Tech Tuesday - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable

Jun 7, 2011 at 0:05
Jun 7, 2011
by Mike Levy  
 
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While it certainly doesn't occur often, a snapped shift cable can quickly turn a ride sour, especially if you are far into the bush when it happens. Even though your rear derailleur will automatically shift down to the smallest cog (the most difficult gear), all is not lost. Instead of having to walk your bike up and over the slightest rise in the trail, it is possible to rig up a solution that allows you to get the bike into a more pedal-friendly gear choice simply by using the high limit screw.



What you'll need:

• A multi-tool that includes either a Phillips or hex key to fit your derailleur's limit screws.



Trailside help: broken shift cable:

Views: 14,515    Faves: 39    Comments: 7





Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
Technical Tuesday #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
Technical Tuesday #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
Technical Tuesday #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
Technical Tuesday #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
Technical Tuesday #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
Technical Tuesday #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
Technical Tuesday #34 - MRP XCG Install
Technical Tuesday #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
Technical Tuesday #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
Technical Tuesday #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
Technical Tuesday #38 - Coil spring swap


Visit Parktool.com to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.


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91 Comments

  • + 19
 ...there's a dog behind ya mate...
  • + 22
 I love how it cuts momentarily and the dog disappears hahahah
  • + 18
 no way. That dog has totaly mastered telleportation
  • - 1
 So i break my shifter cable at the trail yesterday....
  • + 1
 ^cool story bro
  • + 2
 what the hell brock!
  • + 11
 The bush. That is all
  • + 2
 If you're in the bush, you are fkng with US internal affairs... Your exports might go to other countries
  • + 5
 Depending on where it snaps and what tools you have you can also pull the cable out and thread it through from just the adjustment barrel. You can then cut it down and just use the adjustment barrel to select your gears.
  • + 1
 Yep, but that trick will most likely require you to bring a cable cutter.
  • + 3
 Haha I love how a dog Is casually Sniffing around in one of the cuts! Big Grin
  • + 2
 not always in need of a cutter, you can loop it round itself Smile
  • + 3
 I carry a leatherman tool on most long rides. Its worth the little bit of weight. Its got a knife and a saw (which I use for trimming branches) and its got a pliars/cable cutter. Its also got all sorts of other stuff. Ive used it a few times for various field fixes and would never go on an epic without it!
  • + 1
 So i did adjusted the limiters, but after a run down the trail, the screw wore right through the limiter piece, so it went back down the hardest gear(11th)
  • + 1
 @staike : not necessarily, you could also thread it from a housing stop to use up more of the cable. But for the most part, I agree
  • + 6
 I don't understand why they don't just advise you to carry a spare shift cable. I always do and most of the time it just bails out my buddies =)
  • + 18
 I actually do that as well, especially on big rides. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to convince other riders to bring even a multi-tool, tube or pump, let alone a spare shift cable. I actually have a spare hanger for my bike and even a Wheels Mfg. emergency hanger to fit anyone's bike in my bag as well.

Maybe we'll do a Tech Tuesday on what to put in your bag... thoughts?
  • + 0
 I like that idea. I almost always have alot of the things mentioned. Cable ties, electrical tape, shift cable, derail hanger, tube, levers, multi -tool (including chainbreaker). I also carry a section of chain, about 3-4 full links in case I break my chain.
  • + 3
 its funny i have never had a shift cable break , though i have broken 3 derailleurs...
  • + 11
 Plaster and patches for wounds are good to have, especially if you ride in gloopy stuff. Weigh nothing, take no place and can save you some infection. Then laugh as much as you like : a bit of toilet paper is never wrong... Every person that got a raging diarrhea in the middle of nowhere, with only pine trees around, knows why...
  • + 1
 Lol, I dont carry TP but Ive had numerous occasions where I really had to go..............and really wish I had some. Good call.
  • + 1
 I never go anywere without ATLEAST allen keys, let alone spare tubes, tire levers, and a pump.
  • + 1
 For shore rides and local mountain I always go with a bag loaded with tools and spares, but when riding in a bike park I just tape a patch kit and tiny pump to frame
  • + 5
 TP is good. Seems like my brother finishes one ride a month without a sock . . . People who don't carry enough tools because of weight need to realize it's rotational weight that is going to effect their ride the most. That said, I think I may have worn out my shock pump by keeping it with me.
  • + 4
 buahaha a sock! It's brilliant! That's a great tip for tech tuesday buahaha - what to do if you get a raging jobby and you are above the tree line -> I can imagine Mike giving instructions to that: first thing to do, before you start the "process", take off your shoe and I will show you how to use your sock. Crouch steadily take a neutral position with straight back, chin up, elbows out and knees out...
  • + 1
 Yeah Mike, too many folks go into the bush unprepared. I like the idea of 'what you should have in your bag' and then it got me thinking that you should do Tech Tuesday alternative tools & fixes. Something like Jerry Rig Wednesdays.
  • + 2
 You should do a tech tuesday on it. I have a "what's in Justin's Camelback" list for our customers to look at and here it is:
- Water (duh)
- Mini Pump - Wrapped with a few layers of duck tape
- Tubes (at least two)
- Shock pump
- Mini tool
- Chain tool
- Knife
- Tip ties
- Shift cable
- Small adjustable wrench
- Sram quick link
- Rear der. hanger (sometimes a spare rear der.)
- Spare brake pads
- Lighter
This is my epic pack of course and excludes the food/fuel that I would also pack. I find these tools can get me out of pretty much any situation I find myself in. Oh man how I love being in the bush!
Justin
  • + 4
 Nice, jeng. But you'll still have to sacrifice a sock if nature calls Wink
  • + 1
 I will never get the idea of carrying a shock pump - if some air chamber leaks air, then the pump won't save you anyways, but whatever. I also got an idea once that my shock is too harsh and decided to release a bit of air by pressing the valve with tyre lever - I won't do it again...

