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Shimano RSX shifter help
#1
I am new to road bikes and recently bought a used trek 1220 for a triathlon. I work on cars so I am not totally clueless but have never worked on or owned a road bike.

I was fulling with the left shifter and took the allen head bolt off. I put the spring and some round metal washer back in. The bike shifts fine but the problem I am having is the big shifter does not return unless it is manually pushed back. I have taken it off and reinstalled it several times but it does the same thing. It will shift and work fine but like I said, the big handle has to go back manually. The little handle which i assume is the down shifter works ok.

I am doing a sprint triathlon in september. What do i need to do to get this bike ready?

I appreciate any help!
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#2
http://bicycletutor.com/rapid-fire-shifters/
Nigel
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#3
(07-31-2011, 10:08 AM)nfmisso Wrote:  http://bicycletutor.com/rapid-fire-shifters/

Those are different than the RSX I blasted them with wd 40 but this did not help. Now I cant get the front derailer to put move the chain to the biggest sprocket. Are these shifters toast? Is there an affordable replacement for an older bike like this?
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#4
WD40 !!!! well, you may as well purchase a new one. Keep WD40 away from all bicycle mechanisms.
Nigel
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#5
(08-01-2011, 06:53 AM)nfmisso Wrote:  WD40 !!!! well, you may as well purchase a new one. Keep WD40 away from all bicycle mechanisms.

Why? Every article I have read said to try wd40 first on all old rsx shifters to remove hardened gunk.

Is it hard to replace shifters? What ones could I use to replace these? Is it possible to go to a bar end style?
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#6
Hm. RSX was an entry level group (now replaced by Sora), It seems to have been 7 speed, so no new replacement parts will be available. I believe the 2200 group (really lowest level) is 8 speed. You might be lucky finding a used part somewhere (ask the LBS, preferably one that has been around some decades). For reassembling, maybe look at the explosive views at
http://www.paul-lange.de/service/support/handbuecher-archiv/st.html
and try to find one that matches your model best. In general, flushing something with WD40 is not a great idea, as this will not lubricate the parts. It'll remove the gunk, true, but it leaves a residue that starts to become resin-like soon. As you took them apart anyway, do so again and clean them. Then lube with tri flow or sth. Also check cables for wear, kinks, etc as many shifting problems are related to that. Maybe replace them (together with the housing).

Upgrading: You could make the plunge and upgrade to eg. Tiagra (9spd?) (though the price difference to 105=10spd is not big), but maybe leave out replacing the bottom bracket for now. This would involve getting a new rear wheel, though (or a new freehub body, if it is a Shimano hub) + new pair of STI levers + dérailleurs (at least rear? yours probably is worn anyway since it is 10 years old) + chain + cassette. Only to find out the chain rings have worn, too and you need to replace them (or the crank set) while few square taper compatible road crank sets are still on the market... can be done, some special tools are needed (crank puller, cassette tool, chain whip,.. just look at the videos on the main page, there everything should be listed).

Bar ends: Well... no. Can be done: yes. Should be done: (for racing) no. Except when you are putting the bar end shifters onto your aero bars. This would be a nice thing. Though you'll have to check the triathlon's race rules: I guess if it is draft legal this would not be allowed (I don't do draftathlons so I don't know). This will enable you to shift while in an aero position (nice), but when riding on the normal handle bar you cannot shift (not nice when in a group or steep climb).
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#7
(08-01-2011, 11:19 AM)Joe_W Wrote:  Hm. RSX was an entry level group (now replaced by Sora), It seems to have been 7 speed, so no new replacement parts will be available. I believe the 2200 group (really lowest level) is 8 speed. You might be lucky finding a used part somewhere (ask the LBS, preferably one that has been around some decades). For reassembling, maybe look at the explosive views at
http://www.paul-lange.de/service/support/handbuecher-archiv/st.html
and try to find one that matches your model best. In general, flushing something with WD40 is not a great idea, as this will not lubricate the parts. It'll remove the gunk, true, but it leaves a residue that starts to become resin-like soon. As you took them apart anyway, do so again and clean them. Then lube with tri flow or sth. Also check cables for wear, kinks, etc as many shifting problems are related to that. Maybe replace them (together with the housing).

Upgrading: You could make the plunge and upgrade to eg. Tiagra (9spd?) (though the price difference to 105=10spd is not big), but maybe leave out replacing the bottom bracket for now. This would involve getting a new rear wheel, though (or a new freehub body, if it is a Shimano hub) + new pair of STI levers + dérailleurs (at least rear? yours probably is worn anyway since it is 10 years old) + chain + cassette. Only to find out the chain rings have worn, too and you need to replace them (or the crank set) while few square taper compatible road crank sets are still on the market... can be done, some special tools are needed (crank puller, cassette tool, chain whip,.. just look at the videos on the main page, there everything should be listed).

