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  1. #1
    Member jdowdy411's Avatar
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    Brifters vs. Downtube shifters

    So I'm about to purchase my first road bike and I don't want to spend too much money. I've narrowed it down to two bikes. A Motobecane Mirage and a Motobecane Super Mirage. The only real difference in the two is $50 and one has brifters while the other has DT's. Both have aspects I like. I have some experience with both types of shifters and have no real preference. Could I get some pro's and con's on each type of shifter? Legit pro's and con's please, not any of the "This is what I like so it's best" type responses.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_xi_steel.htm

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...rage_steel.htm

  2. #2
    Senior Member shoota's Avatar
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    $50 more for brifters? That's a no-brainer.
    2005 Cannondale six13 10s SRAM

  3. #3
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    $50 more for brifters? That's a no-brainer.
    What he said.
    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”


    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

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    I would look for a bike with Claris shifters instead so you don't have to deal with the thumb shifters

  5. #5
    Senior Member HOWSER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    $50 more for brifters? That's a no-brainer.

    No kidding.

  6. #6
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Personally, I would do the DT shifters:

    1) You save $50
    2) You have DT bosses if you ever want them. You can put on cable stops if needed in the future, but you can never go the other way.
    3) You can swap out brake levers for comfort far more easily. TRP RRL brake levers are as comfortable as my Campy levers, if you want to spend that $50 on something down the road. If you go 2300, you will have 2300 ergonomics for ever.
    4) You can shift DT shifters brilliantly with practice in friction mode, especially 8 speed. With practice, 2300 shifters will remain 2300 shifters.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Downtube is more reliable. It is a proven, if old school, solution. Sora thumb shifters, where it is nearly impossible to shift from the drops, have a skill level ceiling (as you advance as a cyclist, you will be forced into an upgrade). Downtube does not. Plus, with downtube, it is really easy to move to more modern components fairly inexpensively (9 or 10 speed drivetrain).

    Neither bike is something to plan upgrades around. Personally, I'd keep the $50 in my pocket. Buy for absolute cost and reliability rather than value in this case, since value of both is fairly low. When going cheap, it is better to put your money on reliable old tech rather than shtty, cheap versions of new tech. Sacrifice features in order to keep quality higher.

    Seems you get a better fork in the deal as well for the downtube shifter bike.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    Sora thumb shifters, where it is nearly impossible to shift from the drops, have a skill level ceiling (as you advance as a cyclist, you will be forced into an upgrade).
    Also, bike doesn't have Sora, it has 2300. Sora would be 3400 (thumb shifter) or 3500 (no thumb shifter)

  9. #9
    Senior Member hokie cycler's Avatar
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    Ask your self if you would by a car with ABS brakes or Fred Flintstone brakes.

    Fred-Flintstone-Barney-Rubble-Car.jpg

  10. #10
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hokie cycler View Post
    Ask your self if you would by a car with ABS brakes or Fred Flintstone brakes.

    [ATTACH=CONFIG]366981[/ATT ACH]
    ??? We are talking about bikes, not the Flintstones.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  11. #11
    Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    $50 more for brifters? That's a no-brainer.
    +3

  12. #12
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    To throw a wrench in here, have you thought about going used? For $400, you should be able to get a pretty nice used bike in good shape.

    Just as an example: http://jacksonville.craigslist.org/bik/4343098726.html
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdowdy411 View Post
    Could I get some pro's and con's on each type of shifter? Legit pro's and con's please, not any of the "This is what I like so it's best" type responses.
    I rode with downtube shifters for 30 years. Trust me - you want the brifters.

    I prefer the ergonomics of the Shimano brifters with the separate paddle and downshift buttons - like in the ad. Fortunately these are the least expensive - a bonus. Plus they are among the mechanically simplest and lightest Shimano brifters. More benefits.

    I also prefer the brifters in which the shift cables come out of the sides of the lever bodies and are not wrapped under the bar tape. It looks less clean, but the shifting action is crisper and lighter due to not having the extra friction involved in under the bar-tape housing runs.

    For some reason Shimano went to under the bar tape shifter housings a few years back; I assume the marketing folks won over the engineers on this decision.

  14. #14
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
    I rode with downtube shifters for 30 years. Trust me - you want the brifters.
    In general, I agree.

    The point that I think RollCNY, and Brian are making though is that, decent, reliable D/T shifting may be preferable to crappy brifters.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  15. #15
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    ...totally off topic, but as someone who has helped some people put together a few Bikes Direct bikes
    here at the co-op, do you have a plan for out of the box assembly ? It may require a little more than
    you might think, depending on what you buy and whether it has some of the usual missed bearing lubrications
    and other issues for which Bikes Direct has become known.

