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I have a bicycle by the name of "Indarciclo" that I purchased for $20. It has worked excellently for the last 2 years until now. It has 7 speeds, with a under-the-bar shifter. Now, for some reason it will not shift downwards! I have checked for cable problems but none can be seen. All the shifting mechanisms seem to work well, it just will not shift. Please help!

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  • Please add photos. Is it the rear or front shifter? What happens if you lift the rear wheel off the ground, and pull the exposed inner wire while spinning the pedals? Rope and a convenient rafter or tree can help here.
    – Criggie
    Aug 19, 2016 at 0:24
  • Saying "All the shifting mechanisms seem to work well" and then "it just will not shift" makes no sense. Unless this is some sort of exotic system then you can observe whether the various mechanisms are moving when they should and should thus be able to identify one piece that is not moving correctly. Most likely problems are 1) a sticky (rusted) shift cable, 2) the shifter on the handlebar not stepping up/down correctly, or 3) the cable has "stretched" and adjustment is needed. Aug 19, 2016 at 2:34
  • After 2 years of use, it might be worth having your Local Bike Shop give it a proper service.
    – Emyr
    Aug 19, 2016 at 10:05

2 Answers 2

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I used to see this a lot at the shop I worked at, especially with old shimano under-bar two-lever shifters. These shifters work by pushing a cylindrical indexed..cylinder with a small spring-loaded ratchet pawl. What happens is that ratchet pawl's grease gets sticky as it ages and instead of sliding into the cylinder's indexed grooves and pushing the cylinder (and shifting) it just slides over the top and doesn't engage.

The symptom of this is the lever moves but there is no sound or engagement.

The "fix" is to spray degreaser or wd-40 or similar (with one of those little straws that lets you get into tight places) into the gaps in the plastic around the levers and get it on the metal innards. The important part is there are two ratchet pawls in there, one for each lever. The one you can see between the gaps is not usually the bad one, so you gotta be pretty heavy on the spray to loosen them both up, and moving the levers while you're doing it.

Ideally you would degrease, then regrease with a light teflon grease, but most people are fine with WD-40'ing it every so often.

Last ditch effort: Or you can remove the bottom plastic cover by unscrewing the nut or screw on the bottom of the shifter and that lets you get into the ratchet and manipulate it directly with a small screwdriver and douse it with degreaser. There will be one screw, and it will be easy. Removing the nut that holds the metal pieces together will end with pieces of shifter all over the ground and buying a new shifter.

If this doesn't work, the spring on the ratchet pawl has worn out, the cylinder grooves are worn out, you didn't degrease enough, or the problem is something else.

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  • Thank you! I did those things and now my bicycle is back up and running perfect! Sep 11, 2016 at 21:38
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Is the shift cable sliding within its housing? If not, there may be rust preventing it from moving. Fixing this could be as easy as replacing the housing/cable (which are cheap -- under $10).

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