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  1. #1
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    Hello, new member here! Have a question about friction shifters [touring]

    Hello everyone. I have been a happy recumbent bicycle owner for 3 years now. Before then, I had tried multiple bicycles with various saddles and did not find the comfort / exact experience I was looking for.

    However despite this bliss I still miss riding a regular diamond frame bicycle. I've decided that over this winter I am going to try and spec together the perfect touring bicycle for me. Despite the fact that I won't be doing any long distance touring I fell in love with touring bicycles anyway because they feel so much more stable to me.

    I intend to use this bicycle for recreational rides. The farthest I will likely attempt to go is 100 miles. I know it sounds like I am picking the wrong type of bicycle but I really do like the idea of a touring bicycle.

    So my question(s) are these:

    1. What is the current state of friction shifters? Are these going to die off anytime soon?

    2. What is the likely hood that during a breakdown that a mechanic (likely SAG support on a ride) will be able to fix it? Or will they be bewildered by it?

    3. What is the most durable touring derailer system available that the friction shifters will work happily with and without losing gears?

    Thanks in advance!

    PS: I think I've settled on a Surly Long Haul trucker. I'm sure the Miyata 1000 is a fine bicycle I will probably be more comfortable with 26" wheels.

  2. #2
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    Also I should say: I'm highly interested in using the Sun Race Thumb Shifters

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Why does it have to be a Touring Set up?
    You would Love Brifters.
    I ride a Felt F-80 Race Tri bike with 700 X 28 tires.

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  4. #4
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    1.Friction shifters are alive and well and still made by shimano, campy, sunrace, pauls

    2. If a bike mechanic can't figure out a friction shifter don't let him touch anything else on your bike! Also learn to do your own work.

    3. Friction shifters will work with any derailleur or freehub. including "rapid rise" Shimano. I use friction downtube shifters on a 10speed freehub.

    4 The sunrace thumb shifters seem to work, But an old pair of suntour or shimano alloy shifters are much smoother and can be found on Ebay. If using roadbars bar-end shifters work very well

  5. #5
    Senior Moment grinningfool's Avatar
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    The LHT complete comes with shimano bar end shifters, which are indexed for the rear derailleur, and friction for the front. The rear can also be switched to friction if preferred. This is a very reliable setup, and should serve you well for many thousands of miles.
    People say I'm stupid and apathetic. I don't know what that means, and I don't care.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad View Post
    1.Friction shifters are alive and well and still made by shimano, campy, sunrace, pauls

    2. If a bike mechanic can't figure out a friction shifter don't let him touch anything else on your bike! Also learn to do your own work.

    3. Friction shifters will work with any derailleur or freehub. including "rapid rise" Shimano. I use friction downtube shifters on a 10speed freehub.

    4 The sunrace thumb shifters seem to work, But an old pair of suntour or shimano alloy shifters are much smoother and can be found on Ebay. If using roadbars bar-end shifters work very well

    Yeah, like velo said...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Fueled by Boh's Avatar
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    I agree with velo on most counts too, but paul doesn't make shifters - just "thumbies", which allow you to mount downtube/ barend shifters on your handle bar. i like mine a lot.

    I think 99% of people outside this forum would tell you that friction shifters are dead. in fact, many on this forum would tell you the same. keep in mind downtube or bar end shifting doesn't necessarily mean friction. I see no reason to write off indexed shifting. Its been the the industry norm for decades, and is very reliable.

    That being said, I've worked as a mechanic for a cross country bike ride (and in various shops, etc), which is pretty much means worst case scenario mechanical situations with little in the way of available resources. I experienced no less than three shift cables fraying and snapping inside of modern shifters (1 ultegra, 1 dura-ace, 1 campy veloce). This actually has been known to happen with dura-ace, and I've seen it in the shop environment. Shimano says "send it back" but you wont have that option. It was a real headache but in the end I prized the frayed heads out of two of the three. With bar-end shifters it would have been a total non-issue.

    If you'll be on supported rides under 100 miles, and upright posture and comfort are important to you, take a more extensive look at whats out there. If the luddite in you still cries out for friction shifters, your most ubiquitous options will also offer indexed shifting for your rear derailer.

    As far as compatibility and durability, stay away from high and low-end. I've seen deore derailers make it across the US while Dura-ace pivots wear out and get sloppy. Deore/tiagra to XT/ultegra will do you well paired with any compatible shifter, as will similar offerings from sram and campy (x7,x9 for sram mirage, veloce, centaur for campy)

    the 26"/700c debate is a whole other can of worms that merits looking into for yourself. I could tell you that I'm very frustrated by the paucity of narrow "fast" feeling 26" tires for my lht, and that the only reliable slicks tend to be expensive as well as wider than necessary - but those points might not matter much.
    Not going to bother with Antarctica

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fueled by Boh View Post
    the 26"/700c debate is a whole other can of worms that merits looking into for yourself. I could tell you that I'm very frustrated by the paucity of narrow "fast" feeling 26" tires for my lht, and that the only reliable slicks tend to be expensive as well as wider than necessary - but those points might not matter much.
    I'm a 300+ lbs dude so having the smaller diameter rims means a lot to me.

