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I just picked my bike up after getting some work done. Shifting was a little off so I tried to adjust the barrel adjuster on the tiagra SL-4700 shifter and it looks like the housing has come loose :|

When I move the shifter to the lowest position the housing looks ok, but as I shift up the whole housing moves out.

When I tried to get it back in before and shift up / down it pushed the cable end out of the back of the shifter.

It looks like everything else is firm: the housing around the derailleur and the bottom bracket seem solid.

I haven't had this problem before. How can I get the cable back into position properly?

Thanks in advance!

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Sounds to me like your cable is in need of replacement. If the housing moves with the cable when shifting it (inner cable) clearly is not moving smoothly in the housing. this could be due to a number of things (e.g. rusted/dirty inner cable/housing, freyed cable, severely bent housing (which will happen to the end of the housing where the ferrule is held in place, when used for a long period of time)). Try loosening the derailleur end of the cable (loosen the screw and remove the inner cable from underneath the screw/holding plate. Hold the cable in one hand and pull it, then use your other hand to shift up and down and see if the cable moves back and forth without it taking excessive force on the shift levers (only remove the cable from the derailleur for this test, don't remove the cable housing from the frame just yet, since we're testing how smoothly the inner cable runs through the housing). Sometimes the ferrules (outer cable end caps) can get bent out of shape after a long time of use, check if they are straight.

Bent ferrules/improperly cut cable housing, freyed cables etc will usually cause issues with shifting.

Inspect the inner cable, if it doesn't look too rusty, isn't freyed and isn't bent too badly you should be fine just replacing the cable housing (do make sure to lube the inner cable to reduce friction).

I would suggest replacing inner and outer cable, inner cables are not that expensive, if you buy cable housing in bulk (10+meter) it is not that expensiv (I bought 30m teflon inner shifter housing for approx 40euro). The ferrules are really cheap also (a few euro/dollar for 100 pieces). It is quite easy to DIY, here's a video showing how:

You don't need a special tool for it you can use regular side cutters (for brake outer cables make sure to cut it a few times if there are any sharp/protruding pieces of the metal spiral such that the cut it relatively flat). Use the old cable's length as reference for your replacement cable housing (as can be seen in the video).

To remove inner cable from shifter you have to shift it into a specific gear such that the cable end (the cyclinder shaped end piece of the inner cable that holds the cable in place on the shifter's end) can be seen through the little hole inside the shifter (it is sometimes covered with a plastic screw). When it is aligned just grab the inner cable and press it towards the shifter, it will slide out through the hole.

Make sure to cut freyed cable end off the inner cable (if the cable's end is freyed). Or if the freying is not too bad you can usually twist the cable end to restore it to usable condition. Be sure to use something pointy (small screwdriver/toothpick/nail etc.) to make sure the inner teflon lining of the cable housing is not folded over on itself/is opened up (when you cut the cable you squish everything together which can cause this lining to become misshapen which will prevent the inner cable from properly entering.

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I think that bit of plastic on the end of the housing is called the "ferrule".

If you have a spare and want to replace it you have to get the inner cable out which means cutting the cap off the far end of it (down by the derailleur) and pulling the cable out. Then you put another cap on the far end after replacing the ferrule.

The shifter end of the cable has a lump of metal permanently attached to it so it can't be unthreaded from that end.

I think it would also probably work fine to just clean it up as best you can and put a couple of drops of superglue between the housing and the ferrule. That way you don't need to take the inner out.

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  • The barrel adjuster turns fine but the ferrule & housing are loose on the cable. I can separate the ferrule from the housing if I try but I'm not too sure how to get to the end of the cable without taking the shifter apart? – Scottmeup Dec 4 '19 at 8:53
  • I'll edit my answer because it seems I got the wrong end of the stick. – user68014 Dec 4 '19 at 9:05
  • Thanks for the update! I think it might need a bit more work - I tried shifting by holding the housing in place: the derailleur isn't really going anywhere, it's stuck on about the 4th largest sprocket :| I don't think the whole housing + ferrule should be moving in & out of the shifter as I change gears? – Scottmeup Dec 4 '19 at 10:09
  • @Scottmeup Yes everything should move smoothly except the housing. Sounds like the cable might be a bit stuck inside it. I think at this point take it all apart clean it up and put it back together. – user68014 Dec 4 '19 at 10:22
  • I'm looking forward to learning! :D Would you know a guide I can refer to? I've been googling & searching youtube but even the dealer's manual doesn't have instructions for this – Scottmeup Dec 4 '19 at 10:52
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Easiest option is to take the bike back to the store or repair shop and politely ask them to fix it. A repair shop should not let a bike go out of the door with malfunctioning shifting especially if they were working on the drivetrain in the first place.

From the description in the question and comments on other answers I believe the shift cable has slipped through the derailleur cable clamp, so that the cable from the shifter to the derailleur is too long. That's why the the housing can slide down the cable away from the shifter and you cannot shift to the lowest gears (larger sprockets) on the cassette.

You can fix this yourself by simply re-adjusting the cable and shifting. Park Tool has a great set of easy to follow instructions and videos that you can use.

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