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Retrofriction: care and feeding

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Retrofriction: care and feeding

Old 04-19-24, 08:44 AM
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Retrofriction: care and feeding

Just reinstalled a set of Spidel-branded Retrofriction DT levers, first time I have encountered Retrofriction ever. Unlike the rest of the bike, I did not break them down to the smallest part, it did not seem needed. Right now they seem to be shifting well (actuating the SunPlex derailleurs I showed in another topic), as least as good as any other DT levers. Not what I was expecting, they do not seem all that different. Do I need to lube or adjust in any way?

These are braze-on, by the way. When I removed them, I found a tiny clear plastic "o-ring" on the center screw, looking close it's kinda conical in shape... and only on the NDS. Should I be worried there's non on the DS? If so, is that item unobtanium? To my eye, it looks like a bit intended to keep the shifters together in shipping, maybe not part of the system (looking at various Retrofriction exploded diagrams on the forum in multiple topics I'm checking, this is not pictured). And, compared to Campy DT and many other branded, there is no wing nut on the mounting screw. Don't worry about it? Or remove the screw and add LocTite?

I'd say that, if they continue to function as they do right now, the bike's owner should be happy with the results -- but?
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Old 04-19-24, 10:23 AM
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I wouldn't add loctite because it may need to be adjusted for ghost shifting in the future. They are hard to take down for service, and don't really need any
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Old 04-19-24, 06:17 PM
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It may have been something to keep the screw from wondering off. I agree with Kontact there really isn't any reason to take them apart.

Thanks... I went looking for diagram and now I need to have a pair or two of these... I didn't really know they existed.

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Old 04-19-24, 06:33 PM
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tiger1964-

The small nylon o ring is to hold the parts together when they are off the braze-on post. There should be one on each side so it would seem one is lost. I have Retrofrictions with and others without the o rings and the operation seem no different in use. If the grease in the shifter body is old and hardened it will impair the feel. You might want to squirt some lube into the body while the screws are loose if that is the case.
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Old 04-19-24, 07:29 PM
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Just remember, the mounting screws do not provide any friction on the levers they are there to mount the shifters ti the shifter lugs on the bike. The friction comes from a coil spring in the derailleur body that grips an internal stationary barrel for friction, only one way. Essentially a one way clutch while on the opposite direction of the shift throw will have no friction at all.
I do not grease my retrofrictions so the internal spring can grip the internal barrel better.
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Old 04-19-24, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
It may have been something to keep the screw from wondering off. I agree with Kontact there really isn't any reason to take them apart.

Thanks... I went looking for diagram and now I need to have a pair or two of these... I didn't really know they existed.

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I'm sure a trip to see Dawn at Pro Kote Indy could make that happen. But you would have to choose from over a few hundred colors and finishes. Smiles, MH
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Old 04-19-24, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Just remember, the mounting screws do not provide any friction on the levers they are there to mount the shifters ti the shifter lugs on the bike. The friction comes from a coil spring in the derailleur body that grips an internal stationary barrel for friction, only one way. Essentially a one way clutch while on the opposite direction of the shift throw will have no friction at all.
I do not grease my retrofrictions so the internal spring can grip the internal barrel better.
This has not been my experience. I have had the lever slip while climbing, and corrected it with a slight adjustment to the mounting screw.
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Old 04-19-24, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
This has not been my experience. I have had the lever slip while climbing, and corrected it with a slight adjustment to the mounting screw.
From my experience, I believe that if tightening the screw changes anything at all pertaining to the one-way friction, that the screw was simply too loose.
I have had them loose enough to where tightening the screw changed the friction level, so that the lever might have slipped in response to cable tension.
And I too at first thought that I was seeing some kind of intended adjustment feature, but which I confirmed was not actually the case.

The barrel around which the spring wraps is supposed to be stationary in use at all times, and any further tightening of the screw only compresses the stationary barrel harder, but does not act on any lateral-facing friction-washer surfaces as on other friction shifters.

