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  1. #1
    frogman
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    Brifters on a Touring Bike ?

    I have an old Trek 520 which I am overhauling. I have Shimano downtube shifters, with index rear but I can change the setting to friction if needed. I am thinking about converting to Shimano brake shifters but I would lose the ability to switch to friction. The newer 520's come stock with bar end shifters, but I really like the brifters. I've been looking thru past forum posts and it looks like bar end shifters are the norm. Any one using brifters on their touring bike ? What do you do if problems with the shifters ?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I use brifters on all of my drop-bar road bikes. I've never had a problem with a Shimano or SRAM brifter. What's the worst that can happen? If the shifting breaks completely, you wedge a stick into the corresponding derailleur and you're stuck with a single gear at that end of the bike. If you need to shift, say to tackle a big hill, you pull over and wedge a different stick into the derailleur. It's not pretty, but it probably wouldn't leave you stranded...

  3. #3
    It's true, man.
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    I'm about to try a set of 105 shifters on my tourer. Since the shifters aren't compatible with the current XT chainring spacing, I'll have to buy a new triple crankset and probably a front derailleur, too, although I'll give the current derailleur a try just to see what happens.

    If I have problems with them on a tour, I'll just do the best I can with what I have, same as if I'd let the bike fall over and snapped off a bar-end shifter. Worst case: have the old bar ends shipped from home and ride on.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Been thru the brifter phase on drop bars. Switched to pure friction on bull horns. Like them much better. Simple, nearly bullet proof, and leaves me in control of derailleur placement. No problem at all putting the chain where I want it after a bit of practice.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Currently have Brifters but will be going to bar ends on the drop bar bike. The expedition bike with a butterfly bar will keep the current pushpull click shifters for the time being, they are old enough (Suntour XCM) that they can be switched to friction mode.

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  6. #6
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    I run STI's and have no plans on returning to the 90's... Seriously though I have and do use STI and will never tour with Bar Ends... I think a bigger place to put your concerns is always going to be the wheels... The will fail 90% more often and maybe 99% more often than a shifter.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I grew up on down tube shifters, graduated to bar ends, and now ride only brifters on my bikes with drop bars.

    I have never had *any* shifter mechanism fail, though I know it can happen.

    I would put on any shifting mechanism that seems most natural, comfortable and convenient to you.

    As far as reliability goes, like kayakdiver I would be more concerned with wheels.

  8. #8
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    As you can see, some folks use & prefer brifters.

    I happen to like bar-ends for touring & randonneuring. I'm not shifting every 30 seconds, and since I'm using a triple, bar-ends aren't quite as fussy as brifters. I also don't have to worry about a handlebar bag mashing into a brake or shifter cable.

    One thing to consider as well is, do you like the shape of your brake levers? If so, go barcons & keep the levers. If you don't, or don't care, then brifters are a more viable option.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogman View Post
    What do you do if problems with the shifters ?
    I'll tell you when I have a problem

    Honestly, it's a nonissue. I have STI shifters that have been in nearly daily use since 2003. Haven't had a problem yet. But then I seldom have problems with shifters.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakdiver View Post
    I run STI's and have no plans on returning to the 90's...
    I think you mean '80s... Shimano introduced their first integrated brake/shift levers for road bikes in the early 1990s, IIRC.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I use the brake shifters on many of my bikes and on my touring bike. I have never had a problem yet, the touring bike is new this winter but still no problems.

    If I were going on a long tour and wanted a back up for the brake shifters I would carry a pair of downtube shifters then I could use them until I got a replacement to the brifters. These are small simple to install, don't take much room and weigh next to nothing.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member TomT74's Avatar
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    It's back to bar ends for me. I have Tiagra brifters now and they don't seem to play nice with the front der. My old school aero levers should arrive tomorrow and I'll be switching things out, including a new set of shallow drop bars.

    If anyone wants a smokin' deal on some Tiagra brifters that are 34 days old with 400 miles on them, send me a PM.
    Last edited by TomT74; 07-01-10 at 02:23 PM. Reason: doh.. 400 miles, not 3400
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  13. #13
    It's true, man.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
    If I were going on a long tour and wanted a back up for the brake shifters I would carry a pair of downtube shifters then I could use them until I got a replacement to the brifters. These are small simple to install, don't take much room and weigh next to nothing.
    Right. The old brifter cable would almost certainly be long enough to reuse, as well. If you run barcon cable under the bar tape on a larger frame, precut shift cable housing sets (I'm looking at you, Jagwire) aren't long enough and neither are 'normal' inner wires. I've had to buy extra long tandem cables to replace the rear derailleur cable.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Ruffinit's Avatar
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    I have barcons (the real barcons made of aluminum) on one of my touring bikes, but when I tour I exclusively use the other bike with dt shifters which are able to go friction if needed. I've seen what wrecks can do to brifters and have absolutely no compulsion to use them on a bike which I may ride to the middle of nowhere. Touring bikes as you know carry some weight. When they fall and screw up your brake levers it's one thing, when it screws up your brakes AND your shifting it's quite another. I personally like riding, not fixing the bike while on tour. Take a look at the Bridgestone and take note of where the wear is on the brake levers. That is partially plain hand wear and partially road wear (as in brake lever meets road).

