Ask a Mechanic | Shifters Full of Mud

Welcome to our Ask a Mechanic column where our expert mechanic Daniel Slusser answers your bike maintenance questions. If you have a question for Daniel, please post it on our Facebook Wall or e-mail Daniel directly at Today’s column offers a tip on cleaning and re-lubing shifters that have been dragged through the mud.

Shimano XTR M980 ShiftersQuestion:
 Hi! I have a Shimano XTR M980 shifter… last week I fell into muddy water during a ride and after that I noticed that its hard to shift from a smaller cog to a bigger one… except in the last 2 to 3 cogs (largest ones). Down shifting is no problem… my right thumb is hurting already and I’m afraid I might break the shifter knob!! Took it to my LBS they lubed the cable, but it didn’t solve the problem… can we open the shifter? 
Please help!!! From: Estee

Answer: You can remove the cover on the bottom of the shifter and that should expose enough of the shifter that you should be able to get in there to clean it well. I would recommend using Finish Line Speed Clean to blow out the dirt and the grease that the dirt is stuck to. Then I would use Boeshield T-9 to re-lube everything. After that I would apply Slick Honey to the large moving parts.

Unfortunately there is a chance your shifter will never shift like new again because it was used while clogged with mud. But, following the steps I have outlined will save the shifter.

Daniel Slusser is a professional bicycle mechanic with over ten years of experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from HSU and a master’s degree in history from Cal Poly. When he is not riding, wrenching, or writing he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.