A New Ride (Temporarily)

Went out Saturday morning for my ride. Even got an early (for me) 7:30 a.m. start. Lubed the new chain, clipped on the computer, put in the water bottles, and got on. But on my first attempt to shift, even before I’d left the driveway — SPRONG! — the shift cable broke where it joins the right side shifter.

See that cable that’s parked under the right handlebar? The one that just ends? Yeah, that’s it. (Click to make the photo bigger.)

Son of a!@#$%^&*! This is the second time this has happened to me. The first was in the fall of 2010. And I know what it means — it means I’ll be buying a new shifter. Trouble is, they’re expensive, and after some unexpected costs this month, we find ourselves with too much month at the end of the money. I’ll have to hold off on the purchase for 10-14 more days.

But what good is being in a bike club if it doesn’t have members with spare bikes? A couple of emails later, my friend Rick agreed to let me use his 10-year-old titanium bike. He’s riding his new carbon fiber Cervelo, and is even faster than he used to be. And he used to be fast.

I picked up the bike Saturday afternoon, and rode it around the block to see what kind of changes I’d have to make to get it right for me.

Right off the bat, a pretty major one. My bike is 56 cm. Rick, who is a big, tall guy, rides what appears to be a 61 cm bike. My feet reached the pedals, but just barely.

I lowered the seat all the way, and moved it up as far as it would go. It’s still a bit big, but I can ride it with a modicum of comfort now.

I skipped the club ride Sunday. They were going to do the Dam Loop — one of my least favorite Austin bike routes — and it was going to be hot!! today. Because I was on a new bike, I opted to do the Saturday morning route I would have done yesterday. If my shifter hadn’t broken.

Riding a familiar route on an unfamiliar bike makes the experience seem brand new. The bike is an Airborne, titanium frame as I’ve said, all Ultegra, nice Easton EA 90 wheels with Michelin Krylion tires, and a triple crankset with a 53-tooth big ring. The model is the Zeppelin, of all things. Airborne apparently got out of the road bike business, because their website features mountain bikes and such, with their cross bike model the closest thing to a road bike. As Rick once told me, “Back in 2002, this was state of the art.”

The Airborne Zeppelin.

I think I’ll like my experience with the triple. My average speed for today’s 29.5-mile ride was 15.3 mph. (Just an estimate, since the bike is not equipped with a computer. I know the route distance, and noted my start and end times on my watch — then deducted time stopped at lights to get my total on-bike time.) Anyhoo, it did get me up some hills with a minimum of fuss.

That average speed compares nicely with my recent speeds on that route. In fact, it’s a smidgen faster than most. I’m looking forward to riding this bike over the next two weeks. I’ll post an update on riding a triple titanium later, after I’ve gotten a few more rides under my belt.


    • says

      It broke where it attaches to the shifter. Last time that happened, the bike mech said you can’t service that on Shimano shifters. I’ve heard conflicting reports since.

      • Tim says

        If it’s just the cable, it can be replaced. If the cable end is stuck in the shifter, that can be removed.

        I’m still confused.

    • Kevin says

      I went from a triple with 12-25 to a compact double with a 11-28.
      It gave me the same range of gearing while making my setup much more refined and noticeably lighter.
      Needless to say, I will never go back to triple.

  1. Kevin says

    Same thing happend to my tiagra shifter but i was lucky.
    My mechanic was able to pull out the cable end from the shifger by grabbing onto one of the cable strands with a tweezer.
    This happened with little under 3000 miles on the new bike.
    I now know to replace the cable every year or so.

  2. Ronan says

    Go fishing with a magnetized screw driver in your shifter. Get a tweezer ready in your other hand. To keep the shifter’s inside exposed, tie it to your handlebars. You will be done in a few minutes

    If your mechanic pretends not to be able to do that, make sure that your riding buddies know he is a con man.

  3. says

    IF, I ever get the money, I’ll have a “titanium” bicycle, they are so beautiful, where carbon fiber is just UGLY, unless it has a good paint job, jmho, ymmv. :)

  4. Mel Hughes says

    So Ray, was it just the cable that broke? If that was the case, then Tim is definitely right! Just fish the old cable out and put in a new one. Tweesers, small needle-nosed pliers, or medical forceps will do the trick. A new cable should only be a couple of dollars… Unless you need to do more road research on that ti frame. Then, uh, it might be a lot more involved…


  5. says

    As you’ve heard, you do not need a new shifter. Perhaps a new mechanic, but not a shifter. When a cable breaks right at the end where the anchor is, it’s because the little cable hook unit that holds the cable end wasn’t lubricated, or lost its lubrication, and could not swivel as the shift lever was being operated. When that unit gets gummed up like that the cable itself has to bend sharply every time you shift, eventually causing it to break.

    • says

      Yep, new mechanic. Actually, I’ll just go to the independent guy I’ve used in the past, and stay away from the big box bike store that steered me wrong.

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