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The gear cable was badly frayed in the handle system, where it bends through 90 deg. I had to cut it to remove the cable...but in doing so, the tip with the cable end (about 10mm long), has moved on round the corner and on into the lower part of the handle where it is very inaccessible. I am able to get hold of the cable end with pliers but unable to pull it back, even with the gear changer set in it's highest gear because the nipple is stopping it. Any ideas? Do bike engineers in UK shops take these brifter gear levers apart or do they just advise replacement?

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I just got done doing this to my 5800-series brifter. Looking at it, it seems to be kind of fortified against amateur disassembly.

However, I discovered that this took a lot less disassembly than Criggie's answer had led me to believe. Indeed, you could do it with the brifter still on the handlebar.

All it took is undoing one screw on the underside of the lever:

Picture of the underside of the brifter

This let me remove the two bottom parts of the brifter's case and access the part of the mechanism the stub of wire was in:

Partly disassembled brifter, with the underside of the shift mechanism showing

As a reassembly note, the larger piece is backwards in the image, those "teeth" point backwards in the assembled brifter.

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  • Great pictures. If anything, 5800 was the generation when they made this task much easier and quicker and I'd expect this to be possible while shifter is still mounted on the bar. I've certainly removed cable heads this way multiple times.
    – Swifty
    Nov 11 '20 at 21:38
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    These 11sp shifters all have this repeating cable problem. Ultegra too. Your photos show clearly how to access the mechanism, which can be done on the bike (in the field) and without fully removing the hood.
    – JoeK
    Nov 14 '20 at 20:01
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If I understand correctly, you have access to the end of the cable coming out of the shifter, but not the end inside the shifter, with the metal cylinder. To get access to the cylinder end, you need to pull on the cable end with pliers and then click through the gears until it is in what would be the smallest cog. At this point, you should be able to peel back the hood to grab the cylinder (maybe with needle nose pliers or a sharp spoke) to pull it through.

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I've done this with a RSX shifter. It was a full on dismantle and rebuild to get the mushroom out, because it had wedged and the wire stubs splayed out stopping it from shaking loose.

The real solution is to periodically change your gear inner cables when using brifters. If shifting starts getting really tenuous, that's your warning to change the inner.

Do check out Disassembling Shimano integrated gear shifters (brifters) and STI shifter sometimes doesn't catch in cooler weather

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    If shifting starts getting really tenuous Unfortunately, the first-generation "hidden shiter cable" Shimano STI shifters (Ultegra's 6700, 105's 5700) have the shift cable make a rather sharp bend from where the cable housing ends on the top of the unit down into the shifter mechanism inside. The cable frays there, but sometimes the fraying doesn't impact shifting, which means you have no warning. Later versions of the shifters have the shift cable enter from the inner side of the shifter body. I don't have enough time on the later versions to comment on the effectiveness of that change. Feb 25 '19 at 10:29
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    (cont) but since this appears to be one of the later 11-speed shifters, it likely has a similar problem. Feb 25 '19 at 10:30
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    IME it can go from "that's odd, it needs adjusting and I only did it a week ago" to snapped in the course of a single ride (of <100km). I've snapped 2 rear cables on my Sora setup this way. This is likely to be the same failure point that @AndrewHenle points out.
    – Chris H
    Feb 25 '19 at 15:47

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