Originally Posted by Jerry in So IL
Ok, so a touring bike is basicly an upgrade from my Hybrid, but not really built for speed trails. I can live with that. I have more hills around here anyways.
BTW, what are brifters?
That's about right. They're also a bit heavier.
Brifters are shifters that are integrated with the brake levers. Racers like them because they can shift without moving their hands, which probably saves them some time. Traditionally, road bikes have had the shift levers on the down tube, or at the bar ends, or (low endish bike-boom 10 speeds) on the stem.
The LHT comes with bar-end shifters if you buy the complete one; the frame has bosses for down tubes.
Brifters have some disadvantages, particularly for tourers. They're expensive, and they can be fiddly to get to work right. If you bend a derailleur you're pretty well screwed; most bar end or down tube levers can be used in friction mode, where the distance you move the lever controls how far the derailleur moves -- no click to tell you you're in the right place. That means you can shift even when somethings bent or damaged. You also can only change single cog at a time with brifters. With levers, you can shift as many as you'd like. that's handy if you misjudge a hill, and find you need to get a much lower gear, or to downshift three gears at a stop sign.
Most people can get used to any of these systems.