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Old 09-07-07, 11:46 PM   #1
tourbiker
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Bar-end shifters or Ultegra shifters/levers

Hi,
I've just got my new custom touring bike, a Marinoni Turismo Extreme, and rode it for the first time today. I ordered it with Shimano Dura-Ace Bar-end shifters (barcons) along with compact brake levers. However, they weren't able to get these components quickly enough so they've temporarily installed Shimano Ultegra STI shifter/levers. So now I have a choice to either keep the Ultegras or switch to the barcons when they arrive.

I know that many people on this forum prefer bar-end shifters for touring. I believe one advantage will be friction shifting on the front which I'd like. Another advantage will be that I can use compact brake levers for my small hands. But, the Ultegra's are easy to shift while keeping hands on the handlebar particularly on hills. However, I think that a front friction shifter would enable me to move the derailler a bit to prevent rubbing when the chain is in the smallest or largest cog. Is this correct? My gearing is: 11-34 9-spd cassette and 22-32-44 on the front... great for fully loaded touring on hills.

Should I keep the Ultegras or switch to barcons? I'd appreciate hearing advantages/disadvantages from people who are familiar with these choices.

Thanks.
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Old 09-07-07, 11:56 PM   #2
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Personally, I would not want bar end shifters on my bicycle for the following reasons:

1) My frame is very small because I have a short torso, and I'd be afraid my knees would bump the shifters.

2) I don't just tour in my own neighborhood, I also travel by airplane, train, bus, and car with my bicycle. I have a bar end mirror that constant gets bent all over the place. Fortunately it is designed to take that kind of abuse, but I hate to think what would happen to bar end shifters! I'd probably accidentally snap them off on my first trip.

3) I can't imagine that they would be easy to reach. I'd rather not have to go groping for shifters when I turn a corner and suddenly need to shift! (Both Europe and Australia have this sneaky habit of hiding hills around corners)
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Old 09-08-07, 12:13 AM   #3
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if your bike is sized correctly, barcons ARE easy to reach because you will be riding in the drops as often as on the hoods.

Barcons let you run any 7-8-9-10 speed cassette in the rear on friction, without prejudice.

Barcons set to friction let you dump a cassette to a lower or higher gear quite a bit smoother and quicker than click click clicking a STI.

Barcons- MORE durable than STI.

I say Barcon.
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Old 09-08-07, 12:19 AM   #4
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I have bar ends on my tourer and DuraAce on my roadie.

I like the bar ends for the front friction, the optional rear friction mode, the space available for a handlebar bag. You are correct that the friction allows you to trim the gears for a perfect location.

To speak to Machka's points: Sometimes I do kick one with my knee, but it's no big deal. I never had them damaged in transit, except once from hanging on a car rack, and the bike was on there for... um, a really long time. Maybe 3500 miles of driving, over 3 months. It takes about an hour to get used to the location, and it becomes second nature. The location is not a problem. The only really different thing is that you can't shift when you are standing up, you have to sit down. (but that might be a good thing - i broke a spoke on a standing downshift on my road bike this year).

I like the DA's on my roadie for how easy it is to shift at any time w/o moving my hands.

I have shims on both bikes to fix the break-reach. I have an old post on this forum somewhere with a picture of the touring ones, which are homemade, cost about $5, and are really easy and work great.

If I had to choose for a touring bike, I would still pick the bar ends, mainly because of the friction shifting and the space for a full size handlebar bag. My bars are so small that there's no room for a HB bag with the cables sticking out the sides of the brake/shift levers.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-08-07, 12:49 AM   #5
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Yes, ability to use a handlebar bag is a really good point!

I have bar-end mirrors on my roadie and my old touring bike so very familiar with knocking them regularly. But, the LBS says he cuts about 1.5" off the handlebars when he installs barcons so they won't extend much further than the stock bar. (don't need the extra length anyway).

As for getting used to the shifting position...I have 4 other bikes and each has different shifters so it's inevitable that occasionally I'll reach for the downtube or the brake hoods or elsewhere. So, hopefully I'll get used to the bar-ends too.

Thanks for the opinions. I'm not 100% decided yet so happy to hear from others.
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Old 09-08-07, 12:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
If I had to choose for a touring bike, I would still pick the bar ends, mainly because of the friction shifting and the space for a full size handlebar bag. My bars are so small that there's no room for a HB bag with the cables sticking out the sides of the brake/shift levers.
I have no problem using a handlebar bag with STI shifters ... my cables sit in front of the handlebar bag quite nicely. But I'm not sure what you mean by "my bars are so small" ... mine aren't oversized, but they are wide. I specifically ordered slightly extra wide bars because I feel more stable on my bicycle with wider handlebars than narrow ones, so perhaps that makes a difference.
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Old 09-08-07, 03:15 AM   #7
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If I needed to choose I would go with cut handlebar that looks like MTB bar with horns. Then put the bar ends in front of the horns. It looks like barends on aerobar.
Most of the time you put your hands close to the barends (like in STI), so shifting is easy, even while standing.
If you are using the lower position on the regular bar, then the option is not for you.

