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Dura-Ace 7400 Brifter Maintenance

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Dura-Ace 7400 Brifter Maintenance

Old 06-15-24, 05:10 PM
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Dura-Ace 7400 Brifter Maintenance

Hey all,

I bought this lovely 1998 GT Edge Ti a couple days ago and am still planning what to do with it. In the short term Iím riding it and at 19lbs with a Dura-Ace 7400 groupset, itís pretty great.



My immediate concern is that the brake action on the left brifter is sticky. After braking it stays open a quarter inch or so and sometimes a little more causing the brakes to rub. Is there a better way to clear the cobwebs than just blasting Tri-Flow into it?



(Long-term, as this 26-year-old beauty is the closest thing I have to a modern road bike, Iím thinking that I may want to make some updates, but Iím getting a bike fitting which may end up telling me to get a shorter stem and narrower bars. So that can wait, but if anyone has suggestions, Iím all ears.)

Thanks!
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Old 06-15-24, 05:23 PM
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Probably gummed up housing on the brakes. Have you serviced the cables lately?
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Old 06-15-24, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by curbtender
Probably gummed up housing on the brakes. Have you serviced the cables lately?
Well, since I bought it on Thursday... no? 😀

I had heard that early STIs often got gummed up, so that's where my mind went, but if it's just cables that would be great news!
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Old 06-15-24, 07:02 PM
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They do collect grime and it wouldn't hurt to squirt spray lube in there. Any shifter that has some age will. Nice find.
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Old 06-15-24, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jemaleddin
Well, since I bought it on Thursday... no? 😀

I had heard that early STIs often got gummed up, so that's where my mind went, but if it's just cables that would be great news!
STI is the shifting part of the lever, not the braking.

The caliper could also be dragging.
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Old 06-15-24, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
STI is the shifting part of the lever, not the braking.

The caliper could also be dragging.
The caliper seems to be fine? And, yeah, I just meant the 7400 shifters with STI to distinguish from the pre-1990 ones...
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Old 06-15-24, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jemaleddin
The caliper seems to be fine? And, yeah, I just meant the 7400 shifters with STI to distinguish from the pre-1990 ones...
I understand, and I'm trying to tell you that the "sticky" comments you heard refer to the shifting mechanism in the lever. The braking part of the lever works just like any other brake lever.
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Old 06-15-24, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
I understand, and I'm trying to tell you that the "sticky" comments you heard refer to the shifting mechanism in the lever. The braking part of the lever works just like any other brake lever.
Ah, that makes sense - thanks!
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Old 06-15-24, 08:43 PM
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With a fraction of typical activity of right shifter, the left rarely goes south.
It looks fairly weathered. Hopefully no corrosion within the metal bits.
I agree with others to start with free cable movement and blasting with lubricant.
Awesome GT. That frame configuration recently caught on with the latest high-end carbon fiber offerings!
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Old 06-15-24, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
With a fraction of typical activity of right shifter, the left rarely goes south.
It looks fairly weathered. Hopefully no corrosion within the metal bits.
I agree with others to start with free cable movement and blasting with lubricant.
Awesome GT. That frame configuration recently caught on with the latest high-end carbon fiber offerings!
The corrosion looks to be purely cosmetic, but you canít see that much inside.

The bike is really beautiful. Itís so compact that I have to watch out for toe overlap, but itís worth it for the lightness and feel.

It seems like the carbon fiber forks arenít original as they arenít curved. The headset, stem and seat tube arenít original, and the latter is carbon fiber. Iíd like to see if I can get lighter wheels and a wider range cassette, but that would almost certainly mean a new groupset, so Iím torn on ditching the old, working Dura-Ace. Itís on 23mm tires with cheap Alex rims at the moment, so Iím scouring the internet to see if I can fit 28mm tires, but I think 26 might be the limit.

But first, cables!
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Old 06-16-24, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jemaleddin
Well, since I bought it on Thursday... no? 😀

I had heard that early STIs often got gummed up, so that's where my mind went, but if it's just cables that would be great news!
All STIs get gummed up, itís just a matter of when.
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Old 06-18-24, 12:38 PM
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Undo the cable at the caliper and check if the brake lever can 'close' properly without the influence of the brake caliper. If it closes properly, it would indicate that the spring in the lever is working properly and there is probably drag in the housing. You can also reconfirm the caliper action at this time.

As for the shifting portion of the STI, it does 'gum' up, but the ST-7400 shifter 'work' a little different from most Shimano units. The common procedure of flushing it by spraying lube/solvent is not always effective. Spraying lube indiscriminately will just make a mess. For these old STI units, stock rubber hoods are difficult and expensive to replace. 3rd party replacement hoods are sometimes available, but being a new product, the 'jury is still out' on them.
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Old 06-20-24, 07:28 PM
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In the end replace cables and housing anyway upgrade to some nicer stuff so you will get smoother better shifting, better braking and also quite importantly NEW BAR TAPE. The bar tape on there is absolutely disgusting and gross and nasty and whatever it going on underneath is unknown and you want to know that. Bar tape soaks up all your sweat and other liquids that may fall on it and may not get replaced often but more importantly because all the corrosive sweat soaks in it sits on your bars and can corrode them quite easily and you will never know until you find out in the worst way possible. As much as yes bar tape can be comfortable and add some fun colors (or not) it is really kind of part of safety to a degree and replacing it with some regularity will help. Granted yes gloves help keep it cleaner and you can wash it, you still cannot see below unless transparent.

