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Old 12-31-09, 05:45 PM   #1
cnnrmccloskey
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"Suicide Shifters"

Recently I've been hearing alot of casual riders describe their downtube mounted shifters "Suicide Shifters" and its really been irking me, is this common slang I don't see it much outside the world of very casual not very bike savvy fellows.
should I be slapped on the wrist for telling people not to use the term (Since http://davesbikeblog.blogspot.com/20...-shifters.html these have a much better reason for the name)
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Old 12-31-09, 05:51 PM   #2
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In 40 years of riding, I've never head downtube shifters called "suicide shifters". Stem mount shifters, yes, downtube, no. The name sticks to the stem mounts because you have to slightly unbalance yourself to reach up and shift while in motion. Downtubes? They were put there because the motion to get to the shifters was natural.

I'm assuming said mentioning riders are probably thirty years or so younger than me, and weren't even born when downtube shifters was just about the only way they came.
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Old 12-31-09, 05:56 PM   #3
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I think of suicide shifter as the stick shift on the older Harley Davidson motorcycles.
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Old 12-31-09, 06:19 PM   #4
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If they're suicide shifters, I'd be long dead.
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Old 12-31-09, 06:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
In 40 years of riding, I've never head downtube shifters called "suicide shifters". Stem mount shifters, yes, downtube, no. The name sticks to the stem mounts because you have to slightly unbalance yourself to reach up and shift while in motion. Downtubes? They were put there because the motion to get to the shifters was natural.
My experience is exactly the opposite of that. I had a bike with downtube shifters for over 20 years and it never felt natural. I replaced it with an old bike with stem shifters and I don't even have to think about shifting.

Also.... I've heard of suicide shifters where the front derailleur is shifted directly by reaching to a lever on the seat tube:

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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

Last edited by Doohickie; 12-31-09 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 12-31-09, 07:00 PM   #6
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Many old motorcycles besides Harley had em. You not only had to take one hand off bars which wasnt so bad,but you also while doing that had to step on the foot clutch,which usually was on same side of bike as shifter. That tended to unsettle things and took a bit of getting used to. But like anything you got used to it, or sometimes not!Lol.
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Old 12-31-09, 07:25 PM   #7
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IIRC, stem shifters fell out of favor because they could impale the rider in frontal collisions. One non-fiction book I read about cycling related just such an incident. I have a bike with downtube shifters, and can't think of anything suicidal or particularly dangerous about them. On hills, it is more convenient to use the Ergo shifters on my Bianchis. I will likely replace the bar end shifters, on my Rivendell, with downtube shifters, or at least do so with the left shifter.
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Old 12-31-09, 08:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
My experience is exactly the opposite of that. I had a bike with downtube shifters for over 20 years and it never felt natural. I replaced it with an old bike with stem shifters and I don't even have to think about shifting.
I'm sure it's just the difference between riding an agressive position in the drops vs. an upright position. If you are in the drops the DT shifters are going to be right there, and the stem shifters will be harder to get to. If you are in an upright position, the stem shifters will be right there and the DT shifters will be quite a reach.
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Old 12-31-09, 08:02 PM   #9
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Thanks for the link to daves bikeblog. Like to see the old bike stuff. Funny to think in 20 years we will probably be talking how primitive Ergos were.
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Old 12-31-09, 09:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
In 40 years of riding, I've never head downtube shifters called "suicide shifters". ...
I'm assuming said mentioning riders are probably thirty years or so younger than me, and weren't even born when downtube shifters was just about the only way they came.
Same for me. I've been riding since college in the late '60s, and I've never heard the term.
For what it's worth, though, I was tempted to say, "You haven't heard about that? I looked it up on Google, and every single one of us who rode with downtubes died as a result."
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Old 12-31-09, 09:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
My experience is exactly the opposite of that. I had a bike with downtube shifters for over 20 years and it never felt natural. I replaced it with an old bike with stem shifters and I don't even have to think about shifting.
Then you would love the Denali with the twist index shifters next to the stem rather than shifters incorporated into the brake hoods.
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Old 12-31-09, 11:27 PM   #12
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I think that generally it is all a matter of what you are used to. In my case I was used to stem mounted shifters. I have never used downtube shifters.
My Kona came with rapid fire shifters, which didn't work well for me. Well, they worked fine, I just didn't like them, replaced them with stem shifters.
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Old 01-01-10, 02:24 AM   #13
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My dad is one of those people who calls them that.

