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  1. #1
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    Downtube vs BarEnd??

    :confused:
    I am in the process of choosing components for a new Rivendell Touring bike that will be ready sometime in January. I have really struggled with the shifter issue. I have made the decision to go with friction vs indexed, but I realize that Shimano offers both options in a barend shifter. I have never used barend shifters and wonder if I would not prefer downtube instead. I have used downtube on a road bike and I like them. I spend more time on my hoods than the drops. Therefore is there really a difference in convenience to shift from the barends vs the downtube? It seems you still have to remove your hand from the hoods to shift. I know STI or ERGO would solve this issue, but I want to use friction shifters. I have to admit I like the clean look of downtube shifters, however I really want to make a decision based on application vs just looks. I recognize this may be just a matter of personal preference, however since I am new to the touring world I would appreciate the voice of experience! Thank you for your insights! Take care!

  2. #2
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    I much prefer downtube because of the shorter cable runs and I've found it awkward to use bar end because I too ride on the hoods a lot, and the shift to the end of the bars is just as far as to the d/t.

    Anyway, bikes look better with d/t shifters.

    (I am planning to change my tourer to ERGO however when I can justify the expense.)
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  3. #3
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    When Im doing a fast, technical hair-raising descent with DT shifters, I get into a suitable gear and just stay there. If its wrong, I live with it, but I dont attempt a shift unless I know the road well.
    With bar-ends, you can maintain contact with the bars, which makes it a bit safer for loaded touring applications.

  4. #4
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    If you use a modern derailleur, downtube works fine indexed whereas barend works better in friction mode... which I prefer anyway. I also ride mostly from the drops, but my bars are rather high, level with the saddle.

    That being said, current Shimano shifters work either friction or indexed (9-speed); you just have to turn a knob on the right shifter. The front is always friction. Besides that, the only differences between bar-end and downtube shifters are:
    - pods to install the shifters at the end of the bars;
    - slightly differently shaped levers.
    IOW, you may install downtube shifters on bar-end pods (if you have them) or bar-end shifters on downtube braze-ons.

    Which one I prefer? Both! My commuter is a 1980 bike with downtube shifters and my tourer is a 2000 bike with bar-end shifters. It took me a while to get used to the latter, but I think I have a slight preference for bar-end shifters. In fact, I moved the shifters of my tourer to the downtube and didn't like it, whereas I have no problems with downtube shifters on my commuter.

    Differences:

    - The commuter has clamped shifters. I place my shifters much higher than the "official" current braze-on location of downtube shifters.

    - The tourer has 46-cm-wide handlebars whereas the commuter has 40-cm-wide handlebars. I think my ideal width would be 43 or 44 cm.

    Those two differences mean that I can grab the downtube shifters of my computer without any shoulder movement.


    Another point: on my tourer, I have re-cabled my bar-end shifters in aero mode, with cable housing going around the handlebars and concealed beneath the handlebar tape. Very neat. It's neither more nor less responsive than before. when the housing was in the air. I should add that I shift in friction with 8-speed shifters and 9-speed cogs.

    Regards,
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  5. #5
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    I have used the Suntour rachet type bar end shifters (still a fraiction type, the rachet holds the position against the cable tension) since 1975 on my Schwinn Voyageur II with a 43 cm (e-e) handlebars. Very good performance. The bike came equipped with them and a Shimano Crane derailler.

    I changed to Shimano indexed bar ends this year to get indexed shifting (also changed to a Shimano Deore derailler). The Shimano rear shifter indexes fine and I like the 1 click, 1 shift response. The friction shifters required different amount of motion for the shifts. The index ones do not.

    The indexed shifters cable housing is extremely stiff compared to the stainless steel sprial type of the Suntours (differnece between a dry and wet spaghetti noodle). The stiffer housing is required for the index shifts.

    Either way you can not go wrong. The index ones work fine.

    John Hawrylak
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    John Hawrylak
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    hawrylak@delanet.com

  6. #6
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    What's wrong with STI? DT and BARCON seem so archaic to the STI...

    And there's nothing like having your brakes and shifting them too

  7. #7
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    I find a few problems with STI:

    - Many little parts that can break on the road. Not a real problem for commutes, errands, day rides, etc., but if you travel far from bike shops, it might be a problem. Many tourers therefore carry a set of downtube shifters "just in case".

