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Novakane 01-14-09 02:01 AM

Flash-freeze shifters
I've been leaving my bike outside due to the massive amount of snow and slush build-up on it. Today it got very warm then flash froze to -30c (with wind chill) and for the life of me I couldn't shift my rear deraileur when I took it out for a ride. Taking this into account with some other adjustments I wanted to make, I brought the bike inside to thaw. The shifter is fine now, so the cables must have taken the melted snow and froze that way. (that's my guess)

Is there any way to protect the cabling from flash freezes?

AEO 01-14-09 06:25 AM

JonathanGennick 01-14-09 06:44 AM

Had that happen to by brakes earlier this winter. Took off downhill from my house, squeezed the brakes to slow my speed, and -- nothing! Had to really pull hard on the levers to break the ice in that must have been infesting the cables.

The night before I had ridden the bike when it was raining onto icy streets. I figure some of the water I was splashing through must've gotten into the brake cables somehow.

John Nolan 01-14-09 07:00 AM

I usually try to knock the slush off after my ride: sometimes the frozen slush can clog up the rear sprokets.

It was cold here in Ottawa this morning, wasn't it?

Novakane 01-14-09 12:28 PM

Yup. -38 so I was told, that's why I was out riding in the crappy weather last night - wanted to get stuff at the store before it got colder.

CastIron 01-15-09 09:20 AM

If your cables are sealed in the housing, condensate can form and rapidly freeze 'em.

andrelam 01-15-09 12:17 PM

Can you prevent this... not entirely. I had some issues after we had a couple of mild rainy days back in December followed immediately with normal below freezing temps. If moisture gets in you need to let it evaporate. This is why I like keeping my bike in my office during the day. I've had a few times when the ride to work was "interesting" because either one of the brakes or the derailler got sticky from frost.

If does help if you propely lubricate all the cables and housing. I found that this works best when you loosen the tension on the brakes of the derailler (just put in into the largest rear cog and then down shift without moving the bike). Then you can un-hook the cable housings and realy wipe everything clean and get the lube everywhere. Trui-flow seems to work better than the Shimano OEM lube. The Tri-flow is very thing and leaves a very slippery layer behind when it dries.

This year I also had some problems with the bushings in the v-brake getting a little tight from crud/corrosion. I took the v-brakes off the bike, lubed generously and then worked the bushing and made sure all crud was completely washed out. Then I put everything back together. That appears to have solved those problems.

In the future if I have to replace my main commuter, I'll seriously be looking at one of the belt driven bikes... no more chain issues, and no more slop filled derailler in the back while riding on snowy days.

Happy riding,

Novakane 01-15-09 05:31 PM

Well, I took it inside, cleaned and relubed the drive-train. Got some wd-40 into the cable housing and worked it in pretty good. Guess I'll have to wait and see. It's quite cold out right now, but the bike is clean and there's little chance of anything thawing in the next few days.
Will have to wait until it gets slushy and freezes again and see if it makes any difference.

AEO 01-15-09 05:58 PM

as long as there's no water or grit in the housing, it should be good to go :thumb:

Juha 01-16-09 07:47 AM

Also, some shifter mechanisms are more prone to freezing than others. Pushbutton type shifters freeze easily. A couple of years ago I started to have problems with the rear shifter of my winter bike (Shimano gears, old rapid-fire kind of shifter where you have one lever for up and other for down). I replaced it with an old skool friction shifter. Takes a bit getting used to, but works like a charm even in harshest conditions.


ghettocruiser 01-16-09 10:11 PM

My rear dual-control has trouble below -18C. These last few mornings I've just picked an mid-range gear at the beginning of the ride, and shift at the front if I need more or less.

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