One bike had downtube shifters that I hated, and I replaced them with MTB thumb shifters. (Actually worked great too!) A different bike with them it did seem awkward, but I probably could have gotten used to it.

Stem shifters seem a bit awkward at first if I haven't ridden a bike with them in awhile, but after a bit of use, feel pretty natural. I think my favourite is the thumb shifters though.
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Old 01-01-10, 03:28 AM   #14
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I find the best way to shift on down-tube shifters - and others - is to balance by putting my foot down on the side I'm shifting. Break your cadence by pedaling slowly with no "mashing," and shifting. Nice smooth shift and easy to reach your previous cadence.

If you "mash" the pedals as you shift, you'll soon be starting a new thread here: "Why is my derailleur make a horrible noise?"
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Old 01-01-10, 07:17 AM   #15
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A lot of people call riders of brakeless fixed gear bikes suicidal and they have no shifters at all!

/has 2 brakes on his [currently SS] fixed gear bicycle.
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Old 01-01-10, 07:29 AM   #16
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A lot of people call riders of brakeless fixed gear bikes suicidal and they have no shifters at all!
I thought that was reserved for conversions that don't use a real fixed gear hub with a reverse threaded lockring.
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Old 01-01-10, 07:34 AM   #17
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I'm sure it's just the difference between riding an agressive position in the drops vs. an upright position. If you are in the drops the DT shifters are going to be right there, and the stem shifters will be harder to get to. If you are in an upright position, the stem shifters will be right there and the DT shifters will be quite a reach.
That's what I think too. I haven't had a bike with down tube shifters for quite a while. One convenience I remember was shifting either lever with my right hand.
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Old 01-01-10, 08:17 AM   #18
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I've never heard of 'suicide shifters'. Maybe the people using the term have heard reference to 'suicide levers', the supplemental brake levers found on many dropbar Bike Boom bikes, and have made up a new term, based on a misunderstanding of what 'suicide levers' really are.
Of course, my first two 'ten-speeds' in the Seventies had both stem shifters and 'suicide levers'.
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Old 01-02-10, 11:36 AM   #19
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I'm sure it's just the difference between riding an agressive position in the drops vs. an upright position. If you are in the drops the DT shifters are going to be right there, and the stem shifters will be harder to get to. If you are in an upright position, the stem shifters will be right there and the DT shifters will be quite a reach.
Incorrect.
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Old 01-02-10, 12:47 PM   #20
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Incorrect.
What makes you say that?
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Old 01-03-10, 12:21 PM   #21
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Nothing beats the Campagnolo "Cambio Corsa" system:

http://www.wooljersey.com/gallery/v/...G0003.AVI.html
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Old 01-03-10, 12:27 PM   #22
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Yes, enlighten us. I think UMD's observation was spot-on; folks who ride a roadster with a good position will find the downtube shifters to fall naturally to the hand without shifting the body. They were the standard for all serious road riders and for racers for many years.
The stem-mounted shifters were intended for the "casual" rider ( have you ever seen a pair on a quality roadster?) who would favor an upright position. You also see stem-shifters coupled with the above-mentioned supplemental brake levers; another item designed to cater to casual riders who would not be using a proper "on the hoods" hand position.
A lot of these cheap "10-speeds" didn't even have any sort of hoods on the brake housing; just bare aluminum.
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Old 01-03-10, 04:44 PM   #23
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I think it stems from the fact that everone seems to have 'brifters' these days. they seem to be under the impression there is no need to remove their hands for the handlebars. they can't remove them to wave. I see 'brifter people' stopped to get a drink, even when the light is green and they are standing in the travel lane!

so to them, taking your hands off the bars for anything is suicide.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:03 AM   #24
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I see an awful lot of folks who have very bad habits; apparently they have gone out and plunked down good money for a bike and not bothered to get even the most basic training about riding.
One thing you see with roadsters is folks who seem to have their hands welded into the "drops"; they seem to think that's the normal riding position. Even struggling slowly uphill (in a way-too-high gear) they're "in the drops".
Braking is approached with trepidation if at all; folks seem to think that the slightest touch of the front brake will propel them over the bars.
And shifting...You could go on for hours.
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Old 01-04-10, 08:13 PM   #25
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I have only heard of stem shifters called suicide shifters. Once I got my first bike with bifters however I never looked back. Well except thinking about a classis rebuild but then I think I would add bar end shifters.
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