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  1. #1
    babyjuniorsonofa***** The_B.O.C.'s Avatar
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    who commutes with stem shifters?

    i might be buying a bike with stem shifters. i've never used these before and i'm debating whether or not it would be worth it to switch 'em to down tube shifters.
    so, do any of you have any opinions on downtube vs. stem shifters?

  2. #2
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    I dispise stem shifters. If you can get your hands on them still, try to get a set of Kelly Takeoff's to put a pair of downtube shifters on. They place the downtube shifter levers on the handlebars. Lots cheaper than STI, 90% of the convience.

  3. #3
    GATC
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    Before I moved into the 1990s, tech-wise, I've only used stem shifters, not downtube ones, and I never thought twice about them. What kind of concerns do you have?

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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_B.O.C.
    i might be buying a bike with stem shifters. i've never used these before and i'm debating whether or not it would be worth it to switch 'em to down tube shifters.
    so, do any of you have any opinions on downtube vs. stem shifters?
    As I said in another thread, I find stem shifters just as bad/good as downtube shifters, except that they tend to be of lower quality in general since they're mostly on low-end bikes.

    I say switch to bar-end shifters. You can get SunTour Barcon or Accushift bar-end shifters CHEAP, or modern Shimano ones for a bit more. Bar-end shifters are ideal for commuting: they can be used in either friction or indexed mode, they are nearly as convenient as STI in my opinion, and they are very very very reliable and durable. I don't think I'll ever want to commute with any other shifters!
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  5. #5
    Easily distracted...
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    I've always found them to be inconvenient. I'm used to bar-end shifters and it's tough for me to move my hands in to the center for shifting. If you buy the bike, you can potentially move them to the downtube or Rivendell makes nubs to convert them into bar end shifters. I like shifters in roughly this order: bar-end, thumbies, STI, downtube, stem, twist-grips.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

  6. #6
    babyjuniorsonofa***** The_B.O.C.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    As I said in another thread, I find stem shifters just as bad/good as downtube shifters, except that they tend to be of lower quality in general since they're mostly on low-end bikes.

    I say switch to bar-end shifters. You can get SunTour Barcon or Accushift bar-end shifters CHEAP, or modern Shimano ones for a bit more. Bar-end shifters are ideal for commuting: they can be used in either friction or indexed mode, they are nearly as convenient as STI in my opinion, and they are very very very reliable and durable. I don't think I'll ever want to commute with any other shifters!
    thanks for your input, i'll definetly check out the bar end option!

  7. #7
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    I've always found them to be inconvenient. I'm used to bar-end shifters and it's tough for me to move my hands in to the center for shifting. If you buy the bike, you can potentially move them to the downtube or Rivendell makes nubs to convert them into bar end shifters. I like shifters in roughly this order: bar-end, thumbies, STI, downtube, stem, twist-grips.
    My shifter ordering would be similar to yours, except I really like the GOOD twist-grips like SRAM Attack (as opposed to the junky ones on most low-end MTBs).
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Steev's Avatar
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    I was using them until this Feb. when I crashed the bike. I found the position quite convenient when riding on the tops, a bit awkward from the drops. I think for commuting they are a better position than downtube shifters or bar-ends. Of course, if you ask a "roadie" they'll tell you you'll impale yourself on them in a crash, but if you're flying hard enough into the stem to impale yourself on a shifter, you're going to get hurt by something anyway.

  9. #9
    babyjuniorsonofa***** The_B.O.C.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steev
    I was using them until this Feb. when I crashed the bike. I found the position quite convenient when riding on the tops, a bit awkward from the drops. I think for commuting they are a better position than downtube shifters or bar-ends. Of course, if you ask a "roadie" they'll tell you you'll impale yourself on them in a crash, but if you're flying hard enough into the stem to impale yourself on a shifter, you're going to get hurt by something anyway.
    that's why i didn't post this in the roadie forum!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    My shifter ordering would be similar to yours, except I really like the GOOD twist-grips like SRAM Attack (as opposed to the junky ones on most low-end MTBs).
    Yea, they were ruined for me by a set of cheap ones on my first moutain bike. They were hard to turn and then would slip out of gear unexpectedly. Blah. Now I'm looking at an internal gear hub and most come with grip-twisters so I might be stuck with one. I'll have to look for the good SRAM shifters on their internal hubs.

