvent for cleaning the shifter mechanisms. The idea is to dissolve the old hard factory grease. New cables and housings are also needed.
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Old 05-30-14, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob_ View Post
One more question: If both levers move when I'm only pushing on the small one, is that because the pawl of the small one is not catching on the ratchet cage? If so, I'll keep trying to clean it, and perhaps it will start to catch.
It might be because a pawl on the big lever is failing to disengage like it should. Corrosion of a pivot, broken spring, broken tooth... could be several things. I've managed to save some MTB shifters by giving them a good soak of oil then waiting for a day - or working the stuck pawls with a tiny screwdriver through the lever slot on the shifter. Don't think that's possible here though.
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Old 09-26-14, 08:39 PM
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Hi Bob_,

Have you solved the problem? My rear (right) shifter (ST6501 9 speed) is having exactly the same issue - both levers move together when trying to shift from larger to smaller rear sprocket. I have to use fingers to hold the larger lever while pushing the smaller lever in order to shift to a smaller rear sprocket.
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