    Just something you want to factor into your equation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Twain
    Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

  16. #16
    Senior Member shoota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    To throw a wrench in here, have you thought about going used? For $400, you should be able to get a pretty nice used bike in good shape.

    Just as an example: http://jacksonville.craigslist.org/bik/4343098726.html
    +1
    2005 Cannondale six13 10s SRAM

  17. #17
    Senior Member shoota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    The point that I think RollCNY, and Brian are making though is that, decent, reliable D/T shifting may be preferable to crappy brifters.
    -1

    I don't think in this era there are "crappy" brifters. Crappy is a relative term and while the higher end stuff is nicer that doesn't mean the low end is crappy.
    2005 Cannondale six13 10s SRAM

  18. #18
    Ride Fast and Ride Safe! gioscinelli's Avatar
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    For safety "Brifters", on the country road and especially on city streets. I rode DT's for years and now I have only brifters on my machines. Don't have to worry about over shifting or ghost shifting and lastly removing one of my hands to make the gear change in traffic is another consideration!
    85 Gios Professional - 95 Cinelli SC -06 Colnago C50

  19. #19
    Senior Member buffalowings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
    I rode with downtube shifters for 30 years. Trust me - you want the brifters.

    I prefer the ergonomics of the Shimano brifters with the separate paddle and downshift buttons - like in the ad. Fortunately these are the least expensive - a bonus. Plus they are among the mechanically simplest and lightest Shimano brifters. More benefits.

    I also prefer the brifters in which the shift cables come out of the sides of the lever bodies and are not wrapped under the bar tape. It looks less clean, but the shifting action is crisper and lighter due to not having the extra friction involved in under the bar-tape housing runs.

    For some reason Shimano went to under the bar tape shifter housings a few years back; I assume the marketing folks won over the engineers on this decision.
    True fact. I prefer the action in my Tiagra shifters far more then my 105's.
    Noooooo! My thread!! -_________- http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/896498-Do-you-pack-quot-heat-quot-while-cycling

  20. #20
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Just my two cents...if we were looking at higher end components (say Shimano Tiagra or 105 level) I would definitely push for brifters.

    At the level of 2300, I think the quality of the brake lever shifters may be poor and if you are comfortable with DT shifting it's certainly a reasonable choice.
    Quote Originally Posted by RUOkie View Post
    never underestimate the idiocy of BF.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    $50 more for brifters? That's a no-brainer.
    + eleventy billion.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  22. #22
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    -1

    I don't think in this era there are "crappy" brifters. Crappy is a relative term and while the higher end stuff is nicer that doesn't mean the low end is crappy.
    I've ridden rental bikes with Sora that shifted abysmally. That may be in part due to abuse and bad maintenance, but personally, I would try not to go a group below Sora if I had other options.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    My only point is you will outgrow 2300 shifters. You can't shift from the drops. That is a deal breaker for me. It means you are basically crippling your bike and making it unusable in certain basic ways.

    FWIW, I cut my teeth on downtube shifters and I have used them off-and-on since I started riding, so it isn't like I am speaking from inexperience here. I used them for commuting for a long time and I will say unequivocally that they are not a hazard in traffic. Put another way, if you are so unstable on your bike that taking your hand off the bar represents a risk, I wouldn't take my chances in traffic on any bike.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
    + eleventy billion.
    I think "+ eleven billionty" has a more "made up number" ring to it.

  25. #25
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    Downtube is more reliable. It is a proven, if old school, solution. Sora thumb shifters, where it is nearly impossible to shift from the drops, have a skill level ceiling (as you advance as a cyclist, you will be forced into an upgrade). Downtube does not. Plus, with downtube, it is really easy to move to more modern components fairly inexpensively (9 or 10 speed drivetrain).

    Neither bike is something to plan upgrades around. Personally, I'd keep the $50 in my pocket. Buy for absolute cost and reliability rather than value in this case, since value of both is fairly low. When going cheap, it is better to put your money on reliable old tech rather than shtty, cheap versions of new tech. Sacrifice features in order to keep quality higher.

    Seems you get a better fork in the deal as well for the downtube shifter bike.
    This.

    The main advantages of brifters is that they're a little safer since you can shift with your hands on the bars. They're also more convenient. DT is simpler, lighter, and more reliable and you can use it with a greater variety of systems.

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