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  1. #1
    Psycholist radshark's Avatar
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    Bar end shifters - good or bad?

    I'm contemplating a build-up using indexed bar end shifters. They are a lot less expensive and presumably easier to install. I've never used or installed them and wondered if there are cons to using and maintaining them I should know about.

    Anyone have some experience to share?
    -R.

  2. #2
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    They are not really 'easier' to install... you still have to attach brake levers to the bars, and that is the same difficulty as attaching STI levers. If you are using indexed shifting (as opposed to friction) then the setup is basically identical.

    THe advantages of bar end shifters are that they are cheaper, rebuildable, can be switched to friction mode should your shifting go funny, and they tend to be a little more reliable - but STI levers/brifters are not unreliable like some were 15 years ago.

    The main disadvantage is egonomics - brifters are ergonomically superior IMHO and better for aggressive and/or competition riding. I have used both and I like both, but if my Ultegra brifters ever fail I will switch back to bar end shifters.
    I am also planning on buying some bar end shifters for my Alfine IGH bike in the near future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by radshark View Post
    I'm contemplating a build-up using indexed bar end shifters. They are a lot less expensive and presumably easier to install. I've never used or installed them and wondered if there are cons to using and maintaining them I should know about.

    Anyone have some experience to share?
    I just finished a build using DuraAce bar end shifters. I use them as indexed in the rear and friction on the front. They are easy to install and they rock. Mine is a 9 speed cassette setup, reliable and crisp shifting. I love them!

  4. #4
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    If you are using drop bars there can be issues with how you run the housing.
    Some believe that too many bends in the housing (running the housing under the tape to the stem) will affect shifting. So some run the housing along to bottom of the drop and then out of the tape and back to the frame.

    I have tried it both ways.
    Under the tape to the stem, did not notice any performance issues.
    Out of the tape at or before the brake handle, looks horrible, no perf. issues.
    Bottom line for me: I hated them, I don't like to move my hands to shift on the fly (especially in pacelines).
    I've been spoiled by brifters too long I guess.

    Enjoy
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    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Torchy McFlux's Avatar
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    Bar-end shifters are great for non-racing applications. They do require more cable though, so shifting can be less precise that what you're used to. Slightly overshifting is sometimes required. You need to be careful when standing on the pedals so you don't bump the levers with your knees. They require as much maintenance as any downtube or thumbshifter - almost none.

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    Just built up a "commuter" bike that has bar end dura ace 9 speed indexed shifters. They work well. I have my shifter cables emerging from the bar tape from the drops. It doesn't really bother me, although it's a little "messier" looking and something to get caught on stuff as I load and unload the bike from the back of my car. I plan to get some new cables and install them under the tape up to the stem when I get a chance, just to try it.

    As for installation and adjustment - It's actually a little more effort to install. With brifters, you just install one device and run the cables. The cables are totally straight forward. With bar ends, you have to install the brake levers which is pretty much exactly the same effort as installing brifters and the brake cables from the brifters. Then, you need to install the bar ends and figure out how to run the cables. Not a big deal, but just another installation step and something new to learn.

    As for function, they shift perfectly..... just like my brifters! They are not difficult at all to use, but neither are down tube shifters. If you like to ride on the hoods, bar ends and down tube shifters - to me - are about the same functionality. YOu have to move your hands to shift either. Brifters - to me - are superior to either.

    The only advantage of bar ends to brifters is the cost. I don't personally believe they have any advantage to simple downtube shifters unless you ride most of the time in the drops.

  7. #7
    AEO
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    barcons aren't that cheap.

    $200 or so for 10sp 105/ultegra STI levers.
    $160 or so for 10sp Veloce ergo levers
    $90 or so for 10sp barcons

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/C...CategoryID=790
    http://www.probikekit.com/display.ph...Shift%20Levers

    add aero levers to that, which can be anywhere from $25 to $40 for a decent pair, and the barcons don't look that attractive anymore.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

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    I love, LOVE the ultegra bar ends on my Cannondale. Easy to reach with precise crisp shifts. I prefer them to the downtube shifters on my Motobecane.

    I've only test ridden bikes with STI's. I wasn't impressed. Between the price tag, having to hunt for old models that would work on my bikes, etc its just not worth the price/effort. You can't run STI's in friction mode either, which is a negative to me.

    Of course, I'm not a roadie.
    1993 Cannondale T700 - 1994 Specialized Rockhopper - Actionbent T1 (Electrification in progress!)

  9. #9
    Gouge Away kaliayev's Avatar
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    They are a great choice for touring bikes since many tourers use mountain bike cranks. Bar ends allow the use of either a road or mountain FD. Just recently picked a new set of DA 9 speed bar ends for $64. So much cheaper, better adaptable than STIs and many believe to be more dependable. With a set of Pauls Thumbies they can be mounted on the flats of drop bars if you don't like them on the ends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaliayev View Post
    They are a great choice for touring bikes since many tourers use mountain bike cranks. Bar ends allow the use of either a road or mountain FD. .
    I don't understand this part

  11. #11
    AEO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    I don't understand this part
    road STI and MTB FD (or vice versa) cannot be mixed because the cable pull ratio is different.
    they're indexed and the index points won't match up.
    since barcons and DT shifters are not indexed, they'll work on any combination, as long as the cable pull range isn't too wide.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

  12. #12
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Barcons (or bar end shifters) aren't good, they're Awesome.


