I have a 2000 Ultegra 9-speed right/rear brifter that does not "release" the cable properly.

My initial search on this problem suggested that this could often be cured by flushing with WD-40. So I've done that, and the problem persists. But after comparing the operation of the right brifter with the left I got more insight on the problem.

It turns out that if I hold the outer lever vertical (i.e don't let it move), then the inner lever clicks and releases properly. But if I don't hold the outer lever, the inner one will eventually start pushing the outer lever around without the inner ever clicking.

So it seems to me that there is an arrangement like this:

Outer lever -> Inner actuator -> Inner lever

And there is supposed to be something between the outer lever and inner actuator that is offering resistance to the movement of the inner actuator so that the inner lever will be able to, umm... actuate the actuator.

So, is there an obvious adjustment or missing part that I should be looking for here. Or just more WD-40? It seems like the problem is not enough resistance, not too much, so it doesn't seem like a lube problem anymore.

  • 2
    Sometimes flushing a component with a light lube helps, but don't use WD-40. It's got some solvent properties and is unfriendly to some plastics and rubbers. I recommend Boeshield's T9. Similar weight, good all around lube, great for flushing out parts, and it won't eat at the bits of your components that are comprised of petrochemicals.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 23:10
  • 1
    Springs! They are small and impossible to find. Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 16:27

4 Answers 4


This link may be useful to you if you really want to dig around inside your shifter; though it looks like it might require a few special Shimano tools. Also note that he only has full strip/rebuild info for Dura-Ace...though I would expect Ultegra to be substantially the same, differing mainly in the use of plastic instead of metal for some parts.

Also consider that it is pretty easy to find Ultegra 9 stuff on eBay and elsewhere, and it may be more time-efficient to just replace rather than repair.

  • Thanks for the link. Stripping these down is definitely not for the faint of heart, for sure. Am hoping there might be some externally accessible fix, but have been looking on eBay just in case. Bidding seems to be fairly brisk on these - perhaps everyone else's failed at the same time :) Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 21:55
  • I came to the same conclusion a while back (though it was 8-speed). I have more money than time and ultimately decided to just replace the shifters. Keep in mind, too, that you don't necessarily need to replace with Ultegra...as long as it's Shimano 9-speed, you could use Tiagra, 105, or Dura-Ace shifters as replacements.
    – djangodude
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 22:23

Tri-flow generally works to free up stuck shifters. I've heard other mechanics suggest Clean Streak or plain diesel fuel. Another technique I've used successfully is a bath in Simple Green in an ultrasonic cleaner.


Lubing really doesn't work, neither does forcing the inner lever. I found too late that this removes all resistance from the outer (downshift) lever.

The only solution I've found so far is to do an odd 'cross your fingers' shift with index finger holding the outer while middle finger makes the shift. Not ideal, but better than spinning like a loon every time you summit and until you luck out on that upshift.


My experience is to use spray teflon. Nothing else works for very long. Most oil based lubes dry out and get gummy. That is what stops it from working. The little parts get gummed up and stick. Use teflon spray and flush it out well. Hold the brake lever open with a rag under the shifter to catch the excess and spray into every opening. Let it sit for a while and then do it again. You should begin to feel it working in a short while. Work it back and forth, holding the opposite lever from moving and jamming it up. This should fix it. REMEMBER, NO OIL!

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