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It's been fluctating in temperature between 0F and 20F in my area. I've been riding my 1x9 geared mountain bike to and from work. However, due to the cold weather, I'm having issues shifting.

It seems that I can typically shift in to an larger cog, but my derailleur is unresponsive when I shift to a smaller cog. I think this is because when shifting to a larger cog, the cable is pulled by the shifter, however for the smaller cog, the derailleur would be moved back by spring pressure and due to the cold conditions, it's not strong enough to fight the frozen gunk.

What can I do to keep my bike shifting in the cold?

  • The only cold weather shifting problem I've ever had is from the lube in the shifter gelling up when it gets cold, causing it to not "ratchet". This appears to be a particular problem with Shimano brifters. (However, one does assume that your derailers are clean and well-lubed -- not gunked up.) – Daniel R Hicks Jan 10 '15 at 19:54
  • I'd be more worried about the brakes if you're running mechanical brakes. Do you have clean cables? – Batman Jan 11 '15 at 4:57
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    Clean and dry (hair-dryer) the derailleur. Relube. Check. If necessary take out the cables, chase the water from the housings by pressing thin oil with a syringe. Put the cables back in or replace with new ones. It's always a good idea to change the cables before winter if you've been riding through rain in the good season. – Carel Jan 11 '15 at 13:25
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    @Carel You should post that comment as an answer. – jimchristie Jan 12 '15 at 19:17
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Clean and dry (hair-dryer) the derailleur. Relube. Check. If necessary take out the cables, chase the water from the housings by pressing thin oil with a syringe. Put the cables back in or replace with new ones. It's always a good idea to change the cables before winter if you've been riding through rain in the good season. And change them again at the beginning of the good season!

  • +1 for chasing the water out of the cable housing, but what will hair drying the derailleur accomplish? It is unlikely ice formation in the derailleur will affect shifting, and if it did it will simply re-occur on the next ride. – Rider_X Jan 13 '15 at 18:20
  • Although oil can chase water from shift (and brake) lines, it is still subject to viscosity changes in the cold and can cause degraded function as well. You may want to carefully check the "oil" you are using against the temperatures you are riding in. – Deleted User Jan 13 '15 at 18:23
  • @Rider_X It will at least assure that you are starting with a dry/un iced derailleur. Ice will most assuredly affect derailleur performance. I have seen wet overflow sections in races render drive trains entirely unusable just by icing the rear derailleur. It won't necessarily occur the next ride if the bike is stored indoors for long enough to thoroughly dry. I think Carel is assuming a test ride soon after the cleaning. – Deleted User Jan 13 '15 at 18:29
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    Heat drying the derailleur to make sure there's no remaining water before relube! – Carel Jan 14 '15 at 13:19

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