The right gear shifter on my bicycle (which controls the gears on the rear wheel) has some wear holes and appears to be leaking oil over the shifter (see pictures). I'm fairly new to cycling, though, so I have no idea. My dad and I share this bicycle, and I don't think he rode the cycle with oil all over his right palm. I tried cleaning off the oil with soap, but it seems like it's still there.

  1. Is there oil present inside the right gear shifter when the manufacturer built the bike?
  2. Are the holes in the right gear shifter a possible cause for oil appearing on the shifter?
  3. If so, what should I do about it? How should I go about fixing it?
  4. If not, do I still need to worry about the wear holes in the shifter?

My dad bought the (Roadmaster) bike at Walmart about a year ago. It gets used pretty regularly except when it's snowing outside or in really bad rain.

image of oil on handlebar image 2 of oil on handlebar

  • 2
    Some of the grease leaked out through holes. Nothing consequential. The holes are there because the bike has been dropped against something sharp. Sep 30, 2018 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


There shouldn't be any amount of liquid oil in the shifter, just some grease.

Looks like some grease is getting out of the holes in the rubber grip and onto the outside.

Regular detergent is not strong enough to wash away grease. You need a proper degreaser product. The citrus based ones are quite good, and available at regular hardware stores.

Obviously the rubber grip needs to be replaced. It's letting grease out and - maybe more importantly - water in. With a Walmart level bike, replacing the whole shifter isn't very expensive. Figuring out what exact model the shifter is can be difficult though.

The rubber grip should not be worn after a year's light use. Perhaps it was damaged by something sharp. You may be able to glue the holes shut with a rubber cement.

  • Cool thanks! I'll try to close up the holes and wash out the grease to see if that fixes the problem. If not, I guess replacing the shifter is my next option. Do I have to find the exact model, or can I just use some generic brand like this one at walmart? (The reviews mention that it'll work fine on any bike...?)
    – takanuva15
    Sep 30, 2018 at 23:00
  • One thing to keep in mind is that changing out a twist shifter can be a cute little female puppy. I'd just leave it alone until it causes problems. Sep 30, 2018 at 23:18
  • 3
    Another dirty hack is to cover the shifter's barrel with suitably sized heatshrink, then reduce it with heat to make a good grip. I've done this to cover tacky bargrips and its an effective cheap solution. I buy 30mm, 35mm and 40mm heatshink from aliexpress by the metre and it lasts years.
    – Criggie
    Oct 1, 2018 at 0:22
  • @takanuva15 No, you can't use a 'generic' shifter. Your bike will either use Shimano or SRAM drivetrain components. They are not cross compatible. If you add a photo of the rear derailleur and cassette, and a pic of the shifter from more angles someone on here will tell you want kind of shifter you need. With a bike that is a year old you should be able to find an exact or close match replacement. Oct 1, 2018 at 0:50
  • Criggie's solution involves the least work and is cheap. If it doesn't work you can always try to replace. However, as Daniel mentioned, grip shifts are often tedious to replace.
    – gschenk
    Oct 7, 2018 at 19:20

Wipe the oil with a rag. Regular soap will not help. If you degrease the inside of the shifter, then you should re-lubricate the inside, preferably with a dry graphite lubricant. However, with a Walmart bike, I would not put too much effort in, certainly not changing the shifter or the grip, unless the shifter stops working. You can duct tape the holes in the grip closed or use rubber cement like another answer suggested.

  • How would I re-lubricate the inside of the shifter? (By squirting it into the hole?)
    – takanuva15
    Oct 1, 2018 at 2:12

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