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  1. #1
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    First Touring Bike: Shifters

    Hi,

    I'm getting a 56cm, 26" wheel Surly LHT for my first touring bike. I'll probably be going with flatbar handlebars, with mountain-type equipment, and SGS rear derailleur.

    I'd like to hear from you what kinds of shifters you like, and don't like. What I'm aware of are:

    (1) Shimano Rapidfire Plus-type shifters (w/ or w/o the integrated brake lever), which have two levers that apparently sit right near the hands. This includes SRAM trigger shifters.

    (2) STI-type shifters.

    (3) SRAM Twist shifters.

    (4) Paul Thumbies.

    (5) Bar end shifters.

    I'm interested particularly in convenience and durability in the (rare) event of a crash. Oh, and I guess whether they work or not is important. Whatever other one's you like also, it's an open question.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  2. #2
    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    If you are going with a flat bar, the Rapid Fire Plus (1) or Twist Shifters (3) are about your only choices. Either would work -- really a persona preference.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
    If you are going with a flat bar, the Rapid Fire Plus (1) or Twist Shifters (3) are about your only choices. Either would work -- really a persona preference.
    Yes, but nothing's written in stone. If you really think other one's are better, I want to hear it, and what sort of handlebars they go with, etc.

  4. #4
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    You could also use Paul Thumbies with a flat bar if you go that way. Also you can get old school thumb shifters for cheap if your on a tight budget.

  5. #5
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
    If you are going with a flat bar, the Rapid Fire Plus (1) or Twist Shifters (3) are about your only choices. Either would work -- really a persona preference.
    All flat bars: I use Bar-end shifters mounted on Paul's thumbies on one bike, and old above-bar Deore DX thumb shifters on my other bikes (all running in friction mode). These shifters appear to be very reliable. The DX thumb shifters, and I have three sets working on three bikes, are over 20 years old.

  6. #6
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simp77 View Post
    You could also use Paul Thumbies with a flat bar if you go that way. Also you can get old school thumb shifters for cheap if your on a tight budget.
    Old school thumb shifters sell for more now than they did 20 years ago, at least the quality shifters (Deore DX or LX, or good Suntour shifters). Check ebay and if the pair is in good shape, they normally sell for $60+. Lower quality thumb shifters are still made and sold, e.g.,

    http://www.rivbike.com/products/show...hifters/17-097

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  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Non index thumb shifters are like $12 ..

    But if you want to index click , combine #4 and #5

    My favorite is the Pull-pull 2 cable grip-shifter
    attached to my Rohloff hub.
    Its mounted on trekking bars..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-04-11 at 07:09 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    With flat bars, I'd have a pair of bar extenders for more hand positions, and would see about mounting friction shifters at their tips. Not sure if the diameters would match. Second choice would probably be the twist shifters. I've found them to be very reliable on a trail bike, but with sweaty hands, can be hard to twist if no gloves. I'm sure the rapid fires would be fine too. Mostly personal preference.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  10. #10
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    Are you sure you wanna go with flat bars. Take a look at trekking bars with grip shifters. More places for you hands and accessories

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    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    I have been using trekking bars for the past 3 years and they are nice. I have found them to be much better then flat bars or flat bars with bar ends and they should only run you about $20.

    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    Are you sure you wanna go with flat bars. Take a look at trekking bars with grip shifters. More places for you hands and accessories

  12. #12
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    Will you be riding off road? If not, you might consider downtube shifters. They take some getting used to, but since they have little or no housing, you can get very precise shifts without expensive equipment. Keep an eye on dumpsters; if someone has thrown out an old 10-speed, you can probably take the shifters off of it for free. I can almost guarantee they will still work.

  13. #13
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    The XT thumb shifters on my old MB-1 were my favorite shifters of all time. So much so the I bought the IRD version for my Rivendell Roadeo. Have yet to use them and they are not cheap. PM me if you want a set.irdthumbiepair500.jpg
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  14. #14
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosephShead View Post
    Yes, but nothing's written in stone. If you really think other one's are better, I want to hear it, and what sort of handlebars they go with, etc.
    Are you telling us that you are equally comfortable for 4 to 6 hours in the saddle on any style bike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
    Are you telling us that you are equally comfortable for 4 to 6 hours in the saddle on any style bike?
    No. You know what I'm getting, a touring bike..., for touring. So, that's why all the attention on these nitpicky details. What do you like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    Are you sure you wanna go with flat bars. Take a look at trekking bars with grip shifters. More places for you hands and accessories
    Trekking bars? You mean like in Colorado or Alaska?

