Cable maintenance in the Shimano ST-2303

Sometimes, you have to break things to see how they work. I’m not recommending this practice, but it does sometimes make things clearer.

So I’ve always wondered how to get in at the cables within the ST-2303 shifters. For those who, like me about 2 hours ago, have no clue what that is, it’s the “dual action control level” on a bike with a Shimano Claris groupset. Indeed, I didn’t even know the name Claris until 30 seconds ago, when I discovered it on Wikipedia, but I’m also not convinced that this name has existed for very long because I’ve found a couple of Shimano specifications, one for Tiagra which says Tiagra and another for the 2300 series which says bugger all about Claris. Odd. (Note I later discovered it’s not Claris after all; see next post) Either way, the 2300 groupset is basically the bottom of the range groupset, which is fine considering the bike I have with that on it was a low-spec Specialized roadie. I bought it in 2010 as my first road bike in many years, and didn’t want to break the bank, and it’s fine, tbh.

Anyway, on with the story.

The shifters on this bike are ST-2303, because it’s a triple chainring bike (ST-2300 being on the double chainring version). I’ve never figured out how to get the cables changed, not that I’ve tried, but I’ve mainly not tried because it’s not been possible to see how to get at the bastards, and therefore how to get the cable out.

photoAfter a particularly shit day at work (that’s another story), I got home having set a new PB on a Strava segment and decided to unscrew a screw within the shifter. This, it turns out, was not a good idea, but at the time I couldn’t see how else you could possibly change the cable. Indeed, it’s possible that this wasn’t a bad idea, but at the time, when I couldn’t get it back together again, it certainly seemed like the worst idea possible.

You will note from the picture above that there is indeed a screw evident when I pull on the brake (I’m pulling on the brake to take the picture). This was the fateful screw I removed. The casing then twisted slightly and I could not, for the life of me, get it back in again. No matter what I did, it just wouldn’t move back into position. It stayed slightly twisted out of alignment.

The answer was really quite simple. All I needed to do was to put the bike in the lowest gear (smallest chainring, those are the ones next to your cranks), and low and behold, I could put the casing back in place again with little problem.

So what I learned from this experience was a few things:

  1. Don’t remove that screw, unless you have to
  2. You don’t need to remove the screw to change your inner gear cable
  3. If you do remove that screw, make sure your gear is in the lowest one, and you should be able to get the casing back in place relatively easily. If you are not in that gear, you have no chance

Next up, I’m going to see how to replace the brake cable. To do that, I need to be ready to put new handlebar tape on. This is something I’ve not done before, but I watched this video and it looks pretty easy:

Not only that, but it looks very similar to wrapping a badminton racquet with new grip, which I’ve done hundreds, or possibly thousands, of times, so I reckon I should be ok.

Oh, and incidentally, if you want to get the instructions for a Shimano 2300 / Claris shifter, you just need to Google for “Shimano ST-2300“, and you should get a link to a PDF pretty high up in your search results. That PDF probably came with your bike and ended up in the bin / filed so well you can’t find it. That PDF is also pretty handy as it tells you the part names of other bits of your groupset, such as the rear mech, which is cunningly named RD-2300 (RD being for Rear Derailleur, the proper name for a rear mech).


5 thoughts on “Cable maintenance in the Shimano ST-2303

  1. hey, I kinda got myself into the same mess (with the screw), but I went one step further and lost it :/ do you have an idea what kind of screw it is or where I can find one?

  2. Not at the moment, but I will be in the vicinity of the STIs in around a week and will be able to take a look then. Your other option is (gulp) to take the same screw out of your other STI to get a quicker answer… Let me know which option you want to go for ;)

  3. Hey Ben, did you ever get around to finding a new screw? Or by chance has anybody found a way to replace thus infamous screw?

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