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  1. #1
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Shifter advice for an occasional MTB'er

    Right off the bat, I'm a roadie. 150 miles a week and all that. However I've always had a fascination with mountain biking and have tried it on a couple of previous occasions, neither of which worked out for long.

    I've always built my own bikes from scratch (I'm an excellent, ex-professional mechanic), usually starting with something from somebody's yard bought for $30.00. My main rule (in defense of my past record) is that the finished product had to be salable on Craigslist for $100.00 and I wouldn't lose money - and hopefully make a couple of bucks. My previous Trek 850 (turns out I was riding too small a frame) and Schwinn Ranger (worked, but didn't turn me on) ended up fulfilling the last point, even if the riding didn't work out.

    Third time seems to be a charm.

    This past summer I picked up an abandoned but promising underneath all the dirt and corrosion Gary Fisher Gitchiee Gumee, rebuilt it, and I've been enjoying it. Did a short 1/4 mile practice trail in the woods on my property, and usually hit it every evening after work before dinner. And the practice is paying off. When I hit the local park/major MTB trail area, I'm getting faster, actually feeling like I know what I'm doing, and enjoying myself. Even if I come out of the woods with insanely sore wrists at the end of the hour or so. I'm finding the limitations of hard-nose/hard-tail - I may start looking for a second-hand suspension fork.

    However, I've got a more immediate problem: To keep the costs down, I reused everything original on the bike, and while I like the SRAM 3x7 twist grips, they work but are worn, and shifting is a bit on the sloppy side. I'm considering something else, either twist grip (I'm happy with both my experiences with them) or trigger (leaning more to the latter - I did like the Shimano's that were on the Trek, although I've long forgotten what model). And I need some advice from those on the list with more experience than me.

    The limitations are 3x7 and inexpensive. New inexpensive is good, used somewhat-above-inexpensive would probably be better. I've planned on sticking with either Shimano or SRAM.

    Anyone got any favorites they'd care to turn me on to?

    Thanks,
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  2. #2
    ed
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    Quote Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
    (I'm an excellent, ex-professional mechanic)
    Someone with your credentials should be able to answer his own questions.

    Flame On!

  3. #3
    ****** (can I say this?)
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    ^^^^^^
    Dang you !!!!(beat me to it)
    “Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary... that’s what gets you.”- Jeremy Clarkson

  4. #4
    Señor Member theextremist04's Avatar
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    In the same vein, if you're ex-professional maybe you were actually a mechanic when that bike was actually decent.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Someone with your credentials should be able to answer his own questions.

    Flame On!
    And if we're talking ROAD bikes - I can. I was out of cycling completely (and I do mean completely - like I never heard of Greg Lemond until I walked into a bicycle shop and saw all those bikes with his name on the frame) between 1977 and 2005, got back in and picked up all the missing technology in a couple of months.

    For ROAD bikes.

    Other than those two prior abortive attempts at riding, and I was only attempting to ride, not learn about what's out there, I don't know beans about mountain bikes. And I'm starting to learn. Now. Thus my questions.

    That's what I love about forums: There's always some a*****e still living in his parent's basement who's all too ready to start flaming at a moment's notice. This kind of opening reaction makes me believe that single speed/fixed gear is a hotbed of Emily Post.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  6. #6
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theextremist04 View Post
    In the same vein, if you're ex-professional maybe you were actually a mechanic when that bike was actually decent.
    Got out of the business in 1977 when I finished grad school. Missed everything after 27x1-1/4" ten-speeds, and only heard rumors that there were crazies out in California draming up bikes that weren't ridden on pavement. Trail riding? The kids in my area were using single speed Schwinn Sting Rays.

    Got back in three years ago after picking up an old 10-speed at a vintage motorcycle show to get around the show area, and discovered that I really missed cycling. So far, the most I've done with a mountain bike was to turn a Bianchi Nyala into a street-based long haul heavy tourer (my Tierra del Fuego bike), currently sitting at work as my urban lunch-time errand runner.

