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Old 09-05-07, 01:26 PM   #1
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The nature of shifters

I have rapid fire shifters on my Jamis and I had them on my Trek as well. They are better on the Jamis because of the XT derailleur. Sometimes you can't even hear them shift. They are really crisp and clean and fast. While test riding the Cannondale, I really noticed the sound of the shifters. I couldn't believe how much they clunked and I thought it may have been the DX derailleur. When I brought the bike back and told the shop person, he said that's the nature of STI shifters. I didn't have any problem with the trim mood on the front, but that back made more racket than I'm used to hearing. Is that the case, with those kind of shifters. If so, other than the rapid fire shifters, which would be smoother? I'm thinking barend shifters, but don't know for sure.
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Old 09-05-07, 02:10 PM   #2
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All shifters will operate just as smooth as butter when adjusted properly. As to noise, are you talking about the clicks that the shifter makes or the rattle of the chain changing gears?



added: well, most shifters.
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Old 09-05-07, 02:13 PM   #3
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The ultimate in smooth shifting will always come from friction shifters operated with skill.
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Old 09-05-07, 02:24 PM   #4
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All shifters will operate just as smooth as butter when adjusted properly. As to noise, are you talking about the clicks that the shifter makes or the rattle of the chain changing gears?



added: well, most shifters.
It was the chain going to the next cog, up or down. Bluedawg answered my question though, but I don't know if I'd want STI, if that's the way they are. I had a person pass me on a road bike a while back and shifted when he was next to me and I couldn't believe the noise thaat it made. I thought he threw his chain to be honest. Maybe it's just something I'm not used too. When I put my bike on the rack and go through the gears, the chain just rolls off of one cog to the next, that's the way I like it.
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Old 09-05-07, 03:20 PM   #5
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The shifters have nothing to do with the noise that the chain makes on the cassette. Thats more a matter of rear derailleur adjustment with possibly a touch of cassette style and chain type.

STI equipped bikes can be as quiet as Rapid Fire or even Gripshift once set up by a good mechanic.

It may however be a function of how firmly you press the STI lever to shift.
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Old 09-05-07, 04:12 PM   #6
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The shifters have nothing to do with the noise that the chain makes on the cassette. Thats more a matter of rear derailleur adjustment with possibly a touch of cassette style and chain type.
Agreed. Properly adjusted, even my Sora RD is silent. The ratcheting of the STI is louder.

When it's out of whack, every shift makes a clunk that resonates through the frame, and sometimes makes a crunching sound sound across the gears. "Tic, tic, tic, crunch", on a downshift means I need more tension in the cable, (or I didn't "soft-pedal". See below.)

Also, STI encourages riders to shift under load. This can cause clunking and poor shifting too. I've never ridden downtube shifting myself, but riding with guys that do, it seems to encourage "soft-pedaling" through the shift, making it smoother. Most of my clunking shifts are due to the rider, not the equipment. When I remember to ease off just a bit while I shift, they're like butter.
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Old 09-05-07, 04:13 PM   #7
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STI requires a very quick, full stroke "snap" to work properly. some folks shift too slowly or without a full stroke, giving noises and improper shifts and the like. If properly adjusted, they work fine.
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Old 09-05-07, 05:27 PM   #8
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The ultimate in smooth shifting will always come from friction shifters operated with skill.
+1 I love the bar-end shifters on my LHT! I especially like how, as you shift through the rear cogs and start to get a little chain rub on the front derailleur cage, you just reach down and give the left shifter a little tweak and the noise goes away!
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Old 09-05-07, 06:47 PM   #9
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STI requires a very quick, full stroke "snap" to work properly. some folks shift too slowly or without a full stroke, giving noises and improper shifts and the like. If properly adjusted, they work fine.
Absolutely, STI works just fine. But friction shifting allows and encourages you to learn to use finesse and touch to reach that level of near perfection beyond just fine. I sometimes find that indexed shifters tend to slam the chain onto the next cog where a more refined shift could have been quieter and silky smooth.
On the other hand, friction can also allow someone using less skill to make awful shifts.
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Old 09-05-07, 07:01 PM   #10
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Riding my roadies with friction shifting, I get accustomed to the silence of pure simplicity.

