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Old 12-15-10, 07:40 PM   #1
tpelle
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Question About Shifters

I'm seriously thinking about buying a new inexpensive bike for a short (5 miles each way) commute, and for some weekend back road exploring. This is for an out-of-town work assignment, and I would prefer to not fool around shipping one of my other bikes out there. I am most likely going to buy from Bikesdirect.com, as I can get one sized to fit me, which may be hit or miss on Craigslist or whatever. I'm fairly tall at 6'-1" with a 36" standover clearance.

Also I really, really dislike indexing shifters - I have them on a mountain bike, and it seems like they either shift not far enough or too far, even after being tuned-up by my LBS. I actually crashed about 1-1/2 years ago after the chain shifted off of the FD about two years ago, and broke my kneecap. I'm just getting "back in the saddle" after that, and I've decided I'm through with indexed shifters - I'm not racing anybody, and I would rather have reliability over speed. I'm and old-fashioned type anyway.

Anyway, of the two bikes I'm thinking about, one has stem shifters and the other has downtube shifters. I have an old 10-speed bike that I bought new about 30 years ago that I recently fixed up, and it has stem friction shifters, so I am familiar with them. I also currently have a touring bike (Surly LHT) with bar-end shifters, and like them. I've never ridden a bike with downtube shifters.

With my likely choice being between a bike with stem shifters and one with downtube shifters, I wonder what would be the best choice. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Last edited by tpelle; 12-15-10 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 12-15-10, 07:55 PM   #2
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Assuming both bikes are equipped with drop bars (including the specific bikes you are looking at might help), if you ride in the drops a lot, down tube shifters are probably easier, while if you ride on top most of the time, stem shifters are probably easier. If you ride the hoods, it's probably more of a toss up.
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Old 12-15-10, 07:56 PM   #3
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Convert them to bar-ends!
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Old 12-15-10, 08:28 PM   #4
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Yeah, bar end shifters are the best for drops. I have never liked stem shifters. Downtube shifters are fine.
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Old 12-16-10, 06:35 AM   #5
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DT shifters are a long reach on large frames. I finally switched to bar ends on my 60 cm 83 Trek 520 and love not having to reach so low.
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Old 12-16-10, 07:24 AM   #6
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downtube shifters are the end-all of no maintenance -- there's hardly even any cable routing to go wonky since there's just a RD loop and possibly some for the FD depending on your frame.
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Old 12-16-10, 09:03 AM   #7
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I was never comfortable with downtube shifters. I like stem shifters, specifically vintage Shimano fingertip shifters. I modified a vintage set so that I can use them with my 1-1/8 threadless stem.

My bike came with indexed ****ers, replaced them with the above mentioned fingertip shifters.
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Old 12-16-10, 09:33 AM   #8
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I like stem shifters for convenience, but I absolutely don't like hitting them with my knees when climbing out of the saddle. I recommend bar-end shifters.
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Old 12-16-10, 06:35 PM   #9
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Regarding the two bikes, here's the one with the downtube shifters:

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lt_dt.htm

And here's the one with the stem shifters:

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ington1_IX.htm

I'm sort of leaning towards the Windsor Wellington, just because I like the more horizontal top tube which leaves less seatpost exposed above the seat tube - I'm a big guy, and I envision those long exposed seat tubes to be like a pry bar working on the frame (and would not enjoy a visit to the proctologist to undergo a broken seat tube extraction procedure). Also I do tend to ride my LHT more on the tops of the bars, so something tells me that I may find the stem shifters to be more convenient. Also, if I would ever decide to convert to bar-ends, the stem shifter bike would be easier as it has the fixings for the shift cables already in place on the frame.

I know that these are el-cheapo bikes, but this project that I'm taking a temporary assignment on is about 1500 miles away from home, and I figure if I don't want to ship the bike home at the end (I plan on keeping the packing materials just in case) I can just donate it to somebody or some organization. That's why I want to keep the cost low and the mechanicals simple. Besides, I LIKE simple mechanicals.

BTW, can anybody tell me what sort of Shimano Derailleur is on the Windsor Wellington? I googled my way through 30 pages of Shimano derailleurs and couldn't find one that looked like the one in the photo.

Last edited by tpelle; 12-16-10 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 12-17-10, 12:30 PM   #10
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No matter what you get, make sure that the FD is adjusted properly so that it doesn't throw the chain. Indexed or not, if the limit screws are set wrong, you'll have problems.

You can go further and get a dog fang (or any similar chain catcher) to help keep the chain from dropping inboard of the small chainring, too, so you can avoid what happened to Schleck this year.
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Old 12-17-10, 12:46 PM   #11
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+ not too many gears, a 6 speed freewheel has wider gaps between cogs, so makes non index shifting
easier to find and stay in a gear you choose, all current freewheels have adopted Hyperglide tooth styles
very willing to shift, but may not stay put, on the gear you chose.

back when teeth on freewheels were full height, we just overshifted
a little bit, then brought the lever back a little ways
to recenter pulley over cog.

shifting as a skill rather than a product feature .

using Suntour micro ratchet Down tube shifters I learned to shift down
by just slapping the lever,
then reaching back to re center both
with one hand,
as the chain moves to the side of the front derailleur cage
As it moves to the side of the rear gear cluster..


7, 8, 9, all get crammed closer together 10, 11 more so.

Consider an Internal gear hub rather than a derailleur drivetrain..

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-17-10 at 12:53 PM.
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