HEY UNC: I have 1998 Shimano Ultegra STI brake/shift levers. They work fine, but the incessant rattling of the plastic caps drives me crazy. Is there anything I can do to end this madness? — Carl J.
UNCLE AL FIRES BACK: Annoying, isn’t it? First, you need to be sure you haven’t lost the tiny screws that go in the backside of the small secondary levers. If you’re not certain, go to your local shop. They know which ones I’m talking about. If the screws are missing, Shimano can supply replacements.
If the screws aren’t missing, you have two choices: Replace the levers with new ones, which have glorified rubber bands to stop the rattling. That’s a pricey remedy, or course. Or, you can do as I do and gently rest your fingers on the small secondary levers, which rattle against the primary levers. That’s the source of the noise.
Any of you Nieces or Nephews got another remedy?
TIP FROM ERIK N.: The new generation of Ultegra solves the rattling lever by adding a glorified rubber band-like cushion on the small inner lever. So I imitated that cushion on my ’98 levers by wrapping a thin layer of foamy double-sided poster tape around the small lever at precisely the point where the two blades touch. I then covered the sticky bumper with a piece of black plastic electrician’s tape. This mutes the rattling but doesn’t interfere with the function of the lever. This makeshift bumper actually looks the same as Shimano’s.
TIP FROM MICHAEL M.: Before my ’99 Ultegra levers quit working altogether, I muted the rattling with a rubber band made from a strip of old inner tube. I wrapped it a couple of times around the small lever, then slid it up to where it would cushion the vibration against the large lever. It wasn’t perfect but it helped a lot.
TIP FROM DEVON S.: Go to the plumbing section of a hardware store and get O rings that will stretch over the end of the small lever. Adjust it along the lever until the rattling stops. If necessary, use two.
TIP FROM JIM R.: I put my daughter’s orthodontic bands around the two levers to reduce the rattling of the small one.
TIP FROM DOUG H.: Sometime it’s the two levers vibrating against each other, but often the rattling comes from the plastic caps. An easy solution is to pop them off and go commando! They have no function anyway, except to serve as miniature billboards for Shimano — and to drive you crazy with the rattling.
TIP FROM CHRIS L.: Those caps are snapped on at the factory and apparently can’t be removed without breaking. After listening to their noise, I didn’t care. I pried them off, which broke a little piece, then glued them back in place with epoxy. No rattling ever since.
TIP FROM THOMAS G.: I put a drop or two of Shoe Goo under the caps while they were still on the levers. The Goo dries to a durable state that’s not quite permanent, so you could still get the caps off if you need to. No rattles for several months of heavy use!
TIP FROM BILL R.: My solution was replacement caps from Shimano that snapped into place after popping off the old ones. These stopped the rattling for a couple of years but now it’s returned. I just ride with my palms over the hoods to preserve my sanity.