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Shifter life?(21 posts)

Shifter life?varmit
Aug 23, 2002 3:42 AM
I was wondering if anyone else has problems with shifter life on their cross bike? The first year that I raced cross, I used 8 spd. 105 STI levers. I wore out/broke 3 sets in 8 races. I upgaded(?) to Ultegra and now these have been lasting about half a season the last few years. This year, I bought some "Take Off" brackets from Kelly Bike and now use D/A down tube shifters mounted next to the brake levers. This is not quite as conveinient as the STI setup, but if it lasts longer it will be worth it - and way less expensive. Any feedback is welcome.
re: Shifter life?BAM
Aug 23, 2002 4:03 AM
It`s not surprissing that STI`s don`t last long on a cross bike as this past year I have to send in a lot of STI`s off of road bikes. 105`s on road have failed as early as 3mos., Ultergra 9-10mos. , Dura Ace well...... as soon as 2wks. for one of our customers. They don`t handle grit at all. Then again I had to send in one of my 8spd. barend shifters 1hour after I finished building up my KHS. Seems like Shimano`s quality goes down every year.
Bummer... (Potential help)Steve_O
Aug 23, 2002 5:16 AM
I just recently blew out my rear Ultegra Shifter with 6 months (1700 miles) on it. Do a little surfing on these forums and you'll find lots of similar comments. Unfortunately Shimano is repair by replacement.

This might help though. Shimano has made it easy to warranty items...
And they're quick too!TWD
Aug 23, 2002 8:55 AM
I sent my Ultegra STI lever in, and they turned it around in a couple of days and sent it back 2nd day air free of charge. Much better service than I expected from the big S.

Only problem was, the brand new replacement shifter they sent back doesn't work right either (different problem).
Tired of down time, so I've been living with it 'til I get a chance to send this one back too.

Good Luck
Aug 23, 2002 5:17 AM
I had STI that failed on me after about a year of use. I switched to Ultegra barcons. I have had the barcons for 4 years now and I have no compaints. You can set them up as an index shifter, or friction. I have mine set up as friction, and you can use any derailleur when its set up as friction.

The plus is that they hardly need servicing, but the downside is that they don't have the user convenience of being integrated to the brake levers.
Dunk emB123
Aug 23, 2002 7:51 AM
I took a nice spill in a sand pit last season, clogging one ultegra sti lever full of grit. It didn't work at all until I sprayed copious amounts of WD-40 in it. I also dismantled most of the lever and throughly flushed the insides.

Works great now. Another set of older sti lost its "click" after two years, kinda like convienent friction shifters.
Blow themflyweight
Aug 23, 2002 3:07 PM
Instead of using solvents (which can eat away at some of the plastic parts) blow the shifters out with an air hose. Most bike shops have a compressor hooked up to an airhose. Does just as good a job and you don't have to wait for everything to dry out before riding again.
Aug 23, 2002 3:16 PM
lonefrontranger has a point about barcons being in the way. I run wide bars and haven't had too much of a problem. Caught them once while "honking out of the saddle" as she says but still much cheaper than switching to Campy drivetrain. I'm running a mix of MTB and road parts so I've stuck to Shimano as I can cannibalize numerous bikes if I need a quick part.
this is common with STIlonefrontranger
Aug 23, 2002 8:37 AM
If you read some of my other threads on the subject, along with browsing around the components board, you'll find this is a fairly common problem with STI that is used in gritty / dirty situations.

Short-term solution: flush 'em out with solvent. Turn the bike upside down in the stand, spread newspaper underneath, open the shifter shrouds and spray copious amounts of Tri-Flow, brake cleaner or other de-gunking agent through the mechanisms. This will usually revitalize shifters you'd swear were toast.

Long-term solution: Do what I did and switch all your stuff over to Campagnolo ;-)
campy ergo 9 w/shimano drivetrain?Jakob
Aug 23, 2002 8:46 AM
One of my friends asserts that you can (though he doesn't) mix 9 speed Campy shifters and Shimano drivetrain parts because the cogs are jammed so tightly together that they are basically the same spacing. I have Shimano 9 derailleurs, 8 spd cassette, and 8 speed STI. If the STI fails, do you think I could go with Campy ergo 9 and a Shimano 9 cassette?

Ah, the confusion and failing parts makes me wanna go singlespeed for cross!
Aug 23, 2002 12:57 PM
The shimano cassette will work just fine with Campag 9v Ergo levers; you may have to play a bit with the limits as someone else pointed out. Just don't try shifting a Shimano rear mech with Campag Ergo or vice versa.

To answer the barcon issue, I have never had an Ergo lever jam, and I have been using them since way back when they were first released to the general public in '93 or 94'. I personally despise barcons, they are almost as bad as d/t shifters.