    - STI works in indexed mode only. For the rear end, it means one absolutely needs 8-speed shifters with 8-speed and 9-speed shifters with 9-speed. Non-indexed is also slightly more reliable in crappy weather (I cycle throughout Winter) and can work even with a bent derailleur, like after a crash (could be a problem while touring). BTW, working in friction means I never adjust cable tensioners.
    Front bar-end and downtube shifters work in friction only, which means I can use whatever rings I want without any shifting issues.

    Bar-end and downtube shifters may be shifted from one end to the other; there is no need to "click" one's way through the gears.

    Non-STI brakes also mean that my brake levers only move one way. A minor preference, I might add.


    Finally, preferences depend where one rides. I place my bars a bit high, but ride almost exclusively from the drops. That means my bar-end shifters are actually closer to my hands than STI.

    Regards,
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  8. #8
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    - Many little parts that can break on the road. Not a real problem for commutes, errands, day rides, etc., but if you travel far from bike shops, it might be a problem. Many tourers therefore carry a set of downtube shifters "just in case".
    Oh please... That is so lame... And if I were going to carry a complete set of shifters... Why not brake levers too... Well lets carry them all in one and just carry a complete set of STIs?? How about a spare left crank arm? Or should I use toe straps instead of SPDs?

    My Ultegra STI shifters lasted 10,000 miles and I replaced them because they looked crapy not because they were broken.

    Let's see... My Duo-Sport tandem had Suntour Bar ends and I was constantly retightening the screw on the end (ya know the same one that down tubes use to adjust the tightness of the friction or to hold the index ball... Yea I can see why you need to carry a spare set of crappy shifters...

    STI works in indexed mode only. For the rear end, it means one absolutely needs 8-speed shifters with 8-speed and 9-speed shifters with 9-speed.
    Not sure where you are going with this. Are you saying if you break a 9-speed cassette and you can only purchase an 8-speed cluster then you are hosed because you have 9-speed STI? Well if you are screwed up so much you cannot find 9-speed gears or feel that you will be that way they yea ride a 30 year old bike with friction shifting. I guess you could carry a cassette and a chain and the tools to fix them along with that spare set of barcons too!

    Also you may as well carry a spare rear derailleur because if the parallelogram breaks and you find you are using SHIMANO and you can only get SRAM, SUNTOUR or CAMPY then you are just as hosed on your shifters... Perhaps you should do like they did in the 1930s and not use derailleurs and get a hub that has one gear on each side... Turn the wheel over when you want to climb... and back again on the flats...


    (I cycle throughout Winter) and can work even with a bent derailleur, like after a crash (could be a problem while touring).
    I cycle through all kinds of crap and even on my mountain bike which is caked with sugar sand and mud and it uses Rapid Fire which is the STI equivalent and it has no problems...

    Bent hanger? Well bend it back! That's easy enough to do with that adjustable wrench you carry to replace the gear pack...

    Finally, preferences depend where one rides. I place my bars a bit high, but ride almost exclusively from the drops. That means my bar-end shifters are actually closer to my hands than STI.
    Well I will agree with you on this as it is the only REAL answer I see... Also the comments above it are also preference (multi-shift vs rapid quick single shifts & not being deterious enough to deal with a multi-directional brake/shifter lever)...

    And I ride nearly always in the drops but with my hands up inside the drops so my hands are always on the brake levers so I can brake, not shift, though... wait... Yea I can shift too... Shorten your stem and raise your bars and keep your hands near those brakes!!!


  9. #9
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    When Im on tour I carry a plastic DT friction shifter for the rear mech. It weighs very little but gets you out of all kinds of potential problems. Hangers do get bent, rear mechs do get trashed, wheels do get damaged beyound roadside repair, and small-town bikeshops do not always stock the latest lightweight high-end components.
    I dont need to carry the front mech shifter, my campy ergoshifters can work with any mech, and you dont actually NEED a front mech to ride or change gear.

  10. #10
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    Yea I can see carrying a DT shifter as a backup... Thats actually an idea I like. Simply take off the STI's DT converter and stick on the shifter and hobble into town and look for a bike shop that has at least a Tiagra replacement (or campy equivalent)

    Unless the drop out gets twisted backwards and jamed into the cassette (I've seen that on a Trek w aluminum drop out) you can simply use the jaws of a adjustable wrench (you take off the rear derailleur) to grab the drop out and carefully pry it back into position... A few minutes for the operation.

