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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 11-11-08, 03:44 PM   #1
pathdoc
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Bar end shifter question

Do you use bar end shifters? Do you find them difficult to use on a tandem? Do they force your hands away from a stable position when you really need your hands fixed on the hoods to help maintain balance?

I've purchased some bar end shifters for my new build but I'm starting to think I should go with the same setup as my regular bikes, brifters.

Any thought? Suggestions?
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Old 11-11-08, 04:34 PM   #2
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I've used bar end shifters on a touring bike and a tandem without problem.
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Old 11-11-08, 04:46 PM   #3
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On our rainy days tandem we have bar end shifters. They work great. The only time I whish I had the brifters is during prolonged and steep climbs.
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Old 11-11-08, 05:07 PM   #4
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Suggestions?
Make your decisions before swiping your credit card? That would be my first recommendation as you seem to buy stuff and then find yourself questioning your purchase or trying to figure out if what you've got can be made to work....

That said, the real question is what amount of time will be spent on the tandem vs. the single bikes, how adaptable will you be to making that change-over, and will you be using or equipping your tandem in a way that might make bar-end shifters a better choice... even if there was some mis-shifting made as you switch over from STI/single to bar-end/Tandem?

For me and Debbie, we don't like to rethink our shifting so all of our road bikes and the tandems have Ergo levers... because that's what we prefer and because we're constantly switching back and forth between the tandems and different singles. That's not to say I'm not adaptable, as our off-road tandem uses SRAM grip-shifters. However, making the jump to off-road is so utterly different anyway, the change isn't a big deal. However, when I was doing a lot of off-road riding my single off-road bikes had Shimano Rapidfire levers and moving back and forth to the C'dale with it's GripShift shifters was a nightmare as I'd constantly get the shifting screwed up on both bikes... and usually when I was in a high-attention-demand situation. In regard to the latter, that's the last time you want to be thinking about your equipment and when everything should work intuitively. Hence, for a tandem, not having to rethink shifting scores pretty high on my list of things folks can do to have a better tandeming experience.
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Old 11-11-08, 05:53 PM   #5
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Have used bar end shifters on our tandem(s) for 200,000+ miles. Not an issue.
Our first tandem (back in 1975) had downtube shifters. Did try STI for 3,000 miles on our present tandem and switched back to barcons.
As long as pilot has both hands anywhere on the bars, there's adequate balance power.
Just our personal experience.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and kay/zonatandem
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Old 11-11-08, 10:08 PM   #6
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I think I'm going to look for some inexpensive Campy levers so I have the same feel as my single bikes. Anyone need a set of brand new Shimano bar-end shifters?
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Old 11-11-08, 10:11 PM   #7
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Curious about the downtube shifters. Pros and cons.

Our Co-Motion had Shimano Ultegra STI Dual Control when we picked it up. After a few spins with the travel agents, combined with the previous owners less than desirable fit for me, the Speedster got a little makeover.

It now sports MTB flat bars with bar ends front and rear, V brakes that work with actuation from V brake levers, and it has Grip Shift.

In an effort to keep it even simpler, get more precise front shifts, plus most importantly, get a better reach on the brake levers, I'm considering a swap to 9 speed downtube shifters. Not sure if it will work properly with our triple front.

So I ask, any pros or cons I should be aware of before I swap over.

FWIW, our MTB Tandem runs on 8 speed Grip Shift, my singles are all different, with SRAM XO, rapidfire, old style thumb / thumb rapidfire, a single speed, and STI on my road bike. Each bike is different enough in feel it doesn't cause me trouble.

Thanks
PK

Last edited by PMK; 11-12-08 at 05:52 AM.
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Old 11-12-08, 04:34 AM   #8
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Personal opinion of course, but I've always found the idea of downtube shifters on a tandem a little scary. I want full control of the bike at all times, and you just don't have that when you've taken a hand off the bars to reach for a downtube shifter.

Rick
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Old 11-12-08, 07:04 AM   #9
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Curious about the downtube shifters. Pros and cons.
Pro: Simple, precise, light, nearly trouble-free, clear the bars of shifter cables and they offer visual gear position indication.

Con: Ergonomically less efficient than bar-end or integrated shifting: require rote-learning / skill to use safely particularly on a tandem, not useable while riding out of the saddle which is also true of bar-ends.

Bottom Line: If you can shift downtube levers without looking at them and have a rock solid stoker who rarely unsettles the tandem you can probably get away with using them safely just as hundreds of tandem teams did in the 60's and 70's on the more classic and whippy racing tandems. However, if you can't shift by rote or have a squirrelly stoker... probably a poor choice.
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Old 11-12-08, 08:52 AM   #10
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I find that bar end shifters work great. However when I switch from my single bike (brifters) to my mountain bike ("rapid fire" shifters) to the tandem (bar-ends), there is a very brief period of re-orientation.

Also, if you use standard drop bar brake levers with V brakes, you'll need to either use Travel Agents for the brakes or find some Dia-Compe 287V levers (what we use) to pull enough cable for the brakes.
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Old 11-12-08, 09:11 AM   #11
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Bar end shifters arrived last night and they sent me an 8 speed not the 9 speed so they have to go back.
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Old 11-12-08, 02:21 PM   #12
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Finally being fed up with the inherent front derailleur STI shifting bug-a-boos, I switched to bar ends. Now there's no more shifting problems. This allowed me to switch to Dia-Compe 287 V brake levers, so I can use a variety of brakes and not have to augment with Travel Agents. Another benefit is that I can tell which gear I'm in by just glancing at the shifters.

