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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 11-06-12, 05:36 PM   #1
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Retroshift advice?

Hey gang,

I'm thinking ahead to my next bike, I want to build up a Surly Crosscheck frame and use it for commuting, light touring, maybe a little trail riding. (I don't want to buy a new complete build because I don't want bar-ends).

Then I saw these mofos: http://retroshift.com/ and now I am certain I want these on my bike. Unless you CX guys know that these are actually crap. But they look like they work very well, and it would be a distinctive, unique touch that would help my bike stand out from the crowd (which hopefully won't get it stolen!)

So apart from the question of does anybody have experience with retroshifters and are they as good as they claim, I am also not sure whether to go bare and put on 3x8 indexed shifters (which I would have to find), or just buy the full 3x9 version with retroshift's own shifters on. ($129 for a bare pair, or $189 with their indexed 3x9 shift levers). (Or buy a brand-new Crosscheck, swap out the levers for retrofits and move the bar-ends onto them)

I have this impression that for ultra durability, it is best to stick with 8sp, because with 9+ speed drivetrains, the chains get so narrow and weak that they break a lot more easily. Is this just a myth? I am not a powerful biker (I have never broken a chain before), is this even something I should worry about?
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Old 11-06-12, 05:56 PM   #2
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I wouldn't worry about the durability of 9 speed.

I don't have any hands-on experience with the retroshift setup, but my feeling is it will work about as well as the bar end shifters mounted to it. Bar end shifters are about as bulletproof a shifting method as you can get. Shimanos are good. I'm not sure about the stock Retroshift shifters. They look like Microshift to me (same as IRD uses). They are probably fine too.

The real question is ergonomics. If you like to cruise on and shift from the hoods they would probably be fine. If you live in the drops maybe less so.

Unless you have specific parts in mind for a build or have stuff you want to use I'd get the complete and move the bar ends over to the Retroshift levers.

The stock cassette goes up to 32, giving you a 36x32 low gear with the double that comes with the complete. That should be enough for just about any situation.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:03 PM   #3
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Thx, yes I am a hoods rider, not a drops rider. I try to get myself into the drops more often because I know I should be there, but it always has to be a conscious effort (and doesn't last long). And my current road bike has the sora brifters with the little thumb levers for upshifting, which are not accessible from the drops, and I have never had a problem with those.
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Old 11-07-12, 05:20 PM   #4
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Also might want to look into a pair of Kelly Take-Offs.
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Old 11-07-12, 08:59 PM   #5
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Sorry, no experience with them, though I DID nonetheless spout some opinions on them earlier in the year : Retroshift Brake and Shift levers for Cyclocross.

Since then I've actually done some cross races and would rescind somewhat my concerns about safety and vulnerability, though these aren't really such a concern for you since you aren't planning to race cyclocross. I still think it's a bummer that they're basically unusable from the drops - it looks like it would be less awkward to to reach for downtube shifters from the drops than to reach for these. Obviously, fine on the hoods. But again, this is just sheer uninformed opinionating. I would love to try them out someday.

I think the main reason that they get my goat is that they just look so... hacky. That's fine for Kelly Take-Offs, which if we are honest ARE a hack - they're intended to be clamped down under a brake lever, for crying out loud. But these are custom made and expertly machined... and look, if anything, even hackier thank the Take-Offs. And yet, with shifters, they cost almost $200! You can buy a used set of Dura-Ace 7700 shifters for that money; I know, because I did. Of course, you only get 9 speeds instead of 10, but that's a minor quibble especially since you didn't want to go for more than 9 anyway. But all of this could well be me just being an old stick in the mud, especially as I haven't tried the things!

I don't know, if you're that into them, I would go for it. They would certainly be unique.
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Old 11-07-12, 11:35 PM   #6
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Interesting those Kelley take-offs. IMO the are more hacky than retroshifts, but the price is certainly better. I'll have to think a little more about both, but I'd lean towards the retroshift.
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Old 11-08-12, 08:59 AM   #7
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I have a pair of the Retroshifts and they're a quality product. I used them for a while on my touring bike with Shimano 8s bar end levers, but recently set them up with 6s Shimano DT shifters and moved them to my tandem.

Kelly Take Offs? No, thanks. I'd much rather use bar end shifters.

