I’ve written about my recent efforts to upgrade my bike. So have my guest posters, Don Blount and Jeff Hemmel. So after my problems Saturday, I faced a difficult decision.
As you’ll recall, I broke my right shifter — the one that controls the rear derailleur.
I took the bike into the LBS, and the guy looked over the shifter. He had bad news: The shift cable had broken off inside the shifter, and he couldn’t get it out. ”These things aren’t really made to be serviced,” he said. ”You’ll have to replace it.”
Ouch. I didn’t want to hear that. Shifters are expensive.
“Lemme see what’s in stock,” he said. He came back with a Shimano Sora shifter. My bike has Tiagra shifters — one level up in the Shimano hierarchy. The Sora is at the low end of Shimano’s lineup.
I asked about getting another Tiagra. He said it would have to be ordered. On top of that, it would cost 50 percent more than the Sora. Another ouch.
I hemmed and hawed. If I ordered the Tiagra, it would be several days before I had a bike. If I had him put on the Sora, I would be downgrading my bike.
On the other hand, I recalled my only previous experience with Sora equipment: On a rental bike two summers ago. It worked fine. I thought about the price. I thought about making the ride the next day that I had been wanting to do.
“Go ahead and put on the Sora,” I told him. ”And while you’re at it, the headset needs adjusting, and I need a new chain.”
An hour later, it was all ready. I made my ride the next day.
The shifter performed well. Not flawlessly. It’s less precise than the Tiagra, which is not in itself the most precise shifter. I learned on the ride that it helped to plan my shifts more than I’d been used to, and to click the little thumb trigger very definitely — no flicking the thumb at it and expecting a clean shift.
This evening, I took the bike out to our local time trial. I had to turn the barrel adjusters to tighten the derailleur cable, because it was jumping cogs, popping off the cog when I applied force, and being generally cranky. I went out on the eight-mile course, and it appears from my unofficial time that I set a personal best, beating my old mark by at least 30 seconds. I was very careful and deliberate with my shifts out there.
I think it will take several more rides before I’m used to it. There will be lots more time spent adjusting the cables in the coming week. But after my experience with it over the past couple of days, I intend to make it work.