So my final unobvious, additional miniset for EPIC all day rides:

- Wound patches
- Tissues
- Water puryfying tablettes
- A small piece of 400-600 sand paper

Put it all in a bag of tissues, and forget about it. Super light, takes next to no space

tissues -> can work as TP, and are very helpful if something gets into your eye, not everyone wears goggles for AM, and I got a bit of mud into my eye few times even having clear glasses. Together with water you can use them to clean a flesh wound > great for those who ride with flats and no shin guards. I might sound like your mother but tetanus ain't a fun thing...

tablettes? - sometimes you might prefer to use the water from the mountain creek instead of carrying 3L of water on your back

sandpaper? - suspension sliders or remotely adjustable seatposts - get scratched sometimes, and not always a scratch is shallow. That can save you some serious money and slip this nasty feeling how much each move of these costs...
  • + 1
 @ Wakidesigns
I was riding and realized my shock setting felt a little too firm. I'd lost some weight and was carrying a little less gear. I pulled out my shock pump and the rest of my ride was smoother. Another time I realized my shock had gotten soft during the week and no longer felt right. Again, pump to the rescue!
Seems pretty easy to understand to me. I think it all depends on how often you check you bike over. I do about once a week.

Firstaid kit is something I've been meaning to add for a long time.

Tissues are a great idea for sure.

Iodine is alright if you like the flavor or have an emergency.

