Retro Rescue: Deore DX shifter

For some reason I keep coming across tossed bike bits recently, most are in decent condition or need a bit of TLC. All of would be considered in need of an upgrade, or are “vintage”, depending on your point of view!

One of these finds is a set of Deore DX shifters attached to a rather horrific early 90s mountain bike.

The left (front) shifter was in need of servicing, as it would not index on the upshift and would return to the smallest chainring.

According to Velobase, the Deore DX range was introduced in 1990 and was positioned under Deore XT in terms of spec.

Incidentally the bike my shifters are attached to is considerably more ugly than the one shown in the Velobase photo.

The shifters themselves are pretty similar to modern ones, if a little chunkier, giving a “heavier” feel. Both up and down shifting is performed with the thumb, whereas I find an index-finger downshifter more comfortable.


Unless Shimano index shifters have been opened, the various bits inside exploded and were incorrectly reassembled, in my experience all that is needed to restore 100% functionality is a little WD-40.

Nonetheless (and I should really know better), I made the cavalier error to open the shifter body to get a better look at the insides, and clearer access for lubing.

As I was unscrewing the cover I could feel there was tension in the unit, indicating a high likelihood that various springs would come flying out and be nigh-on impossible to reassemble. Nonetheless, logical reasoning clouded by a head-cold and misguided enthusiasm, I continued without hesitation. Until the obvious happened.

The springs all pinged out of place, and I was left with a nice jigsaw puzzle to reassemble!

Catastrophe? Not at all! Thanks to the internet, or the kind souls that feed it with obscure guides on repairing things most normal people don’t want to fix, within 5 minutes I had found an excellent photographic guide on a complete shifter reassembly.

Reattaching the upshift lever along with the return spring proved extremely challenging, though Ian Graeme’s suggestion on removing the upshift trigger’s plastic cover was the way to go.

Within an hour, and some cursing, the shifter was reassembled and now shifts correctly!

And no little pieces got lost in the process either…

Thanks again to Geoff Kuenning, for the super helpful guide!


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