I wouldn't use Loctite since the screw heads are so prone to getting mangled by a screwdriver blade, and properly tightened there shouldn't be any movement at all that would cause them to loosen. If the barrel is acting like a slipping "friction washer" of sorts then of course that would be motion of the sort that could and would cause the screw to lose tension over time and use, requiring a D-ring or other mechanism to keep it tight over long miles.

I always keep these shifters oiled to prevent any increase in friction level, which would shorten the fatigue life of the bent part of the wrap spring, which sometimes break.
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Old 04-20-24, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd
From my experience, I believe that if tightening the screw changes anything at all pertaining to the one-way friction, that the screw was simply too loose.
I have had them loose enough to where tightening the screw changed the friction level, so that the lever might have slipped in response to cable tension.
And I too at first thought that I was seeing some kind of intended adjustment feature, but which I confirmed was not actually the case.

The barrel around which the spring wraps is supposed to be stationary in use at all times, and any further tightening of the screw only compresses the stationary barrel harder, but does not act on any lateral-facing friction-washer surfaces as on other friction shifters.

I wouldn't use Loctite since the screw heads are so prone to getting mangled by a screwdriver blade, and properly tightened there shouldn't be any movement at all that would cause them to loosen. If the barrel is acting like a slipping "friction washer" of sorts then of course that would be motion of the sort that could and would cause the screw to lose tension over time and use, requiring a D-ring or other mechanism to keep it tight over long miles.

I always keep these shifters oiled to prevent any increase in friction level, which would shorten the fatigue life of the bent part of the wrap spring, which sometimes break.
Well, they clearly can and do change resistance based on the screw, as noted in this excellent rebuild write up:
https://peugeotcoursepb12.wordpress....-installation/

Another reference to adjusting the friction:
https://www.classiclightweights.co.u...iction-levers/

The spring clutch is a fixed amount of drag, and it isn't hard to understand that doesn't make a lot of sense when derailleur springs and cable friction is variable. So there are too sources of friction - the spring clutch and the mounting screw, which puts pressure through the two outer washers and onto the inner barrel - part 4074A.


Hopefully Simplex owners are smart enough to simply tighten the screw instead of believing that their shifters are broken if they slip.
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Old 04-20-24, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Well, they clearly can and do change resistance based on the screw, as noted in this excellent rebuild write up:
https://peugeotcoursepb12.wordpress....-installation/

Another reference to adjusting the friction:
https://www.classiclightweights.co.u...iction-levers/

The spring clutch is a fixed amount of drag, and it isn't hard to understand that doesn't make a lot of sense when derailleur springs and cable friction is variable. So there are too sources of friction - the spring clutch and the mounting screw, which puts pressure through the two outer washers and onto the inner barrel - part 4074A.


Hopefully Simplex owners are smart enough to simply tighten the screw instead of believing that their shifters are broken if they slip.
I agree with what you just wrote pertaining to the mounting screw putting pressure on the (stationary) inner barrel.
And I also agree that the spring clutch exerts a fixed amount of drag (variable only via use of alternate lubricants).

The wording used in each of your linked write-ups, suggestive of adjustment of friction via the screw, is however mis-leading, but each in it's own very different way. So a reader is easily mislead. Good detective work (or luck?) coming up with those two.

The proof that the screw is in no way intended to be an adjustment screw is in that it features no anti-rotation washer to prevent any back-and-forth movement of the fixing screw in response to the rotation of an insufficiently-fixed inner barrel. All other friction levers have such anti-rotation washers (or plates) which either have A) flats to engage mating flats on the stud, or B) a cross-piece "leg" keying into a stationary inner plate fixed to the band clamp via a square-shape engagement.

Again, I myself found myself "adjusting" the tension on one of my bikes which came with such levers, but which proved to be very flawed in it's inability to prevent loosening in use. With conspicuously (tellingly) no provided or optional D-ring (or wingnut or knurled knob), a racer might see their race ended the very first time that the screw loosened even slightly from their fine-tuned, adjusted setting!
As well, no friction lever that I've ever seen used such a small-diameter friction surface as could be imagined to exist on the ends of the Retrofriction lever's spring-wrapped inner barrel, nor such steel-on-steel mating surfaces, to control their friction level.

