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Thread: Shifters

  1. #1
    Mrs. Hop-along redeyedtreefr0g's Avatar
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    Shifters

    I had a different question in mind, but I realized that I know little about shifters, other than I like mine, and not my husbands.

    So, what type of shifters are out there, how do they work, and why is one kind chosen over another?



    I have soft barrelly shifters that are like an extension of the handlebar grip- very comfy to rest your hand on. All I have to do is give it a twist one way or another and I go to the next gear. Walmart calls them grip shifters.

    I like them because they are comfy and easy to use.

    My husband uses what he calls index shifters, which don't go around the bar, but mount on top of it. There is a little tab that he rotates forward or back to shift. I hate them because the tab goes over my handlebar grip and my hand ends up resting against it uncomfortably. I also have to take my hand off the bar to move the little tabby.

    What kind do you have?

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    I have five different bikes with four different shifters (actually five brands, but four types). I've never really learned to love grip shifters, but have them on my mountain bike. My OLD mountain bike, now a beater/commuter, has thumb shifters probably like your husband's (indexing, by the way, just means they click from gear to gear rather than being infinitely adjustable--it's a feature of the shifter, not a specific type). One of my older road bikes still has downtube shifters, levers sort of down by my calf, and my main road bike has "barcon" shifters, which mount in the ends of the handlebar. They have a lever to turn the indexing on and off; I leave it off.
    I don't have a strong preference, but if I had to choose one, it would be the barcons.
    Re the shifters hitting your hand, or vice versa, on most bikes the thumb shifters can be moved independently of the brake levers, so you can adjust them to suit you.

  3. #3
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Stem shifters: Did not like from the start, no bikes left with any.

    Grip Shift: Liked at first, then realized all the ones I've ever seen/used are cheap junk

    Bar ends: My favorite so far, 2 sets on 2 bikes right now.

    Thumb shifters: I like these a lot, but mainly because of mounting options.. great in a pinch with aerobars for instance. 1 Set on 1 bike right now.

    Trigger shifters: love'em, 2 sets on 2 bikes right now as well..

    Down tube: I know a lot of people like them, but I can't stand them and never could. They do tend to shift really well though.

    Have not tried brifters or suntour commands :/ the commands I know I want, the brifters I know I'd like to try.
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  4. #4
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post
    What kind do you have?
    Virtually all shfters made today are "index" shifters, meaning that there are distinct spots in the movement where the shifter stops. Your grip shifters are also "index" shifters, just a different sort. Older shifters (greater than 25 years or so) were "friction" shifters, and the movement of the shifter is 100% controlled by the rider, which can lead to misalignment (and noise and wear) of the chain, but us old fogeys quickly learned to adjust while riding.

    I have a couple different styles of shifter in my collection:
    "bar-end" shifters, which are small levers projecting from the ends of the handlebars

    "trigger" or "Rapidfire" shifters, where the shifter module is placed below and inboard of the brake lever

    and then there's my single-speed, which has no gear shifting mechanism whatsoever
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Arrowana's Avatar
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    I've had pretty much all of the popular ones at some point.

    MTB

    Grip Shifters: Cheap ones are one of my least favorites, they are usually terrible at indexing. High end Grip-shifters are amazing though, I'm looking at buying a new bike for the first time, and if it doesn't have drop bars, then switching to grip shifters will be my first mod.

    Thumb Shifters: These are like what you said your husband has. The vast majority are designed in a way that they won't interfere with the grip. I have a set that do get in the way on my Panasonic, which is a bit annoying. As long as they are decent enough quality, thumb shifters are another of my favorites though.

    Rapid-Fire: Even cheap ones seem to work decently enough, though almost all of the old ones I've run into are gummed up and barely work. I'm not really a fan of them.

    Road

    STI: Expensive, but generally worth the price. I can't say I like them as much as nice grip or thumb shifters, but these are my favorite for a road bike.

    Bar-end: Much cheaper than STI, and work great. Annoying having to move your hands to shift, although much better if you cut down your handlebars first.

    Downtube: Varies on the quality of the shifter and how well the bike fits you. I had a set of Huret DT shifters on a bike that I loved, but other than that, I don't care for them much.

    Stem shifters: As long as they aren't plastic they usually work well, though it is not an ideal place to have shifters if you go fast.

  8. #8
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Older shifters (greater than 25 years or so) were "friction" shifters, and the movement of the shifter is 100% controlled by the rider, which can lead to misalignment (and noise and wear) of the chain, but us old fogeys quickly learned to adjust while riding.
    Ah yes, I remember the days when your ears were just as important for shifting as your hands.
    Craig in Indy

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    gone is feathering ...
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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