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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 04-18-10, 11:02 PM   #1
duffymcpatzer
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A bar-end shifter question

Why do I see a lot of touring bikes with bar-end shifters on a road handlebar? Is there some special touring purpose to this that I don't understand.

I have to say I like my ergo levers and the shifting/braking togetherness I get, I just don't see the point other than retro-grouchiness.

Please enlighten me.

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Old 04-18-10, 11:17 PM   #2
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Bar ends are cheaper and more durable than brifters. They can also be switched to friction shifting, in case your derailleur gets bent or you need to swap the wheel for another one with a non-compatible cassette. Since tourers and distance cyclists aren't usually riding in tight pacelines, the ability to shift at a moments notice is less important.
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Old 04-18-10, 11:22 PM   #3
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Not to mention Bar ends pre-date brifters.
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Old 04-19-10, 12:28 AM   #4
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I like friction shifting, and STI doesn't offer friction shifting

Well, I like the idea of integrated brake/shift levers on a road bike, but for a touring bike, I'm not looking to maintain speed. I'm just looking for a comfortable ride. My future road bike will most likely have STI's though, as much as I like my friction shifting...
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Old 04-19-10, 06:13 AM   #5
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Also the cable routing of bar end shifters make it easier to mount a handlebar bag.Not that you can't mount a handlebar bag with brifters,it's just easier with barend's.
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Old 04-19-10, 07:06 PM   #6
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Let's say you are on a tour of the Andes. In Peru.

Something breaks. A spoke. Maybe your derailleur - and you have to replace it - with a bar end shifter, who cares.

You are running items that are bomb proof, pretty much impossible to damage and they don't care if you mix and match components. Or you set for a tour with a 105 RD and somewhere along the way you decide to put on a wider range cassette and XT Rear derailleur - 9 speed.

You can do all of this with Bar-Ends.

You can't make cheap practical on the run repairs on a touring bike, with STI or Ergo shifters.

Touring bikes are all about what works, in all conditions.
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Old 04-19-10, 10:02 PM   #7
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I just started using brifters. I like them, but I find myself reaching for the bar end shifters occasionally. Which is funny, because most of my miles have been with downtube shifters. I'm probably going to bar end shifters to make mounting a front bag easier.

Maybe we should have moved this to touring before now.
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Old 04-20-10, 12:04 AM   #8
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Let's say you are on a tour of the Andes. In Peru.

Something breaks. A spoke. Maybe your derailleur - and you have to replace it - with a bar end shifter, who cares.

You are running items that are bomb proof, pretty much impossible to damage and they don't care if you mix and match components. Or you set for a tour with a 105 RD and somewhere along the way you decide to put on a wider range cassette and XT Rear derailleur - 9 speed.

You can do all of this with Bar-Ends.

You can't make cheap practical on the run repairs on a touring bike, with STI or Ergo shifters.

Touring bikes are all about what works, in all conditions.
Thanks I had no idea.
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Old 04-20-10, 12:15 AM   #9
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I just started using brifters. I like them, but I find myself reaching for the bar end shifters occasionally. Which is funny, because most of my miles have been with downtube shifters. I'm probably going to bar end shifters to make mounting a front bag easier.

Maybe we should have moved this to touring before now.
Before this gets shunted over to touring, I'd like to bring this back to Randonneuring and Brevets. I see myself moving to Brevet style/distance riding as I ride more. That said I guess I still see a Brevet as a "race" at least with yourself and a clock. At 200K and even 300K brifters are my choice, but then you guys and gals start to go insane distances but it is a very different type of ride than a tour since it's semi-Sag'd so do those that randonneur choose brifters over bar-ends since the likelihood of bike failure is minimal or is it better to have a boy scout "be prepared" kind of outlook on your brevet bike or is it just personal choice and flavor? (I believe the majority of biking is personal choice and flavor fyi.)

Honestly, I'm just talking here not trying rile anyone up.
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Old 04-20-10, 06:18 AM   #10
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Mostly it's just a personal preferance.There are things that may sway one towards the use of barend's over brifter's.Things like price,reliability and brevets take place in many differant weather situations.Some may find that shifting with barends while wearing gloves on a cold days is easier,for others it may not be a problem.

If you prefer brifters thats fine,most of the people I see on brevets use them.My preferance is barends,simply because I got used to them and I plan on sticking with them.

