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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-14-12, 01:35 PM   #1
lungimsam
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Your thoughts about bar end shifters please...

Thinking of getting on next bike. I am used to shifter/brake combos.

Was wondering if bar ends are tricky to use, or better than brake shifters.

At first thought, I would think they make the bike less stable, as you have to move one hand off the bars to shift. Also, if you have to brake going downhill, how would you quickly change gears for the next hill ascent? I feel uncomfortable having one hand off the bars when I ride. About all I do it for is turn signalling.

Any tips for using them?
Pros and cons?
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Old 04-14-12, 01:50 PM   #2
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Bar-end shifters. Your thoughts, please...

I am used to shifter/brake combos, and was wondering if bar-ends are more difficult to use.

I just imagine riding with one hand alot as I reach down to shift with the other.
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Old 04-14-12, 01:52 PM   #3
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Not a big deal unless you are racing or carrying a latte in your hands. If you can manage the coordination required for STI, you'll be find with bar ends.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:05 PM   #4
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You can't shift as quickly with bar ends as with integrated shifters/brakes, but it's not a big deal to reach down and shift. In my experience, the left hand shifter takes a bit more force to shift into the bigger ring, so shifting with that hand sometimes takes some effort.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:06 PM   #5
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Bar Ends are a great alternative shifting system. They aren't any less stable than using brifters, they require much less maintenance,
and their best attribute is the ability to switch to friction shifting on the RH side; invaluable when your indexing adjustment is out.

Riding with them is very easy. Your hands are on the bottoms of the bars, which is a very stable position for going downhill. You
don't take your hand off the h-bar to shift; you slide your hand down the bar until your fingers 'feel' the shifter, then you shift.

If there's a 'con' for using them, I guess it's the fact that if your knees get a little wild when you're sprinting then you could make
contact with the shifter, but if you keep your knees tucked in you'll be just fine.

You'll just need to find a GOOD set of brake levers to match; 105 (BL-1050 series), Ultegra (BL-6400 series) or DA (BL-7400 series)
are your best choices, but command a premium price on eBay. Lower priced SLR aero brake levers will work, but you might perceive
a 'spongier' feel in your hand.

Would love to hear what you think of Bar Ends if and when you try them; I've used them for years, and have a couple pair stashed
away for the day when my 600 Ultegra brifters go south!

Good Luck!

Alan

Last edited by oldskoolwrench; 04-14-12 at 02:07 PM. Reason: corrected incorrect nomenclature...
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Old 04-14-12, 02:10 PM   #6
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I am a huge fan of bar ends and have them on my road, touring, and even my xc mountain bike.

Once you get used to them you might never want to go back and I have yet to use brifters on any of my own bikes.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:12 PM   #7
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I migrated from stem-mounted shifters to downtube to bar end to STI. Each was a step up to my liking. I've got a lengthy commute with varied terrain and many intersections. The easier the shifting, the more I use it. While I wouldn't have any difficulty going back to bar end, it'd be a step backward for me. I like the efficiencies STI provides in ease of use.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:30 PM   #8
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I have both. For commuting, and everything but on-the-limit group riding, they are just great.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:58 PM   #9
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I hate them. Just providing a little balance. Point is some people like them and some don't. So the only way to tell which group you fall into is to ride a bike that has them and see for yourself.
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Old 04-14-12, 05:03 PM   #10
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If you have a bike to use as a test platform, you can try them out with relatively little investment. If you buy some SunTour barcons on ebay, you likely will be able to sell them for about what you paid, if you decide they're not for you.
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Old 04-14-12, 05:23 PM   #11
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I have SunTours (originals) on my 85 Trek 720. When I picked up that bike, I figured they would be the one original piece of equipment that I would have to agonize over replacing (maintaining original components vs. replacing things with better, more modern stuff), but I've come to really enjoy them. Don't knock friction barcons until you try them. You really can develop a feel for "about how far" you need to shift for each ring pretty quickly, and "touching up" your shifts becomes really natural. Be careful, though; they may serve as a gateway component toward retrogrouch territory.
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Old 04-14-12, 05:51 PM   #12
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Love the bar ends on my commuter, in fact it's the only Dura-Ace bling I've ever owned...... However, I grew up riding with downtube shifters, and never had a problem with either.
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Old 04-14-12, 06:13 PM   #13
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Chose bar end shifters when I built my ubercommuter. Love the way they work, with shifters at hand. Could have gone with brake/shifters, but like bar end shifters better. Also, bar end shifters + a reasonable set of brake levers is nowhere near as expensive as brake/shifters. And they are stone simple compared to brake/shifters.

