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Old 07-13-09, 12:51 PM   #1
DanBraden
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Saying "goodbye" to index shifting

Hey there grease monkeys,

Recently I upgraded my bike with the addition of a huge crank (by comparison). Basically I went from a mountain bike crank to a 52t, 42t and 30t road crank. All went smoothly until I started tuning the FD. I have rapid fire trigger shifters and they've been an improvement over the weak grip shifters the bike came with. Alas, being rapid fire, their ability to trim is nearly nil, but there was a solution. So now the FD is controlled through a friction shifter, and I am super pleased with the ability to infinitely trim the FD to whatever I need. Even shifting while under heavy pedaling is buttery smooth. I marvel that anyone would use indexed shifters on their FD and go through all that expense (money AND time) when it turns out to be such a simple and in-expensive operation to use friction shifters. So my question, will these results be repeated with RD shifting, or should I stick with indexed in the rear and friction in the front?

Thanks for the help
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Old 07-13-09, 01:06 PM   #2
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Index shifting the rear is an advantage, IMHO.
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Old 07-13-09, 01:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, I just hate all the hassle involved with tuning the RD. I was thinking that if I switched to friction shifting I'd only have to adjust the derailleur itself so that the chain wouldn't fall off completely and do the rest on the fly as needed, are there hidden complications?
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Old 07-13-09, 01:23 PM   #4
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Hey there grease monkeys,

Recently I upgraded my bike with the addition of a huge crank (by comparison). Basically I went from a mountain bike crank to a 52t, 42t and 30t road crank. All went smoothly until I started tuning the FD. I have rapid fire trigger shifters and they've been an improvement over the weak grip shifters the bike came with. Alas, being rapid fire, their ability to trim is nearly nil, but there was a solution. So now the FD is controlled through a friction shifter, and I am super pleased with the ability to infinitely trim the FD to whatever I need. Even shifting while under heavy pedaling is buttery smooth. I marvel that anyone would use indexed shifters on their FD and go through all that expense (money AND time) when it turns out to be such a simple and in-expensive operation to use friction shifters. So my question, will these results be repeated with RD shifting, or should I stick with indexed in the rear and friction in the front?

Thanks for the help
Do it!

I abandoned indexed shifting for friction bar-end shifters about 4 years ago, and have never looked back. It's awesome. I also have a 30/42/52 crank, and a cheapo Nashbar 8-speed cassette, and older Deore LX derailers, on my steel touring/commuter bike.

With modern ramped cassette cogs, friction shifting is rather effortless. Not as fast as indexed with STI, but really, really easy. I am totally happy with my setup, and have not adjusted the derailers or shifters, or replaced the cables in 4 years. During which time I rebuilt the rear wheel once, replaced the cassette twice, replaced the handlebar tape several times, and... you get the idea
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Old 07-13-09, 01:26 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply, I just hate all the hassle involved with tuning the RD. I was thinking that if I switched to friction shifting I'd only have to adjust the derailleur itself so that the chain wouldn't fall off completely and do the rest on the fly as needed, are there hidden complications?
Nope, not really! As you mention, you'll want to adjust the limit screws to keep the chain from falling off, and that's about it. It may be nice to have a barrel adjuster on the derailer/cable-stop to take up the tension as the cable loosens, but no biggie.

By the way, what kind of shifters are you using? I have some old ratcheting Suntour Bar-end shifters which I love to death and got at a yard sale. They seem to go for about $30 on eBay, and are well worth it in my opinion: http://shop.ebay.com/items/?_nkw=sun...rcon&_osacat=0
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Old 07-13-09, 01:31 PM   #6
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danbraden which front derailleur are you using road or mountain and what kind on friction shifter.

i recently switched from road to mountain drivetrain on my tourer and i've just posted about some issues im having with shifting.
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Old 07-13-09, 01:35 PM   #7
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That does sound pretty sweet. I found some friction shifters online for $.99, wondering if this is a mistake, you know one of those "the cheap comes out expensive in the end" sort of situations. I've gotten to where I use only a couple of chainrings in my cassette, so maybe the travel on the levers won't be too onerous. Btw, I'm using flat bar handle bar so I have no use for bottom tube mounted shifters. Any suggestions on a shifter to purchase that won't break the bank? Might go to a LBS and find out if they have some laying around, I will of course, be wearing a necklace of garlic and carrying a crucifix.
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Old 07-13-09, 01:41 PM   #8
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danbraden which front derailleur are you using road or mountain and what kind on friction shifter.

