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  1. #1
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    Opinions on shifters

    When I built our tandem few years ago i decided to go with Campy Centaur shifters instead of Shimano. I still have a Shimano drive train but use a JTEK shiftmate to make them work together. The reasons for this are as follows:

    Shimano has been getting more expensive compared to Campy

    Shimano has to be thrown away when it stops working (wears out), Campy is rebuildable and you can buy parts for it.

    Campy is lighter weight.

    For these same reasons I also have Campy on my single bike.
    In general I like the shape of the hoods of Campy better and I like the thumb shifter when shifting down. Last fall I injured my right hand and it is still bothering me. I have been riding with a brace which makes it difficult especially when standing. I decided to put Ultegra Di2 on my single to make it easier to shift and because I wanted Di2 after reading more about it. The Di2 will be installed this week so i do not have any experience with it yet. If there was Di2 triple I would consider it for the tandem. Today I rode my older single which still has Shimano shifters and it seemed to take less force to shift (mainly up shifts) and put less stress on my hands. It is the old 7800 and I don't like the shape of the hoods. Also the front shifting is considerably better than Campy, but that could be partly due to it being a double and having a Shimano 6700 crankset. Still the front shifting is better than my single with Campy and Specialized crankset.
    So now I am wondering if it makes sense to consider Ultegra ST-6703 shifters for the tandem. The benefits being less stress on my hand and possibly improved front shifting. If it was not for my hand injury I probably would not be thinking about this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    When I built our tandem few years ago i decided to go with Campy Centaur shifters instead of Shimano. I still have a Shimano drive train but use a JTEK shiftmate to make them work together. The reasons for this are as follows:

    Shimano has been getting more expensive compared to Campy

    Shimano has to be thrown away when it stops working (wears out), Campy is rebuildable and you can buy parts for it.

    Campy is lighter weight.

    For these same reasons I also have Campy on my single bike.
    In general I like the shape of the hoods of Campy better and I like the thumb shifter when shifting down. Last fall I injured my right hand and it is still bothering me. I have been riding with a brace which makes it difficult especially when standing. I decided to put Ultegra Di2 on my single to make it easier to shift and because I wanted Di2 after reading more about it. The Di2 will be installed this week so i do not have any experience with it yet. If there was Di2 triple I would consider it for the tandem. Today I rode my older single which still has Shimano shifters and it seemed to take less force to shift (mainly up shifts) and put less stress on my hands. It is the old 7800 and I don't like the shape of the hoods. Also the front shifting is considerably better than Campy, but that could be partly due to it being a double and having a Shimano 6700 crankset. Still the front shifting is better than my single with Campy and Specialized crankset.
    So now I am wondering if it makes sense to consider Ultegra ST-6703 shifters for the tandem. The benefits being less stress on my hand and possibly improved front shifting. If it was not for my hand injury I probably would not be thinking about this.
    I have not tried Di2 but for me Front shifting on Campy is far superior to Shimano. This is especially true on the tandem.

    I have ridden Shimano Ultegra on Tandem and the shifts to larger gears require more wrist rotation than Campy. Just a bigger lever and more throw in the mechanism. This might not be an issue, or even a feature, for those with larger hands and wrists.

    Since they both work adequately I think Hood preference is a good reason to pick one over the other. I spend a lot of hours holding those hoods.

    Hope your hand improves.