If you're going to go with drop bar shifting as a cheap option, use Gripshifts instead. I can't explain how many times I mis-shifted the barcons on my old Alan POS when I hit an unexpected bump or whacked my knee on them when honking hard out of the saddle; I don't care how short you cut the drops, they are just in a bad position.
ergo shifters + shimano derailleurs = bad news?Jakob
Aug 23, 2002 1:00 PM
So if (when) I bust my STI, I need to switch derailleurs, too?
Aug 23, 2002 2:22 PM
And as the Excel head mechanic and I were discussing just last night, please don't ask your wrench to explain why; go to the Shimano web site and log a tech question if you want the real explanation. You will learn more about your drivetrain than you really ever wanted to know.

A full Campag drivetrain will work on a Shimano cassette, but the Ergo shifters won't shift the Shimano rear mech. It defies engineering logic, but there it is.
Aug 23, 2002 2:56 PM
Actually you CAN run Ergopower levers with a Shimano derailleur and Shimano or Campy cassette. I know because I've done it. I personally don't like the feel of STI levers and also prefer the greater trim ability of the Ergo lever. At the same time I want to run a 12-34 cassette on my 'cross bike for MTB type rides. You need to use a 10 speed Ergo lever and reroute the cable clamp on the rear derailleur and set the limit screws to block out the 10th click. Sounds cobbly but it does work. You can read the full how-to at:
re: Shifter life?cxfan
Aug 23, 2002 10:58 AM
I have record 9 shifters and der's and my training wheels are Shimano cassette. You need to adjust the der to work with the high (25 or 27) cog or the low (12 or 13) since the spacing is close but still not the same.

To clean out the STI's use lots of mineral oil or WD-40 and pour that in there and the gunk will fall out and then wipe it down....and dont crash in sand pits.....:)
re: Shifter life? Shimano-Campyatpjunkie
Aug 23, 2002 12:23 PM
here's a great location to buy spacer kits to make shimano and campy gear compatible
Campy switch can help but ergo's clog as well. The advantage of Ergos is you can field dress them and you can buy parts to fix them. (what a concept)
This makes it advantageous over STI but ergos can and will clog in muck and gunk as well. If you plan on racing, this clogging of both can cost you dearly as you can't fix a clogged shifter while you are racing and be competitive. So if you can afford to replace and/or fix your STI's/Ergos and plan to race get a second or third bike and a pit guy (gal). To me, a budget minded cx enthusiast I use bar cons, cheaper, more reliable, the friction mode on the front shifter allows you to trim the fr. derailleur so you don't get chain contact when crossed over in funky combinations and I'm not sweating having to ride as a single speed in a race due to failure. Both my cross bikes run bar ends and I'm quite happy, then again I'm also a bit of a Luddite about such things. Yea the pros run STI/Ergo and ya know why, IT"S FREE and they have a MECHANIC. A set of bar cons and brake levers can be had for under 100 bucks and oh yea, for you weight weenies, it's lighter too. If you watched the tour you'll have noticed some of Lance's Bikes run STI D/A on the right and a downtube shifter on the left to save weight.
re: Shifter life?mackgoo
Aug 24, 2002 1:37 PM
The soloution is Campy. Wear out re build.
re: Shifter life?jjohnson05
Aug 26, 2002 11:55 AM
We have used campy ergo power shifters (chorus and Daytona 9 speed) for years with not one problems in rain, mud or snow. And these are the same ergo power shifters that have been through years of road use before being replaced by Record shifters. They also seem to be unaffected by cold weather. Shimano shifters seem to have a hard time working below freezing. Last year I watched one of the top US women crossers ride nearly an entire race having to hold her front STI lever in place whenever she wanted the big ring because the ratchet would not engage. I would say that Campy is by far the better choice in the very demanding arena of cyclocross.
re: Shifter life?atpjunkie
Aug 26, 2002 3:07 PM
yes would tend to agree that Campy is better, and if I had the 1000 plus dollars to switch both cross bikes over (shifters/derailleurs/hubs (wheelset) / cogset and maybe cranks) I'd do it. I really would, but instead I'll Frankenbike my 2 cx bikes with a hodgepodge of Shimano (Shimano Compatible) MTB/Road parts
I've aquired over the years and have 2 great bikes for under 2 grand invested. Kinda sad as I have a great set of Record 10 Open Pro CD wheels just sitting in my shed. But fully agree that STI's have no place in cx (why my Luddite ass runs bar ends). I'm glad none of you guys have had any trouble with your ergo's and it's great to know. A friend of mine (running Daytona 9) slid out in some griity mud and buried his left shifter in it and rode the last part as a 9 speed. Luckily he was stuck in his 39 tooth ring.
re: Shifter life?varmit
Aug 27, 2002 4:09 AM
I suppose that it's good to know that I am not alone in my less than favorable opinion of Shimano components. It appears to be the classic "pay me now or pay me later" in regards to Shimano vs. Campy, but it would be cost prohibitive to change my bikes, road and cross,to Campy. I have decided that simple is better for cross - down tube or bar end shifters. Thanks for the input. Everyone have a good cross season.
re: Shifter life?atpjunkie
Aug 27, 2002 9:49 AM
I'm in the same situation, maybe we can find a sponsor. Hey any Campy dealers out there want a R&D guy. If you build it, I can break it, guaranteed.