    Afraid I missed the early days of mountain biking completely. Actually, I never knew they were coming.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  7. #7
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of Grip Shifters on MTBs. For trigger type shifters that are not expensive, Shimano made a budget priced 7 speed system with a V-brake combo, casting ST-EF28. You can find these on entry level LBS mountain bikes and on higher priced Wally World bikes (like the Ranger you had). Some of the mid-level LBS bikes used the same shifter in an 8-speed variation. Trek 4500's from a few years ago used them. I've found a couple of 7 speed sets attached to yard sale bikes. They are a little heavy, and totally lack any bling, but very reliable. I used them on a couple of builds, where budget was an issue, with success.
    If you don't mind spending a little more, you might find some Shimano 8 speed, V brake combo shifters. The Alivio model (casting ST-MC20) came with a bike I upgraded to XT. I'm now using the Alivios on a Hard Rock I built for my son. In four years I've never had a problem with them. They don't bring the bigger bucks on ebay like XT 8-speed or Deore 9-speed. Like the XT, this model can make multiple downshifts in one move.
    Hope this helps.
    EDIT: I'm assuming you are trying to do this on a budget.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yotsko's Avatar
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    Grip shifters suck. There's my input!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
    The limitations are 3x7 and inexpensive. New inexpensive is good, used somewhat-above-inexpensive would probably be better.
    I watched ebay and craigslist for a few months to find replacements for my 3x7 deore xl thumb-shifter and brake lever units on my old mountain bike and didn't find anything affordable at all. They just don't come up often. Those click shifters always seemed to break anyway so I just did away with them and went with a separate tektro brake lever and cheap friction thumb shifters (bought both off the rivendell site).

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    I second this. I build all of my own bikes, and on my commuter MTB that I ride nearly every day I decided to buy the 8-speed version of the ST-EF28. It has worked great so far, in fact they feel must better than my old 7-speed deore LX shifters. I paid $26 including shipping from JensonUSA.

    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
    I'm not a big fan of Grip Shifters on MTBs. For trigger type shifters that are not expensive, Shimano made a budget priced 7 speed system with a V-brake combo, casting ST-EF28. You can find these on entry level LBS mountain bikes and on higher priced Wally World bikes (like the Ranger you had). Some of the mid-level LBS bikes used the same shifter in an 8-speed variation. Trek 4500's from a few years ago used them. I've found a couple of 7 speed sets attached to yard sale bikes. They are a little heavy, and totally lack any bling, but very reliable. I used them on a couple of builds, where budget was an issue, with success.
    If you don't mind spending a little more, you might find some Shimano 8 speed, V brake combo shifters. The Alivio model (casting ST-MC20) came with a bike I upgraded to XT. I'm now using the Alivios on a Hard Rock I built for my son. In four years I've never had a problem with them. They don't bring the bigger bucks on ebay like XT 8-speed or Deore 9-speed. Like the XT, this model can make multiple downshifts in one move.
    Hope this helps.
    EDIT: I'm assuming you are trying to do this on a budget.

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    so the old 3x7 sram twists use a diff cable pull ratio than than the newer trigger shifters, 1-1 vs 1-2, so if you upgrade the shifters you have to get a new derailleur, also shimano is diff ratio so same issue, the other thing is trying to find good parts in a 7 speed, i'd say for the cheep stuff go with shimano alivio, it has similar characteristics to deore in terms of how the shifter feels but is 8 speed not 9 speed like deore lx xt xtr or sram x7 x9 x0, for 9 speed systems I really like sram but that sounds like outside your price bracket (x9 and x0 have amazimg lever feel and super short throw, but cost about as much as your bike) i'm not a fan of srams cheapo triggers, shimano makes some triggers for a 7 speed that work really well, but i don't know the name they are really just replacement parts for old bikes not somthin shimano cares about enough to label, you can pick up some for like 20 bucks a shifter at your lbs, otherwise hit up ebay until you find some older shimanos and a deraileur, you coudl also get and 8 speed cassette and just go that route

  12. #12
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    Um...not all SRAM twist shifters used the different cable pull ratio.

