After a bit of advice. I recently dusted down my Carrera after a 4 year stint in the shed. Knowing that it had a few issues I dropped it in to my local Halfords store. It required a few things mending with the most relevant to this issue being the rear derailleur.

I get home and decide to go for a quick ride and find that I’m unable to shift gear at all. There isn’t really any tension in the shifters and the chain is currently on the smallest cog. The obvious thing to do would be to drop it back in but if it’s something I’m able to sort then I’d rather get it done myself!

Images below although I’m not sure if it helps in any way.

Thanks in advance

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  • Is the problem in both front and rear shifters/derailleurs? Jun 22, 2018 at 20:34
  • Neither shifter is working and neither have any tension.
    – Dom
    Jun 22, 2018 at 20:38
  • If it just came from the shop you should take it back to the shop. If it had been in storage for any length of time then sticky/rusted cables would be expected, but any competent shop would have tended to this. Jun 22, 2018 at 21:16
  • Unlikely the shifters are broken - its most likely corrosion in the cables or deraillur. Its also possible the grease has hardened making the mechanism not work. Given the brand names, you're probably in the UK. Was the bike put away wet and possibly salty?
    – Criggie
    Jun 22, 2018 at 22:59
  • Note to non-UK readers: Halfords is mostly a car parts/accessories store but they also sell some bike stuff. Carrera is their line of own-brand road bikes. Jun 22, 2018 at 23:36

3 Answers 3


If people can figure out what the problem is, you can probably fix this yourself without needing specialist tools. Honestly, though, take it back to Halfords and get them to actually do the work you've presumably already paid them to do, because this is pretty ridiculous.

In general, I'd recommend taking bikes to a specialist bike shop rather than somewhere like Halfords: the level of clue is generally much higher and they'll actually make sure the bike is working before they hand it back to you.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. I remember back when I first had the bike I took it into a specialist store and found it quite bizarre when I was told that as a Carrera, Halfords would be the best place to go! I took it there in this instance as I can get 25% off all work done and to my knowledge it was just the derailleur and crank arm that needed mending. I assumed I’d get it back in working order though at the very least :)
    – Dom
    Jun 22, 2018 at 20:46
  • 2
    Amen. A bike repair shop letting a bike with non-functioning shifting out the door is ridiculous, both from a customer satisfaction aspect and losing money on lost repair service. Jun 22, 2018 at 20:50
  • 1
    @Dom Carrera is one of Halfords’ own brands. The bike shop might have recommended you take it back to Halfords either because they knew about the 25% discount, or because Halfords/Carrera use unusual components that the bike shop can’t source. It’s a good sign for that bike shop, though: assuming they’re not crazy, they’ve acted in your best interests, rather than their own. Jun 22, 2018 at 23:34

Not clear from your question if the problem is in both front and rear shifters/derailleurs or just one but basic troubleshooting is the same.

First check that the cable and housing from shifters to derailleurs are properly routed and the housing is inserted into the appropriate frame bosses.

Find a run of exposed cable (outside of housing, usually on the down tube) and make sure they have some tension - i.e., not obviously disconnected from either the derailleurs or shifters, and there is not slack cable flopping around. If you grab the exposed cable and pull outwards you should be able to get the derailleurs to move a little.

If that does not turn up anything, you need to look at the shifters. Either both shifters are broken (unlikely) or they are not holding on to the cable. Pull back the rubber hoods on the shifters and look at where the cables are inserted (opposite where the cables emerge on the side of the levers). Sometimes the cable ends get hung up and are not properly seated inside the lever mechanism.

  • Brilliant, thanks for the response. I did check the routing of the cables quickly when I first realised and it appeared fine. I’ll give it another go tomorrow morning and if I get no luck then I’ll pop it back to the shop. My initial assumption was that the shifters are broken, which I’d have expected to have been picked up on the “inspection” that I paid for! Stupidly I didn’t think to check anything before sending it in else I could’ve alerted them to the issue.
    – Dom
    Jun 22, 2018 at 21:34
  • @Dom Unless the bike was in a damp place and they’ve rusted to oblivion, the shifters shouldn’t have broken just by being left sitting around. Either way, as you say, they should have noticed, since one of the things they should have checked was that they’re correctly adjusted. Jun 22, 2018 at 23:31

After four years and what looks like little use even four years ago, do you remember how to use the shifters?

To shift from a smaller cog to a bigger cog you push the brake lever, sideways, i.e inwards toward the center line of the bike.

The right brake shifts the rear derailleur. The left brake shifts the front derailleur.

As well as the derailleur moving you should see the red indicator move in the brake lever/shifter plastic window.

Is that what you are saying isn't working?

In a word of support for Halfords. I bought a bike from them four weeks ago and it was very good value. It was set up badly but after a little fiddling I'm very happy.

  • I hardly ever downvote but when I do it’s for dangerous answers or this level of condescension. Jun 23, 2018 at 18:49
  • 1
    It may seem condescending to you but to a new user the least obvious thing about brake lever shifters is how to use them. It is easy to see how a person could forget. I looked at the pictures and most of the obvious explanations didn't fit. It is easy for an expert to forget the way non experts think. In terms of user support it is often the obvious answers that help.
    – Nick Brett
    Jun 23, 2018 at 19:33
  • Thanks for the message Nick, thankfully I do know about the shifters even though as you say, it has been a while!
    – Dom
    Jun 26, 2018 at 17:14

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