Removing a broken off cable head from inside a Shimano gear shifter

Tool for removing a broken off cable head from inside a Shimano gear shifter

The rear gear cable on my bike snapped while I was biking on it today. Luckily I had a replacement cable with me, so I thought I could replace it right away. But it turned out that the cable head inside the gear shifter was jammed, and impossible to get access to and remove.

So I brought my bike home and searched for solutions on the internet. It turns out that this is a common problem with Shimano gear shifters, see for example this thread: Drilling extraction hole in shifter to remove broken cable head stuck inside

I tried some of the suggestions, though I didn't drill any holes, but I couldn't get it out. I could sort of reach the wire with a screw driver, and press the ends a little bit, so that the cable head moved 4-5 millimetres in the right direction, but that was all. I thought about it for a while and realised that I might be able to hook the cable head with a wire made of thin and hard metal. I found some sturdy wire, bend the tip of it about 2 millimetres, so that it could get behind the cable head and hook it, and it actually worked on my third attempt :-) I also inserted the end of a thin Allen wrench to fix the shifter inside, so it didn't rotate.

Cable head has been hooked and pulled out

I removed the button and top cover to see what was going on inside the shifter, loosened it and turned it for easy access.

Cable head removal tool

The cable head removal tool

It doesn't look like much, but it got the job done.

Cable head removal tool, close-up


I found myself in a similar situation and didn't know what to do. I rigged up a tool like this using a broken spring that I had and it worked great. Thank you very much, this was incredibly helpful.