Someone above mentioned the oft touted "well, if you lose your indexing, you can always switch to friction mode." On some, you can, on others, like Dura Ace 10sp and SRAM shifters, you can't.
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Old 04-14-12, 07:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post

Someone above mentioned the oft touted "well, if you lose your indexing, you can always switch to friction mode." On some, you can, on others, like Dura Ace 10sp and SRAM shifters, you can't.
I wasn't aware of that info... my bad.
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Old 04-14-12, 08:34 PM   #15
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My main concerns with switching from brifters to bar-ends are:

1. Down shifting quickly while braking hard before a sudden stop to prepare for starting up again in a lighter gear. I like to be in the lighter gear by the time I reach a full stop so I can start quickly when the light turns green.
I just don't want to have to grind out a couple revs in high gear before I can bar-end down-shift with all the traffic lined up behind me wheupon start up. How do you handle this?
Can you easily jump from the rear small cog to the large rear cog with one switch and half a crank rev with the friction shifting when starting from a dead stop?

2. Shifting on hill ascents. Pulling hard on the bars while ascending doesn't seem like a good time for me to release one hand and reach for a bar-end to down-shift.

I guess I am just worried that I will wreck during the learning curve by making mistakes like one hand on brake, other reaching for bar-end while stopping or ascending.
Maybe I just have sloppy shifting habits from the luxury of the brifters by engaging in these types of shifts?
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Old 04-14-12, 08:42 PM   #16
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I just imagine riding with one hand alot as I reach down to shift with the other.
If you ride in the drops you can shift w/ your pinkies.

I realize there's a bazillion brifters out there shifting and braking successfully but I break enough sh*t that I don't want to have a multihundred dollar part snapping if my bike tips over.

And actually my one set of brifters, for a mtn bike, I did brake the right lever off and suddenly no shifting or braking on that side!
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Old 04-14-12, 10:02 PM   #17
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I had the same question. Then, I fell into a great deal on a Long Haul Trucker. Now, while I love my SRAM on my 17 pound "fast" bike, I also really, really like the bar end shifting on the LHT. They are easy to get used to, and not really a PITA at all.
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Old 04-14-12, 11:11 PM   #18
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I just built up a beater bike with some old 8-speed bar end shifters. Up to this point all of my drop bar bikes have had STI shifters. I wasn't sure how I'd like it either, but the shifters came on another bike I bought, so I figured I'd give 'em a try. My experience from the first ride:

- I ride on the hoods almost all the time, and I did catch myself trying to shift with the brake levers a few times. I imagine I'll get used to that.
- A couple of times I wobbled a bit as I moved one hand down to shift while keeping too much weight on the other hand. I imagine I'll get used to that too.
- Frequently I forgot to downshift approaching a stop until it was too late. Once again, I imagine I'll get used to that.
- These old 8-speed shifters shift amazingly well. The shifting is easily as crisp as my 6600-series Ultegra STI shifters are right after a tune-up, possibly crisper. I can definitely get used to that! (FWIW, I'm using Shimano SL-BS64 (which were marketed as Ultegra) with a Deore XT M750 rear derailleur and an XTR M900 cassette, so these are obviously quality parts, just a little old.)
- Triple cranks and friction shifting are made for each other.

Overall, I'm not likely to give up STI's for my recreational road bike or my CX race bike, but I can definitely see why people love bar end shifters.
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Old 04-14-12, 11:34 PM   #19
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I think how comfortable you are in the drops matters a lot. I have 2500+ miles on my Velo Orange Rando and for whatever reason I spend way more time in the drops than on all my other bikes, because of that bar ends are really convienent and still have the extra advantages of being easier to maintain.
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Old 04-15-12, 04:50 AM   #20
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My main concerns with switching from brifters to bar-ends are:

1. Down shifting quickly while braking hard before a sudden stop to prepare for starting up again in a lighter gear. I like to be in the lighter gear by the time I reach a full stop so I can start quickly when the light turns green.
I just don't want to have to grind out a couple revs in high gear before I can bar-end down-shift with all the traffic lined up behind me wheupon start up. How do you handle this?
Can you easily jump from the rear small cog to the large rear cog with one switch and half a crank rev with the friction shifting when starting from a dead stop?

2. Shifting on hill ascents. Pulling hard on the bars while ascending doesn't seem like a good time for me to release one hand and reach for a bar-end to down-shift.