And I don't think you are rileing anyone up.
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Old 04-20-10, 06:35 AM   #11
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I would say that most randonneurs of my acquaintance use brifters, but I haven't done an official study. OTOH, if you look at the randonneuring specific bikes, they usually have bar end shifters or downtube shifters. Touring bikes just aren't that common among randonneurs.
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Old 04-20-10, 06:45 AM   #12
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Other than cable routing there is no good reason for bar cons. And touring hardly requires lots of riding of the drops. Down tube or integrated STI levers make more sense than bar cons.
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Old 04-20-10, 07:28 AM   #13
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Both shifting systems have merit and I have both systems on bikes that I use often.

Brifters are more convenient to reach. They also allow me to keep my cadence in a very tight range. For performance riding, I prefer Brifters.

Bar-end shifters are less convenient and I tend to set-em and forget-em when riding my touring & commuting bike. The shift quality is perfect with the way I have my bar-end shifters set-up. I have the left shifter set to friction mode and the front derailleur is quicker and easier to shift in friction mode. The right shifter is set for index shifting and the shifts are fast and perfect.

Both work well, each having its own benefits.
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Old 04-20-10, 08:32 AM   #14
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I have been using Suntour friction bar end shifters on several bikes for a while. I had been using indexed Shimano bar ends, but found that the shifting in friction mode was so easy that I liked the look and feel of the Suntour version better.I just like the way they work, the fact that they cost much less than brifters and that they can be used with a mix of different components without compatibility problems. Before brifters, bar ends were how you got your shifters closer to your hands while riding.

I'll probably go with brifters on my next build, but I'll likely complain about the cost.
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Old 04-20-10, 08:37 AM   #15
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On my Giant FCR when I did the handlebar conversion to drops, I went with Bar End Shifters for a few reasons.

1. Much cheaper than comparable brifter setup.
2. The option of Friction Mode is absolutely Great if one of your derailleurs gets bumped or something happens to it.
3. The Bar end shifters make it so that you can use a tall front rack with stuff on it and your brifters aren't closed out.
4. Bar Ends allow you to put w/e brakes you want on a bike. On a touring bike V-Brakes, and Cantilever brakes are FAR better than calipers. (Brifters usually force you to use short pull Caliper brakes)
5. Index shifting was so easy to setup and with the option of Friction it can make any ride situation fun.

My 5 reasons!
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Old 04-20-10, 10:37 AM   #16
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On my Giant FCR when I did the handlebar conversion to drops, I went with Bar End Shifters for a few reasons.

1. Much cheaper than comparable brifter setup.
2. The option of Friction Mode is absolutely Great if one of your derailleurs gets bumped or something happens to it.
3. The Bar end shifters make it so that you can use a tall front rack with stuff on it and your brifters aren't closed out.
4. Bar Ends allow you to put w/e brakes you want on a bike. On a touring bike V-Brakes, and Cantilever brakes are FAR better than calipers. (Brifters usually force you to use short pull Caliper brakes)
5. Index shifting was so easy to setup and with the option of Friction it can make any ride situation fun.

My 5 reasons!
This sums it up for me too. I'll add #6 - I became very used to them when I was 18-21 years old - before I ever rode a bike with downtube shifters, and long before integrated shifters came into existence.

If brifters were cheaper, easier to repair in the field, and could be adapted to an emergency friction mode, I would ditch the bar ends on at least two of the three bikes I have them on. The cables interfering with a front bag... not so bad with Campagnolo - a nightmare with Shimano.
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Old 04-20-10, 12:25 PM   #17
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I will add my $0.02.

I have both Brifters and Bar-ends. On long distance over 400 k brevets my wrists get so tired shifting Brifters, so I start riding in one gear and only shift when I really have to, with Bar-ends I could shift easier using my whole arm, so I do tend to shift more on rides over 400k.
On fast rides I prefer quicker Brifters shifts for smoother cadence.
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Old 04-22-10, 09:12 AM   #18
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And I don't think you are rileing anyone up.
I don`t think so either, but here`s the funny thing- if this were in fact moved to touring, people WOULD get riled up about it. Really, the "This Shifter Vs That Shifter" debate is one of those that comes up about once every six weeks and the same people seem to get very pasionate about their choices every single time. I don`t get it. And why is that different here?

I didn`t get along well with the only brifters I`ve tried- reach was too far for comfort, felt like I had to push the levers too far in order to pull cable, and the bodies feel huge to me. Those were Tiagra triples- might be different with Ultegra, Ergo, or Doubletap, but I just stayed with the $60 solution. Besides that, I didn`t feel like hunting down a set of 8 speed STIs.
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Old 04-22-10, 09:18 AM   #19
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I will add my $0.02.

