How to Replace the Gear Shifter on a Bicycle

How to Replace the Gear Shifter on a Bicycle
While there's more than one major manufacturer of bicycle gear shifters, each gear shifter is held in place by the same clamp design. The clamp is located on the backside of the shifter and is obscured by handlebar tape. A bolt passing through the body of the shifter serves to tighten and loosen the clamp. Like the clamp, the bolt isn't exactly easy to find. Raising the rubber brake hood and peering inside will reveal the head of the bolt, buried in the interior plastic of the shifter. Locate this bolt before you begin the task of removing your old shifter.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Standard set of allen wrenches
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Torpedo level
  • Talcum powder (optional)
Step 1
Remove the handlebar end plug. The plug is a plastic cap at the terminus of each handlebar. The cap helps keep the handlebar tape from unraveling.
Step 2
Unravel the handlebar tape from each end of the handlebar. You'll now be able to see the clamp that holds the shifter in place.
Step 3
Loosen both the brake and shifter cables. Each cable is secured to its respective component by an anchor bolt. Loosen each bolt.
Step 4
Make a note how each cable is routed. This will come in handy when you have to re-install the cables.
Step 5
Pull the cable heads (the other ends of the cables) from the shifter. To access the heads, press the brake arm and grab each cable head with a pair of needle nose pliers. Pull each cable free of the shifter.
Step 6
Lift the brake hood (the rubber covering on the shifter). Loosen the allen bolt inside by turning it counterclockwise. Again, this bolt will loosen the clamp.
Step 7
Slide the clamp and shifter from the handlebar. Both shifters follow the same procedure.


Step 1
Slide the clamp of the new shifter over the end of the handlebar. Rubbing talcum powder over the bar will help the clamp slide more easily. Once you've established the preferred position for your shifter, tighten the clamp bolt.
Step 2
Follow the same procedure for the second shifter. To ensure that they are even, lay a torpedo level across the hoods of both shifters. The bubble should be in the center of the level.
Step 3
Insert the brake and shifter cables through the proper eyelets in each shifter. Continue to push each cable through until it emerges from its respective cable housing.
Step 4
Route the cables to their proper components (brake cables to brakes, shifter cables to derailleurs) and tighten each of their anchor bolts.
Step 5
Re-wrap the handlebar with new handlebar tape.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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