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Ultegra shifter gone bad

Old 09-19-22, 10:41 AM
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bblair
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Ultegra shifter gone bad

Mid ride a few days ago my front shifter got very erratic. Couldn't shift from big ring to small unless I fiddled with it. Never wrecked, never dropped. Etc. About 7 years and 25-30,000 miles on it.

LBS mechanic nor owner could figure it out. You can see the little lever thing sticking out. That is supposed to spring back, but doesn't. If I move it back, it works. He called Shimano and they had not seen that problem either, and suggested a new shifter, maybe do both since same age.

Of course: Back ordered
Of course: Weekend ride scheduled with back to back centuries.
Of course: $365.

Oh well, it's only money.

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Old 09-19-22, 10:57 AM
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I've never messed with that generation of brifters, but Shimano brifters in general tend to get gunked up with age, and you would have to strip it down and clean out all the old grease with WD40 and re-lubricate it with Finish Line dry lube. I would try that before paying $365 for a new one.
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Old 09-19-22, 11:04 AM
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If you are willing to have a mismatched pair, you can get a Shimano 105 ST-R7000 shifter for half that amount and maybe even find a ST-5800 for less. And both right and left for less too if you want matched names on them. If your LBS is including installation with that price for the shifter, then maybe it's not so bad a deal.

Assuming those are ST-6800 or newer.
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Old 09-19-22, 11:14 AM
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bblair
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
I've never messed with that generation of brifters, but Shimano brifters in general tend to get gunked up with age, and you would have to strip it down and clean out all the old grease with WD40 and re-lubricate it with Finish Line dry lube. I would try that before paying $365 for a new one.
I didn't disassemble, but did flood with WD-40 and shop did something too, I think.

Fortunately my ride this weekend is flat, so not much FD shifting. Also good thing that I have 3 other bikes that I could ride.
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Old 09-19-22, 11:24 AM
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If you are waiting for a new shifter, why not get a cheap friction shifter? Use it until the replacement arrives.
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Old 09-19-22, 02:09 PM
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bblair
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Originally Posted by daniell View Post
If you are waiting for a new shifter, why not get a cheap friction shifter? Use it until the replacement arrives.
If I flip that little piece over, it seems to work. So, I am going to try that for a while.
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Old 09-21-22, 09:30 PM
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Being a SRAM user, it's been a couple years since I looked at a 6800 lever, but it looks like that arm you circled is part of a fork-shaped harness that connects the small-cog paddle with the shift barrel. Here's an photo of that harness attached to the lever body.

So the prongs are supposed to fit on either side of the shift paddle and follow it as the brake levers are actuated. Here's a profile photo of how that harness connects to the shift barrel.


Unfortunately, this photo crops out the end where it connects with the lever, but here's profile photo of what the whole thing looks like when it works.

So something is supposed to keep the fork ends of that harness inside the brake lever and in contact with the paddle connector. Look at the lever on the other side to see what keeps it in there. There might a missing pin, two bushings, and a c-clip. Or maybe just the brake lever angle and spring tension holds it in place. That brake lever looks like it's jutting way forward. See if the paddle actuates those prongs while squeezing the brake lever. And report back, please. I'm curious.
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Old 09-21-22, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
Of course: Back ordered
Of course: Weekend ride scheduled with back to back centuries.
Of course: $365.
The exact same thing happened to a 105 rear shifter on one of my bikes. Mechanic couldn't figure it out, and fortunately he had a shifter in stock -- $110, if I recall correctly.

I responded to you post in another thread with this info: you can buy those Ultegra shifters right now (Amazon, probably elsewhere, too) for a lot less money. In stock.
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Old 09-21-22, 10:58 PM
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Give this a try. I've rehabilitated a few sticking Shimano shifters following this method. It's a cheap fix.

I like to flush with WD40 first (because it's cheap and widely available), then a quick spray of White Lightning Clean Streak to remove WD40 residue. After all is dry, I used the recommended Boeshield spray and that's it. I skip the step of applying grease - it seems like a dirt magnet to me.

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Old 09-22-22, 06:26 AM
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I use Seafoam Deep Creep for lazy shifters. I've revived a few old 90s bikes for flipping this way when WD-40 did not work.
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Old 09-22-22, 11:12 AM
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I couldn't quite follow all of that. I peeled back the hood and it doesn't look like your photo, perhaps you removed a cover of some sort?

Either way, both guys at the LBS, including the owner, couldn't figure it out. Nor could tech support at Shimano.