I've used quite a few different front and rear derailers with Simplex Retrofriction levers by now, and have yet to have experienced any problem of slippage with any of them when the fixing screw was properly/fully tightened.
This doesn't mean that they will work quite optimally-as-intended with every single derailer out there, but I have yet to come across even one front or rear derailer where the connected Retrofriction levers had any friction level issue. Kind of like with the actuation ratio of vintage derailers, there was usually very little variation among any of the popular parallelogram derailers (outside the various Huret Allvit/Luxe/Schwinn designs).

Now you can use a partially-tightened fixing screw to reduce a Retrofriction lever's resistance to cable tension, but particularly on the left lever, the larger friction torque acting as the lever moves forward will quickly loosen the fixing screw, while the right lever fixing screw will more likely simply lose tension from wear, which you then have no way of adjusting from the saddle.

Huret, for their part, sought to address the lack of friction adjustment and actually designed a self-adjusting retrofriction-type lever which added return friction only in proportion to the cable tension.
They likely managed to skirt any patent protections on Simplex's design at the same time!

They did this by anchoring the cable head to the end of the spring rather than to the lever itself (each end of the spring getting un-wrapped by applied lever force/motion in one direction or the other). So adding cable tension proportionally increased the spring-wrap friction!

The genius of their design was that while the wrap clutch always sustained the cable tension, pushing the lever forward applied un-wrapping motion to the other end of the spring, making for a lightest-of-light, fingertip lever feel in both directions.
So we can't blame riders for trying to "adjust" their Simplex Retrofriction levers "lighter", they just needed Huret's (albeit less-sexy) version.

This would have also better accommodated the unusual variable actuation of Huret's own Allvit designs (which featured a regressive actuation ratio approaching the largest cog).
Oddly, the Huret version never seemed to make headway into the pro peloton, or on other than a few mid-level production bikes.

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Old 04-20-24, 01:38 AM
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Dbl sort of post, now consolidated ^^^

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Old 04-20-24, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd
I agree with what you just wrote pertaining to the mounting screw putting pressure on the (stationary) inner barrel.
And I also agree that the spring clutch exerts a fixed amount of drag (variable only via use of alternate lubricants).

The wording used in each of your linked write-ups, suggestive of adjustment of friction via the screw, is however mis-leading, but each in it's own very different way. So a reader is easily mislead. Good detective work (or luck?) coming up with those two.

The proof that the screw is in no way intended to be an adjustment screw is in that it features no anti-rotation washer to prevent any back-and-forth movement of the fixing screw in response to the rotation of an insufficiently-fixed inner barrel. All other friction levers have such anti-rotation washers (or plates) which either have A) flats to engage mating flats on the stud, or B) a cross-piece "leg" keying into a stationary inner plate fixed to the band clamp via a square-shape engagement.

Again, I myself found myself "adjusting" the tension on one of my bikes which came with such levers, but which proved to be very flawed in it's inability to prevent loosening in use. With conspicuously (tellingly) no provided or optional D-ring (or wingnut or knurled knob), a racer might see their race ended the very first time that the screw loosened even slightly from their fine-tuned, adjusted setting!
As well, no friction lever that I've ever seen used such a small-diameter friction surface as could be imagined to exist on the ends of the Retrofriction lever's spring-wrapped inner barrel, nor such steel-on-steel mating surfaces, to control their friction level.

I've used quite a few different front and rear derailers with Simplex Retrofriction levers by now, and have yet to have experienced any problem of slippage with any of them when the fixing screw was properly/fully tightened.
This doesn't mean that they will work quite optimally-as-intended with every single derailer out there, but I have yet to come across even one front or rear derailer where the connected Retrofriction levers had any friction level issue. Kind of like with the actuation ratio of vintage derailers, there was usually very little variation among any of the popular parallelogram derailers (outside the various Huret Allvit/Luxe/Schwinn designs).

Now you can use a partially-tightened fixing screw to reduce a Retrofriction lever's resistance to cable tension, but particularly on the left lever, the larger friction torque acting as the lever moves forward will quickly loosen the fixing screw, while the right lever fixing screw will more likely simply lose tension from wear, which you then have no way of adjusting from the saddle.

