How to Fix a Stuck Shifter (Shimano)


Unless you ride a fixie bike or have no need to get out of 2nd gear the odds are you're probably going to need your shifters at some point. Since the shifters get used so often and have so many components directly connected to them there are times when they have a tendency to go bad. One of the biggest problems you'll encounter during a ride is a stuck shifter which could not only leave you in the wrong gear, could impede your bicycle altogether. Follow these tips to fix a stuck shifter and to keep on cruising.

how to fix a bike shifter that is stuck

Over time the shifters will start to break down but they don't need to be instantly replaced, just cleaned.

Figure Out What Is Causing the Stick

Many times gunk, grime, and debris from the road will get lodged into your shifter and prevent it from cycling through the gears as it should. There are two methods to take depending on the type of shifter your bike employs - some allow you to take apart a panel and gain easy access inside but others (most) require you to cut the adjoining cable. Bicycle cables are relatively inexpensive and cutting them might be a more cost-effective option than opening and doing damage to an entire shifter mechanism. Once you've snipped the cable on the stuck shifter, you can drag the entire piece out so that you can open up the cover and gain access to the inside.

fixing a stuck bike shifter

Once you get the cover off the shifter you'll probably easily find the problem. Unfortunately you need that cover off to diagnose.

Once you open up the shifter cover you can engage it to see what the problem actually is. One very common problem is a sluggish and sticky pull that doesn't pop back into place as it should. There is an easy fix to this as you spray some brake cleaner or lubricating liquid into the affected area and work the pull back and forth to get it loose. The fix takes a mere seconds but unfortunately you need to access the interior to solve the problem, making your cables collateral damage in the process.

DIY stuck bike shifter fix

Often the pull that is supposed to bounce back into place is too covered in grime to function properly.

Once you've got access to the interior of the shifter, you might as well re-lubricate it with some White Lightning or any other type of chain fluid just to coat and protect it. Replace the cover and shift the gears into place so that the bike cable can be rethreaded. Be sure to check out our video on how to re-thread the cable for detailed, accurate instructions to get your bike back in proper shifting condition.