Remove Gear Window on MTB Shifters

Getting your cockpit set up correctly on your mountain bike can make a huge difference in the quality of your rides. Of course there are tons of things that you need to do to get dialed in, having your brake levers and shifters in the right spot is one of the most important things you can do. It can help eliminate hand fatigue and give you more control over your bike.

I had been having a little hand fatigue after some my rides when I began mountain biking. Part of it was from not riding in so long, but alot from not being set up right. I have Shimano Alivio shifters that have a gear indicator window on my Specialized Camber, so I was limited on positioning my brakes and shifters for optimal comfort and control. For index finger braking, I needed to move my brakes inside of the shifters but the shifter window kept the triggers to far into the grips and just would not work. In order to get things in the right place, the window needed to go. Rather than waste cash on new shifters, I used a dremel, small torch, and soldering iron to remove and modify the cover so I could get proper placement of my brakes and shifters.

Here is how I modified the shifter. My craft was honed many years ago as a boy melting GI Joes and other plastic things. Make sure to test fit all the way through the process so you don’t over cut or bend. Its easy to cut more, hard to put it back.

Click any picture to enlarge

First, I removed the shifter plate.

Now cut the plate with your dremel or hacksaw, but leave excess material to heat and bend to the shape you want. Make sure to cut were creases would be so that you don’t get actual creases or folds in the plastic. The piece laying down behind the plate was spot welded in with the soldering iron by holding it in place and dobbing straight in where they touched each other.

Next, heat the portion you want to bend with the torch. Like painting, slower and further away is better, you don’t want to start a fire. Fire makes plastic into charcoal, which bends quite poorly.

Use a soldering iron to melt the tabs together. Do this by dragging the iron where the plastic joins and make a valley between the parts. Then fold the outsides of the valley back over each other. It will make it like it grew that way. If you melt through the piece or the part is thin, just take a chunk of the excess you cut and melt it in. Some plastics don’t melt good but they are usually the plastic to the extremes of brittle or soft. This plastic was just about perfect and very malleable.

Grind away and sand. Then sand some more. After you get it pretty smooth, clean the pieces with alcohol, and then put some Maguire’s interior shine on it. It will bring the black back and you are good to go.

Install the plate back – These pictures show about where the placement was with window still on it and the finished placement. I was able to slide the shifter more than an inch in to get things just right. Now I can use one finger for the brakes, and have a full grip on the bars

I definitely recommend getting set up proper. Lots more control now and less fatigue. I did have to look down at my chainrings a couple times, but you instantly start “feeling” the gears instead of looking at the windows. It will make you a better rider.

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