How To Make Your Gear Shifters Look Amazing In 5 Steps
Friction gear levers are easy to strip down. But index shifters have so many tiny parts that you should never try to open them up. Nearly all mountain bikes are fitted with index gears controlled by shifters mounted on the handlebars. Index shifters work with either a ratchet, or on the stroke principle. You can tell if it is a ratchet lever because there is a sharp click that you can feel and hear when you move the gear lever. Do not take ratchet changers apart because it is very difficult to re-assemble them, and you could lose half the parts doing so.
Stroke shifters are more complicated than ratchet ones. But you can sometimes undo the central screw, remove the cover and then clean and lubricate with light grease. You should never attempt to go any further. Where gear indicators are fitted, you usually have to remove two small screws to take off the indicator unit, then undo the central socket head screw. You can then separate the shifter from the brake lever.
Nearly all road bikes more than about four years old have gear levers mounted on the down tube. Most of them are friction changers. with a central screw that applies pressure to the lever. This holds the gear lever in position until the rider moves it to change up or down a gear. The centre screw has to be adjusted carefully because if it is too tight, it will be impossible to change gear. On the other hand, if the centre screw is too loose, the rear mech will become noisy or jump out of gear.
There are also a few road bikes with down tube levers that arc indexed. They must not be stripped down - it only takes an occasional shot of lube to keep them working sweetly. There are also a few road bikes with down tube levers that arc indexed. They must not be stripped down - it only takes an occasional shot of lube to keep them working sweetly.
A few road bikes have down tube levers that allow you to choose between index and friction. Miming the centre screw enables you to select between them. Again, the only maintenance required is a quick shot of aerosol lube on the outside.
On simple trigger shifters, maintenance consists of an occasional spray with aerosol lube, then a wipe over. Try to direct the spray at the cable nipple, then operate the gear lever a few times to spread the tube around.
Rapidfire Plus levers have a separate lever for up and down shifts. Do not strip them down because they are spring loaded. To lube, remove the rubber cap over the nipple, if fitted, and squirt aerosol lube into the nipple recess.
If you find it awkward to use a gear shifter combined with the brake lever, try altering the angle at which the whole assembly is bolted to the handlebar. Loosen of the clamp bolt and move it to a more comfortable position, then retighten firmly.
On sports bikes with indexed down tube levers, aim one shot of aerosol lube at the outside edge of the central housing. When you apply the lithe there, it more likely to find its way into the ratchet mechanism, where it is needed. Wipe off any surplus.
Most down tube shifters screw into bosses fixed to the frame, though a few have a band-on fixing. To remove, undo the central screw and pull off. To refit, make sure you locate the square cut-out on the back plate correctly.