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Old 11-08-12, 08:59 AM   #8
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RubeRad - I will refrain from stating anything as to how Awesome our shifters are as I do work for the company and want to be fair. If you check out Retroshift on Facebook you will see some signs of the systems ability with photos and results from a couple of the recent cx races here in the muddy PDX area. Think we already have 3 wins with bikes sporting our system.

Just wanted to note. Shimano 9sp bar-end or down-tube shifters and Retroshift 9sp shifters are compatible with Shimano 8sp. This could be an option if you have 8sp parts you want to use. As for as 9sp I would have NO worries as to its durability. It is probably on balance the best of the lot and popular for cx. People are moving to 10sp however simply as that is more common in the pits if you need to swap out a wheel.

Happy riding and may the mud at least taste good!

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Old 11-08-12, 10:17 PM   #9
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Thx for the info, Goats! (may the mud at least taste good -- that's a good one)

When you say compatible with 8sp, do you mean in friction mode, or that the indexing/cog spacing is also the same and I just lose a click on one end or the other?

And as for Awesomeness, would it not be self-evident and fair to say that they shift exactly as Awesome as the system would have shifted with the levers in their original downtube or bar-end installation? And beyond that it's an ergonomic consideration to install the levers instead onto the brakes -- and sideways.
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Old 11-09-12, 02:38 PM   #10
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Interesting, I've never seen that before. IF you get them let us know what you think.
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Old 11-09-12, 08:41 PM   #11
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Thx for the info, Goats! (may the mud at least taste good -- that's a good one)

When you say compatible with 8sp, do you mean in friction mode, or that the indexing/cog spacing is also the same and I just lose a click on one end or the other?

And as for Awesomeness, would it not be self-evident and fair to say that they shift exactly as Awesome as the system would have shifted with the levers in their original downtube or bar-end installation? And beyond that it's an ergonomic consideration to install the levers instead onto the brakes -- and sideways.
Shimano 8 and 9 speed cassettes have the same spacing between cogs. You can use a 9sp Shimano down-tube shifter for instance with an 8sp cassette and it will work fine but you will have one extra click on the shifter. So yes you can have index 8sp with our 9sp shifter. We reccomend you put the extra click at the high (high gear - small cog) end of the range.

Awesomeness - Yes bar-end shifters can teach those heavy and complex integrated shifting systems a lesson or two in speed and ability. Our shifters will give you all that you would expect from the superior simplicity of a bar-end shifter but placed in such a way that you can utilize this while still maintaining control of the brakes.

Most awsome is that we get to call our 'shift lever on front of brake lever' - "REACH AROUND" Technology. None of the competitors can claim that!
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Old 11-09-12, 10:23 PM   #12
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Shimano 8 and 9 speed cassettes have the same spacing between cogs.
I'm actually pretty certain that this is NOT the case. According to Sheldon Brown, there is a spacing difference of about 0.5 mm; that doesn't sound like much, but it's enough that it won't work. This matches my personal experience - Shimano 7 and 8 speed cassettes are in fact close enough (0.2 mm) that 8 speed shifters can work well on a 7 speed cassette, and I've done this myself. But I wouldn't recommend trying to use 9 speed shifters on an 8 speed cassette, I really don't think it will work.
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Old 11-10-12, 01:33 PM   #13
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Most awsome is that we get to call our 'shift lever on front of brake lever' - "REACH AROUND" Technology. None of the competitors can claim that!
Here's your new marketing slogan: "Let Retroshift give you a REACH AROUND!" I'm not interested in any monetary reimbursement for my creative genius, just send me a pair of 9sp CX2 and we'll call it even.
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Old 11-10-12, 08:42 PM   #14
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I'm actually pretty certain that this is NOT the case. According to Sheldon Brown, there is a spacing difference of about 0.5 mm; that doesn't sound like much, but it's enough that it won't work. This matches my personal experience - Shimano 7 and 8 speed cassettes are in fact close enough (0.2 mm) that 8 speed shifters can work well on a 7 speed cassette, and I've done this myself. But I wouldn't recommend trying to use 9 speed shifters on an 8 speed cassette, I really don't think it will work.
Listen to GROLBY!

Actually as good as Sheldon Brown is I would say default to your LBS.

Goats
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Old 11-10-12, 08:43 PM   #15
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Here's your new marketing slogan: "Let Retroshift give you a REACH AROUND!" I'm not interested in any monetary reimbursement for my creative genius, just send me a pair of 9sp CX2 and we'll call it even.
Yes RubeRad that is where I was going.
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Old 11-11-12, 09:29 PM   #16
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Listen to GROLBY!