I have both Brifters and Bar-ends. On long distance over 400 k brevets my wrists get so tired shifting Brifters, so I start riding in one gear and only shift when I really have to, with Bar-ends I could shift easier using my whole arm, so I do tend to shift more on rides over 400k.
On fast rides I prefer quicker Brifters shifts for smoother cadence.
Do you mean that these are on separate bikes, or the same bike? If the latter, how do you make both work together?

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Old 04-22-10, 01:04 PM   #20
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Do you mean that these are on separate bikes, or the same bike? If the latter, how do you make both work together?

Thanks,
Nick

Sorry, I should have said on two different bikes.
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Old 04-22-10, 03:37 PM   #21
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I use brifters on my "good bikes," but friction bar-ends on my heavier rain bike. Saved money and weight. Cable breakage is about the same either way. The bar ends never wear out, either, so it's money saving forever, at least for me in this life. No upgrades necessary, ever. And sometimes it's fun to slam through the gears in either direction.

The only real disadvantage is that I can't shift while standing, but that's no big deal because I usually know what the gear will be before I get up, and I can always sit for an instant and shift, anyway. Otherwise I usually have some warning that a shift is coming and I can just drop a hand back to the lever and wait for it. I like bar ends better than downtube because I can have both hands on the bars. I ride brevets on a brifter bike, though. It's a little confusing for a few minutes when switching bikes.
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Old 04-22-10, 05:58 PM   #22
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I don`t think so either, but here`s the funny thing- if this were in fact moved to touring, people WOULD get riled up about it. Really, the "This Shifter Vs That Shifter" debate is one of those that comes up about once every six weeks and the same people seem to get very pasionate about their choices every single time. I don`t get it. And why is that different here?
I don't think this question would rile any randonneurs I know. I suggested I should move it because the question was about touring bikes. I think randonneurs and anyone else that's used to riding more than 200 miles on a fairly regular basis are generally more tolerant of other people's choices. We also tend to be older and have grown to understand that just because someone else wants to do something we wouldn't want to do doesn't affect us. And it doesn't take that much experience to know that what works at 200 miles might no longer work at 300 or 500 miles.
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Old 04-22-10, 05:58 PM   #23
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I don`t think so either, but here`s the funny thing- if this were in fact moved to touring, people WOULD get riled up about it. Really, the "This Shifter Vs That Shifter" debate is one of those that comes up about once every six weeks and the same people seem to get very pasionate about their choices every single time. I don`t get it. And why is that different here?
I don't think this question would rile any randonneurs I know. I suggested I should move it because the question was about touring bikes. I think randonneurs and anyone else that's used to riding more than 200 miles on a fairly regular basis are generally more tolerant of other people's choices. We also tend to be older and have grown to understand that just because someone else wants to do something we wouldn't want to do doesn't affect us. And it doesn't take that much experience to know that what works at 200 miles might no longer work at 300 or 500 miles.
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Old 04-22-10, 07:55 PM   #24
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I see myself moving to Brevet style/distance riding as I ride more. That said I guess I still see a Brevet as a "race" at least with yourself and a clock. At 200K and even 300K brifters are my choice, but then you guys and gals start to go insane distances but it is a very different type of ride than a tour....
It is, and it isn't.

It is very different than a tour, in that (similar to what you noted) you are doing huge distances with minimal breaks, minimal gear, and usually some form of support. (Though many tours do either use SAG vehicles or frequent stops.)

It is similar though in that many people prefer a very similar setup for a 300k+ ride as they will want for a tour. E.g. a somewhat relaxed geometry, wider tires, lower gearing, robust components, more compliant frame, perhaps a handlebar bag.

Plus there is a bit of crossover for riders who like to do ultras and like to tour, and likely use the same bike for both purposes.

One other minor item to consider: When doing ultras, one major location of discomfort is in your hands. Using barcons does get you to change up your hand position more frequently than brifters.

Other than personal preference, hand changes, and a small edge in terms of reliability, I don't think there's too compelling a need to bar-end shifters just for ultras. If you're going to use the same bike to tour and for ultras, it makes more sense.
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Old 04-23-10, 10:31 AM   #25
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Bar end shifters are also sort of a poor-man's STI, as opposed to down-tube shifters. Great for DIY frankenbikes where you are mixing and matching components or saving an old bike.
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