    He can't just get an 8 speed cassette/shifters, he would need a new freehub body/hub/rear wheel, as well.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
    I'm not a big fan of Grip Shifters on MTBs. For trigger type shifters that are not expensive, Shimano made a budget priced 7 speed system with a V-brake combo, casting ST-EF28. You can find these on entry level LBS mountain bikes and on higher priced Wally World bikes (like the Ranger you had). Some of the mid-level LBS bikes used the same shifter in an 8-speed variation. Trek 4500's from a few years ago used them. I've found a couple of 7 speed sets attached to yard sale bikes. They are a little heavy, and totally lack any bling, but very reliable. I used them on a couple of builds, where budget was an issue, with success.
    If you don't mind spending a little more, you might find some Shimano 8 speed, V brake combo shifters. The Alivio model (casting ST-MC20) came with a bike I upgraded to XT. I'm now using the Alivios on a Hard Rock I built for my son. In four years I've never had a problem with them. They don't bring the bigger bucks on ebay like XT 8-speed or Deore 9-speed. Like the XT, this model can make multiple downshifts in one move.
    Hope this helps.
    EDIT: I'm assuming you are trying to do this on a budget.
    Thank you. That's exactly what I'm looking for. No doubt I could buy a load of 3x7 shifters and try each one, but I was trying to short circuit the whole process (and save myself a bit of money) by picking up on other's past experiences.

    I'm getting the feeling that this winter is going to be a parallel learning process to the winter of 05-06 when I caught up on all that road information.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  14. #14
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
    I watched ebay and craigslist for a few months to find replacements for my 3x7 deore xl thumb-shifter and brake lever units on my old mountain bike and didn't find anything affordable at all. They just don't come up often. Those click shifters always seemed to break anyway so I just did away with them and went with a separate tektro brake lever and cheap friction thumb shifters (bought both off the rivendell site).
    I've played with thumb shifters on something street I built for a co-worker (hybrid something or other) a while back, and didn't like them all that much. Have considered the idea, but am hoping for a bit better.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

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    Quote Originally Posted by kramnnim View Post
    Um...not all SRAM twist shifters used the different cable pull ratio.

    He can't just get an 8 speed cassette/shifters, he would need a new freehub body/hub/rear wheel, as well.

    yeah but the crappier grip shifters do (ie what he woudl have on a junkeyard bike)

    and yeah i should have said 8 speed freewheel, I just don't run a single bike with a freewheel over a cassette so i don't thihk about it w/e i think that should be obvious, besides that sounds like more money than he wants to spend, prolly just ebay it up

    btw all the front derailleurs are the same pull ratio so you can use w/e for that

  16. #16
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    I'm a big fan of the SRAM trigger shifters. I had Shimano on my old bike but found myself periodically triggering an accidental shift when I'd re-grip my handlebars during a climb. Mid climb is NOT when you want to trigger an inadvertent shift.

    The SRAM triggers are both (up and down shift) thumb operated and tucked out of the way enough to keep you from accidently hitting them. Switching from Shimano to SRAM takes some re-programming but once you're used to it then shifting is second nature.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Guys,

    Thank you very much - what's going on here is exactly what I was hoping for. I'd started doing a few eBay searches and rapidly got overwhelmed with the choices, as well as realizing that 75% of what's out there was either eight or nine speed. Assuming that the hub/number of gears on the cassette convention is identical to road bikes, I have given some thought to either finding or building a rear wheel to take an 8/9 speed cassette and upgrading to newer stuff.

    However, that's a winter project (I tend to spend quite a few cold weekend evenings in front of the family room fire lacing wheels). My main worry at the moment is a reasonable upgrade to what I have so as to keep me out on the trails every Sunday afternoon after my road session. I'm discovering a lot of enthusiasm for this, and want to keep it going.

