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How to Remove a Frayed, Broken Shifter Cable End From A Shifter Body (It Takes Longer to Watch the Video)…


September 2021

I should have done the video on “How To” remove a broken shift cable end. It would have lasted two minutes, if, and you’d be well on your way to wrapping your bar tape. If, however, you want a decently funny read in my normal wit, this is the post for you! If not, click on the video below and fix your shifter. It’s easy.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to sit through this one if my written description and photos aren’t enough. This fella is boring. But his video has some decent tips in it and actually deals with modern shifters, not the shifters of old in which the cables stuck out the top of the hood – which were terribly ugly, by the way. I thank God Campagnolo figured out how to route the cables/housings on the handlebar!

Anyway, I digress. This is the video:

First, don’t panic. This is really simple. I removed my shifter because I had a single strand of wire sticking out of the cable hole and it wasn’t enough to grab with needle-nose pliers. I was petrified… and searching the interwebz for a new Ultegra 10-speed right side shifter. Guess what? There are none, other than a couple of old beat up sets on eBay. See, back in the good old days, if you broke a cable end off inside a shift lever, there was a 62.847% chance you were buying a new shifter. If the shop couldn’t fish the old end out, or if you’d shifted too many times so the end was lost inside the body, you were screwed. Absolutely pooched. Hang your head and pull out your credit card.

Then I started thinking about how I was going to justify a new eTap system to my wife… uh, no. I’d be better off trying to go back in time to justify a new bike to Attila the Hun. Going out on a limb, heh, I don’t think that’d go well… if I remember my history.

Then I scoured the web for how to fix my problem. A simple search won’t do because the first video that pops up will be a guy fixing one of the old-style shifters in the lucky, unlikely scenario in which you’ve got enough cable to fish the end out. The video above deals with newer, modern shifters.

So, I’d taken my shifter off to take it to the shop, hoping someone there might be able to work some magic. Under normal circumstances, this isn’t necessary, but you can’t just roll the hood cover up, either. You have to pop the top of the cover and lift the whole hood up so you have enough room.

On the inside of the shifter, you’ll have a little phillips head screw that gets removed (02) and set off to the side. Pull the access panel off (03). With that panel off, you’ll have access to the cable hole (04). Pull the end out (make sure you’re shifted to the smallest cog position for easiest access to the cable end).

Replace the panel. You’re done. It’s that easy.

Now, on those last two photos, looke through the cable port… if you see the grooves on the left photo, this is bad. Finish shifting to what would be the smallest cog (the little lever, not the big one). You want to see no grooves, as in the last photo.

Then go through the arduous process of putting all that $#!+ back together… but look at the bright side! In the old days, you’d be down one bike while your shifter was in the shop for three weeks while they tried to fix it, then ordered a new shifter so you’d wait for that, because they couldn’t fix it… then you’d still have to put all that $#!+ back together.

So, remember this little gem: while some things are made more difficult as they’re engineered, most things get better with newer generations. Modern shifters are a fantastic example. Rather than engineering them to be more difficult to extricate a cable end, thus ensuring Shimano would sell more shifters, they made it easier to get the little bastards out.

Anyway, happy riding, folks.

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