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  1. #1
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    Why do touriing bikes have bar end shifters?

    Seems like most "touring" bikes have bar end shifters. Why is that?

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    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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    Easier to use than downtube, simpler than brifters to fix.
    The few, the proud, the likely insane, Metro-Atlanta bicycle commuters.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Seems like most "touring" bikes have bar end shifters. Why is that?
    It a hold over from the days when bikes had downtube shifters. Bar ends offer better control while shifting especially for a loaded bike. I've only had one bike, a tandem, with them. I never really liked them that much because I was always shifting when I leaned the bike up against something. My wife has them on a bike and she loves them because they don't take much hand strength to shift and her hands are never far from the bar. STI, which I adore, offers all the control of bar ends without having to move your hands from the bar at all.
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    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    I got bar-end shifters on my LHT... but they're mounted up top with Paul Thumbies.

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    I'm only familiar with Shimano rapid fire shifters and STI, which i have on my road bike. I very much like the shifting capabilities of both systems. Seems like a rip off to spend $1200 on a Trek 520 and have it come equipped with bar end shifters.

    It seems that "ease of repair" is the only logical reason for bar ends that has been mentioned so far. Still I wonder what that means? Are bar end shifters not indexed?

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    My wife likes the bar-end shifters on her touring bike because she does not have to let go of the handlebars to shift. I have mine on the downtube because I think they are less vulnerable there.

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    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I'm only familiar with Shimano rapid fire shifters and STI, which i have on my road bike. I very much like the shifting capabilities of both systems. Seems like a rip off to spend $1200 on a Trek 520 and have it come equipped with bar end shifters.

    It seems that "ease of repair" is the only logical reason for bar ends that has been mentioned so far. Still I wonder what that means? Are bar end shifters not indexed?
    My bar ends can work in either friction or indexed mode.
    The few, the proud, the likely insane, Metro-Atlanta bicycle commuters.

  8. #8
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikebuddha
    Easier to use than downtube, simpler than brifters to fix.
    Buddha-man...have ya had to fix your brifters yet? Is it tricky or hard? I have been using mine a while and I might fix/replace/clean them very soon before my tour this summer. Just wondering if ya have any "OOPS! watch out for this" advice.

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    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff
    Buddha-man...have ya had to fix tour brifters yet? Is it tricky or hard? I have been using ine a while and I might fix/replace/clean them very soon before my tour this summer. Just wondering if ya have any "OOPS! watch out for this" advice.

    roughstuff

    Not on tour but on a century. A buddies right brifter just stopped working. I suspected a problem with the the rachecting mechinism but we didn't want to disassemble it on the side of US 1 so we set the bike up as a SS to finish the ride.


    FYI these were Campys and were replaced for free due to a manufacturing defect.
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  10. #10
    Kwisatz Haderach fillthecup's Avatar
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    I've been won over by friction bar-ends. Winning point for me is that there's less that can go wrong with them on a tour, and secondarily they make bike tune-ups easier. I like (and my gut trusts) the simplicity of them I guess.

    I got into biking on a MTB with rapid-fire shifters though. Feels like learning to drive with an automatic transmission, and then learning stick years later.

  11. #11
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    Just wondering since I haven't used a handlebar bag on a tour in years, but am considering going back to one.
    Does a handlebar bag get in the way of STI shifting? Looking at the shifters and cables on the front of my bike, it seems like it would be difficult to get a bag onto the handlebars. If so, it seems like bar ends would solve that problem.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Seems like most "touring" bikes have bar end shifters. Why is that?
    Well, partly because bar end shifters and seperate levers cost $45+30, and 105 sti shifters cost $195, and ultegra sti shifters cost $275, etc

    in USD
    Last edited by seeker333; 04-28-06 at 02:29 PM.

  13. #13
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    I agree with the explanations given by Bikebuddha and Cycocommute. A couple other reasons to consider them:

    (1) Bar-ends are a bunch cheaper than brifters.

    (2) In my experience, brake levers are damage magnets in a crash or even a tip-over to a far greter extent than bar-ends. (Caveat - I haven't crashed that many times, so this is anecdotal evidence only, not the result of some major test sampling.) A scratched up brake lever is no big deal, in terms of making it through a ride. But a messed up brifter can really ruin your day.

    (3) Bar-ends will, for anyone other than a racer who needs to be able to shift on the fly (in a sprint, in a hard uphil accelleration, etc.), give you about 95% of a brifter's performance.

    (4) Bar-ends, at least the modern Shimano ones, can be run in friction mode. So what? you say. Well, if something gets caught in your derailleur or your indexing gets dirty or out of whack or your derailleur gets whacked a bit when your bike falls over, a possible result is indexed shifting that doesn't work properly. With a simple twist of a little d-ring, you are in friction mode and you can finish your ride with a functioning drivetrain. Brifters do not gove you that back-up capability. On tour, that is a good thing.

    I have Shimano bar-ends on all of my bikes. I have nothing against brifters - I just don't think that, for me, they are worth the extra cost and complexity.

