Newbie question about shifters

Hi all. I’ve always fixed my own stuff and need to replace the old thumb shifters (tension?) on my wife’s 12-speed Takara Outback. It’s a 2 ring front sprocket and a 6 ring rear sprocket. I’ve looked all over and have no idea how to order new shifters. This seems like a dumb question but aren’t I looking for a 2x6 shifter set? I’m planning to go with the common trigger type shifters.


If they’re just friction, you can probably make just about anything work – all you’re doing is moving a cable that moves the derailleur. You’re not necessarily looking for a set. Out of curiousity, why are you replacing them? The design is very simple so they tend to be super reliable.

Having said that, if you’re looking for indexed shifters (i.e. they click between gears), you need to get ones that have the same amount of cable pull or they won’t work because the derailleur won’t move the right amount when you switch gears.

One of the shifters was missing the tiny little piece that holds it in place and I figured they were old technology. But I just scored a new set of tension shifters at my local community shop after learning that 6x index shifters are really hard to come by. Oddly enough these tension shifters still have a “click” quality to them that feels more solid.

Glad you chose a local source. I’ve found great parts bargains (used) at Bike Farm, Community Cycling Center, and Citybikes Coop. Also, you probably know this, but be sure the cable and housing aren’t worn, and are well greased, or replace them for smooth shifting.

Yeah Alan it was CCC up on Alberta. Love them and they’re doing a great job of maintaining a strict Covid regimen. I’ll be sure to check the cables and such. Kinda fun putting some love into an old bike.

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Cables and housings are cheap and should be periodically replaced.

If you do those yourself, don’t use wire cutters, pliers, etc to cut the housing – otherwise you’ll crimp the housing and the cable won’t move as freely as it should. Rather, use housing cutters or a zip tool.

I recommend against greasing cables or lubing the housing as doing so can lead to gunkiness, particularly in cold sloppy weather.

Just saw these recommendations banerjek. Thanks!

What about graphite powder?

Good housings have a teflon sleeve making lubricants unnecessary-- I would worry about getting it evenly spread or getting affected by moisture in the air or from rain. The teflon is great about keeping ice from forming in the cables binding them to the housing.

Certain high humidity freezing conditions can cause cables to perform poorly. When I used to ride more than I do now, I replaced the housings annually which made everything perform flawlessly. I do that less often now, but it seems to work fine.

The teflon will wear out eventually, at which point housings need to be replaced for optimal performance. I would recommend good housings even for people who ride only in dry conditions as humidity/moisture can get into housings and cables even when your bike is sitting in a garage.

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