How to: STI shift lever swap

The front Shimano 600 STI shifter on my circa-95 or so Raleigh road bike aka indoor trainer bike finally gave up the big one last summer. However, as this bike never gets ridden (I mean c’mon, who rides an indoor trainer? BOOORRRRRRIIINNNGGGGG), the brakes still worked and as I’ve got chicken legs to the big ring goes unused I’d ignored it up until recently when a friend (Dave at fatskideals.com) sent me an old 105 front shifter he had that still worked. #winning. So, I set out to swap it out knowing only that 1) the exploded views of these things make ’em look ridiculously complex and 2) the internet would guide me like the North Star.

So, a couple quick pics and words of encouragement for any other STI swapping neophytes like myself.

Step 1: Remove old bar wrap. If yours is 15+ years old be prepared for the smell of stank sweat from a thousand former workouts. I didn’t take a picture of this step as I figured you’d figure it out. In prep for rewrapping the bar rub down the bars with rubbing alcohol to remove any old residue and give the best surface possible for the new adhesive to stick to.

Step 2: Peel back the rubber boot to get access to the lone 5mm allen bolt that holds the levers to the bar. It’s kind of an awkward angle, but with a little intestinal fortitude you’ll get ‘er.

Note that while the focus square was on the allen bolt when I took the photo it's not in focus. Suck it Steve Jobs.

Step 3: Remove the shift cable. Start off by loosening the cable at the derailleur (duh). To remove the cable from the lever you simply shift the lever all the way in and hold while pushing the cable out thru the side (see photo to get an idea of cable exit point). Note that if you just need to replace the shift cable as opposed to a full lever swap you don’t have to remove the lever. If you’re swapping brake cables you’ll have to remove the lever though due to how far back you have to pull the lever to get the cable in/out.

Step 4: Remove the brake cable. Start by loosening the cable at the brake to give yourself some room to work. Next, pull the brake lever in as far as you can (think: a level that would make you shit your pants if you were on a downhill) and push on the now loose cable to get the ball end of it to slide out of it’s socket. This reads funny, I know, just read these sentences while looking at the lever and it’ll all become clear.

Steps 5-7: Basically work backwards now. Insert brake and shift cables into your new lever. Soft mount lever onto the bar (don’t fully tighten quite yet), then pull bike off repair stand to verify the lever is in the right place for you, then tighten down . Insert cables back into brakes/derailleur and trim/adjust as needed. Rewrap bars (note: don’t trim wrap before you’re satisfied with wrap job…doh) and ride!

Complete and looking like a new beast with that fresh wrap job