Cannot get my front derailleur (3-speed) fixed, what is going on?

Recently started doubting my LBS. I am a returning customer for multiple years, they know I train 5 days a week and at least one 100-160km long ride per week.

Front derailleur never worked properly after service (cannot get into small ring).

Started trying myself, looked up multiple videos. I just cannot get this 3-speed to shift properly. Either I cannot get into smallest ring, or not in largest, no matter how I adjust.

But then all of a sudden, my front derailleur cable became loose. Couple mins later, when I demounted my cable in an attempt to re-tighten it (by loosening the bolt, pulling strongly, and retightening the bolt), I noticed that the cable was freyed.

What can be going on? I have Ultegra 3-speed btw. And the cable is 1 year old.

I am quite in distress, as I have planned a 120km ride tomorrow. I have retightned it, and have it stuck in middle ring. That works, I can do the whole ride in 2nd ring. But I am afraid it might snap on the go before I can get to a LBS.

Adjusting a front mech is usual straight forward, they are fairly brutish things to begin with.

I would start by replace the inner and outer cable. Backing all the limit and adjustment off and starting from scratch.

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A 1 year old cable can certainly fray if it’s done a lot of shifting like it sounds yours has, plus if it’s pulled loose then that’s going to fray it.

As to why it wouldn’t shift into the small ring, most common thing I’ve found in that case is the derailleur isn’t springing back the way it should. Either because the spring has worn out, and/or because the derailleur is gummed up and has too much friction for the spring to overcome. If it’s a derailleur issue then the cable would be a bit loose after the failed shift, since effectively the cable has been released by the shifter but the derailleur isn’t taking up the slack the way it should.

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I Have an old triple fitted bike. 22 years old…

I used for to and from work did Paris- Brest- Paris when i first bought the bike.

The front mech does sometimes stops working as it should cable routing generally is the issue. Some rust…I Often… i mean Often hit with a hammer - end of winter…WD40 to loosen off.

I would set the end stops at their widest then start setting the shift…

If that does not work, I would replace the Lot, Cables and outers … If Just serviced… Did you have the Bar tape replaced…?? If So did they change any of the angles?

As Previous statements… the front Mech is Robust… Recently… A tiny kink in the outer cable was stopping the front working… I nearly was buying a new front changer… Just a tiny kink in the outer.


If you have 6703 shifter, with the cables under the tape, this advice might help.

With 6703 shifters the longest you’d want to leave cables in is a year. The 6700/5700 stuff has a reputation for eating cables. I changed out my cables twice a year when my main ride had 6700 as I was paranoid about fraying cables. I’ve not had that problem, but those shifters can be setup to run the shifter cable in front of the bars or behind the bars, and I’ve always run it behind the bars. See the pics in this thread if what I’m saying doesn’t make sense, obviously that’s a right shifter, and you can see the shift cable runs to the inside of the bar. If you run the cable so it comes straight out of the shifter and around the outside of the bar it should have a smoother run.

Also check that the barrel adjuster is all the way in before you attach the cable, I’ve re-done my cables and forgot to close the adjuster and then go to use it only to find I have a turn left before it’s out of room.

I’ve also had to hook up a cable a few times to get the housings to all bed in properly, on my bike the cables are internally routed so it’s not like the older frames where you can just tug on an exposed length of cable to bed the housings in.

Also worth reading is the manual for the fd-6703:

I think in the future you might want to think about upgrading to 4703 tiagra, the shifter design is better for cable routing and the rear shifting is so much nicer since it uses the new pull ratio it requires much less hand pressure to shift.


What make and model (and design number is it)?

The only time I ran a triple was about ten years ago on a Spesh Roubaix (I thought I was getting old and wanted comfort). It was a pretty hellish experience for me (and the LBS) the thing never shifted right and we broke two levers under warranty. The Shimano lever mech for the triple is completely different from the double. It isn’t just another index on the cam (as it appears to be for Campy… I can’t be sure there). In the end I tossed it, traded it in and went back to the double and gave up on the notion of getting old. Although it appears that the notion hasn’t given up on me. I would have a look at the lever if it is shimano

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Thanks for all the replies and helpful input. I believe I have Ultegra SL 6600 (triple!). My bike is from 2008 iirc (bought it new back then; Cube Agree), so I had a hard time figuring out what group set exactly is. Here’s a pic of my triple crankset:

Since my LBS messed it up, I decided I could mess it up myself and learn in the process, since my bike is already so old (saving up for an SL7 or Orca next year). So I replaced the cable myself and indexed it (using parktool and gcn videos). Now, it shifts perfectly.

However, is it normal after 100km of shifting between outer and middle ring the cable comes a bit loser? That you need to retune after the first ride to make it perfect? I know the cable was screwed very hard in, so it’s not slipping out of the front derailleur.

Finally, did not replace the outer cable because only the outer end of the inner cable that attaches to the front mech was frayed. But I DID fell on the shifter last year, so if a slight bend in the outer makes a difference, perhaps I should have replaced it.

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Well done! It’s always worth learning how to do things yourself.

And yes, it’s pretty normal for the cable to need a bit of re-adjustment after a few rides. It used to be called cable ‘stretch’, but it is just the cable adjusting a bit more into all the grooves and corners it has to go through

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It’s a good idea to replace both the inner and outers, the housing isn’t very expensive and on 6603 shifters with external housing it’s pretty easy to use new since you don’t have unwrap the bars. It should still stay adjustment after your first 100k, esp. if you have a barrel adjuster and you’ve taken up a little bit of slack that comes from “cable stretch” or more properly the housing bedding in with the new cable. If you re-do the housing and don’t have any barrel adjusters in the cable run, you can buy an in-line adjuster and it’ll make future setups a bit easier.

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