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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 09-09-06, 01:03 PM   #1
brunop
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downtube shifters?

anybody run downtube shifters to keep the bars clear for bags?

or are bar end shifters the way to go?
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Old 09-09-06, 01:20 PM   #2
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Shifters

Down-tube shifters were the only kind of shifters for most multi-speed bikes for years.
I still have them on a few of my older bikes.
They work good, but your hand has to leave the handlebar to make a shift.
Also it is tricky making a double shift (i.e., left and right shifters at the same time).

Then someone put the shifters on the handlebar stem, but that idea was short-lived although cheaper bikes tended to gravitate to them.

Next came the bar end shifters which allowed you to shift with a flick of your baby finger and still hang onto the handlebar. However if you rode on the tops of the handlebar, it meant moving to the drops. One nice feature was that the cables were "hidden" (although the mechanics didn't like the hidden feature when it came to changing the cables).

Next we have the shifter integrated with the brake lever. This is the most common on newer road bikes. You shift as you move the brake lever latterally. This is optimum if your hands are on the tops or the brake hood. If you are on the drops, you might need long fingers to reach the brake. Also, on long rides, your hands get tired from the vibration, etc. so that shifting can become a little more difficult.

Another current shifter is the twist grip shifter used primarily on mountain bikes and some trikes (such as the new Catrike). Usually they are not placed on road bikes with the "drop-down" bars. They do work ok, but you can sometimes accidentally switch gears when you pull on the grips.
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Old 09-10-06, 06:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunop
anybody run downtube shifters to keep the bars clear for bags?

or are bar end shifters the way to go?

Are you asking about for your IF?

I was going to go bar end as well... then the Campy bug hit me. No cables flapping out there like Shimano...
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Old 09-10-06, 02:46 PM   #4
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I prefer bar-end shifters over downtube shifters, especially for loaded touring on the tandem. Need both hands on the handlebar! However, my least favourite shifters are integrated ones, which I find hard to use from the drops.

In any case, if you prefer integrated shifters, you may go for Ergo shifters with an Ergo Shiftmate for compatibility with a Shimano cassette, or you may use STI shifters and tie the shifter cables away with tie wraps, a brake noodle or a Travel Agent.
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Old 09-10-06, 02:52 PM   #5
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My wife's Nishiki road bike has downtube shifters. It is fun to ride with them. The cool, lugged steel frame also adds to the enjoyment.

Paul
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Old 09-10-06, 07:38 PM   #6
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Barend would be better for touring so that you don't have to take a hand off the bar creating a possible very unstable situation.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:47 PM   #7
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I use downtubes to keep the area clear for a front bag. On my "other bike" which I never mount a front bag, I use brifters. The brifters are more convenient, but the clean line for the front bag is a real plus, and I really like a handlebar bag most of the time for rides longer that 50 miles.
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Old 09-23-06, 07:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmike
Are you asking about for your IF?

I was going to go bar end as well... then the Campy bug hit me. No cables flapping out there like Shimano...
duder! i went campy as well (chorus). all clear.
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Old 09-23-06, 07:50 AM   #9
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duder! i went campy as well (chorus). all clear.
nice...
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Old 09-23-06, 08:08 AM   #10
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FYI, handlebar bags can sometimes interfere with brifter cables. On my last tour, someone put a big handlebar bag on their road bike, and broke the shifter cable that way.

I recommend you do a test ride on a bike with bar-end shifters and maybe brifters if you see a set that will work w/your handlebar bag. You're going to have a hard time finding a recently made bike with downtube shifters, though.

Did they ever make indexed downtube shifters, by the way?
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Old 09-23-06, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
FYI, handlebar bags can sometimes interfere with brifter cables. On my last tour, someone put a big handlebar bag on their road bike, and broke the shifter cable that way.

I recommend you do a test ride on a bike with bar-end shifters and maybe brifters if you see a set that will work w/your handlebar bag. You're going to have a hard time finding a recently made bike with downtube shifters, though.

Did they ever make indexed downtube shifters, by the way?
The broken cable is not the fault of the shifters, but the person who "forced" the bag there in the first place with unrealistic expectations. The size of the bag IS important, but an oversize bag is a liability in my opinion because of the potential for overload. I use a Topeak Tour Guide in a small version, and it is perfect for most of my riding and still allows multiple shifts with one swing of the right lever.

I have downtube shifters on a 2001 Merida. I like them except for my inability to perfect the doubleshift AND...

In the long-distance events, as opposed to touring, quite often the challenge lies in the hills. If your riding style is to sit while riding uphills, bar-ends and downtubes will be fine. But if you stand, and you wish to change gears while standing, integrated levers are the only ones that allow you to do that. Period. I would not give up that ability on randonnees, and even extended loaded touring. For commuting, utility riding or fast leisure riding, my Merida will do just fine.

The Merida's shifters are indexed, and most other "friction" shifters had indexing. The downtube shifters are no different from friction shifters except in their location. The reduced distance of the cable inside the outers obviously leads to less friction and therefore snappy changes. Interestingly, that bike has arouond 11,000km on the computer, and has never had a new chain nor cogs nor chainrings, yet the changes are still pretty darned good in index mode.

Of course, you could get over all these issues by going fixed...

Last edited by Rowan; 09-23-06 at 11:50 AM.
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