Robert Dempster


The MTB Derailleur Stick Shift - A handy hint

First posted: 30 May 2017

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The MTB Derailleur Stick Shift

I guess my cycling career has spanned four eras. The first would have been as a primary school pupil when it served as a form of transpot and a major source of fun. During high school and again in the mid-eighties it served as a mode of transport. Finally when I started riding a bicycle again about eight years ago, it was for fun and exercise. During all those eras I have found my bike to be an extremely reliable mode of transport in terms of the risk of unexpected mechanical failure. Punctures were occasionally a problem. These days punctures are a rare occurence thanks to tubes containing slime.

So given that background I was slightly taken aback when I experienced a problem with my front derailleur. It occurred as Edith and I set out for our regular Sunday morning ride along the Karkloof Road. Needless to say the cable snapped with the next gear change and I was left stranded while my wife powered on ahead of me unaware of my predicament. Fortunately MacGyver came to the rescue and inserted a chunk of Pine Tree bark in between the post and the frame of the front derailleur in order to force it into a position that would see it selecting the smallest chainring. With the seven lowest level gear ratios available to me I pursued my wife. Needless to say it did wonders for my cadence, and possibly for my fitness as well.

Once I had caught up with Edith, I needed to find a better solution, i.e. one that would allow me to change gears, even if I had to stop in order to do so. To solve this problem I sought out three gum distinct Gum Tree sticks, each with a diameter such that when they were stuffed between the post and the derailleur, a different chainring was selected. The solution worked like a charm and afforded me my first cycle on a bicycle with a "Stick Shift" (see Wikipedia link).

The Handy Hint

While I am quite sure that I was not the first cyclist to come up with a solution to the broken derailleur problem, I do like to think that I was fairly innovative at the time. However my modesty does not end there. Several years ago I thought that I absolutely needed to share more of my clever ideas in terms of a "Handy Hints" web page. To date the page only contains two handy hints and they were provided my two sons in law, Pierre Delport and Andrew Sheard.

Nowadays the solution to almost any one of the world's many problems is a mere "click" away and so it was Dr Google whom I consulted in order to set up my MTB\'s chainring derailleur once I had replaced the severed cable. Park Tool provided the answer and my Stick Shift has been consigned to my bag of fire (Braai) kindling.

Stick shift     Stick shift

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Last updated : 25 May 2017