  17. #17
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  18. #18
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosephShead View Post
    No. You know what I'm getting, a touring bike..., for touring. So, that's why all the attention on these nitpicky details. What do you like?
    Drop bar road bike vs straight bar or treking hybrid are not nit-picky details, they are fundamental styles that are often specific to the rider. A touring bike is not really a style of bike per se. There are a variety of style bikes that have the capabilities of carrying stuff. I suggest that you find out what type of bike suits you first, then get a tourer consistent with that style.

    Me? I'm not comfortable on a flat bar style bike for more than an hour. So it would be dumb for me to consider thumb or twist shifters. Capisce?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosephShead View Post
    No. You know what I'm getting, a touring bike..., for touring. So, that's why all the attention on these nitpicky details. What do you like?
    In North America, purpose-built touring bikes usually use drop bars. Europe tends to be more open-minded and makes wider varieties of touring bikes.

    I like my drop bars. One of my friends added some aero bars, which give some nice elbow rests...might be a nice break on your hands. I've never tried them, but trekking bars look like they'd be good, too. Flat bars are usually a last resort for long distance riding. Their one-position setup usually leads to hand cramps after a while.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html

    The shifter decision is far less important than the handlebar issue. If you're worried about breakage, something cheap (easily replaced) with a friction mode is desireable. Bar ends and downtube shifters seem most popular for this purpose. Whatever's more comfortable for you. That said, I've been using STI brifters and have come to rather appreciate them, despite their expensive and fragile nature.

    Since precision isn't a big concern in touring, the "less housing" feature of downtube shifters is really kind of moot.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gorshkov View Post
    Will you be riding off road? If not, you might consider downtube shifters. They take some getting used to, but since they have little or no housing, you can get very precise shifts without expensive equipment. Keep an eye on dumpsters; if someone has thrown out an old 10-speed, you can probably take the shifters off of it for free. I can almost guarantee they will still work.
    I expect to be riding mostly on road, but to go off road sometimes. Some roads are so rough, they are off road. I do want shifters close to my hands. My current 1974 bike has shifters bracketed to the handlebar stem, so having them together, where I put my hands sounds like a great idea.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  21. #21
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    I have a LHT in a 52cm and I put on down tube shifters.The front on is friction only the rear is index.But on my other bicycle I have I put on a set of barend friction shifters on it and love the way it shift.I did not like the barend shifters that came on my LHT but now wish I had put on the friction shifters only and I may do it before to long they just shift better to me.But I am old school too.Velo Orange has these parts all the time you might want to look in to a set.My 2 Cents on this.And I like drop bars all the way too.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    With flat bars, I'd have a pair of bar extenders for more hand positions, and would see about mounting friction shifters at their tips. Not sure if the diameters would match. Second choice would probably be the twist shifters. I've found them to be very reliable on a trail bike, but with sweaty hands, can be hard to twist if no gloves. I'm sure the rapid fires would be fine too. Mostly personal preference.
    Thanks for the tip here. I went to the LBS today, and I think if I go the twist-shifter route, I should try to find some that are somewhat squared off. That should work even with sweaty hands. The SRAM Centera twist shifters seemed durable. The rapidfire shifters did not, as they have a plastic casing, and stick up. The twist shifters tell you what gear you're in, in a really simple way, with marks on the side, but their drawback seems to be how hard they are to turn, especially going backwards.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  23. #23
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    One advantage of twist shifters is that you have a couple of extra inches of hand room when compared with the trigger shifters. Yeah, I think bar ends are essential for an alternate hand hold.

    Brad

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    Are you sure you wanna go with flat bars. Take a look at trekking bars with grip shifters. More places for you hands and accessories
    I haven't heard anything from bktourer1 or sonatageek after my last response about trekking bars. That was just a little joke. Trekking bars have definitely been off the radar for me, so I thank you for bringing this up. I've only ever used drop bars on my 1974 2x5-speed.

  25. #25
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    I grew up riding cheap MTBs with thumbies, and I've recently downgraded to friction shifting since I damaged my bar-end shifters. There are some ugly but great priced thumb shifters made by sunrace and a couple of other generic ones floating around, not to mention "vintage" ones can usually be run in friction mode, and I found it very easy to friction shift a 9 speed cassette, in fact I much prefer it the click-free shifting.

    I suppose grip shifts of quality construction would be the most robust in the case of a crash, but I've always found that twisting motion uncomfortable so I use bar-ends on drop bars on my touring bike. If I ever build up a flat bar bike it'll be friction shifting thumbies for sure.

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