Sandpaper? I guess you ride a lot further than I do, because if that happened and I needed to sand down my stanchion I would just walk back to the car.
  • + 1
 My dad carries a full derailleur with him haha
  • + 3
 There's always the old tie wrap trick, which consists in putting the derailleur in the gear you want and wrap a tie wrap thru its mechanism to stop it from going down, maybe you'll need two, but it is flawless
  • + 3
 Great tip! Always good to stuff a few zip ties and even a small piece of duct tape into the bottom of your bag.
  • + 1
 funny, this happened to me on my road bike and i was 50 kms away from home or the closest bike shop. i just used the gear where the RD was on. it could've helped if i thought of adjusting the RD's limit screws. i know how to do this but it never occurred to me that i could actually do this to make things a little easier. thanks PB!
  • + 1
 Any ride can turn into an Epic if a mechanical occurs in the wrong spot... Consider the farthest distance (in Miles) you will be from your car/assistance divide that number by 2 or 2.5. The result number is the number of hours it will take you to walk your unprepared a$$ back to the car.
Now go put the following items in your pack (Thanks Jeng for starting the list/I've modified it):
- Mini Pump - Wrapped with a few layers of duck tape (Excellent space saving idea)
- Tubes (One) (If you don't become more careful with your line choice after one flat, you deserve to be patching a tube)
----- I would also suggest that you regularly inspect said tube..
- tube Patch kit
- Mini tool
- Knife (A Leatherman type tool is superior to a simple knife)
- Chain tool
- Spare Chain links, soaked in lube (rusty links are less than useless)
- Sram quick link
- 15+ zip ties (can also be used for pranks on your lesser prepared buddies... loop a zip tie to the chain stay and chain Smile )
- Shift cable
- Small adjustable wrench
- Rear der. hanger (leave the spare derailleur at home)
- Spare brake pads
- Lighter
- TP or Tissues
  • + 5
 Oh the joys of being in the bush...
  • + 1
 One night while out on a epic night ride my rear mech and cable got pulled into the spokes wrecking both beyond repair Being miles from home this was not good so me and my riding mates searched a building site and found a long peice of rope. Tying four bikes in a line i had a tow home which was exciting to say the least,only 2k from home we got pulled up by the coppers and told to stop messing about and walk. This has nothing to do with a broken cable but i always take plenty of spares out with me now
  • + 1
 Speaking of Mechanical failures at night. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned headlight or handlebar mounted light in their 'epic' packs. I don't know about everyone else here but during the early spring and late fall months when the sun is setting early, that window of light after work gets small and if you don't have some form of illumination it is a miserable night walking blind in the backcountry. I graduated to a full 900lumen light for night riding but i still keep a headlight for backup in the pack when ever i go, day or night.
  • + 2
 what about the method where you used the actual busted cable to set the derailleur in a gear of your choosing? No one remembers that one anymore?
  • + 2
 Yeah, just push the derailleur to where you want it to be and clamp the cable against a water bottle bolt. Fine tune with the barrel adjuster (if the derailleur has one).
  • + 1
 not the one I was thinking of, but that works too, if you cable is still long enough.
  • + 2
 I think this was the most fun tech tuesday due to all the bloopers. And we can`t forget about the teleporting dog.
  • + 1
 What was the most interesting in this episode?
Was it the thing he learned us or was it all the Cut outs when he learned us new bad words?
  • + 2
 magic disappearing dog, loved it this was the funniest tech tuesday in ages, must get my bike out for the bush
  • + 3
 Oh s*** ! The dog dissappeared! Big Grin
  • + 1
 Thanks for that one. I really love the Tech Tuesdays vids when it comes to practical stuff like this fix. Iam sorry for the Shimano users, there should be one for you guys
  • + 2
 This works for shimano too.
  • + 1
 Mike is back !! BOOOM , Hmmm one of the camra guy's must of brought his dog to film and it got loose haha Big Grin THE dog bit should be in the outakes !!
  • + 1
 Was I telling you about this happening to me out at moose a couple weeks ago? Unfortunately I never had any guys with me that are as smart as you Mr. Levy. Smile
  • + 1
 Cool dog, mate!
What's her name?
p.s. that was
LEGEN, wait for it... DARY!!!!
  • + 2
 I'd say it's more relevant than half the stuff on here.
  • + 2
 When in doubt, blame brock
  • + 1
 THe outakes were the best, Good advice though, this has happened once or twice to me
  • + 1
 Oh my god... this happened to me on my first race of the season last sunday....
  • + 2
 The dog is the best ;D
  • + 1
 he likes to cuss at the end
  • + 1
 haha aww love the doggy Smile
  • + 1
 Has anyone set up a single speed with a hamershmitt yet.
  • + 4
 Yes, but how is that relevant to this article?
  • + 1
 the dog is hilarious - keep it up
  • + 1
 where are these, good style kind
  • + 1
 What does the blue thing on the bars and the top tube do?
  • + 1
 prevent the bars from moving side to side while working on the bike Smile
  • + 2
 Shit Brock!
  • + 1
 Ignore, put comment in wrong place!
  • + 1
 ahhah. the bush Razz
  • + 1
 lol the dog Big Grin
  • + 0
 Not all derailleurs shift to the smallest cog. Tech Tuesday fail.
  • - 1
 they should do?
  • + 3
 ^^such as__________(insert answer here rlepecha)
  • + 5
 Rapid Rise / Low Normal mechs, go to the largest cog with no tension.
  • + 1
 as above.
  • + 1
 i got an old saint mech that shifts the opposite way like.
  • + 1
 i have a retarded xt that shifts the opposite direction.. really annoying
  • + 1
 Its all personal preference. Some people like the Rapid Rise / Low Normal mechs because there is less stress on the mech when you shift down under power, you can also shift down multiple times at once.
  • + 4
 If your cable breaks on a low-normal mech, at least you can run the lowest gear and climb out of trouble. I think being stuck in a low gear (big cog) is better than being stuck in the highest one (small cog) if you have a long ride out. Besides, the same tips apply - just use the other adjustment screw to drop to a smaller cog.

sssingletrack needs to change his name to Negative Nancy...
  • + 1
 They could have added that to the video though, what would be a 2 second line. Opposite applies to low normal mech's.
  • + 1
 @sssingletrack - That is true... there is always one more thing to include in these things, even when I think that I get it all in there. Thanks for the tip, even if I wouldn't exactly call it a "fail".
  • + 2
 fair point, agreed it wasn't exactly a fail
  • + 2
 Love Tech Tuesdays Smile ...And your Fails at the end, Mike Razz So funny ahah
  • + 1
 @asssingletrack....
1. at 40s Mike states you don't need any tools. Well I watched the video and Mike clearly uses a screwdriver!
2. As said, rapid rise would go into the largest cog (smallest gear)
3. It is not a repair it is a botch to get you home.
I wanted to know how to do it with no tools as I rarely carry them and was disappointed to not get the answer.
  • + 3
 just get a large bike multitool, they've got everything you'll ever need for a bodge and they fit nicely into your pocket. not exactly expensive either.
  • + 1
 He is right, its not what he says. Tools are needed.
  • + 1
 technically tools aren't needed, they just make the job a hell of a lot easier. if you were desperate you could sit there for an hour or two turning the limit screws with your fingers Razz
  • + 1
 I can't turn the limit screw with my fingers on any of my bikes!
  • + 1
 i can't believe you even tried
  • + 2
 I managed to turn it by using the finger nails of both my thumbs combined, on X0, XTR, but not Saint. I was amazed that it works.
  • + 1
 shiba inu?
  • + 1
 LEGEND!
  • + 1
 What`s with the dog?
  • + 0
 wtf is up with he dog?!

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