The Lemond has STI (105), it shifts quite well but not silently. Because I understand the noise is normal, after a few miles I forget about it.
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Old 09-05-07, 07:30 PM   #11
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I think DF has hit the nail on the head. STI shifters can require a fairly long hand movement (depending on where your hand is on the lever) to shift from one rear cog to another. If done slowly, this will result in a significant amount of time for the chain to transition from one cog to the next. Rapid Fire Levers, Bar end shifters and even Twist Grip shifters require much less motion from the hand and usually complete the shift faster.

The noise you hear at the rear cassette is the side of the chain plate rubbing against the machined features on the sides of the cogs (for lack of the official name I'm going to call them "climbers" here because that sort of describes what they do) that assist the chain in getting up and ovet the teeth of the next larger cog. These serve the same function as the pins and machined features on the chain rings up front. If you have a clean cassette handy to look at you can observe this machine work on the outside of some of the teath on each cog. On the SRAM 11/28 8 speed that I am looking at, there is a "climber machined on the next tooth clockwise from the engraving that specifies the number of teeth on that cog. Depending on the size of the cog ther will be 1 or 2 or 3 more of these spaced evenly around the cog. Making the chain engage these "climbers" and get up and over the teeth on the next cog quickly is the secret of smooth quiet shifts.

The nature of these features and their location is manufacturer dependent and varies from 1 type of cassette to another. This leads to all sorts of "discussions of difference" aka arguments about which brand shifts the most smoothly or quietly and soon leads to Maddness.
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Old 09-05-07, 07:47 PM   #12
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My STI shifters on my Cannondale T800 are very, very quiet. I suspect the LBS didn't have things adjusted properly. And to say it's the nature of STI shifter is just disrespectful to you. Does he really think that pro riders will put up with something the nature of which isn't the best? When STI shifter are dialed in they are, contrary to BluesDawg's preference/sentiments, as crisp and precise as one can get. (And yes, I do still ride a road bike with Dura Ace DT friction shifters/drive train, but prefer the STI).
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Old 09-05-07, 08:09 PM   #13
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George, all the shifters you mention are tried, true and proven. The trick is to get the right shifter for what you want to do, and to get the right shifter that suits your style of riding. You are the ultimate judge...........just make sure the shifters are set up correctly. Again, you are the final judge.

What does George want to ride with??? (ooooohhhhhhhh this grammatical error deserves a repremand!!!!!!!)

good riding

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Old 09-05-07, 08:13 PM   #14
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When STI shifter are dialed in they are, contrary to BluesDawg's preference/sentiments, as crisp and precise as one can get. (And yes, I do still ride a road bike with Dura Ace DT friction shifters/drive train, but prefer the STI).
I would still contend that perfectly dialed in STI shifters fall just a tiny bit short of optimum, but it is a very fine point and not worth arguing. Any differences between the shift quality of dialed in STI and skillfully executed friction shifting is tiny. Both are very, very good.

But there is one difference that is not splitting hairs - friction shifters don't have to be dialed in perfectly to work smoothly.
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Old 09-05-07, 08:59 PM   #15
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Thanks a lot guys and I do appreciate it very much. I think part of it was my fault, because I'm so use too the rapid fire shifters. I have to say it was a pretty nice bike. The welds on the bike were as smooth as butter and put together very nice, thanks again.
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Old 09-06-07, 04:28 AM   #16
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But there is one difference that is not splitting hairs - friction shifters don't have to be dialed in perfectly to work smoothly.
True, very true.
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Old 09-06-07, 04:53 AM   #17
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Thanks a lot guys and I do appreciate it very much. I think part of it was my fault, because I'm so use too the rapid fire shifters. I have to say it was a pretty nice bike. The welds on the bike were as smooth as butter and put together very nice, thanks again.
I use XT shifters on the MTB and Tandem and I can assure you that they are not the quietest of shifters. Not the levers themselves but a worn mech chain and cassette - and a hand that does the wrong thing occasionally.