Huret, for their part, sought to address the lack of friction adjustment and actually designed a self-adjusting retrofriction-type lever which added return friction only in proportion to the cable tension.
They likely managed to skirt any patent protections on Simplex's design at the same time!

They did this by anchoring the cable head to the end of the spring rather than to the lever itself (each end of the spring getting un-wrapped by applied lever force/motion in one direction or the other). So adding cable tension proportionally increased the spring-wrap friction!

The genius of their design was that while the wrap clutch always sustained the cable tension, pushing the lever forward applied un-wrapping motion to the other end of the spring, making for a lightest-of-light, fingertip lever feel in both directions.
So we can't blame riders for trying to "adjust" their Simplex Retrofriction levers "lighter", they just needed Huret's (albeit less-sexy) version.

This would have also better accommodated the unusual variable actuation of Huret's own Allvit designs (which featured a regressive actuation ratio approaching the largest cog).
Oddly, the Huret version never seemed to make headway into the pro peloton, or on other than a few mid-level production bikes.
The lever doesn't have a d ring or anti rotation washer because, unlike a friction shifter, shifting doesn't change the tension adjustment.

You call it "properly adjusted", but still note it can vary by screw tension, and that lower tension allows slippage, despite no play. So you are describing a tension adjustment that ranges from too little to too much.
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Old 04-20-24, 09:12 AM
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Actually I think that you are describing these levers better than me here.

Looking at the diagram more closely and zooming in, not only do I see a larger barrel diameter than I weakly remembered, but also what looks like an actual friction washer and anti-rotation washer!

I stand corrected that Simplex's version, despite having no D-ring or other tool-free adjustment, should be able to hold it's forward i.e. return friction adjustment for a good amount of time, much as some lower-tier Suntour friction levers similarly did (those also having a plastic retaining piece fitted into a slot along the threaded stud of the adjustment screw).

I guess that now I can go back and perhaps slacken the screw tension on my one (vintage time trial) bike using a Super Record RD with said levers, as the return friction level does seem somewhat overly firm.

At first thought, I probably shouldn't blame my presumptions to the contrary on the gifted micro-brew (from mowing my neighbor's lawn) that I had been enjoying so late in the wee hours, ...but maybe this one time ?



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Old 04-20-24, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
This has not been my experience. I have had the lever slip while climbing, and corrected it with a slight adjustment to the mounting screw.
The clutch spring can actually wear out the inner barrel after many many miles of use. That results in the shifter not being able to adequately grip the inner barrel anymore and hold a gear. If you disassemble the shifter completely, this wear will reveal itself with grooves on the surface of the inner barrel.
when the wear gets really bad, it will be hard to fix it, but sometimes, exchanging springs from one set of shifters to another can work, as the coils will not exactly match the wear grooves on the barrels I've done this on a couple of retrofrictions with good results.. Sort of like how one can get some more miles fron a worn headset if you take off the bearing cages and add a few more bearing, so the ball bearings do not "index" into the pits on the bearing races.
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Old 04-20-24, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk
BG,
I'm sure a trip to see Dawn at Pro Kote Indy could make that happen. But you would have to choose from over a few hundred colors and finishes. Smiles, MH
Do they do anodizing?
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Old 04-20-24, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
The clutch spring can actually wear out the inner barrel after many many miles of use. That results in the shifter not being able to adequately grip the inner barrel anymore and hold a gear. If you disassemble the shifter completely, this wear will reveal itself with grooves on the surface of the inner barrel.
when the wear gets really bad, it will be hard to fix it, but sometimes, exchanging springs from one set of shifters to another can work, as the coils will not exactly match the wear grooves on the barrels I've done this on a couple of retrofrictions with good results.. Sort of like how one can get some more miles fron a worn headset if you take off the bearing cages and add a few more bearing, so the ball bearings do not "index" into the pits on the bearing races.
That doesn't explain why everyone else has been able to adjust the friction level on the shifter via the mounting screws and pressure washers, which you say is impossible.
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Old 04-20-24, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
That doesn't explain why everyone else has been able to adjust the friction level on the shifter via the mounting screws and pressure washers, which you say is impossible.
I have over 10 bikes I had built up through the years on Simplex retrofrictions and none of them depend on the mounting bolts for any resistance to hold a gear...
None! The shifters were designed by Simplex to only use the one way clutch springs to work and hold gears.... it was pretty much designed to eliminate the typical D rings or wing bolts from shifters that came before it.

