How to Replace Your Shifters and Levers

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How to Replace Your Shifters and Levers

Depending on the design of the bicycle, replacing the gear shifters and brake levers can either be a simple straightforward process, or one that requires a bit more effort and focus. There are a number of factors buyers should consider before beginning to replace the bicycle parts, and these include the type of shifter and levers, their design and the material they are made from.

Buyers also need to be sure that these parts will be compatible with their bicycle, as components are not universal. Considering these factors will make the process much easier, regardless of the bicycle’s design.

All buyers are advised to search for replacement gear shifters and brake levers on eBay, and those who do will find an excellent selection of replacement parts at very reasonable prices. The following guide shall examine replacement shifters and levers, how to find these parts on eBay, and how to attach them to the bicycle.

Types of Shifters and Levers

There are a number of different gear shifters available, and brake levers can be manufactured from a few different materials. Buyers need to buy shifters and levers suitable for their bicycle and style of cycling.

Types of Shifter

The type of bike the buyer owns will decide what shifters can and cannot be used with it. The following are the most commonly used shifters found on mountain and road bikes today.

Twist Shifter

The most common type of shifter used on mountain bikes, these consist of a grip attached to the handlebars that is twisted to achieve a gearshift. An advantage of using this type of shifter is it does not require the cyclist to remove their hand from the handlebars to change the gears.

Trigger Shifter

Similar to the twist shifter, but with the housing unit just below the brakes. Trigger shifters employ a small lever to change gears, and this is positioned beside the brake levers allowing cyclists to keep a finger on each lever. Trigger shifters are more commonly used on mountain bikes.

Down Tube and Stem Shifter

These comprise of two levers that are attached either to the down tube of the bike or the stem. A benefit of using this type of shifter is it allows cyclists to move from low to high gears without having to stop at those in between. However, this style requires the cyclist to remove one hand from the handlebar to operate, and this is obviously a safety risk. Down tube and stem shifters are found on road and racing bicycles.

Bar End Shifters

Used on road and racing bicycles, bar end shifters are attached to the very end of drop handlebars. This can be a problem for some cyclists as it is not possible to change the gears when in a sitting position.

Brake Lever Materials

Brake levers can be made from a number of different materials, or an alloy of more than one.

  • Levers made from carbon fibre are very strong and durable, and are rust resistant.
  • Aluminium is also rust resistant, and is quite light. However this material is not particularly strong.
  • Titanium is very strong, and levers made from this metal will last a long time.

Searching for Replacement Shifters and Levers on eBay

When buyers have an idea of the suitable gear shifter or brake lever they want for their bicycle, then they should head to eBay and take the following actions.

  • On the homepage, scroll down to the Sports & Leisure tab on the left side of the page, and allow the mouse to hover over the title. Doing so will open the tab, and from here buyers should click on the Cycling link which is below the More Categories heading.
  • On the Cycling listings page, buyers should then click on the Bicycle Components & Parts link found near the top of the Categories table.
  • On the next page buyers will see links for both Brake Levers and Shifters, and should click on whatever one is relevant to them.

Brake Levers

The first thing buyers should do is click on the For Brake Type filter and then click on the relevant brake type. This will remove irrelevant listings from the search.

Buyers can then choose a brake lever material. These include Carbon, Titanium, Aluminium and Resin.

Buyers are able to search for new and used brake levers but given the nature of their function, it’s advised that buyers search for new brake levers only.


As with the brake levers, the first thing buyers should do is choose what shifter speeds they want listed. Remember to double check the gear mechanism to see how many speeds the bicycle is capable of.

Buyers are also able to choose from a number of different materials including Carbon and Titanium.

Again buyers are advised to search for new gear shifters only. Some shifters, especially twist, have very intricate designs and purchasing a used model could decrease its lifespan.

If searching for a specific brand or model of shifter, remember to enter this information into the search bar, and also include the name of the type of shifter that is wanted.

How to Replace the Shifters and Levers


Tools Needed – New Brake Levers, Allen Key Set, Crescent Wrench, and Screwdriver.

To change brake levers on a road bicycle take the following steps.

  1. Remove the bar tape or any grip tape that is covering the brake lever.
  2. Next, remove all the grip tape found between the brake lever and the very end of the bar.
  3. Use the crescent wrench to loosen the nut that holds the brake cable in place in the brake assembly on the wheel.
  4. Pull the end of the brake cable until it is completely free of the brake assembly.
  5. Pull down on the brake lever to expose the inside of the brake assembly, and loosen the bolt that attaches the brake lever to the main housing unit. This is done using an Allen key, and the size of the key will be determined by the make of the brakes.
  6. When the bolt is loose enough, the brake lever should simply slide out of the housing unit, which can then be disconnected, from the handlebar.
  7. Slide the new brake lever onto the handlebars and place it in a suitable location that will be within reach when cycling.
  8. Pull down on the brake lever to again expose the inside of the brake assembly, but this time tighten the bolt. Make sure that the bolt is fairly tight to prevent slippage.
  9. Pull the brake lever to expose the brake assembly, and insert the calliper end of the brake cable into the housing unit. Feed the rest of the cable into the unit.
  10. Position the cable into the calliper assembly, and squeeze the cable down while pulling on the cable to ensure there is no slack.
  11. Tighten the bolt that holds the cable, test the brakes and reapply grip tape to the handlebars.

The process for replacing brake levers on mountain bikes is practically identical, but depending on the style of shifter in use buyers may have to remove it first. To do this simply find an appropriately sized screwdriver and unscrew the shifting casing. Remove the casing from the handlebars but do not take it apart. When the cable has been replaced simply reattach the shifters to the handlebars.


To replace a twist gear shifter, take the following steps.

  1. Remove the rubber grip using a blunt knife such as a butter knife. This will prevent the grip from ripping. The easiest way to do this is to gently edge the knife underneath the grip and start to twist and pull the grip once it becomes loose.
  2. Next, locate the bolt keeping the shifter clamp tight around the handlebar, and loosen the bolt until the shifter can easily slide around the handlebar. It is not necessary to completely remove the bolt.
  3. Slide the shifter off the handlebar and remove the cable from the shifting mechanism. Make sure to note exactly where the cable is placed in the shifter so it can easily be replaced.
  4. Next, undo the cable clamp on the derailleur and slide the cable out from it. Again make sure to note exactly how the cable is attached to the derailleur.
  5. Put the cable into the new shifter and attach it to the handlebars in the exact same position as the original.
  6. Reattach the cable end to the derailleur. Tune the derailleur using a small wrench to make sure the cable between shifter and derailleur is tight.


There are a number of factors buyers should consider before trying to replace a gear shifter or brake lever, and the most important one is the size of the replacement part. Buyers need to use parts that have the exact same dimensions as those that were originally on the bicycle. Buyers should also consider the material of the replacement part, as some materials are more suited to particular bikes than others. All buyers are advised to shop for new brake levers and gear shifters only, as using a used model can increase the rate of failure and in turn be a safety risk.

eBay is an excellent place to search for replacement bicycle parts, and this is especially true about gear shifters and brake levers. With a little patience buyers are sure to find the shifter or lever most suitable for them.

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