On the road bikes I have sora on the Giant- Works fine but noise comes from the cheap chain- Worn cassette and the Integra rear mech.
The Boreas is smooth. 105 shifters and rear mech, Ultegra chain and cassette and a hand that has got used to the change action.

And as to going back to Friction shifters- Not for me. I prefer a properly set up one click and don't think about it System
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Old 09-06-07, 05:24 AM   #18
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And as to going back to Friction shifters- Not for me. I prefer a properly set up one click and don't think about it System
Friction, the thinking man's shifter.

For the record, I have only said that friction shifting has the greatest potential for the smoothest shifts, not that they are the best choice for all riders and all situations.
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Old 09-06-07, 05:36 AM   #19
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Friction, the thinking man's shifter.

For the record, I have only said that friction shifting has the greatest potential for the smoothest shifts, not that they are the best choice for all riders and all situations.
I have to admit that STI's are my least favorite shifters but that probably has to do with the brake levers being in the wrong place for my poor old brain to accomodate.

My all time favorite shifters are upper level SRAM (X.0 or X.9) mated to the SRAM rear derailleur for duribality and flawless shifting. (not quiet shifters but very quiet cassettes)

Now that the road bike uses bar end shifters I'm falling in line with BD's like for friction shifters, at least for the front derailleur. Just a brush with the fingers and trim is fine. I still use indexing for the rears but in a pinch I can go to friction to get home if something goes wrong.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:09 AM   #20
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You guys shift? Wow.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:20 AM   #21
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You guys shift? Wow.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:43 AM   #22
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My all time favorite shifters are upper level SRAM (X.0 or X.9) mated to the SRAM rear derailleur for duribality and flawless shifting. (not quiet shifters but very quiet cassettes)
These are my favorite too. And, gasp, my favorite setup is with X.9 or X.0 gripshifters. One click and you are seemingly instantly and silently in another gear. So much easier than thumb shifters (especially on my aching arthritic thumb), faster too. Really fast if you want to shift two cogs, needing but a small fraction of the time it would take to make a double shift on a thumb shifter, or even a brifter. SRAM has done an excellent job on their latest generation of gripshifters.

I've ridden something like 80 different bikes in the past 12 months and the X.9 gripshift and rd on my Sun recumbent was as good or better than any of them. Disclaimer ... I hate brifters as a general rule and so even though the Ultegra group sets on the road bikes I tried worked flawlessly, I would rank them well down my preference list.
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Old 09-06-07, 10:23 AM   #23
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SRAM shifters have become very popular among mountain bikers in my part of the world. I know many people who swear by them, both the twist grip and the lever type.
I also have a friend who recently built up a road bike with the SRAM Rival group and he loves it. The shift levers are lighter than Dura Ace and work great. Best thing is that the brake lever is not a shift lever. All the shifting is done by the smaller lever behind the brake lever. That would be a major improvement to me.
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Old 09-06-07, 02:01 PM   #24
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My shifters are usually very quiet as they go from gear to gear. Currerntly though its' dropping a gear when I am torqueing the drive train (like on a hill); I hear and feel a click from the shifter, then a second or two later it just jumps to a harder gear, so I have to get the shifter rebuilt. Fortunatly its' Campy so it can be rebuilt.
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Old 09-06-07, 05:56 PM   #25
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Hmm shifters. Let's see, to change gears on the Europa, I have to unbolt the rear wheel, try to lift it out of the bike, realise I haven't released the brakes, release the brakes, lift the wheel out of the bike, find where I've left the locking ring tool, remove locking ring, put chain whip on cog, pull, bark knuckles, calm dog after he's panicked from all the swearing, look for chain whip, remove cog, spin on new cog, fit locking ring, look for locking ring tool, tighten locking ring, reinstall wheel, close brakes, go for test ride, realise I'm an idiot for going to a higher gear and reverse process.

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