Bar ends: Well... no. Can be done: yes. Should be done: (for racing) no. Except when you are putting the bar end shifters onto your aero bars. This would be a nice thing. Though you'll have to check the triathlon's race rules: I guess if it is draft legal this would not be allowed (I don't do draftathlons so I don't know). This will enable you to shift while in an aero position (nice), but when riding on the normal handle bar you cannot shift (not nice when in a group or steep climb).

So basically I am screwed. I just bought this bike. It shifted ok when I bought it but I did not shift it that much. This does have shimano wheels. So you are saying if I change the shifters, I will have to change the rear wheel and all the other components? I am sick to my stomach now......

How do I tell if the cable is worn? Also, what do you mena this is a 7 speed. Like I said I am mechanically inclined but have never worked or owned a road bike before.

I appreciate any help.

The aerobars would be nice for a triathlon. How hard would it be to put bar shifters on those? I thought they were legal in any triathlon?
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#8
7 speed = 7 sprockets in the rear. Confusing (a bit) since one used to number the total number of gears. However, for components like cassette, chain etc., the number of sprockets in the rear matters.

Aerobar legality: Only certain kinds of aerobars are legal in drafting (ITU) races, they are not allowed to extend past the brake levers and have to form a closed loop (or at least the ends have to be very close together). This rule is in place to reduce risk of injury when you run into another athlete. Non-drafting races do not have those rules as you are required to leave a gap of 10m on the bike to the next athlete except when passing. Just check the rules before turning up there and being turned away by the race marshals. Basically if it says "no drafting allowed" you are on the safe side.

Don't panic (just yet), take a look at the explosive views of STI levers. Since you are mechanically inclined, you might find what you missed. Might even be some cable (or routing) problem or a weird shaped washer mounted upside down. Whenever I "fix" things and they stop working it can usually be reverted to a working state (well, mostly).

Upgrading / Replacing: There are many possibilities if you cannot get the levers to work again.
  • get used (or just old) STI for 7 speeds, eg. from LBS. Sometimes they still have stuff like that lying around
  • get 8spd STI (at least right lever), 9 spd chain, 9spd cassette and do a 8 of 9 on 7, cf. http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html (somewhere in bottom third of page)
  • 8spd STI + chain + cassette + replace freehub body (really easy), might require respacing of frame (not sure if it is advisable in your case, do only on steel frames and even then be careful) and redishing of wheel.
  • full upgrade if your frame can take the 130mm wide axles in the rear (measure current wheel) or can be respaced (steel frame only). This is the most expensive solution, however you might be able to get a bargain on last year's 105, a really decent road bike group.
  • Use bar end shifters on your aero bars. Concerning how difficult it could be to route the cables bar end shifters: Haven't done that, should be easy, though. You probably should replace the STIs with pure brake leavers (well, don't have to. Just remember that you cannot shift there).

----
EDIT: (Addendum)
I checked the intertubes: http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/BikeSpecs.aspx?Year=1998&Brand=Trek&Model=1220&Type=bike
Aluminum frame, don't respace! Don't know the width of the rear dropouts, if they are 130mm you can upgrade
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#9
(08-01-2011, 12:49 PM)Joe_W Wrote:  7 speed = 7 sprockets in the rear. Confusing (a bit) since one used to number the total number of gears. However, for components like cassette, chain etc., the number of sprockets in the rear matters.

Aerobar legality: Only certain kinds of aerobars are legal in drafting (ITU) races, they are not allowed to extend past the brake levers and have to form a closed loop (or at least the ends have to be very close together). This rule is in place to reduce risk of injury when you run into another athlete. Non-drafting races do not have those rules as you are required to leave a gap of 10m on the bike to the next athlete except when passing. Just check the rules before turning up there and being turned away by the race marshals. Basically if it says "no drafting allowed" you are on the safe side.

Don't panic (just yet), take a look at the explosive views of STI levers. Since you are mechanically inclined, you might find what you missed. Might even be some cable (or routing) problem or a weird shaped washer mounted upside down. Whenever I "fix" things and they stop working it can usually be reverted to a working state (well, mostly).

Upgrading / Replacing: There are many possibilities if you cannot get the levers to work again.
  • get used (or just old) STI for 7 speeds, eg. from LBS. Sometimes they still have stuff like that lying around
  • get 8spd STI (at least right lever), 9 spd chain, 9spd cassette and do a 8 of 9 on 7, cf. http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html (somewhere in bottom third of page)
  • 8spd STI + chain + cassette + replace freehub body (really easy), might require respacing of frame (not sure if it is advisable in your case, do only on steel frames and even then be careful) and redishing of wheel.
  • full upgrade if your frame can take the 130mm wide axles in the rear (measure current wheel) or can be respaced (steel frame only). This is the most expensive solution, however you might be able to get a bargain on last year's 105, a really decent road bike group.
  • Use bar end shifters on your aero bars. Concerning how difficult it could be to route the cables bar end shifters: Haven't done that, should be easy, though. You probably should replace the STIs with pure brake leavers (well, don't have to. Just remember that you cannot shift there).