I guess I am just worried that I will wreck during the learning curve by making mistakes like one hand on brake, other reaching for bar-end while stopping or ascending.
Maybe I just have sloppy shifting habits from the luxury of the brifters by engaging in these types of shifts?
Somehow Tour De France racers were able to race by taking one hand off the bars and shifting the down tube levers. Criterium racers were able to race with down tube shifters. If your concern is losing time in a shift over the length of your commute consider that the total time shifting compared to time pedaling is VERY small and could be made up with a couple extra turns of the pedals.
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Old 04-15-12, 05:30 AM   #21
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Back in the days when most of us used downtube shifters, barend shifter were actually an improvement in convenience on the road because they put the shifters closer to your normal hand position, and indeed all of my road tandems got them right of the bat. My racing bike still got downtube shifters however because in the heat of competition it was too easy to accidently hit the barend in a sprint of on a climb, and it was too easy for one of my competitors to "accidently" shift my bike on me as well (although I never did this to anyone else...). I also used barend shifters on all of my drop barred MTBs because they were really the only workable choice.

With the advent of brifters however the barends are now farther from your normal hand position and still too exposed to accidental bumps, and they are simply outdated and useless unless brifters for some reason cannot be used. To be honest, if I couldn't use brifters today, I would probably take stem shifters over barends on a commuter bike.
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Old 04-15-12, 05:35 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
My main concerns with switching from brifters to bar-ends are:

1. Down shifting quickly while braking hard before a sudden stop to prepare for starting up again in a lighter gear. I like to be in the lighter gear by the time I reach a full stop so I can start quickly when the light turns green.
I just don't want to have to grind out a couple revs in high gear before I can bar-end down-shift with all the traffic lined up behind me wheupon start up. How do you handle this?
Can you easily jump from the rear small cog to the large rear cog with one switch and half a crank rev with the friction shifting when starting from a dead stop?

2. Shifting on hill ascents. Pulling hard on the bars while ascending doesn't seem like a good time for me to release one hand and reach for a bar-end to down-shift.

I guess I am just worried that I will wreck during the learning curve by making mistakes like one hand on brake, other reaching for bar-end while stopping or ascending.
Maybe I just have sloppy shifting habits from the luxury of the brifters by engaging in these types of shifts?
1. You learn to anticipate the stop a but further back down the road and shift appropriately. I've also found that I can easily shift with one hand while braking with the other. Once you get used to the shifters, you get a feel for where they are and the reach down from the hoods to shift is an automatic motion.

2. Are you really shifting with brake/shifters when you are really hauling on the bars? Same thing with bar end shifters--you're not in the middle of some kind of power motion on the pedals when you're shifting and you do have time for a quick shift. Part of it is also being just a bit more pro-active about being in the correct gear for the climb at the outset.

I really doubt you will wreck during the learning curve; the learning curve is pretty quick and not steep. Bar end shifting is really easy to get used to really quickly.

I.e, you're overthinking this...
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Old 04-15-12, 06:51 AM   #23
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Thinking of getting on next bike. I am used to shifter/brake combos.

Was wondering if bar ends are tricky to use, or better than brake shifters.

At first thought, I would think they make the bike less stable, as you have to move one hand off the bars to shift. Also, if you have to brake going downhill, how would you quickly change gears for the next hill ascent? I feel uncomfortable having one hand off the bars when I ride. About all I do it for is turn signalling.

Any tips for using them?
Pros and cons?
If you are using brifters, IMO, going to bar-ends would be a step backwards. Unless that is what you want to do...

Just sayin..
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Old 04-15-12, 07:18 AM   #24
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They excel in their simplicity, and they are not hard to get used to. IMHO they are a the choice for a drop bar commuter or touring or utility bike where long term ease of maintenance, reliability, and simplicity are all very important.

I have nothing against Brifters, I have Dura Ace and SRAM Force on my road bikes and they are both wonderful. But I don't ride those bikes to commute in the snow and rain, or tour the country, of go to the bar, or the grocery store.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:36 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
My main concerns with switching from brifters to bar-ends are:

1. Down shifting quickly while braking hard before a sudden stop to prepare for starting up again in a lighter gear. I like to be in the lighter gear by the time I reach a full stop so I can start quickly when the light turns green.
I just don't want to have to grind out a couple revs in high gear before I can bar-end down-shift with all the traffic lined up behind me wheupon start up. How do you handle this?
Can you easily jump from the rear small cog to the large rear cog with one switch and half a crank rev with the friction shifting when starting from a dead stop?

2. Shifting on hill ascents. Pulling hard on the bars while ascending doesn't seem like a good time for me to release one hand and reach for a bar-end to down-shift.

I guess I am just worried that I will wreck during the learning curve by making mistakes like one hand on brake, other reaching for bar-end while stopping or ascending.
Maybe I just have sloppy shifting habits from the luxury of the brifters by engaging in these types of shifts?
If you do constant up down shifting and aggressive shifting you won't like barcons. You're a brifter guy. I'm not much of a shifter, I'll ride for hours in the same gear if I'm on the flats, stand coming out of stops and accelerating. I use them on hills, sparingly. If I downshifted into curves and stops and upshifted to accelerate, double shifted, ...I'd be getting brifters.
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