    Wayne

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    What I notice on the tandem is that when shifting with Campy the front I often have to swing the lever multiple times to shift between rings. On my single with Shimano it shifts perfectly with one swing. Often when Shifting from the big ring to the middle I end up over shifting and going into the small ring. I also find it hard to know when the cage is rubbing or not when in the middle ring. I don't know if this is just how Campy works or if I need to adjust it better. Tandem has FSA rings so that might explain some if it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    What I notice on the tandem is that when shifting with Campy the front I often have to swing the lever multiple times to shift between rings. On my single with Shimano it shifts perfectly with one swing. Often when Shifting from the big ring to the middle I end up over shifting and going into the small ring. I also find it hard to know when the cage is rubbing or not when in the middle ring. I don't know if this is just how Campy works or if I need to adjust it better. Tandem has FSA rings so that might explain some if it.
    I have discussed these very points with friends in the past and we have come up with the following description. Campy front shifting is more analog while Shimano is more digital. In other words with Shimano you select a ring and the cage moves the amount designed to move the chain. There is an on/off quality to the selection. Campy on the other hand slowly moves the cage as you click the selector and the rider must decide how far to move the cage. The rider must use audible and tactile feedback to tune the FD position but also has the ability to fine tune it in ways not possible with Shimano. To a great extent the is just personal preference.

    I do believe that we can downshift under more load to a smaller ring with the Campy system. Campy allows the rider to fine tune not only how much the FD cage moves but also how fast it moves.

    Over shifting with Campy is caused by not having a light enough touch on the shifter. It is up to the rider to decide the shifter doesn't decide for you. This is one thing some people like about Shimano. You just hit the lever and it shifts - No feel or judgement is required. Others (like me) like the tactile feedback of the cage rubbing against the chain and use it to feel the cage location. This is just personal preference.

    On chain rub:

    I listen for the chain rubbing the cage and move the cage in or out accordingly. I can even test which way to trim by moving the cage a very small amount and listening for the sound to get louder or softer. If you cannot hear or feel the chain rubbing the cage then that whole process is not available to you. That alone would make the Shimano system work better for you than Campy.

    One thing I do not like about Shimano is that it is more effected by nonstandard Chainring sizes. I like to pick my own rings and they don't match what Shimano has decided that I should use.

    If you find Shimano works better for you then that is what you should use. They put a lot of design effort into getting the on/off system to work. The pinnacle of that philosophy is electronic shifting. With that system you are completely insulated from the mechanics of the system and only feel the buttons.

    Wayne

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    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I do notice that even on the rear shifting I get more tactile feedback with Campy than with Shimano and I like that. Lack of feedback on Di2 has been a complaint by some people although I don't think it will bother me. While I like the front shifting of the Shimano on my single I am not sure how that will translate to the tandem and I probably like the rear thumb down shifting of Campy equally as well. In the end it may turn out to be wash. Since I am doing a lot more shifting with my right hand which is the one with the injury I am going to focus more on the rear shifting and which system will be less stressful to my hand.

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    Great post Wayne, you outlined everything I had in my head much better than I can put it into words. The main reason I like the Shimano triple 6703 is based on that on/off principle. On/off for me is the difference in not getting dropped as the majority of cyclists I ride with are stronger. It's so fast and seamless to move from the 30 to the 39 when I encounter a grade change from double to single digits. After much experimenting (and $$$ spent on various sized chain rings) I've come to the conclusion I like what Shimano wants me to like, 52/39/30. It will be interesting to see what Campy has up their sleeve for the Athena triple since they appear to be dropping the old chain ring mindset of 53/42/30.

    The rear shifting with Shimano is much lighter than it was while I used Campy (Chorus 10 speed 2008 era, Centaur/Veloce 2009 ultra shift). A lot of it can come down to how the cabling is setup and routed but the basic principle of shifting up or down the cassette is less stressful with Shimano in my opinion.

  7. #7
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    A further note to keep in mind when comparing front shifting is that both Campy and Shimano work incrementally better with their own cranks and rings.

    With brifters overall, as waynesulak noted, it's really personal preference. I personally don't like the thumb paddles, even though I'm using a Campy brifters/Shimano drive train system right now.

    As for Di2, that is a paradigm shift, (pardon the pun), in the marketplace. This whole thread and the thousands of others like it wouldn't even exist if everyone was riding somebody's electronic shifting. You hit a button, the derailleur shifts, end of story. Yes, it removes any tactile feedback from the shifting system and takes some of the mystique out of cycling, but it simply works and allows the cyclist to focus on other things!