----
EDIT: (Addendum)
I checked the intertubes: http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/BikeSpecs.aspx?Year=1998&Brand=Trek&Model=1220&Type=bike
Aluminum frame, don't respace! Don't know the width of the rear dropouts, if they are 130mm you can upgrade

Some of this is new to me. What is "redishing the wheel?"

I called two local bike shops. One wants to order 8 speed shifters, 8 speed cassette, 8 speed chain. That with a tune up around 190 bucks. Would have to order parts and wouldnt be ready until a week later. I asked if the cassette would fit my existing wheel. He said yes that I would not need a new wheel.

Second shop seels trek bikes. Said he had 7 speed shifters there for 80 bucks a piece. Said I cant put an 8 speed cassette on my wheel without a new wheel. Will replace both shifters and tune up for 190 plus tax.

I am kind of strapped for time right now. Thought about having one of these people do it although I never take my car to the shop why would I the bike? The second shop said it would only take an hour to complete.

How hard is it to replace shifters? Do you take the cables off at the brake caliper and derailer first? Is it then hard to adjust the derailer? I have read on here about it. But without pictures a little hard. I am the type that can do anything if someone explains every step to me technically. I like "adjust derailer until a 2mm feeler gauge fits snug between it and the sproket". Rather than, "adjust derailer until there is a slight gap between it and the sprocket. I guess I am just anal.

Can I do a tune up at home? One thing I cant do is true a wheel I dont think???

SHould both shifters be done at the same time? How do you tell if a cable is bad?

I appreciate any help!
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#10
Redishing the wheel: a rear wheel is asymmetric. An 8 speed cassette is wider than a 7 speed one (oh, assuming you have a cassette rather than a freewheel, see above mentioned webpage!). So, when you mount a new freehub body on the wheel (the thing the cassette slides onto), you have to fiddle with spacers on the axle and move the rim to the centreline again. The asymmetry is the "dish".

1st shop is assuming he can swap the hub body and the frame accepts the wider axle with 130mm. The only special tools you need is a cassette tool and flat (cone) wrenches, the rest is easy. Overhaul the bearings while you're at it. http://bicycletutor.com/freehub-body/ (and replace cables). I think if it actually works with your wheel and frame (measure the distance between the rear dropouts, should be 130mm and the wheel should have a cassette freehub rather than a freewheel) it is a better deal than the second one. Still: check those two points before they order the parts! Will they also replace the rear dérailleur? It is not strictly necessary, but I guess the spring in an 10+ year old dérailleur will be worn.

2nd shop shares my concerns either about frame or about freewheel / freehub issue. Also, 80 bucks per shifter seems a bit steep in my opinion, the new 105 is about 160 EUR for the pair of STIs (about 200 USD I guess). Replacing the shifters means you have to unwrap (part) of the handlebar tape and remove the cables, finally remove the shifters. Then install the new shifters, the cables (maybe replace the housing while you're at it) and rewrap the handlebar tape. Then, tune up shifting + brakes. This should take you also not more than maybe two or three hours if you have not much experience with tuning up shifters but requires no special tools aside from those you need to cut cables and housing (and is not difficult compared to taking apart and reassembling STIs). The howto on this site will be very helpful, especially the videos. Also look at Sheldon Brown's site for cable routing issues etc.

Quote:SHould both shifters be done at the same time? How do you tell if a cable is bad?

Well, you wrote that both are not working... but in general: no, if you don't mind the different look you don't have to replace both. If a cable has any frayed, gunked up, kinked or rusty spots or is really old it is time to replace it (and the housing, only a buck per foot or so). You can also try to isolate the problem by removing the cable from most of the housing but leaving it in the shifter. Then, try to shift and see / feel if it actually pulls and releases the cable. Also try to move the dérailleurs by hand (or maybe pull the cable where it is not inside the housing by hand) and see if they move. If both work, problem is in the middle (cable bad, routed wrong through the shifter or somewhere else).

Oh, and truing a wheel is not that difficult, you just need a lot of patience and time, especially for the first one. Since you don't have the latter, don't try it at the moment.
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#11
RSX shifters are fairly good quality shifters. They are just older. I am still using the set that came with my 1998 model Cannondale CAAD2. After a period of little use there is a tendency for the original grease used in the internals to harden up and prevent the changing of gears.