    Of course if the rear derailluer shaters there isn't much you can do except take out a bunch of links and turn the bike into a single speed. Had to do that once on a friend's bike until we could get to a shop.

    Pretzel a wheel is a tough thing to recover from. If the wheel is too warped then the rim is probably toast too... Best thing to do is write it off and buy a new wheel from the shop.

    Yea while I feel that STI is fairly common esp the SORA and TIAGRA stuff, wheels are still too varied to trust. A nice 32 spoke "standard" spoke type is probably the best bet... But still stash a few spare spokes in your seat tube or taped to your left chain stay.

    Splined cranks are also pretty common today so I'd go to modern cranks and BB instead of tapered ones... And then there is disk brakes vs cantis vs calipers vs U vs V brakes... I say stay away from disks for a few more years esp hydraulic.

    Anyway I think we are drifting from the barcon/DT shifter thread... I still say what's wrong with STI? Only if you want to use V brakes and not the VB adapters (so you use the DiaComp levers) then you are stuck with BCON or DT. Or if that is what you are use to... But if you are trying to decide why not have STI on the list?

  11. #11
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    Look folks lets keep this simple and too the point of the original question. If your going to be touring then use the barend shifters it will allow you to shift without taking your hands off the handlebar which is important on a weighted bike; that is the way that Rivendell recommends also!!!

    Why carry spare shifters? Hectors, my friction shifters have over 85,000 miles on them and they have never failed or look bad! Rivendell believes in simplicity, because simplicity will last longer with less repairs, cost less to repair and less hassles-and I believe their correct; STI is not as reliable as the older friction or indexed stuff and that is why most touring bikes do not use STI or Ergo for that matter. My Suntour Superbe ride has never had a breakdown and some of the components have over 100,000 miles but none have less than 85,000, except for the freewheel.

    If you stay with the tried and proven your chances of mechanical problems far from home will be greatly reduced, in fact short of an accident your problems will probably be zip-nada-nothing-zero. And if by some odd chance a repair is needed, chances are you can fix it yourself on the side of the road!

    DBrian; listen to Rivendell, they have vast amount of experience in this area of cycling. Take their advice on wheels (32 spokes is not enough for loaded touring by the way); take their advice on equipment because that stuff will not break anytime soon. Their canvas bags they promote are a little weird, but they will outlast the newer materials, if you can stand the weird looks that long!!!

    Here are some web sites you may find interesting:

    http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/index.htm

    http://www.myra-simon.com/bike/tips.html

    http://www.coinet.com/~beckman/index.html

  12. #12
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    I agree with the DT comment. Keep your hands on the bars.

    However I think the comment about STI is dated by about 10 years. Yes 10 years ago STI was probably not the way to go. But then add 10 years to that and indexed DT shifters were bad compared to friction shifting.

    I think the idea of staying with something that works is a good thing. But STI is a mature system. And it not only allows you to keep your hands on the bars when you shift it allows you to keep your hands near the brakes too (like downshifting and braking)...

    I also have a story to tell you about these 100,000 and 85,000 mile components of yours. And it involves 29 stiches and resetting my cheek bone.

    What is rated life? What is the rated life of a wheel? A fork? A crank arm? A frame?

    Well I found out that 16 years and 50,000 miles was about the limit of the spokes on my FUGI tourer. And I found that on a non-tour ride with some friends when the front wheel decided to pretzel going at a moderate 5mph over a speed bump.

    Because of that I changed my idea on what I view as components not-needing to be replaced. Sure one can try to make something last forever. But that is really not always the smart thing to do. Components, esp aluminum ones as an example, have specific and predictable lifetimes and one should consider replacement of them.

    My racing bike which has 20,000 miles on it only has two original components... The frame and the seat-post. And I have a new seat post sitting on the shelf.

    So yes one can say we can build a touring bike that can do lots of miles but one should replace the parts when one has the opportunity and when... I mean before... they become a problem... The ones easy to get can be replaced on the road... The harder to get ones should be replaced when near a city where they can be purchased or at the end of a particular tour.