I already had bar end shifters on a couple of single bikes so was used to lifting a hand from the handlebars and moving it to the shifter under any condition. This can take some finesse with a stoker moving around. So a little practice steering with one hand might be prudent before switching.
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Old 11-12-08, 05:14 PM   #13
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Count me in as a big fan of bar-end shifters. I have two touring bikes and a tandem set up with bar-ends. I love the indexing on the right, and the friction on the left. In terms of control, I still have my hands on the handlebars while shifting. The brifters don't shift any better than indexed bar-ends. And I think the friction on the left side actually shifts better without all the finicky chain rubbing, limitations on which gear combinations I can use etc. Cheaper, lighter, bombproof (will last longer than complicated brifters). What's not to like.

I will admit that I do have road bike set up with Campy brifters, but that's because the left shifter is basically a ratchet, and it's not indexed, so I can trim the front derailleur as needed. I don't use Shimano brifters because I never liked the idea of trying to index the front derailleur.
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Old 11-12-08, 10:38 PM   #14
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Curious about the downtube shifters. Pros and cons.
As an old time biker I grew up with downtube shifters. So when I rebuilt our first Tandem it had bar end shifters with a 7 speed freewheel. I was not and still am not a bar end shifter person. I converted it to downtube shifters and a 10 speed. After a few rides it was apparent that I could not hear the rear derailleur and there were times it was not aligned. I changed it to a Campy 10 speed indexed shifter and it works great. Perfect even. Never had an issue.
I am now changing over to Record brifters, Why? No real reason, but everyone says they are better. I will soon find out, but will not start riding until the rain stops [I live in Seattle so that will be in August, LOL].
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Old 11-13-08, 10:42 AM   #15
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Had our Tandem built with bar ends many years ago...rode the flats of the Los Angeles basin and never gave it a thought. Then got off the Tandem for quite a number of years and rode singles with STI. Got back on the tandem a few years ago and moved to the Sierra mountains. Absolutely hated the bar ends for all the reasons already noted. Switched to STI and would never go back. We have no shifting problems at all with FD or RD.
Bottom line: we are all a little different so you just got to go with what you are comfortable with, there is no real right or wrong on this one....of course it never hurts to go with what you already know best. Good luck.
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Old 11-13-08, 12:12 PM   #16
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We used bar cons for several years and went to STI eight years ago. I shift more frequently with the STI keeping the cadence in a closer range, they are easier in a paceline, and occasionally downshift while braking. I have considered bar cons for our coupled travel bike.
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Old 11-13-08, 12:53 PM   #17
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We have barcons on our tandem, came that way (used). Had DuraAce brifters on a road bike that is now gone, the shifting was fabulous. Have downtube shifters on a single bike and love them. Have rapidfire Alfine shifter on a single bike and love that, too.

The tandem was our first, and also my first experience with bar-con shifters. Rear is indexed (6sp), front is friction... which works really well. I like being able to adjust the trim on the front, and adjusting the rear to index correctly is a no-brainer. It feels like a decent compromise between brifters and downtubes, where you have to move your hand position to shift, but not take your hands off the bars (as much). Usually, if I'm in a shifting situation, I'll leave the heel of my hand/pinky covering the shifter if I know another shift will follow close behind. Also, since an upgrade to brifters would necessitate at least a new freewheel, if not a new wheel plus cassette, it was a very easy economic decision to keep the bar-cons, especially since they really don't suck.
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Old 11-13-08, 02:16 PM   #18
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I've struggled with this decision just because of cost. I've returned the bar ends and asked for a refund (Rivendell Bicycles, no problem, good people). I'm going to go with what I know best, Campagnolo brifters and will use a JTEC shiftmate. I've used this setup in the past and it works.
I appreciate all of the input.
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Old 11-13-08, 05:14 PM   #19
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We have a Co-Mo Speedster with STI, travel agents, and Avid V-brakes. No problems with anything whatsoever on that bike. A great machine. Have STI on my summer single and bar ends on my winter single. Went with bar ends for winter to save weight and money. No problems adapting, but I wouldn't like bar ends on the tandem. When getting into a hill, it's great to just press a button, ease off for 1/2 a turn, and you've shifted. Maybe if stoker and I had 200,000 tandem miles it wouldn't matter . . . And weight and money have only half the influence on a tandem decision, since it's spread over two people.
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Old 11-14-08, 05:51 PM   #20
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I replaced the Ultegra STI shifters on our tandem with Dura Ace bar ends. They shift very well and the trim on the front derailleur is infinite.

One advantage to bar ends is that they can be taken out of index mode if need be. Our tandem fell over at a stop on a ride about a year and a half ago and bent the rear derailleur hanger. We were 35 miles from home and the bike would not shift properly and there were several steep hills coming up. I put the rear shifter in friction mode and we had no problem shifting all 9 cogs cleanly. The chain would have been going "kerchunk, jump, kerchunk, jump" all the way home otherwise.
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Old 11-16-08, 12:55 PM   #21
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With our bike not having drop bars, it's more of a hot rod hybrid, I decided we are going to give the downtube shifters a chance. We aren't racing, and unless I get a different front derailleur, the grip shift is the wrong cable pull ratio.

Worst case is I wasted two shift cables, and eat few bucks on the downtube shifters.

I'll let yo know how we fair.

Thanks for all the input.

PK
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