i recently switched from road to mountain drivetrain on my tourer and i've just posted about some issues im having with shifting.
The FD is original, and a no name generic FD at that! That's why I started to get excited about friction shifters because all the *ahem* "hybridization" I've been getting into, having something that crisscrosses is really appealing. Seems like the FD set up can be pretty forgiving, but I didn't know if this would be the case in the rear as well.
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Old 07-13-09, 01:46 PM   #9
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By the way, what kind of shifters are you using? I have some old ratcheting Suntour Bar-end shifters which I love to death and got at a yard sale. They seem to go for about $30 on eBay, and are well worth it in my opinion
It's some sort of shimano deore that I found in a box of bike stuff. It looked bad but turns out to work really well after I cleaned it up. Now I just wish I had looked for it's mate, I always get singularly focused and it always bites me in the rear.
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Old 07-13-09, 02:11 PM   #10
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Hey there grease monkeys,

Recently I upgraded my bike with the addition of a huge crank (by comparison). Basically I went from a mountain bike crank to a 52t, 42t and 30t road crank. All went smoothly until I started tuning the FD. I have rapid fire trigger shifters and they've been an improvement over the weak grip shifters the bike came with. Alas, being rapid fire, their ability to trim is nearly nil, but there was a solution. So now the FD is controlled through a friction shifter, and I am super pleased with the ability to infinitely trim the FD to whatever I need. Even shifting while under heavy pedaling is buttery smooth. I marvel that anyone would use indexed shifters on their FD and go through all that expense (money AND time) when it turns out to be such a simple and in-expensive operation to use friction shifters. So my question, will these results be repeated with RD shifting, or should I stick with indexed in the rear and friction in the front?

Thanks for the help
Hey Dan,

I just got rid of the indexed shifters and installed some cheap simple old fashioned Shimano friction downtube shifters on my old 21 speed Fisher... and love them!





The only question was:

WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS YEARS AGO?

Shimano Hyperglide rear cassette and SRAM chain practically render indexing meaningless. And the friction lever has lots of mechanical advantage over the rear derailleur for featherlight shifting without that rubbery knotchy feeling.

Front derailleur shifting on the triple is crisp and precise... especially with the very short cable length.

All in all, I've been totally pleased with retro downtube friction shifting.


Greg
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Old 07-13-09, 02:18 PM   #11
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That does sound pretty sweet. I found some friction shifters online for $.99, wondering if this is a mistake, you know one of those "the cheap comes out expensive in the end" sort of situations. I've gotten to where I use only a couple of chainrings in my cassette, so maybe the travel on the levers won't be too onerous. Btw, I'm using flat bar handle bar so I have no use for bottom tube mounted shifters. Any suggestions on a shifter to purchase that won't break the bank? Might go to a LBS and find out if they have some laying around, I will of course, be wearing a necklace of garlic and carrying a crucifix.
Hey, old-school thumb shifters are pretty much the only way to go for friction shifting with flat bars, as far as I know.

Search for "shimano thumb shifter" on eBay to come up with some options.

Your LBS may have some old ones for cheap too! Definitely ask.
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Old 07-13-09, 02:21 PM   #12
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Hey Dan,

I just got rid of the indexed shifters and installed some cheap simple old fashioned Shimano friction downtube shifters on my old 21 speed Fisher... and love them!

The only question was:

WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS YEARS AGO?

Shimano Hyperglide rear cassette and SRAM chain practically render indexing meaningless. And the friction lever has lots of mechanical advantage over the rear derailleur for featherlight shifting without that rubbery knotchy feeling.
+1

I agree. Modern chains and cassette cogs keeping the chain on the cog very well, and yet allow smooth fast shifts. They do all the hard work, and indexed shifting really is not necessary except for racing bikes where every fraction of a second with your hands distracted can slow you down or be dangerous.

Quote:
All in all, I've been totally pleased with retro downtube friction shifting.

Greg
Downtube shifters wouldn't be my choice for a road bike, since I greatly prefer the positioning of bar-end shifters. But if you like 'em, more power to you!
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Old 07-13-09, 02:25 PM   #13
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I switched to friction shifting bar ends after breaking one of my Tiagra STI levers and discovering how much it costs to replace. That was more than 3000 miles ago and I haven't had to adjust anything.

I have a 9 speed drive train and friction shifting the rear is a little touchy, especially in the middle gears. After some practice, it isn't a big deal finding the right gear, though.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:46 PM   #14
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I switched to friction shifting bar ends after breaking one of my Tiagra STI levers and discovering how much it costs to replace. That was more than 3000 miles ago and I haven't had to adjust anything.

I have a 9 speed drive train and friction shifting the rear is a little touchy, especially in the middle gears. After some practice, it isn't a big deal finding the right gear, though.
You might try an SRAM rear derailleur to decrease thew shifting sensitivity. The current ones have a different ratio than Shimano derailleurs, requiring more cable be pulled for each shift. Just make sure that your rear derailleur friction shifter can pull enough cable.