    I agree with the strong support for bar-ends. They're very stable for keeping hands on the bars while riding. Really any shifter that can be converted to friction mode if need be. I've had to do that several times and it's an invaluable feature.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

  11. #11
    babyjuniorsonofa***** The_B.O.C.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    Really any shifter that can be converted to friction mode if need be. I've had to do that several times and it's an invaluable feature.
    is it pretty easy to do?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Novakane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_B.O.C.
    i might be buying a bike with stem shifters. i've never used these before and i'm debating whether or not it would be worth it to switch 'em to down tube shifters.
    so, do any of you have any opinions on downtube vs. stem shifters?
    The bike I'm riding now has stem shifters. I've only been riding it for about a month, and previously was using downtube shifters and I've not made up my mind just yet regarding them.
    The advantage I see over the downtubes is that my hands don't need to move quite as far from the brakes to shift when they're up on the stem. Also, the shifters and their current positions is closer to my field of view than the downtube.

    The downside is that it's a rather unatural angle to access while in a good riding position, but that may be just because I've gone from 10 years of downtube shifting so my instinctive movement is to reach for the downtube, remember it's a different setup and correct myself.

    As to impaling yourself on the shifters - I think if you're slamming forward with that much force towards your handlebar stem you'd just as likely do a nasty number on yourself hitting the stem as you are hitting the shifters. I've never smacked the stem in a wipeout, so I think it's a moot point, personally.

  13. #13
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_B.O.C.
    is it pretty easy to do?
    With nearly all models of bar-end shifters and downtube shifters, converting to friction mode is trivial: usually you just turn a knob or ring on the rear shifter!
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  14. #14
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_B.O.C.
    thanks for your input, i'll definetly check out the bar end option!
    +1 On the bar con shifters
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  15. #15
    cars are fun
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    Stem shiftie here. To me its the greatest position to shift while upright. I heard someone say something about not having their eyes to go so far... the reason I like the stem is because I know where it is, and I don't have to look. Shifting only requires a simple hand movement leaving only one hand on the bars for a split second. While in the drops, its no different.

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  16. #16
    Senior Member godspiral's Avatar
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    I can't understand why anyone would prefer downtube shifting over stem for commuting. I've heard of racers shifting with their knees, but that can't be relevant. Shifting from the drops is far less common or essential when cruising along, and stem shifting involves less reaching and bending, less interference with your knees while pedalling (if bike is a little small). Stem shifting is really convenient when slowing down up a climb, and is probably the only important occasion where easy and fast shifting is important in a commuting setting.

  17. #17
    It's true, man.
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    I used to have stem shifters on my commuter, but I'd hit them with my knee on a stiff climb, upshifting when I really didn't want to. Finally found some oddball downtube shifters on eBay that fit my one-bolt shifter braze on.

  18. #18
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    I Stem shifters !!
    That is what my two geared bikes have.
    Brifters, STI....you can keep that crap !
    Bar ends and stemmies are the best !

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by godspiral
    Stem shifting is really convenient when slowing down up a climb, and is probably the only important occasion where easy and fast shifting is important in a commuting setting.
    This is actually the argument for bar end shifters. They allow you to move your hand outwards and keep a hand on the outer side of the bars which is much more stable going slow. I have a hard time riding slow with my hands at the stem or center of the bars. Bar-end shifters were first developed for touring bikes where stability at a low speed (and next to a big cliff) was critical.
    Safe, efficient, and comfortable transportation.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    I have stem shifters on my old steel ten speed that I commute on. I don't have a problem with them, I only use one gear anyway.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

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  21. #21
    Senior Member godspiral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTcommuter
    This is actually the argument for bar end shifters. They allow you to move your hand outwards and keep a hand on the outer side of the bars which is much more stable going slow. I have a hard time riding slow with my hands at the stem or center of the bars. Bar-end shifters were first developed for touring bikes where stability at a low speed (and next to a big cliff) was critical.
    I appreciate that barends are an upgrade. I was just comparing stem to downtube.

    With either one (of the center shifters) though, setting aside practise time on quiet bumpy crackling sidestreets will increase your confidence in shifting with one hand off the bars while keeping a straight line. I think a key is to maintain fairly light grip balancing as if you could go no handed. Its a learned skill that you only get better at by purposefully practiciing, I think.

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