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Old 09-01-11, 07:44 AM   #1
AaronAnderson
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How do you tall guys (6'4") feel about downtube shifting?

I'm restoring a 1989 Trek 420 that originally had downtube shifters. I got it with bar-ends installed and kind of like them but they need to be replaced and the extra cables are fugly. As I'm a pretty tall rider, the tube shifters are a pretty far reach for me... How do you other tall guys feel about the long reach?
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Old 09-01-11, 07:52 AM   #2
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I think it sucks. It might be ok on a bike that you dont shift that much. I use other shifting methods. I'm 6'3".
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Old 09-01-11, 07:52 AM   #3
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I'm 6'2", but with leg length out of proportion, i.e. legs more like a 6'4" person.
I could never stand that long clumsy reach down to the DT shifters.
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Old 09-01-11, 07:53 AM   #4
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Im a little shorter than you at around 6'1 but ride big frames (64cm) and dont mind them at all or have trouble with them . I might just be used to it, but at the end of the day the bar cons are nicer.
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Old 09-01-11, 07:54 AM   #5
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6'3" checking in. It depends on the bike and the placement of the shifters. Some it's a more natural reach than others. I also have pretty long arms though so that helps I guess.
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Old 09-01-11, 07:55 AM   #6
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I'm only 6' and I think downtube shifting is fine in the stand, only sucks when actually riding the bike.
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Old 09-01-11, 08:27 AM   #7
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Heck, I'm only 5'8", and I think it sucks. Actually, it's OK if one's on fairly level terrain and doesn't have to shift very often. I wouldn't ride in the mountains with DT shifters. I recently put a pair of Suntour Sprint DT shifters on a clamp and mounted them on the lower part of my stem. I love 'em. Heresy, I know.
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Old 09-01-11, 08:29 AM   #8
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I'm only 6' and I think downtube shifting is fine in the stand, only sucks when actually riding the bike.
no one who likes dt shifters actually ride their bikes, so that works out nicely.
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Old 09-01-11, 08:38 AM   #9
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no one who likes dt shifters actually ride their bikes, so that works out nicely.
Hey now, I ride my bikes! Actually though I only have experience with dt shifters and stem shifters and I find the dt shifters less cumbersome to use. I would like to try bar cons (though these still seem somewhat awkward) and brifters in the future.
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Old 09-01-11, 08:39 AM   #10
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Watching the listing of rider/poster heighth's so far....I'm getting a pretty good smile going. They kept getting shorter and shorter when the OP asked for tall guys

Forgive me, I digress.

Hey, I'm 5'9 and just love downtube shifters but might install barcons on the next vintage acquirement.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:01 AM   #11
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I ride 60cm frames and find DT shifters work well for me, and I don't have particularly long arms. When I'm on one of my bikes with STI, I find myself reaching down for the levers. I think it's just a matter of becoming familiar with a system and sticking with it.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:02 AM   #12
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I'm only 6' and I think downtube shifting is fine in the stand, only sucks when actually riding the bike.
Good point! Much easier to work with on the stand than STI shifters.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:08 AM   #13
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Stem shifters - Down Tube shifters - Bar End shifters - All CV - And now I have seen Suntour Command shifters - Its nice to see I am not the only one who gets a little flustered with his shifters - Some times I am glad I just haven't dropped the chain or jammed the wheel...
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Old 09-01-11, 09:11 AM   #14
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I'm 6'3", been using DT shifters off and on for 35 years. I got used to it. There's other more convenient ways to change gears, but I have no problem reaching.

with that said, I finally have a pair of Suntour bar end shifters. Just don't know what to put them on.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:37 AM   #15
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I'm 6'5" and have ridden road bikes with DT shifters & bar-ends. I like bar-ends, but they just don't shift as crisply as DT shifters. I have eventually moved all my bikes back to DT shifters. It is really not a big deal and once you are used to it, it is very natural.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:43 AM   #16
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I have DT, stem and STI shifters on my bikes. When I'm on my 27" Schwinn Voyageur it does seem like a long reach to shift and overall I find I just shift less when riding with DT shifters. STI is by far the most convenient system and since it also comes with the most gears, it is much easier to keep your cadence in a narrow range. The thing that gets me most often is trying to adjust from one bike to another. I have a few different DT shifter bikes that are quite close in throw but the stem shifters are way off and require a completely different feel. I've also found myself reaching down for non-existent shifters while riding with STI's.