Actually as good as Sheldon Brown is I would say default to your LBS.

Goats
Always good advice! The LBS bit I mean, I'm right about as often as a stopped clock.

For what it's worth, I think 8-speed bar end shifters might still be available, and those would work great!
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Old 11-11-12, 10:53 PM   #17
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For what it's worth, I think 8-speed bar end shifters might still be available, and those would work great!
Well I'd be balancing $129+cost of 8-sp shifters against $189+cost of 9-speed cassette, I think the 9-speed option is better as I'd like to have a wider cassette anyways.

Thx for all the advice...
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Old 11-16-12, 10:41 AM   #18
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Another question if anybody's still out there...

Retroshifters come with either 9sp or 10sp bar-end shifters, but what about the left/front? Does it make a difference for double/triple?

If, as marqueemoon suggests above, the levers are rebranded from microshift, this from RivBikes implies that the left is friction-only -- is that the case? Or is this another case of "it's triple-indexed, but set your limit screws and you will only need two of the indices"?

Actually I think I would prefer friction for the front. That's really where you want infinite trim. (Isn't that the Campy way? Or did they eventually start indexing their left brifters?)
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Old 11-16-12, 11:18 AM   #19
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but.. how can you add another cog, 9 in the space of 8 and still have the same spacing,
between them ..
if so there will be no market for 9 speed chains..

Have not managed the Multiple Universe 10th dimension thing,
of sub atomic physics, 'string theory' yet. stuck with just 4.
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Old 11-16-12, 01:26 PM   #20
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Not sure where yer goin there fietsbob, I think we've established that 8/9 are not the same spacing, and 8/9 indexed shifting are not compatible.

Right now my bike has a 3x8 sora/tiagra brifter setup (although the RD is labeled "9-speed" the brifter/cassette are 8), this will all be going onto my new crosscheck frame for starters. Someday, I will buy a 9sp cassette and 9sp retroshifters, and I expect to be good to go. I'm just trying to figger out whether the front shifter is indexed or friction, and if indexed, does it care about double/triple?
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Old 11-17-12, 09:02 PM   #21
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i heard Kona might make a retroshift equipped bike. i do not work for a bike shop, i just overheard that in a bike shop. might be interesting....
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Old 11-18-12, 01:41 AM   #22
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I thought half the point of barcons, DT, friction, and other Retro type control levers was they're less expensive than brifters. At the price they're asking why not just get some used brifters off ebay?

retroshift vs brifter....
same price level, really just a question of slight durability in the simpler mechanism, vs the ability to shift from the drops
not that compelling a trade off in my book, maybe if they cost less than the alternatives...
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Old 11-18-12, 02:17 AM   #23
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Retro shift is much simpler, than brifters, but you can still do both actions, from the hoods.

seems to me, reading about mucked up brifters, simpler is good.

they ,may be pushing the price to follow the maximizing returns
that the system of markets runs on.

+ economy of scale, they are small, Shimano is Huge.

getting into the numbers of OEM equipping, is how SRAM
went from a grip shift after market, sold just to bike shops
[expensive, then]

To a mass producer and buying out other companies.

if they do get Kona to buy 10,000+, for their assembly lines, overseas
then maybe the price can come down..

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Old 11-18-12, 05:47 AM   #24
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I thought half the point of barcons, DT, friction, and other Retro type control levers was they're less expensive than brifters. At the price they're asking why not just get some used brifters off ebay?

retroshift vs brifter....
same price level, really just a question of slight durability in the simpler mechanism, vs the ability to shift from the drops
not that compelling a trade off in my book, maybe if they cost less than the alternatives...
If you want to shift from the drops, then you're right, it's not a good trade-off. My current road bike has sora brifters with the thumb-tab for return-shifting, so I have never shifted from the drops and I have never felt inconvenienced.

And frankly, I want to be a little different. Call me a hipster...
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Old 11-18-12, 07:37 AM   #25
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I've not used the specific shifters that the Retroshifts come equipped with, but if it's like Shimano, the front shifter just has a lot of tiny "notches" kind of like an old micro-ratchet, but not. It's more like friction shifting, yes, and the same shifter will behave the same with a triple or double setup up front.
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