It is a super cool bike.
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Old 06-21-24, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by KCT1986
Undo the cable at the caliper and check if the brake lever can 'close' properly without the influence of the brake caliper. If it closes properly, it would indicate that the spring in the lever is working properly and there is probably drag in the housing. You can also reconfirm the caliper action at this time.
Will do!

Originally Posted by KCT1986
As for the shifting portion of the STI, it does 'gum' up, but the ST-7400 shifter 'work' a little different from most Shimano units. The common procedure of flushing it by spraying lube/solvent is not always effective. Spraying lube indiscriminately will just make a mess. For these old STI units, stock rubber hoods are difficult and expensive to replace. 3rd party replacement hoods are sometimes available, but being a new product, the 'jury is still out' on them.
Noted!

Originally Posted by veganbikes
In the end replace cables and housing anyway upgrade to some nicer stuff so you will get smoother better shifting, better braking and also quite importantly NEW BAR TAPE. The bar tape on there is absolutely disgusting and gross and nasty and whatever it going on underneath is unknown and you want to know that. Bar tape soaks up all your sweat and other liquids that may fall on it and may not get replaced often but more importantly because all the corrosive sweat soaks in it sits on your bars and can corrode them quite easily and you will never know until you find out in the worst way possible. As much as yes bar tape can be comfortable and add some fun colors (or not) it is really kind of part of safety to a degree and replacing it with some regularity will help. Granted yes gloves help keep it cleaner and you can wash it, you still cannot see below unless transparent..
Oh, you're not wrong about the bar tape. I only ever ride with gloves, and they're making my light gray gloves darker. Just keeping the tape on for another few days at this point.

Originally Posted by veganbikes
It is a super cool bike.
Thanks! I love it!
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Old 06-27-24, 10:21 AM
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An update:

I took apart the bike to clean and inspect all the parts and the problem with the left brake lever was indeed a junked up cable (thanks!!), so I got that pulled out. The rest of the cables were also in bad shape, and several were cut too short, so I started removing them from the brifters.

But the shift/derailleur cable on the right brifter won't come out. Iíve tried several combinations of movements, and what worked on the left (pull the brake lever all the way in, then push it to the inside as in shifting), doesnít see to expose the end of the cable on the right one. I can see it continuing down into the works, but it seems like itís off track. Hereís the best shot of it I can get:



You can spot the cable at the top left of the little oval cut-out.

Any suggestions?
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Old 06-27-24, 06:25 PM
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Not an insult, I am absolutely talking from my own experiences; first make absolutely sure the shifter downshifted entirely. If it is and the cable is still giving you sass, get some good penetrating oil (Liquid Wrench type stuff) and spray onto the cable head. If you don't have any, get some picks from Harbor Freight or your local discount tool vendor. After leaving the penetrating oil to do its stuff, carefully and patiently use your picks to do whatever you can to push the head out. Cable fraying and breaking in the lever is often the end of a brifter so be glad you found it when you did. If you enjoy adult beverages, I suggest a tumbler of Bushmills whilst you endeavor to get that $%@# out.
John
PS It is a beautiful bike and Dura Ace is fantastic stuff. You got this!
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Old 06-27-24, 07:05 PM
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Thanks John! I will give it a try!
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Old 07-02-24, 07:25 PM
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Any luck?
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Old 07-04-24, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jolly_codger
Any luck?
Sadly, no. Iíve tried a bunch of things and the most revealing has been using a pick for walnuts to try and tug at the cable, and itís just super wedged in. Looking at it side on, it goes in straight and then the cable heads to the front instead of straight down. I think itís gotten kinked around something, but I canít free it.

At this point, itís beyond me. Might be time to find the pair a good home.
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Old 07-09-24, 04:14 AM
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One thing that may help is using a pick to push the cable head while downshifting the lever, kind of trying use some force to manually downshift for easier access to remove the head.
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Old 07-09-24, 11:36 AM
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Sadly, that's what I've been trying. I think it's outside my skillset.
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Old 07-09-24, 01:46 PM
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I have a complete 7400 group with exception of stem and post if they even exist. The shifters are downtube index and work amazingly well. Ran that set up on a Pinarello Montello for 3-4000 mile before converting to Campagnolo drive train with Ergo's that I rebuilt. The Ergo's were less expensive than the used STI's and can be easily rebuilt.Part of the transition was to respace the DA cluster to match the Campagnolo 9 speed RD and pull ratio of the Ergo's Ran that for a good set of miles too. Finally did a new wheel set with campy hubs, converted to 9 speed, new cassette and Racing T crank and RD with Record triple FD. Converted the 10 speed Ergo to 9 speed with a low cost damaged right Ergo with 9 speed parts. Now considering going to 10 speed using the 10 speed Ergo parts.
Part of the reason for the conversion was the uncertainty of finding used STI's that would last. Or even work well in the near future. Couldn't find any that did not have road rash.
Overall, very satisfied with the conversion without suffering any loss in shifting performance and improved serviceability.

But that's just me.

As purchased

close to recent configuration with Racing T

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