One lever cost $175, but I decided to replace both.
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Old 09-22-22, 11:14 AM
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Yes, I spray solvent-lubricants into recalcitrant shifters, too, but look at the photo. The problem is that the fork-shaped harness that's supposed to be actuated by the short shift paddle isn't engaging with the short shift paddle.

It would be helpful if someone with working 5800 or 6800 levers would post a couple of photos of the underside of their levers to show us how these pieces should engage. I'd do it myself, but I only have SRAM Doubletap or downtube levers on my bikes.
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Old 09-25-22, 03:37 PM
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edit: type R7000 or R8000 teardown teardown on youtube, seems there's some technical issue and my links don't work

Last edited by Schlafen; 09-25-22 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-27-22, 12:51 AM
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bblair that looks like an R8000 shifter, is that right? The below applies to all the shift levers of the 6800 and R8000 generations.

If the shift paddle is in the right spot when you put it back and there's no other problems besides no spring return, there may be relatively easy fixes if you're willing to open up the lever.

With the lever off the bike and the hood removed, there's a plastic cover on the bottom held on by a single Phillips bolt. It's an access panel for removing cable fragments if one breaks, part 11 in the exploded view. You might be able to see a small piece of something in there messing up the return spring, but I'm guessing that the bike shop will have already looked for cable fragments.

Getting a little more adventurous, these style shift levers are pretty easy to take the whole shift pod out to inspect or clean. The main thing holding the shift pod in is this special four notch bolt at the back.





It has a little don't-tamper pin that can be pressed to the side. The right tool would be the ST-TL01 that came with the first Dura Ace shifters, but Shimano hasn't sold it for a long time - you can improvise with tiny hobby pliers, a circlip tool, a screwdriver with the centre filed to make a two-notch tool, or even use a hammer and punch to get the thing out. I made a four notch tool by taking a file to a small socket.
This mounting bolt is reverse threaded on the left shifter, so clockwise to loosen, which I can only find mention of in this
otherwise.

The other thing holding the shift pod in is a small Phillips screw accessed from the front. You can fit a screwdriver through the hole in the body just above the brake lever.

There's a tiny set screw accessed from the side of the shifter that you don't need to mess with to get the pod out, but by loosening it you may be able to wiggle it free without removing the brake lever. I haven't tried it yet. Taking the lever out is the same as many others, remove an E-ring and push the pivot out, shown on page 43 of the dealer's manual. Unlike some previous generations, reinstalling the lever return spring is pretty easy.

Everything but the brake lever part is in this
by Mark Huie - I think the one Schlafen mentioned. (Right shifter though - so the mounting bolt is threaded the opposite way!)

With the shift pod out, you may see that one of the small springs at the end has had its hook slip out of place, or if there's something mangled inside the shift pod. Here's a photo of the internals. On the left is a 5800, the other is an R3030, both left side pods. That tab at the front with a hole in it is where the front side screw fits in.



It seems like these things are pretty robust and don't break easily. I 'fixed' a 5800 right shifter by taking the pod out, and while lifting up a pawl to see how the whole thing worked, something snapped into place and it started working again. I still have no idea what was wrong with it. Might have been a tiny cable fragment jamming a spring.

I used to spray flush the internals of shifters, but I don't think it's worth doing it that way anymore on models like these that can be quickly opened up. Some solvents are hard on the internals (gfk_velo has posted about this for Campagnolo), and these shifters have ok access even with just the bottom panel removed to do a safer job of cleaning/relubing.

Besides that, the other reason I mention all this is that some people have had the mounting bolt loosen and mess up the shifter - I found by messing around with them that if you get the shift pod off axis, it may catch on part of the plastic lever body and stop one of the shift paddles from returning. Before bothering to take it out, you could test those mounting bolts to see if they're tight.

The brake levers of this generation are interchangeable, and you can save a bit of money by ordering the right "bracket unit" (part 7 in that exploded view, Y0DL98040, and oldbobcat has posted photos of what it looks like) to put a lever on, if your shop can get it. I have a 5800 left lever paired with the R3030 from that photo on a bike. (The shift pods themselves aren't quite interchangeable between 105 and Sora, and I'm not willing to do a permanent mod quite yet to see if they can be made to work.)


It sounds like you may already have a solution that you're happy with. This is just a bunch of information I've been sitting on for a bit in case it's either useful or interesting to someone. If you do feel like opening the unit up, I'd be curious to see what the problem is. So far the only failures I've found online for this generation of shifter are crash damage, mangled springs from getting a broken shift cable totally jammed in there, and the shift paddles cracking (possibly just more crash damage).

Last edited by 8.8.8.; 09-27-22 at 01:25 AM.
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