Even on an indexed setup I would expect the SRAM derailleur and shifter to hold adjustment better due to the different ratio making it less affected by cable stretch or casing compression.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:58 PM   #15
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So, with friction shifting, how do you have more than a vague idea of what cog the chain is on, if you are riding a tandem or a recumbent where you have no way to ever eyeball the cassette?

I have fond memories of SunTour downtube Power Shifters but, overall, my recollection of friction shifting is that you move the lever and hope the chain ends up close to where you intended.
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Old 07-13-09, 05:41 PM   #16
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So, with friction shifting, how do you have more than a vague idea of what cog the chain is on, if you are riding a tandem or a recumbent where you have no way to ever eyeball the cassette?
I like indexed shifting (at the rear, totally agree with the OP for the front) but this is a criticism I've never understood. Why do you ever need to "know" what cog the chain is on? It's either the right gear by feel, or its not and you shift. Explain to me.
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Old 07-13-09, 05:49 PM   #17
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I like indexed shifting (at the rear, totally agree with the OP for the front) but this is a criticism I've never understood. Why do you ever need to "know" what cog the chain is on? It's either the right gear by feel, or its not and you shift. Explain to me.
I agree. You just shift until the resistance feels right.
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Old 07-13-09, 06:08 PM   #18
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+1

I agree. Modern chains and cassette cogs keeping the chain on the cog very well, and yet allow smooth fast shifts. They do all the hard work, and indexed shifting really is not necessary except for racing bikes where every fraction of a second with your hands distracted can slow you down or be dangerous.

Downtube shifters wouldn't be my choice for a road bike, since I greatly prefer the positioning of bar-end shifters. But if you like 'em, more power to you!
Hi Mox,

Ah... there's a reason. These are my bars...



I really enjoyed getting rid of all that heavy shift lever clutter and extra cables hanging onto the bars. It leaves the control area looking nice and clean and simple. It's no bother taking a little time to reach down to shift because I just use my bike as a transportation vehicle.


Greg
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Old 07-13-09, 08:16 PM   #19
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Hi Mox,



Greg
Wow, that IS minimalist. So would it completely defeat your purpose to move the shifters to the stem? With cable housing, zip ties, and what not, I guess the only concern would be lever clearance? Your pics certainly gives me some ideas for a future build.
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Old 07-13-09, 08:19 PM   #20
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FACEPALM: waitaminut... you need studs to mount DT's, right? so I guess it's not so easy after all...
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Old 07-13-09, 08:23 PM   #21
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I like indexed shifting (at the rear, totally agree with the OP for the front) but this is a criticism I've never understood. Why do you ever need to "know" what cog the chain is on? It's either the right gear by feel, or its not and you shift. Explain to me.
It's OK to engage your mind to think about gearing as you ride. Gear inches. Specific gear combinations. Previous experiences. Sometimes, it's nice to know exactly how many more cogs you have until you're on the highest or lowest gear. The gear indicators on my triggers are sometimes quite helpful. So are burning quads.

Thinking and feeling are a good combination.
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Old 07-13-09, 08:27 PM   #22
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It's OK to engage your mind to think about gearing as you ride. Gear inches. Specific gear combinations. Previous experiences. Sometimes, it's nice to know exactly how many more cogs you have until you're on the highest or lowest gear. The gear indicators on my triggers are sometimes quite helpful. So are burning quads.

Thinking and feeling are a good combination.
I stopped being able to see my gear indicators when I added the aero bars. Now my fall back is to glance at the rear cassette every now and again, lest I forget what feels good
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Old 07-13-09, 11:45 PM   #23
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Wow, that IS minimalist. So would it completely defeat your purpose to move the shifters to the stem? With cable housing, zip ties, and what not, I guess the only concern would be lever clearance? Your pics certainly gives me some ideas for a future build.
I use my bike for daily transportation, and good part of my enjoyment is riding a simple uncluttered minimalist machine... so for my taste, stem shifters would just junk it up. Those old fashioned Shimano 333downtube shifters have a tremendous mechanical advantage over the derailleurs, and allow for using extremely short cables with only one short piece of SS housing for the rear derailleur...



This makes for light precise gear shifting even with no indexing.


Greg
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Old 07-14-09, 12:52 AM   #24
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FACEPALM: waitaminut... you need studs to mount DT's, right? so I guess it's not so easy after all...
Clamp-on downtube shifters also exist (as well as clamp-on downtube cable stops, FWIW). However, to the best of my knowledge, none of them will fit aluminum "oversized" downtubes. Happy to be proved wrong on that one, though
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Old 07-14-09, 01:02 AM   #25
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So you can use a friction shifter for a FD that you got with an index shifter, right? I've been a little curious about maybe sticking a friction bar-end shifter on my road bike for my FD since I have a triple crank set.
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