    Also, I thought if I ever lost enough weight I could always switch the rims over to 650B.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by grinningfool View Post
    The LHT complete comes with shimano bar end shifters, which are indexed for the rear derailleur, and friction for the front. The rear can also be switched to friction if preferred. This is a very reliable setup, and should serve you well for many thousands of miles.
    +1 to the bar end shifters, that is what came on my Raleigh Sojourn and I love them. And you can easily switch the rear from indexed to friction in like 2 seconds with no tools.

    -Matt

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lopton View Post
    And you can easily switch the rear from indexed to friction in like 2 seconds with no tools.
    How?

  11. #11
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    Reliability

    Brifters are fine, but I've had 3 sets fail in my 30 year cycling career. In contrast I've never had a bar end friction fail to perform (24 year old Santana tandem, 35 year old Peugeot, 25 year old Raleigh, even converted my Trek to barends - the last two bikes are off course indexed, but I can switch to friction with the turn of a tiny handle on the side of the shifter. My first multispeed bike came with barends and my tandem needed them so you did not have to take you hand off of the bars to shift. Thus I came to love them before brifters existed. Call me old school. If you see a bike with barends you know its been upgraded or started out trying to be bombproof. IMHO. tom

  12. #12
    armchair touring whoosh!'s Avatar
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    mmm... friction. Once you get used to it, (or used to it all over again) you'll love it. The only thing you need to adjust for is cable stretch every once in a blue moon. It's feels so good once you get it down. Like you're in charge of shifts, not Shimano. I have the SunRace shifters currently, and would say avoid them if you can. They work great for the first 6 months or so, and then kinda crap the bed. They are cheap, so if you need a foot in the friction door until you can afford Paul thumbies/barends they're great. But being cheap, they are also made out of low quality soft aluminum and plastic, so they crack, creak, stick and strip out.

    Nothing wrong with drinking the sweet, sweet Rivendell Kool-Aid.
    Last edited by whoosh!; 01-07-09 at 11:05 AM.

  13. #13
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    I think the Sunrace thumb shifters won't provide a positive quality experience for long. I prefer the thumb shifter style of the old Shimano thumb shifters, so I've taken the Shimano bar-end shifters that I run in friction mode and placed them on Paul's thumbies:


    http://images.google.com/images?hl=e...-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    This combination works very well and I can highly recommend it if you like the thumb shifter style.

  14. #14
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
    How?
    The right bar-end shifter has a ring on top that can be turned from index to friction. Notice the right shifter in this image and the ring that moves from SIS to Friction

    http://www.faenki.com/zuverkaufen/Ba...%20SL-BS50.jpg

  15. #15
    Senior Member Fueled by Boh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by courtesi View Post
    Also, I thought if I ever lost enough weight I could always switch the rims over to 650B.
    Maybe. I looked into this, thinking it would be the perfect solution to making the lht feel faster. I wanted to raise the bb and a few other things. I did some of the measurements and it doesn't look like its possible with standard canti brakes. You'd have to go with paul v-brakes, and slide the pads well up the brake arms. I'd imagine this would change the pull ratio and the braking power for the worse. I plan on trying it in a few days with an actual wheel, now that my bike shop actually has some 650b's in. I can let you know, if you'd like. Even if it did work, your tire selection would narrow further - exacerbating one of my points of contention. And, paul brakes are pretty pricey.
    Not going to bother with Antarctica

  16. #16
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Learn to do the work yourself. Friction shifters will be easiest to work on,

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fueled by Boh View Post
    Maybe. I looked into this, thinking it would be the perfect solution to making the lht feel faster. I wanted to raise the bb and a few other things. I did some of the measurements and it doesn't look like its possible with standard canti brakes. You'd have to go with paul v-brakes, and slide the pads well up the brake arms. I'd imagine this would change the pull ratio and the braking power for the worse. I plan on trying it in a few days with an actual wheel, now that my bike shop actually has some 650b's in. I can let you know, if you'd like. Even if it did work, your tire selection would narrow further - exacerbating one of my points of contention. And, paul brakes are pretty pricey.

    I would be VERY interested in what you find out. I am shooting for a 54cm, I don't know what size you are. I know the tire selection would be limited but that's ok because there are enough high quality tires available.

    There was somebody who claimed that 650B wheels worked fine on his LHT. I tried e-mailing him for specifics but his e-mail address came back as invalid.

    Not a huge problem if you can't get to it though. The 650B would likely roll better but I'm probably one of the very few that thinks 26" wheels look great on the LHT.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by courtesi View Post
    I'm a 300+ lbs dude so having the smaller diameter rims means a lot to me.

    Also, I thought if I ever lost enough weight I could always switch the rims over to 650B.
    Nothing wrong with being over 300# and riding 700c wheels, if you have a high enough spoke count and proper spoke tension.
    I'm 365# and have been riding 700c's either 36 and 40 spokes. One of my Bikes even has a 32 spoke V rim rear wheel and it is still going strong with minimal truing.

    I'm running 700x25 (125psi) on the Trek 1220 (the one with the 32 spoke wheel)
    700x35 (75psi) on the Trek 750
    and Specialized Fatboy 26x1.25 (100psi) on the Hardrock.

    So far...no problems whatsoever.
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
    How?
    As I said super easy, there is a little ummm handle thingi that you flip up and rotate it to either the Friction Setting or the Indexed Setting.

    I attached to pictures for your viewing pleasure

    -Matt
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Lopton; 01-08-09 at 06:12 PM. Reason: add pics

  20. #20
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    I got some shimano 600 DT friction shifters that I'll let go for a special holiday price.

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