    So sure DTs would last forever (well possibly) and BARCONS would probably be next and possibly, but I'm not so sure would be STI... But if you have 20,000 miles on any of them are you sure you want to test the will of the Gods and find out if you can get another 3.000 mles out of them?

    Not me. If I can I will replace them. And I replaced my STI at 12,000 miles even though they were still working perfectly. They now command the shelf as the backups if the current ones break while I wait to order replacements.

    Hey is not the single speed bike tried and proven? Yea that's the ticket...

    BTW I would agree that more spokes are better although I do trans-contenential rides with only two pannis-- I use fronts for two rears and no bags on the fork (please gotta steer sir!) I would also recommend canti or mini-v brakes too...

  13. #13
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    I could not agree less with the Prestons logic on damage happening using components with high mileage IF YOU MAINTAIN THEM, otherwise I would have to agree with Preston. I was speaking of the components not the rims and spokes (my wheels have about 30,000 miles). If you take care of your bike and maintain it frequently then the stuff will last. I had a 81 Toyota Celica and a 87 Nissan 280zx that both had over 300,000 miles on the engines and they still purred like kittens when I sold them. The point here is maintence; I know a guy who tours frequently and he has over 150,000 miles on Phil Wood hubs and they still feel silky smooth-but so do my Superbe hubs and they have over 100,000.

    As far as STI...well, I just don't see the advantage; I have them on a MTB and just do not see any advantage of them over friction or index-sorry!

  14. #14
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    as you can see, there are some differences of opinion.Personally, I don't see the point of moving your hands away from the bar to reach downtube shifters; when there are alternatives. When I was putting my lite tourer together last year I expected I would get bar ends. My dealer persuaded me STI was a good choice. They are. I also like bar ends. I think Rivendell makes a great frame; but I think bar ends have become a good idea mostly for expedition bikes. Personally, cycling up to Mach Pichu is not my idea of a vacation.. If you haven't tried STI, do so. Once I tried them (and my dealer convinced me they were reliable) I was sold.
    Last edited by late; 08-24-03 at 03:01 PM.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    Jimmy Carter rides a Rivendell around Plains, Georgia regularly.
    "I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm." As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2. Shakespeare.
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    Well, I hear all this but, My tourer has over 15,000 miles on a set of Dura- ace tripple STI shifters and my road bike has over 25,000 on Dura-ace STI double, neither has ever given me trouble. While on our I carry one of those cheap light friction clamp on handlebar shifters that I can mount anywhere and is capable of shifting anything, front or rear, (the ones you find on the dept. store bikes.. They are not pretty but they will get you out of a jam.
    Achieve your goals: Attitude is everything:

  17. #17
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    But isn't replacement of pars a part of maintainance?

    Do you replace the pins in your chain and keep the link plates or do you replace the chain...

    Froze, I went through this with another guy on cyclingforum so I'll nip this in the bud right now. We are going to eventually agree that we are saying the same thing.

    As for the STI vs other... On a mountain bike you already have your shifters near your fingers and your hands near the brakes. I used an indexed old shimano setup in South Wales on a mountain bike for my touring and it was so close to rapid-fire that I did not really miss the CLICK-BANG shifting of rapid-fire. As for the road if you use BARCON or DT you have to move your hand a much further distance to go for the brake or the shifter. With STI it is more like mountain bike shifter/brake setups. I don't care for the new mountain bike STI stuff. I think rapid-fire push buttons work just fine on the ATB...

  18. #18
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I tried STI once (or some other kind of brake/shifter) and I didn't like having the brake lever moving. I want it to stay in its place, especially when going downhill with a loaded tourer. I have bar-end on my bike and I like it just fine. I never brake and shift at the same time so it's not an issue. I like having friction on front.

    STI cables get in the way of handlebar bags.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  19. #19
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    STI cables get in the way of handlebar bags.
    Yea that is true. I don't like bar-bags anyway... I usually go with a small bag/holder for the map and a triangle-frame-bag which I can get to easily with one hand reaching down like I would for a bottle.

    The STI brake lever moving bit is just preference. I don't have any problems squeezing a lever even if it moves in a bit.

    If you go with CAMPY then the cables go away and the levers don't move in (there is a side button for release).


    I brake/shift as I judge the hill comming up as I go down hill... Or as I approach a quickly changing stop light. The motion is brake/shift/brake... shift/brake...

    As I decelerate I shift to match the expected start-off speed... Down to stopping...