    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    barcons aren't that cheap.
    8 speed bar end shifters are in the $50-60 range, which for most riders is all you really need.

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Shifters.aspx

    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    road STI and MTB FD (or vice versa) cannot be mixed because the cable pull ratio is different.
    they're indexed and the index points won't match up.
    since barcons and DT shifters are not indexed, they'll work on any combination, as long as the cable pull range isn't too wide.
    Rear bar end shifters and down tube shifters are indexed, but can be switched to friction. The front shifter is friction only, primarily to allow for infinite trimming but it also solves the MTB / Roadie derailleur issue.
    Last edited by dobber; 05-05-10 at 08:33 PM.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  13. #13
    RT
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    Just installed Ultegra bar enders on my hybrid conversion, and love 'em. Much less expensive, easy to set up, and the brakes I used (Tektro Aero) were compatible with my V-brakes. All for less than $90. I say do it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    I use bar-ends on a drop-bar hybrid w/ v-brakes. It works great, and I came out ahead on the cost of a pair of brifters for a 9 speed setup. I think a lot of brifters have a long service life these days, so that argument isn't as strong as some of the others, but I feel that bar end shifters still have a place today.

  15. #15
    Senior Member ClarkinHawaii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post

    THe advantages of bar end shifters are that they are cheaper, rebuildable, can be switched to friction mode should your shifting go funny, .
    I recently purchased duraAce 10-sp bar end shifters because I had heard this several times. Unfortunately it is not true. The left/front is only friction and the right/rear is only indexed. From what I can read about Campi 10sp bes it appears that this is true of them as well.

    Please, somebody, show me where I'm wrong on this . . .

  16. #16
    AEO
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    the newer DA 7900 barcons only have indexed for the rear.
    DA 7800 has a friction mode.

    I think they dropped the switch to save weight.

    personally, I've recently bought DA 7700 9sp barcons for $65.
    less attractive to thieves than $100 2008 veloce ergos.
    Last edited by AEO; 05-05-10 at 10:49 PM.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

  17. #17
    RT
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    My Ultegra 8 speed barcons are friction left, index/friction right. The trouble I'm having is that the middle two cogs on the cassette do not index, yet the shifting is there. It may be due to my Acera RD? Have had to go to friction mode to keep it smooth.

  18. #18
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    My LHT came with bar end shifters on it but I switch to down tube shifters and its a much nicer feel for me.I started with down tube shifters and just wanted the older way of shifting I guess.Am very happy with my setup here.

  19. #19
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    If you're having trouble bashing your knees hitting the barcons when standing up and pedaling then chop 1 or 2 cm off of the end of your bars. The body of the barcon will make up for this in terms of the length of the handhold being still the same.
    Last edited by Chris_W; 05-07-10 at 01:16 PM.

  20. #20
    headtube. zzyzx_xyzzy's Avatar
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    Barcons will save a bit of weight over brifters (80 g + 290 g for Tektro aero levers vs. 490 g for Ultegra brifters). About as silly as any other reason for preferring one or the other.

    I like barcons for bikes with 'french-fit' i.e. bars high up and forward reach, and using the hooks as primary position. Good with sweptback handlebars or dirt-drop type bars.

  21. #21
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    I've been spoiled by brifters too long I guess.

    Enjoy
    Too long? I was spoiled after the first ride using DA 7800 STI's. I'd use downtube shifters if my STI's broke, but I'd make it a priority to get replacements asap.
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  22. #22
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    I still use old Suntour friction barend shifters. Rivendell sells its Silver barend shifter which is an upgrade of the Suntour model.

  23. #23
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    Positives:

    -All metal
    -Few moving parts
    -Located by your hands on the bar
    -Inexpensive

    Negatives:

    -Easy to bump into when standing up, you have to be conscious of their presence (I'm tall, shorter riders might not have this issue)
    -A lot of cable and housing
    -Slower shifting


    I think this kind of shifter is fine for people who don't demand shifting quickness; a popular but unnecessary feature for a lot of riding applications, as far as I am concerned. These is such a thing as over shifting and becoming reliant on the machine vs. your legs. Hands down, brake/shifters are fast, but all of Shimano's current designs use plastic shifting levers... Can you say breakage risks with no after market replacement parts? That's what sold me on these shifters, the cost to value ratio and their durable design. Mine were $68.00 new. A lot of reviews about these shifters that I observed pointed out how durable they were. Shimano has been manufacturing them since the early 90s. A lot of products don't withstand this level of time testing, these shifters have. Its like a Mac, they just work.

    Currently I have my SL-BS77 shifter cables/housing routed out of the drops. This set-up has a potential to catch/snag on things. Someday I'll try routing the cable/housing under the bar tape coming out by the stem, someday.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfred mcdougal View Post
    but all of Shimano's current designs use plastic shifting levers... Can you say breakage risks with no after market replacement parts?
    If by "plastic" you are referring to carbon fiber, only the newest Ultegra and Dura Ace shifters have "plastic" brake levers. Ultegra SL (still readily available), 105, Tiagra, and Sora all use aluminum (not that the slim possibility of breaking a brake lever is something that would ever sway me from one shifter type to another).

  25. #25
    AEO
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    I've never seen or heard of the plastic paddle behind the main aluminum lever snapping or breaking before the shifter mechanism wore out.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
    http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/arti...ger-photos.htm

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