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Old 04-20-24, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
I have over 10 bikes I uad built up through the years on Simplex retrofrictions and none of them depend on the mounting bolts for any resistance to hold a gear...
None! The shifters were designed by Simplex to only use the one way clutch springs to work and hold gears.... it was pretty much designed to eliminate the typical D rings or wing bolts from shifters that caklme before it.
So were Suntour Power Ratchets, but they need some friction to adjust the tension range. But, as I pointed out, if they were designed for no friction input from the mounting bolt, why can we all add friction via the mounting bolt?

It would be nice if someone could come up with an installation manual.
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Old 04-21-24, 07:12 PM
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Many people installed these with the screw tight enough that the inner barrel was 100% stationary, while others tightened the screw less, and thus enjoyed a softer return force.

The Suntour Power Ratchets had friction adjustable from "full-slip" to "really hard", while the Retrofriction levers could only be adjusted from "full slip" to "full coil wrap force".

So the Retrofriction adjustment range maxes out at the level of force dictated by the wrap spring slipping around a stationary barrel.

I'm tempted to start experimenting with mine, but fearful of damaging the shallow screw slots. Some later ones came with 4mm hex sockets in their adjustment screws.
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Old 04-21-24, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
Do they do anodizing?
If it is anodizing you are after I'm not gonna be of much help. The item posted sure looked a lot like PC which is what PKI specializes in. May be I should send in a pair of Campy vintage shifters to check? Perhaps something blue for the Basso Loto? Smiles, MH
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Old 04-22-24, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk
If it is anodizing you are after I'm not gonna be of much help. The item posted sure looked a lot like PC which is what PKI specializes in. May be I should send in a pair of Campy vintage shifters to check? Perhaps something blue for the Basso Loto? Smiles, MH
You could get some Cinelli bars and stem, Record cranks and hubs done in blue! That would be interesting as well!
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Old 04-22-24, 07:50 AM
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Sounds like I should leave well enough alone if they are "working properly".

Originally Posted by bertinjim
The small nylon o ring is to hold the parts together when they are off the braze-on post. There should be one on each side so it would seem one is lost. I have Retrofrictions with and others without the o rings and the operation seem no different in use.
Good to know, I imagine it being difficult to source the o-ring.

Originally Posted by Kontact
The lever doesn't have a d ring or anti rotation washer because, unlike a friction shifter, shifting doesn't change the tension adjustment. You call it "properly adjusted", but still note it can vary by screw tension, and that lower tension allows slippage, despite no play. So you are describing a tension adjustment that ranges from too little to too much.
I'm finishing off the bike now, I'll try a couple of different "settings".

Originally Posted by Kontact
I wouldn't add loctite because it may need to be adjusted for ghost shifting in the future. They are hard to take down for service, and don't really need any
Starting to sounds like these cannot "ghost shift"?
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Old 04-22-24, 08:38 AM
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One other note not yet mentioned that may have an effect…The screws supplied by Simplex can be a bit long for mounting on some braze on fittings….Campagnolo for example….and can bottom out before being sufficiently tight. Grinding off a mm is usually enough to put things right.
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Old 04-22-24, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
Sounds like I should leave well enough alone if they are "working properly".



Good to know, I imagine it being difficult to source the o-ring.



I'm finishing off the bike now, I'll try a couple of different "settings".



Starting to sounds like these cannot "ghost shift"?
They can ghost shift if not tight enough.
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Old 04-22-24, 05:29 PM
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Kontact is correct. They will ghost shift under heavy enough force such as a sprint to clear an intersection or standing to pedal on a slope. Once the levers are dialed in and shift repeatedly and cleanly on the workstand, go for a ride and road test them in a parking lot or on a quiet street. Make sure you have the proper sized screwdriver with you to tighten the fixing screw down.
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