    But it is preference.

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    I'm usually on the commuting thread but I find this topic interesting. My two cents from a decidely biased-to-commuting standpoint: I can access the bar-end shifters from the hoods of my stock Trek 520 as quickly and as safely -- more safely, actually -- as the STIs I used on my former commuter. I also like that I can instantly jump 4-5 gears in one motion with the bar-ends, which I do sometimes 30-40 times a day starting from traffic lights along my commute route. Having the brakes coupled with gears means little to me, at least during the commute.

    As for safety, the bar-ends are directly below my hands, so there is exactly one motion (down) to access them from the hoods. I also agree with the earlier comments about accesing them easily from the drops. With STIs, I found that the extra motions associated with shifting (compared to bar-ends) is actually de-focusing and potentially destabilizing. (Commuting on narrow city streets requires the absolute minimum movement.)

    I suspect that downtubes also would cause more motion than bar-ends but I have no experience there.

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    Oh, I forgot to add. I suspect that my bar-ends shifters will last far longer than STIs but I have only 3300 or so miles on my Trek 520 so I can't speak from experience yet. However, probably unlike touring, a commute requires constant shifting, at least one like mine. I have 50+ "controlled intersections" along my commute and, consequently, the gears are always in motion. I rarely have more than a mile where I'm in the same gear.

    I switched to my Trek 520 away from my roadie because of the wear and tear my roadie was absorbing -- and gear/shifter life was one factor in my decision. I was a little worried about the bar-end shifters but I quickly learned their value.

  22. #22
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    Oh, and another thing !! ...

    As for maintenance, I am terrible, and that was another consideration leading me to the bar-end shifters (and the Trek 520). I commute a lot and have absolutely zero time to do anything but throw the bike into the corner of my garage when I'm home, wet or not (my commute is 1h15m in length each way as it is). I sling it to the back of cars when I alter my commute. I clean it regulary--twice a year. The chain is always gunked up. At least, here in San Jose, I don't have to worry about road salt and snow.

    For these reasons, the bomb-proof bar-end shifters once again seemed a good choice for me.

    OK, that should do it !!

  23. #23
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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    Well I dont want to get into a death spiral flame or such... But IMHO to shift the way you speak you must remove your hand from the hoods and therefore from the brake and therefore it takes more time than if you don't have to remove your hand from the hoods.

    As for the swinging action of STI, that's the same as telling someone they must learn to control steering a bike one-handed from the left hood while they reach with the right hood to shift.

    I think this is more opion so I will leave it there.

    The bomb proofing I think is old school feelings. I've got a mountain bike with rapid fire and a racing bike and a tandem with STI. The racer I keep imaculate but I don't dismantal and re-grease the STI therefore it is what it is...

    The mountain bike with the rapid fire (the STI sorta equivalent) and it sits in the Florida sun and rain and rots away. No lube no nutin. I have to replace cables and cable housings more often than any other part and the STI, I mean rapid fire, is still going strong after 3 years in this climate... 6000 commuting miles and so much baking in the sun that the paint on one side of the bike is ligher than on the other!

    My racer has 20,000 miles on it and I changed from the Ultegra STI to the DuraAce STI only because they were on sale not because they were broken or worn out.

    Anyway I guess I'll stick with STI because I like them and others will stich with the others because they like them... No harm no foul... We are all cyclist and that is what is important.

  24. #24
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    Everybody got an opinion...

    To bring this back to DT vs Bar-end. IMHO, bar-ends are in a more vulnerable location than DT shifters. This is no joke if take your bike on trains or planes. The issue of which is safer to use during loaded touring is pointless to discuss without data. You will eventually get used to and adept with any system over time. I actually use bar-ends and find that they work great in both index and friction modesm. Being able to go to friction has been very useful on tours. That being said, my touring mates use STI and DT friction with no complaints or problems. It is really a matter of matching the shifting system to the kind of riding you plan on doing. Those who want the ultimate in field serviceability and durability would be best served with DT. Those who want to be able to switch between index and friction should probably grab Bar-ends. And those who have already tasted the forbidden fruit of STI...just kidding.

    Peace,
    BK
    Got my helmet on, you can't tell me I'm not in space
    -Kool Keith

  25. #25
    ld-cyclist prestonjb's Avatar
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