I'd like to upgrade my 7 speed integrated shifters/brake levers as well as the V-brakes. I'm thinking about Avid SD-7 or maybe Shimano LX or XT. I need some advice.
1: I'll need to find a set of stand alone 7 speed shifters. Any recommendations for online stores that would still stock something like that? I'll also check the LBS of course. The 7 speed drivetrain is still OK, so I'm leaning towards buying separate brake levers and stand alone 7 speed shifters. When the current wheel/hub, cassette, etc bite the dust I can upgrade the shifter and whole drivetrain to 9 speed.
2: What are the pro/cons of using integrated shifter pods? Is there a difference in performance? I'm thinking that its a way for Shimano to cut corners, but they seem to sell decent quality components like XT and XTR as integrated models. What kind of buyer buys integrated?
3: The SD-7 seems to be priced in the middle of LX, XT and have similar features like reach adjust and leverage adjust (those features sound cool). The SD-7 has variable leverage adjustment vs 3 step Servo-Wave. The XT BR-M750 has long cantilever compared to BR-M570. Shimano has parallel push linkage.... not sure about SD7.
LX brake+lever kit: $60
SD-7 brake+lever kit: $70.
XT brake+lever kit: $95
LX brakes+lever+shifter: $100 STI
XT brake+lever+shifter: $135. STI
Anyhow, can someone quantify the performance difference and give me an idea if XT is worth an extra $25? I guess I'm curious about the advantages of catridge brake pads as well. I don't think Shimano has catridge pads, but I don't know if that matters.