    Regarding low cost. That is also a momentary consideration, due to my current inexperience. While the Fisher seems to have a very good frame for the price range it sold in, it's still a low buck bike. Six, eight, twelve months from now, assuming this enthusiasm continues, I'll be willing to spend some serious money on something good. And, I'll probably shock the sales staff at the couple of bikes shops I currently deal with by actually wanting to purchase a complete bike off the showroom floor - something I last did in 1972. Since I currently know nothing about rear suspensions and disc brakes, I'd feel safer going that route.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  18. #18
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
    For trigger type shifters that are not expensive, Shimano made a budget priced 7 speed system with a V-brake combo, casting ST-EF28. You can find these on entry level LBS mountain bikes and on higher priced Wally World bikes (like the Ranger you had).
    Doing some digging on eBay tonight, I've run across a set of Shimano ST-EF29's. A later version of what you're describing? Or something totally different?

    For the moment, they appear to be something that would work quite well for me.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  19. #19
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    The shimano brake/shifter combo is ok.
    they came on my 3900..
    The other day I smashed into a tree (front tire washed out on me in sand, on a turn) going around 10 mph-shifter took the impact. They still work just fine.
    Make it a 1x8 setup FTW!

  20. #20
    ed
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    Quote Originally Posted by sykerocker View Post
    There's always some a*****e still living in his parent's basement who's all too ready to start flaming at a moment's notice. This kind of opening reaction makes me believe that single speed/fixed gear is a hotbed of Emily Post.
    Dude...I wish I could move back in to the basement Wife and kids would kill me though. 1977...I was 1

    In resp. to Cheeto...my riding buddy beat the poopie out of his combo shifter. Even beat the plastic shroud off it. He still used it for another year before I replaced it myself b/c I got tired of looking at it. They work fine.

  21. #21
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Dude...I wish I could move back in to the basement Wife and kids would kill me though. 1977...I was 1

    In resp. to Cheeto...my riding buddy beat the poopie out of his combo shifter. Even beat the plastic shroud off it. He still used it for another year before I replaced it myself b/c I got tired of looking at it. They work fine.
    As you can probably guess, I spend LOTS of time in the Classic & Vintage section. Still have a lot of clear memories of working in the bike shop during the 70's, which is amazing given the amount of acid I took back then, so it turns out all those boring old stories are references to a newer generation . It's nice to feel useful.

    I was probably a bit sharp regarding the original flame reaction, but that kind of attitude annoys me big time, and it's something I pointedly never do to someone who's just discovered Uncle Charlie's old ten-speed. And I'm certainly used to flaming. Contrary to popular belief, it did not originate with the internet. I can remember a time, 40 years ago, when you'd carry on threads like this one via the US mail (PC's and Internet were still a few years in the future), and if you wanted to start flaming people, you had to own a mimeograph machine! And people did. Took a lot more effort to be annoying and petulant back then.

    OK, the bug is starting to bite - slow day at work, spent the day on eBay looking at shifters and suspension forks. Hmmn, swap out the fork, new shifters, maybe replace the rear derailleur. For the moment, I'm quite happy with the Fisher frame and wheels, given my current level of ability. That should hold me for the time being. Yeah, eight or nine speed would be nice, I'll worry about that in February when the swap meets start up. I've picked up lots of nice inexpensive road wheels in past years at swap meets.

    Of course, I start looking at frames . . . . . . . . . . great, I've already got a fixie, two tourers, six road bikes and the Fisher. And that Centurion frame in the attic which I'm still note sure how I want to build. I have a feeling I'm going to need more wall space, start learning disc brakes (well, new skills never hurt). Looking at the stuff in the LBS, full suspension is way out of my price range. None of my road bikes have cost that much!
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheeto View Post
    Make it a 1x8 setup FTW!
    Cheeto, I just don't get your obsession with 1x8. I rarely use my outer front cog (not for its intended purpose anyway) but I'm constantly shifting between the two inners. And even if I weren't I don't see all that much to gain by going 1x8. Heck, you still have to run a bash ring since you don't have the outer cog there to serve that purpose. And outer cogs make great bash rings because you can use 'em to claw your way over logs.

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