    In another 10 years, brifters of any sort will be discussed over in the C&V forum and only ridden in the "Merckx Class"!
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    I must ge a real Ludite . . .
    Stil use, and prefer, barend shifters.
    Less co$t, less complex and very user friendly too!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  9. #9
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    I must ge a real Ludite . . .
    Stil use, and prefer, barend shifters.
    Less co$t, less complex and very user friendly too!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    In general I value the more simple machines. I can see the appeal of bar ends, friction shifting even single speed.

    I began on bar ends but now addicted to modern shifters on the tandem. Most of the terrain around here is rolling. We really shift a lot when trying to keep on the limit speed wise. Maybe someday I will give up combination brakes/shifters. It would allow for easy light install of hydraulic brakes.

  10. #10
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    I must be a real Ludite . . . Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    Rode barends for 2 decades myself, and wouldn't dream of an off-the-beaten-path tour without them. But in the meantime, brifters are a major convenience especially on the tandem where shifting duties are roughly doubled, and Di2 is going to up the ante dramatically on that.

    BTW Rudy, a true Luddite wouldn't be posting on the internet with his computer about what a Luddite he was! He'd send us a letter!

    Bill
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

    TampaBayCycling.com - A LOCAL Cycling Forum
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  11. #11
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    I am using the following Shimano components on our tandem:

    6703 Brifters - Ultegra
    7803 FD - Dura Ace
    7800 RD - Dura Ace
    11-28 Cassette - Ultegra
    New 2012 Ultegra Tandem Crankset 52-42-30

    IN MY OPINION the shifting is outstanding. I am totally pleased with the way it shifts, front and rear.

    My road bike has 6600 Brifters and the throw on the RH lever is longer, I much prefer the 6700 series.

    Wayne

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    I must ge a real Ludite . . .
    Stil use, and prefer, barend shifters.
    Less co$t, less complex and very user friendly too!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    Rudy, I had bar end shifters on our last tandem and Gripshift on the one before that. I choose Brifters for a couple of reasons, the first one being safety, I did not want to move my hands off of the hoods to shift and the second was weight, the Brifters are lighter than the combination of brake levers/bar end shifters.

    Wayne

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Onegun . . . AZ Ludites . . .
    Living in AZ we would not even use the pony express but send smoke signals instead . . .


    Seriously, have had STI Dura Ace on tandem for several thousand miles and was not exactly thrilled with front shifting performance and cost of replacement!
    Stoker suggested : 'go back to barends'!
    Actually put barends n my single bike too.
    So whatever works best for you is what you use!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  14. #14
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Living in AZ we would not even use the pony express but send smoke signals instead
    Aahhh! The ORIGINAL binary communication system! (Smoke / No Smoke!)

    Agree that the best shifting system for any individual is the one that makes them comfortable on their bike!
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member cheg's Avatar
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    Anyone tried SRAM shifters on a tandem?

  16. #16
    Senior Member waynesulak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheg View Post
    Anyone tried SRAM shifters on a tandem?
    Not without a triple available.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DubT View Post
    I am using the following Shimano components on our tandem:

    6703 Brifters - Ultegra
    7803 FD - Dura Ace
    7800 RD - Dura Ace
    11-28 Cassette - Ultegra
    New 2012 Ultegra Tandem Crankset 52-42-30

    IN MY OPINION the shifting is outstanding. I am totally pleased with the way it shifts, front and rear.

    My road bike has 6600 Brifters and the throw on the RH lever is longer, I much prefer the 6700 series.

    Wayne
    I thought the new Shimano tandem crankset was 52-39-30 (like all their recent triples), not 52-42-30 as I much prefer. Did you get the 42T middle ring as standard, or change it out? And if you changed it, what did you use? 52-42-30 makes the Shimano crank well worth another look...

  18. #18
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    Must be a typo, as the Shimano Tech docs only refer to 39t and they haven't offered 42t since 9 speed.

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