I haven't tried bar-ends yet but I keep planning to (some day...). There have been times when I'm in traffic or moving fast or it's really windy and I didn't want to make the big reach to shift and wished I had bar-ends.
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Old 09-01-11, 09:47 AM   #17
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I'm 6'4" and have no problem with my long monkey arms reaching the shifters on my DT bikes. It's all proportional isn't it?
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Old 09-01-11, 09:47 AM   #18
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6'4" here, and I tend to ride the bikes with brifters or bar-ends way more. Not too fond of reaching way down to the downtube to shift, but that's because I'm old and stiff.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:02 AM   #19
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I like Kelly Take-Off's to put the DT shifters at your fingertips, but then I'm only 6'2.

I know they're not the most attractive, but they do the job nicely. I just saw for the first time today where someone had posted about SunTour Command shifters and those look like they would have been even better, but not worth the $130 they're now going for on ebay. I would love to try some, but not quite that much.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:59 AM   #20
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I like Kelly Take-Off's to put the DT shifters at your fingertips, but then I'm only 6'2.

I know they're not the most attractive, but they do the job nicely. I just saw for the first time today where someone had posted about SunTour Command shifters and those look like they would have been even better, but not worth the $130 they're now going for on ebay. I would love to try some, but not quite that much.
In this subculture....anything unusual is attractive. I like 'em.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:01 AM   #21
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I always thought that taller people's longer arms would have easily compensated for the longer reach to the shift levers on DTs........
The amount of non preference of some tall people of DT shifters might just be what we might normally encounter with other height (shorter) groups. I don't think taller people neccesarily have a harder time tieing their shoe laces.......do they??

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Old 09-01-11, 11:01 AM   #22
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DTs are okay. Good ones work fine.

Barcons are significantly easier to use (plus you can keep both hands on the bars at all time, and there are times when that is a big plus).

Brifters are easest to use on the road. Period. Costly, though.

6'3" and 275# here. If DTs were all that was available, I'd use 'em and be fine (as I was for many years). But I'm a brifter guy now - they are simply the easiest to use on the road. I'd go with barcons on a fully loaded touring rig for the field-servicability, and I do have one bike with barcons. But otherwise, it's brifters all the way.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:07 AM   #23
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Sizing in at 6'3" and I do not want to use DT shifters again. My daily commuter has an ugly stem shifter, but I really like the placement. I've also got an inherited bike that's a bit too small for me that I'll ride around the neighborhood that has bar-end. When I get around to building my dream bike(s) it/they will have bar-end.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:09 AM   #24
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I like downtube shifting, but I am only 5'6" tall, I like the simplicity and how it forces me to anticipate shifts. My friend who is 6' doesn't like them because he feels the reach is too much, he likes his brifters. I can't stand brifters, like downtube but I would say my favorite are barend friction shifting.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:23 AM   #25
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Brifters are easest to use on the road. Period. Costly, though.
Brifters are all well and good for medium to longer rides, but by virtue of putting your hands in one comfortable position they allow you to forget to move your hands around, with the result that your hands (and therefore also arms, shoulders, and neck) get sore sooner than they would on a less comfortable setup. If you have to constantly move your hands around between the brakes and the shifters, you will postpone that soreness considerably.

Aside from that, the general fatigue that starts to set in somewhere between the 100 and 200 km milestones takes a particular toll on fingers. There comes a time on a long ride when shifting the brifters is just too painful, and you don't bother any more. Since downtube and bar end shifters use a much larger (and stronger) muscle group, they don't have that problem.

I like Suntour Command shifters, as mentioned in another thread, but they have the same disadvantages as brifters in this regard.
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