I have SRAM shifters on my Specialized Hardrock, and I hate them. I am so used to Shimano style shifters. What all is involved in swapping/changing these out? I am a no0b when it comes to working on my bike, but I really want to change that.
Any advice, walkthroughs, links, etc. would be much appreciated.
upgrading itself is pretty easy, although you will have to buy a new rear derailleur. Shimano shifters don’t work with SRAM rear derailleurs and vice-versa (although they should work just fine with your front derailleur regardless of the brand.)
if you’re going to keep the same gearing (7 in the back, 3 rings up front on your Hardrock), you’ll need to get a mid-cage rear derailleur and a front shifter for 7 speeds. keep in mind that 7 speed shifters are generally used by bike manufacturers more than people upgrading, so you might have a harder time finding them than, say, an 8 or 9-speed shifter. however, they are out there and it’s easier to find them online (JensonUSA often has them in stock.) if you want to upgrade to 8 or 9 speeds in the rear, you’re also going to need a new cassette (rear cogs) and the special tools to install it, along with a new chain. even if you don’t get the most expensive parts, that’s going to be at least an extra $75 on top of the new shifters and derailleur.
as far as installation, you’ll basically release the cable from the derailleurs and remove the shifters from the handlebar, pulling the inner cable out of the housing along with them. then bolt on the new rear derailleur and shifters, run the (preferrably new) cables through the housing to their respective derailleurs and reattach the cables to the derailleurs. you’ll have to adjust the limit screws on the rear derailleur (and front if you have issues with the chain falling off the rings.) i’m over-simplifying a bit, but that’s basically it. the whole operation will probably take about half an hour to an hour. it’s not difficult, but you’ll want to take time to get the rear derailleur adjusted properly so your chain doesn’t fall into the spokes or onto the chainstay.
i would HIGHLY recommend getting a repair manual though, especially since you haven’t worked much on a bike before. i’d recommend "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" and/or the Park Tool "Big Blue Book of Bike Repair". at the very least, there are some awesome how-to videos on BicycleTutor.com. shifter and derailleur installation and adjustment are both covered and watching a video of someone do it makes it really easy to understand (they also type out the instructions along with the videos, too.) unless you’re going to replace the rear cassette and chain, the only tools you should need are a 5mm hex (allen) wrench, a screwdriver (most likely phillips) and a pair of really sharp, tough wire cutters (i actually use a small bolt cutter to trim bike cable, as it’s surprisingly hard to cut through.) if you’re going to replace the rear cogs (cassette) and chain, you’ll also need to buy a cassette lockring tool, a chain whip and a chain tool.
hope this helps a little. if you have any more questions, feel free to ask and i’ll answer as best i can.
Thanks for the detailed reply. Might be a little over my head. I will probably end up taking it into the local shop where I purchased it and having them do it. I wish that I was a little more daring when it came to doing stuff on the bike. I can make adjustments, but replacing parts like the derailleur might be more than I am willing to tackle right now.
Some models of SRAM rear derailleurs have a different leverage ratio than Shimano. Some use a 1:1 ratio while Shimano is 2:1. If you have this style derailleur you need to use an SRAM shifter for it or you will have to replace it with a derailleur that works on a 2:1 ratio. You can just replace your front shifter with a Shimano of your choice as SRAM front derailleurs don’t have this issue. You can look up your make and model of rear derailleur on SRAMs website to see which ratio it uses.