WD40 flush will not kill the shifters, contrary to what might be said. It is not really the "recommended" product to use. But it will work in helping to flush the shifter. The more important part is regreasing the shifter after doing this. It is hard to get grease into the inner workings of these shifters but I have had success with Tri-Flow lube using the small extension tube to get as deeply into it as possible. This has worked well for me.

There is a person on the internet that repairs and sells replacements for a reasonable price. Try Googling Shimano STI shifter repair and you should find it pretty easily.

Good luck.
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#12
Unfortunately I'm probably too late to help the original poster, but maybe this will help others with a similar problem.

About a year ago I bought an old 105 group set from the same time period as RSX. The shifters are essentially the same. My right shifter had this same issue, lack of automatic lever return. I noticed that the front cap must have been opened at some point and re-installed improperly so I set to work figuring out what had gone wrong.

To make a slightly longer story short, that spring that sits directly beneath the cap is the return spring. Make sure you seat it properly into the front of the shifter, then you have to make sure the end of the spring facing outward gets seated properly in the hole on the inside of the cap.

The spring needs to be tensioned - this is the tricky part. (Apparently there are tools that can help you do this.) With a little patience and luck I was able to put tension in this spring by rotating the cap with the spring end in the hole so that it coiled the spring. As you place tension on the spring it will want to pop out of the hole in the cap and unwind. It will probably manage to get away from you a few times. Keep at it and you will eventually manage to get the cap in place with the spring tensioned. Replace the bolt, and enjoy.
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#13
(03-19-2012, 04:01 PM)n8b Wrote:  Unfortunately I'm probably too late to help the original poster, but maybe this will help others with a similar problem.

About a year ago I bought an old 105 group set from the same time period as RSX. The shifters are essentially the same. My right shifter had this same issue, lack of automatic lever return. I noticed that the front cap must have been opened at some point and re-installed improperly so I set to work figuring out what had gone wrong.

To make a slightly longer story short, that spring that sits directly beneath the cap is the return spring. Make sure you seat it properly into the front of the shifter, then you have to make sure the end of the spring facing outward gets seated properly in the hole on the inside of the cap.

The spring needs to be tensioned - this is the tricky part. (Apparently there are tools that can help you do this.) With a little patience and luck I was able to put tension in this spring by rotating the cap with the spring end in the hole so that it coiled the spring. As you place tension on the spring it will want to pop out of the hole in the cap and unwind. It will probably manage to get away from you a few times. Keep at it and you will eventually manage to get the cap in place with the spring tensioned. Replace the bolt, and enjoy.


Thanks to all above.
I have a Raleigh R 300 with RSX shifters that I got out of storage after 5 years. The Right shifter didn't work (wouldn't change gears) so I took off the front part of the shifter at which point the spring popped out. When I replaced that part, I was left with a shifter that no longer returned!.

After reading the above comments, I tensioned the spring as described above and bought some "White lightening", a degreaser, from the local bike shop. I sprayed the WL liberally in the shifter while working the shifters. Success!!

Thanks again. Hope this helps.
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#14
cad 2 1998 any suggestion to repair headset w/ part that are difficult to find at cannondale dealer, they tell me i need new fork, that does not match ? ?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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#15
(03-19-2012, 04:01 PM)n8b Wrote:  Unfortunately I'm probably too late to help the original poster, but maybe this will help others with a similar problem.

About a year ago I bought an old 105 group set from the same time period as RSX. The shifters are essentially the same. My right shifter had this same issue, lack of automatic lever return. I noticed that the front cap must have been opened at some point and re-installed improperly so I set to work figuring out what had gone wrong.

To make a slightly longer story short, that spring that sits directly beneath the cap is the return spring. Make sure you seat it properly into the front of the shifter, then you have to make sure the end of the spring facing outward gets seated properly in the hole on the inside of the cap.

The spring needs to be tensioned - this is the tricky part. (Apparently there are tools that can help you do this.) With a little patience and luck I was able to put tension in this spring by rotating the cap with the spring end in the hole so that it coiled the spring. As you place tension on the spring it will want to pop out of the hole in the cap and unwind. It will probably manage to get away from you a few times. Keep at it and you will eventually manage to get the cap in place with the spring tensioned. Replace the bolt, and enjoy.

Cheers n8b, your post sorted me out big time. I thought my RSX brifter was screwed, your advice fixed it for me. Big style cheers!!
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#16
(02-08-2013, 02:58 PM)adrianot57 Wrote:  cad 2 1998 any suggestion to repair headset w/ part that are difficult to find at cannondale dealer, they tell me i need new fork, that does not match ? ?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Can't tell you much about the headset repair. I have a 1998 Caad2 R300 that I had the headset and front fork updated to carbon. So I actually have the front fork available. It is 1" and Iris Blue.
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