    Last edited by Ruffinit; 07-01-10 at 02:43 PM.
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  15. #15
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    ^^^ looks like that one would be interesting to pedal.

    So you took a picture of this to sell it? Crashes happen... Been down by car and my own dumb fault already this year.. Neither the car or my own stupid mistake caused the brifters to break. If you don't over tighten them they will rotate instead of break almost 100% of the time.

    I can appreciate you liking one over the other but... to say that they will break in a crash has little to do with reality.
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  16. #16
    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    I like brifters, and use them on all my road bikes, but I had to put bar ends on my touring rig, and like the way they WORK. I had a problem with my brifters not having the right cable pull for my XT front der., so they would not consistently shift from small chainring to large chainring. Middle ring was not an issue, only it got annoying after a while, so I switched. That said, my situation may not be the same as yours, so if brifters work for your chosen crank/FD combo, then I would not try to talk you out of using them. If mine had worked, I would still be using them.

  17. #17
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  18. #18
    frogman
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    That sounds like a good solution ! I can have my brifters and pack the downtube shifters for a backup, sweet ! thanks, great idea

  19. #19
    frogman
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    I see your point, slam your brifters and you are affecting both the brakes and shifters..................

  20. #20
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    Having used brifters (Campy Ergo-Power), bar-ends (Rivendell Silver, friction only) and down-tube mounted friction shifters (many different models from Simplex plastic to C-Record), I am going to stick to bar-end or down-tube mounted friction shifters for touring. The Ergo-Power levers are fun, it's very convenient to just keep your hands on the brake lever hoods and move a thumb or an index finger to shift, but I don't appreciate having to change cables, and housing once or twice a year when the shifting loses accuracy. I certainly don't want to have that happen on tour. I will keep the Ergo-Power brifters for my road bike, but for touring and commuting I will use friction shifters for sheer reliability. Bar-end shifters are nearly as convenient as brifters, but if I go on a tour that involves loading the bike onto ferries, trains or planes I will consider switching to down-tube mounted shifters just to reduce the chance of the shift lever getting knocked around during the loading/unloading process.

  21. #21
    frogman
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    Thanks for the info everyone ! My search thru past posts didn't give me much insight. It looks like there a are a lot more brifters used for touring than I thought.
    I like cyclist2000's idea of using brifters but packing a set of downtube shifters for backup.
    Bob
    Napa, CA

  22. #22
    frogman
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    touring brifters ?

    Thanks for the info everyone ! My search thru past posts didn't give me much insight. It looks like there a are a lot more brifters used for touring than I thought.
    I like cyclist2000's idea of using brifters but packing a set of downtube shifters for backup.
    Bob
    Napa, CA

  23. #23
    frogman
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    Thanks for the info everyone ! My search thru past posts didn't give me much insight. It looks like there a are a lot more brifters used for touring than I thought.
    I like cyclist2000's idea of using brifters but packing a set of downtube shifters for backup.
    Bob
    Napa, CA

  24. #24
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    My surly lht came with barend shifters on it but I did not like them to much.So I put on a set of down tube shifters on it.They work great for my self.I would not use any thing else. That's my 2 cents on this matter.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ruffinit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakdiver View Post
    ^^^ looks like that one would be interesting to pedal.

    So you took a picture of this to sell it? Crashes happen... Been down by car and my own dumb fault already this year.. Neither the car or my own stupid mistake caused the brifters to break. If you don't over tighten them they will rotate instead of break almost 100% of the time.

    I can appreciate you liking one over the other but... to say that they will break in a crash has little to do with reality.
    Yeah, I switch my pedals depending on what type of riding I'm doing at the time, this just happens to be a pic without pedals. Nope, this is one bike that's been with me everywhere. Around the world a couple times and has over 50,000 miles on it. It's going nowhere except down the road with me on it.

    The idea of keeping them loose like a motorcycle's brake/clutch levers is a good one.. It could keep them from breaking. Two of my buddies went down on their Tiagra equipped bikes and both broke the brifters. They both rode home in a single gear, one was only 5 miles and the other 12. I'll have to mention to them that they may want to loosen them up. Obviously the price to purchase new levers wasn't real either.. I'll let them know. Their wives will be happier.
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