  14. #14
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    but am considering going back to one.
    Does a handlebar bag get in the way of STI shifting? Looking at the shifters and cables on the front of my bike, it seems like it would be difficult to get a bag onto the handlebars. If so, it seems like bar ends would solve that problem.
    On bikes these days, there are cables all over the place.
    Thinking back... having down-tube shifters did buy back some real estate for a front bag (I had a couple great bags in cluding one from Bellwether, I believe... sorta day-glo orange)
    anyway... I did have a smallish Topeak bag on front w/Brifters last year (brifter bike is long gone now)
    something like this
    http://www.topeak.com/2006/products/...guidehbbdx.php

    For touring, I rekon that stopping and enjoying the roadside is part of the pleasure... so I pack everything in back
    Last edited by Sigurdd50; 04-28-06 at 03:31 PM.

  15. #15
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    I have no touring experience so forgive me in advance, but it seems to me that being humped over a bike for days, weeks and months at a time, you would want the device which is most efficient. I would think the STI would win easily in terms of efficiency. You NEVER have to remove your hands from their normal position.

  16. #16
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleK
    Just wondering since I haven't used a handlebar bag on a tour in years, but am considering going back to one.
    Does a handlebar bag get in the way of STI shifting? Looking at the shifters and cables on the front of my bike, it seems like it would be difficult to get a bag onto the handlebars. If so, it seems like bar ends would solve that problem.
    Check out Arkels web site http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/hb_...l=1&site=#tech

    Click on the STI shifters and bar bags
    to see the rest of the following:

    Solution:
    A very simple, yet little known, solution is available. By using either an Avid Rollamajig (shown in the picture) or an economical V-brake "noodle" installed right at the shifter, you can route the cable straight down and out of the way of your handlebar bag. You get the added advantages (admittedly small) of shorter cable routes and, with the Rollamajig, smoother shifting. Any competent bike shop mechanic can do this retrofit very quickly.


    I am going to switch over to bar end after having a crash and messing up the right STI. Boy are those things expensive!!!!!!!!!

  17. #17
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    Record Ergo 10-speed Shifters: $300
    Dura Ace STI 10-speed Shifters: $429

    Dura Ace 10-speed Barends: $75

    Any questions?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom

    Any questions?
    Yeah. What's wrong with Ultegra?

  19. #19
    Hooked on Touring
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    Downtube for me - - plus you can double shift - - for those unfamiliar, that's from big ring to medium in front and up one in the back. It's a little harder to do the other way round - but O.K. after you've gotten the knack.

  20. #20
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I have no touring experience so forgive me in advance, but it seems to me that being humped over a bike for days, weeks and months at a time, you would want the device which is most efficient. I would think the STI would win easily in terms of efficiency. You NEVER have to remove your hands from their normal position.
    Locking your hands in one position is a surefire way to find yourself in pain.

    Barcons are cheap, reliable, and convenient.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    Locking your hands in one position is a surefire way to find yourself in pain.

    Barcons are cheap, reliable, and convenient.

    I should have said, you never have to remove your hands to shift.

  22. #22
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    The cost and replaceability if a Brifter gets whacked way out in the sticks is my greatest reason to go simple with bar-ends.

    But if you are really squirmy about the reliability of shifters, just chuck 'em and go fixed/single speed
    Last edited by Sigurdd50; 04-28-06 at 06:49 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I have no touring experience so forgive me in advance, but it seems to me that being humped over a bike for days, weeks and months at a time, you would want the device which is most efficient. I would think the STI would win easily in terms of efficiency. You NEVER have to remove your hands from their normal position.
    Ack! What's efficiency got to do with touring on a bicycle? It is a pleasure to shift with bar-ends once you get used to it. I will say they definitely are not for riding fast in the pack - that is where thay are ungainly at best, but on the open road, on a lazy day - perfect.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I have no touring experience so forgive me in advance, but it seems to me that being humped over a bike for days, weeks and months at a time, you would want the device which is most efficient. I would think the STI would win easily in terms of efficiency. You NEVER have to remove your hands from their normal position.
    IMO, the most "efficient" shifter arrangement would be downtube shifters. they provide fine shifting with the minimum amount of weight and mechanical complexity. they are the least expensive option and the least likely to be damaged in any kind of crash. note that the popular surly LHT provides you the option of using these shifters. plus they're one less thing in the value calculation / decision of a potential bike thief.

    bar ends are less "efficient" than downtubes in that you've added significantly more cable and two housing runs. plus a little more shifting force required to overcome the longer cable runs and bends. also more likely to get some damage in a crash. but you gain some conveninence and safety by keeping your hands on bars. slightly more costly than bar end shifters.

    sti shifters are the least "efficient" in that they require the most cable/housing, have the most bends/potential friction in the shifter arrangement, are the most expensive to get and most likely to require replacement as a result of a fairly common crash scenario. but sti shifters are probably the best shifter / braking interface for drop bars. they have a significant safety advantage in that your hands never have to leave the hoods, as you have pointed out.

    if you like sti shifters and have no problems with their cost, then you should get them and not be swayed by the posts on these forums. its your bike ride, and it doesnt make that much difference anyway in the big scheme of things.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Yeah. What's wrong with Ultegra?
    Hard to say. It fails with amazing regularity so it isn't too good for touring bikes. For recreational sports bikes it's pretty good since it gives you a reason to upgrade every couple of years.
    Last edited by cyclintom; 05-01-06 at 09:19 AM.

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