I'm talking about handlebar like this:

It can be found at nashbar

Last edited by kipibenkipod; 09-08-07 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 09-08-07, 07:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I have no problem using a handlebar bag with STI shifters ... my cables sit in front of the handlebar bag quite nicely. But I'm not sure what you mean by "my bars are so small" ... mine aren't oversized, but they are wide. I specifically ordered slightly extra wide bars because I feel more stable on my bicycle with wider handlebars than narrow ones, so perhaps that makes a difference.
Interesting... my bars are rather narrow, and it *looks* like there would be interference with the cables at the front of the bag - but I haven't actually tried it. Also, my h/b bag is pretty big.
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Old 09-08-07, 09:14 AM   #9
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I have had fit issues with the brifters and handle bar bags. But I have a tendency to use the monster (700cc range) bags Arkel has a pretty decent overview on the issue and some possible workarounds.

My personal preference on drop bars are the barcons, but I have ridden with those for over 30 years on my tour bikes. I currently have brifters on my road tour bike and have only used them on a couple of short out and backs. My other tour bike is being set up as an Expedtion bike and will have butterfly bars with either the stock Suntour MTB click shifters or if I upgrade the Shimano STI MTB shifters from the LX line.

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Old 09-08-07, 09:32 AM   #10
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First, I'd keep the Ultegra birfters they sent with the bike....because they are nice and worth over $300. Heck, you could trade them for a set of panniers.

Barcons and compact brake levers are worth about $100 for your bike. Personally, I run barcons because I'm too cheap to run brifters. And barcons are easier to work on and last maybe 3 times as long as brifters.

On the other hand....brifters are sexy, smooth and fast. I love tuning bikes with brifters and then going for a little high speed test ride. But as a fat old guy...well brifters fit me like a new sports car.. it looks like I'm trying too hard.

The good news your bike is going to darn nice with either shifters!
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Old 09-08-07, 09:51 AM   #11
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First, I'd keep the Ultegra birfters they sent with the bike....because they are nice and worth over $300. Heck, you could trade them for a set of panniers.
I agree. Keep the STI shifters and then sell them. I'm going to recommend that you consider downtube shifters. In my experience, whenever I wanted to change a cable in the barcons I would have to remove the handlebar tape because the cable would never enter smoothly without knocking the housing out of its home in the barcon. It was a big PITA. In that regard STI shifters are easier to service.

Downtube shifters are great because there's minimal housing and easy access to the entire part. If you can shift comfortably with barcons, the DT shifters aren't much farther away. I have no trouble handling the bike even when loaded with front panniers and my heavy handlebar bag.
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Old 09-08-07, 01:01 PM   #12
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Brifters. Easy, fast, convenient. I have Utegra's and don't have to trim at all. Durability? I don't have a problem with that either. I believe my chances of breaking off a bar-end is better than having my brifters fail. And, I'm a retro-grouch too. I can't see sacrificing them just to have a friction option. It's all personal preference.
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Old 09-08-07, 01:08 PM   #13
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Well unless I was building an antique bike for some special old bike tour, I'd keep the STI shifters. Think about it, on a fully loaded touring bike, safe and frequent shifting is extremely important, with the wide range of gears we have, being in the right gear all of the time saves a lot of energy and joint stress. Safe because you can shift with your hands on the bars, steep corners, rough road, bad traffic, etc. I guarantee that with STI's you will shift 30-50% more and be safer doing it. Being in just the right gear 30% more is a big deal over thousands of miles. Probably shift 100% more that down-tube shifters and much safer. Reliability- My set of Ultegras on my road bike have well over 30,000 miles without flaw and original cables (the tops are all dented in from a bad wreck in 2001, still work fine). If your are touring in BFE bring along a down-tube shifter in you bag and install it if you get hit by a truck. Cost- if you can afford to fly to your tour start point, you can afford STI. Long bike tours are already very expensive, if you can afford a long bike tour, you can afford STI.

Stepping off my soap-box now.

Oh, and I started touring in the 70's with downtube shifters, so I've used them all.

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Old 09-09-07, 06:49 AM   #14
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Note: These are merely personal preferences, your's can and probably do differ.

I am not a fan of bar end shifters. Choosing between them between them and downtube shifters I will choose downtube every time. Reasons?
1. They get bumped by my knees (not frequently, but always at a bad time)
2. To me they don't feel as crisp or precise.
3. For me, they aren't any easier to reach than downtube shifters. This is probably dependent on preferred handlebar height (I like mine pretty low so downtube shifters are at close to the same height as bar ends), How deep the drops are on the bars, frame size, and a bazillion other factors.

Given the choice between STI and either downtube or bat ends I will take STI everytime. To me they seem to offer the ease of use that barcons are supposed to offer, but don't. I find that I shift more often with STI and it seems to actually keep me pedaling more efficiently. Note that I am a recent convert and have been in the downtube camp until I used STI on a 10+ week tour this summer.
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Old 09-09-07, 12:22 PM   #15
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Those STI shifters are not rebuildable. Right now they are the best they'll ever be, and will go downhill from there as they wear. If you want integrated brifters over barcons get campy Centaur, or Chorus, although I don't think the Chorus have aluminum levers now. Those are rebuildable so they won't leave you stranded. My DuraAce STI's left me having to two hand shift on a ride, so I chucked them after finding out they aren't rebuildable. At the local velodrome swapmeet, there's a guy that shows up with boxes full of dead Shimano STI shifters. So for me, it's barcons on the bent, and Campy Ergo on the road/touring bikes.
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