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  1. #1
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    newbie building first bike. Downtube shifters or Bar End?

    Ok guys, i've decided to attempt to build my own bike. I have all parts for my frame with the exception of shifters and derailleurs.

    Here is my question, being a new roadie I have only used "brifters." However on my first build I would like to start from the begining and use either downtube shifters or bar end shifters.

    I'm open to suggestions. I don't have a preference myself, just polling the experienced wrenches.

    thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    I enjoy downtube shifters; I like the simplicity and lack of cable routing. Hard to mess that up and more reliable; no cable housing to get dirty and bind the shift cable.

    That said, I haven't used bar end shifters before, just downtube and campy brifters.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  3. #3
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    Since you have only used "brifters" are you really sure you want to go that route??? Since I have gotten back into biking and discovered them (brifters) I think they are awesome. (My last road bike was abandoned by me in the early 80's - it had down tube shifters).

    I realize the expense maybe the main reason to do this, but if you have to buy both brake levers and shifters you are almost halfway to buying brifters (maybe - I've seen new 9speed ones for as low and $149)....

    Okay, now that I've tried to temp you, if I had to make a selection between down tube and bar end, I'd go with bar end. I never liked downtube shifters much since you had to reach down further (and get kinda close to the front wheel!!)

    just a newbies 2cents..

  4. #4
    A poor cyclist
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    I haven't used bar end shifters either, but I really like D.T. shifters. You just don't see them as much anymore, and they look great. The can't be beat for simplicity. Also, you may find that other riders think you're hardcore. On another note: I dare you to use friction shifters. <smile and wink> I built a bike with friction shifters, and my brother thought I was crazy, but I love the way it makes you more in tune with the bike.
    Call me Joe. That's my name

  5. #5
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    probably going with the Dura Ace DT Shifters. $52.

    I appreciate everyone's input.

  6. #6
    如果你能讀了這個你講中文 genericbikedude's Avatar
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    http://cgi.ebay.com/Suntour-Bar-Con-...QQcmdZViewItem

    best. shifters. ever. indexing was a mistake.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Steev's Avatar
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    Are you using drop bars? I don't like bar-cons on drops, they're just not well placed unless you only ride in the drops. Some people also find they bump them with their knees when standing. I prefer down tube for that role. I've got bar-cons on a bike with moustache bars, and they're very easy to use there.

  8. #8
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    I've pretty much run the entire spectrum of shifters over the years; downtube friction, downtube indexing, indexing barcons and 7, 8, 9 and 10-speed brifters. Given my choice I'd use nothing but brifters but, in their absence, I liked the barcons better than downtube shifters.

    Barcons aren't as convenient as brifters but are better, IMHO, than dt shifters. You really can't get to them while standing but you can't with dt shifters either. I used them on drop bars and never had a problem with hitting them with my knees at any time. One possibility is to trim the ends of the handlebars so the overall length remains the same after the barcons are installed. i didn't do that but others recommend it.

    If he were still in business, I'd recommend getting a set of Kelly Take-Offs. They are brackets that clamp under regular dropbar brake levers and mount downtube shifters right next to your hands. I have them on my rain bike and am very happy using them. They aren't the equal of brifters but as close as you can get without the expense.

  9. #9
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    There is an option in between... Use your down tube shifters with a set of these:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/KELLY-TAKE-OFF-s...QQcmdZViewItem



    Search the forums, there are pictures with them installed. If you can't find one, let me know and I will take a picture of mine.
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  10. #10
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    I wonder if they are still available now that Kelly has folded. Too bad, that was another one of his good ideas.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  11. #11
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    If you want to try out Bar-con shifting without spending a fortune trying them out you can pick up a cheap set of thumb shifters and install them on your bars to decide if you really want that type of setup while spending little or no money. Simply clamp them to the very end of the bar with the levers vertical. You can use some cheap tape to hold the cables to the bars while you try out this setup. I prefer using thumb shifters to Bar-con shifters! Here is a photo of a thumb turned redneck Bar-con shifter. Don't knock it till you've tried it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cynikal
    I wonder if they are still available now that Kelly has folded. Too bad, that was another one of his good ideas.
    The auction I linked to is items sold by Chris Kelly... He is selling any remaining stock via eBay auction.

    Someone elsewhere (maybe Classic & Vintage) reported that Chris has sold the rights to Take Offs, so someone else may be releasing their version in the future.

    I did buy a second set for myself, just in case...
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  13. #13
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by timhines
    Ok guys, i've decided to attempt to build my own bike. I have all parts for my frame with the exception of shifters and derailleurs.

    Here is my question, being a new roadie I have only used "brifters." However on my first build I would like to start from the begining and use either downtube shifters or bar end shifters.

    I'm open to suggestions. I don't have a preference myself, just polling the experienced wrenches.

    thanks in advance for any advice.
    I've used them all. Down tube are very traditional and look cool on a vintage ride. My last bike had Suntour indexed 7 speed barcons. A very nice bike and the shifters were very easy to operate. Now I am using Campy 9 speed barcons on one bike and 10 speed Ergo on the other.

    I am a dinosaur and really love old school bikes. With that said, nothing beats Ergo/STI for ease of shifting. My Daytona 10 speeds are super smooth. Problem is they look terrible on moustache bars with shellaced cotton tape. LOL

    Good luck with the project.

    Tim
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  14. #14
    cab horn
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    Come on guys, campy xenon brifters are $65 Cad shipped, mirages are $99 Cad shipped. If you want to try brifters, now is the time to do it - assuming if you have a compatible drivetrain. If not i'd go for barcons.

    This goes double if you plan on putting aerobars on your bike, however. The one downside is the cable routing and slightly annoying position of barcons at the end of drop bars. With the prices of brifters, there isn't really an economical factor to this (new dt/barcons probably more expensive unless you can get them cheaply from your lbs).

    Again this really depends on your drivetrain - which you havne't mentioned.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  15. #15
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    DT will be easy for a noob building their first bike. I really like barcons, and run them on three of the bikes in the fleet. The fourth has Kelly Take-offs, though, and I REALLY like them. Only downside is that the Take-Offs crowd the intrupter levers.
    Given your two stated choices, I'd go with barcons.
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  16. #16
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    I love the simplicity of down-tube shifters, but they work less well for tall riders. Why? Because the taller you are, the more of a reach it is for you to get to the down-tube of your bike (which is at about the same spot from the ground no matter how large or small the bike). I've got barends on my current good bike, and kinda wish I'd gone for brifters. Then again, I like the simplicity of bar-end shifters compared to brifters; the bar-end shifters, and especially down-tube shifters, will never fail on you.

  17. #17
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    I use barcons on inverted Raleigh 'Roadster' type of bars and love them!

  18. #18
    Semper Fidelis
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    if you going to stay with a retro type look and truly want simplicity then i would use down-tube shifting.
    on the flip side of the coin using sti shifting rather campy or shimano does make it faster and easier and more precise.
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  19. #19
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    Summary:

    If being authentically retro is important, go with downtube shifters

    If a bit more convenience is desired and keeping a bit of a retro look along with cost is important, use barcons.

    If you really want the best in convenience and looks are a less-important issue, go with STI/Ergos.
    Last edited by HillRider; 07-15-06 at 08:29 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    How tall are you? If you're average or shorter, you can use whichever you like. Functionally they work about the same. If you're unusually tall, then your bike probably has a tall head tube. The net result is that it can be a loooong reach for downtube levers.

    Some guys complain of bumping bar end shifters with their knee when they stand up on the pedals.

    One nice thing about down tube shifters is that you can operate either shifter with the same hand.

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