Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Bikes: 84 Trek 660 Suntour Superbe; 87 Giant Rincon Shimano XT; 07 Mercian Vincitore Campy Veloce
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Sprocket man is right on. The new stuff is great when it works, the problem is they go out of adjustment easily and some folks don't know how to fix them. I have both and way prefer the friction over STI due to it's simplicity and rarely going out of adjustment.
Suntour had the absolutely best friction shifters ever made and I still use the Superbe system and know for a fact that this stuff shifts as fast as the STI stuff. The only thing that makes mine a bit slower the STI is that I have to reach for the downtube shifter, but once mechanically engaged it's just as fast and just as accurate...accuracy of course come with over 30 years of experience using friction. Your barend activated shifters though would be just as fast as STI.
Also the older friction stuff used wider chains and gears then todays crap...err sorry-stuff, and the older chains and gears last at least 3 times longer then the new. I've heard from plenty of forum members here and other places that said they replace their chains and sometimes sprockets every 3,000 to 5,000 miles...THAT'S NUTS!!! My chains average 15,000 miles and my last Suntour Winner freewheel lasted 45,000 miles!
No wonder most touring bikes use the simplier friction stuff.
And if you think your new stuff is so reliable wait till the electric shifters come out. Very few will be able to work on that stuff and if your batteries go dead or they freeze or a motor fries on a ride you can't shift at all! Oh boy I can't wait for those and spend gobs of money for the components and repairs and batteries! All this technology spin reminds of the direction the auto industry has gone; this is all being done so that LBS can make more money on parts and labor just as it was done in the auto industry.
By the way you can pick up all sorts of friction gear on E-Bay and some on-line stores for less then newer STI. Superbe Cyclone and VG series is an excellent mid line value, Cyclone was lighter of the two but both outshifted any other companies top line stuff.