How to Install Road Bicycle Shifters

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Install Road Bicycle Shifters
Road bike shifters are easy to install. (poignée 2 roues image by Unclesam from

Road bike shifters have become integrated over the past few years to include brake and shifter handles in a single unit. Known as the "Flight Deck," gears are changed by pushing the brake handle inward. Brakes are applied by pulling back on the handle. There are springs, ratchets and levers inside these modern shift levers, and they are very reliable. Occasionally, however, due to a crash or abuse, new shifters have to be installed, but the old ones have to be removed first.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bike stand
  • 4-mm Allen wrench
  • 5-mm Allen wrench

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  1. 1

    Clamp the bike in a bike stand. Trace the shifter cables on each shifter by following the cable with your fingers from the shifter to the point on the derailleurs where the cable is held onto the derailleurs with a 4-mm setscrew. Loosen the setscrews, releasing the cables from the derailleurs.

  2. 2

    Trace the brake cables with your fingers from the brake handles to the brakes. Loosen the 5-mm setscrew that holds the brake cables to the brakes.

  3. 3

    Push the shifter lever to the side like you are attempting to shift the bike. This will open the shifter lever and release the end of the cables. Continue holding the shifter cable open with one hand. When the ball end of the shifter cable pops out of the mechanism, take it with your fingers and begin to pull the cable free from the handle. Remove both cables from both shifters.

  4. 4

    Peel back the rubber housing from the front of the shifter exposing a 5-mm setscrew. Loosen the setscrew until the handle is loose.

  5. 5

    Slide the shifter handle down and off the end of the handlebar. If it won't slide or gets stuck, pop the end cap off the handlebars and unravel the handlebar tape; then slide the shifter handle off the handlebars.

  6. 6

    Slide the new shifters into place where the old ones came off. Peel back the rubber housing and barely tighten the 5-mm setscrew. Place both hands on the shifters. Align them where you want them to be by moving them up and down and from side to side until they are comfortable. Then tighten the 5-mm setscrew so they can't move.

  7. 7

    Run the shifter and brake cables back through their appropriate holes. Finish by threading the cables back down through the cable housing to the brakes and derailleurs. Tighten the setscrews on the brakes and derailleurs to hold the cables in place.

  8. 8

    Shift the bike through its gears with the new shifters as you turn the pedals by hand, fine-tuning the shifting by adjusting the barrel adjusters located on the derailleur and shifter handles.

Tips and warnings

  • Photograph parts and cable routing with a digital camera before removing them to use as a reference when hooking them back up.

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