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Advice for thumb shifters on drop bars

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Advice for thumb shifters on drop bars

Old 04-15-17, 04:03 AM
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mountaindave 
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Advice for thumb shifters on drop bars

I'm in the process of building my wife's replacement commuter bike (previous got stolen) and I'm trying to set up her cockpit to best fit her style of riding.

Key points:
  • Drivetrain is ultra compact 2x8 indexed.
  • She previously had Sora brifters with interrupter brake levers.
  • While commuting she rides mostly on the tops, but likes more hand positions on ocassional longer rides.
  • I have been told: "No DT shifters, no bar end shifters."
  • She has small, not-so-strong hands and consequently never brakes from the drops.
  • Her other bike is a '73 Gitane TdF with guidonnet brake levers and DT Retrofriction shift levers - she loves it for long rides out of traffic but only tolerates the DT shifters.

Given her preferred commuting riding style, I figure she should be riding and braking in the same hand position: the tops. I offered to build her a flat bar setup and got a very negative response. I offered a "Northroad" style setup and got an equally negative response. I am reluctant to go back to her previous style setup because of the inefficiencies and the complexities of interrupter levers. After talking with my wife, she is interested in thumb shifters on the tops combined with guidonnet brake levers.

Now I am left to decide which thumb levers to use on 23.8 diameter bars. Paul's Thumbies and Velo Orange bar mounts seem to be the only options in that size. I've looked at Sunrace 8s shifters but they are only available in 22.2 Mtn standard. However, the Sunrace come with shifters and can be had for about half the price of the other options that are mounts only! The Sunrace mounts are designed as a solid cast of aluminum - no hinge to open the clamp like the Paul's or VO:



Here's the big question: has anyone successfully modified 22.2-clamp Sunrace thumb shifters to fit 23.8 bars? I can't imagine they can be forced to fit without reaming them out? Is this doable or is it "suck it up" time and get the larger diameter thumb mounts?
Thanks for any advice.

Last edited by mountaindave; 04-15-17 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 04-15-17, 05:56 AM
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How about starting with a cut down flat bar and then adding drop bar ends?
Might be easier to shim the drop bar brake levers - if needed - than to widen the thumb shifter clamp.
Failing that, I do see 22.2 mm drop bars occasionally.
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Old 04-15-17, 06:43 AM
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I assume she didn't like the brifters, either? IRD and Retroshift/Gevenalle have options to mount shift levers on standard brake levers. I haven't used either, so I can't comment on how well they work:

Power Ratchet Brake Levers ? Interloc Racing Design / IRD

https://gevenalle.com/shifters/
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Old 04-15-17, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
How about starting with a cut down flat bar and then adding drop bar ends?
Might be easier to shim the drop bar brake levers - if needed - than to widen the thumb shifter clamp.
Failing that, I do see 22.2 mm drop bars occasionally.
I forgot to add that I have a bullhorn bar and she didn't like that option either - she would like drops for the 10% of the times she descends or is fighting a headwind/riding aero.

I have thought about a 22.2 drop bar - but it's hard to think about when I currently have a beautiful Cinelli stem/bar combo.

@JohnDThompson, she didn't mind STI, but they are not designed for small hands. It also is similar to her "No DT/bar end shifters" statement - it doesn't put the shifters where her hands are 90% of the time. I also tried to set up an old pair of Sachs Ergopower brifters but failed (replaced G-springs and still can't get it to hold the 8th/lowest gear in the back ).

Trust me, this build is putting my skills (mechanical and marriage) to the test.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
I forgot to add that I have a bullhorn bar and she didn't like that option either - she would like drops for the 10% of the times she descends or is fighting a headwind/riding aero.
Why do you mention bullhorns?
I wrote "DROP bar ends". As in these: https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/handleba...ar-ends-black/. That'll give her drops. And drop bar brake levers. And it'll let you fit 22.2 mm thumb shifters easily.

All your functional requirements are there.
Maybe a little loss of aesthetics.
Still looks like a decent compromise to me.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
I forgot to add that I have a bullhorn bar and she didn't like that option either - she would like drops for the 10% of the times she descends or is fighting a headwind/riding aero.

I have thought about a 22.2 drop bar - but it's hard to think about when I currently have a beautiful Cinelli stem/bar combo.

@JohnDThompson, she didn't mind STI, but they are not designed for small hands. It also is similar to her "No DT/bar end shifters" statement - it doesn't put the shifters where her hands are 90% of the time. I also tried to set up an old pair of Sachs Ergopower brifters but failed (replaced G-springs and still can't get it to hold the 8th/lowest gear in the back ).

Trust me, this build is putting my skills (mechanical and marriage) to the test.
Yeah, that's the problem I see, using above the bar shifters that preclude preferred hand position. Any chance you could talk her into an alt bar like Jones H or Surly Moloko?
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Old 04-15-17, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Why do you mention bullhorns?
I wrote "DROP bar ends".

All your functional requirements are there.
Maybe a little loss of aesthetics.
Still looks like a decent compromise to me.
Sorry, I missed the drop bar part. Saw those while looking for 22.2 drop bars, I'll ask her, but you are quite correct about aesthetics...
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Old 04-15-17, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
Sorry, I missed the drop bar part. Saw those while looking for 22.2 drop bars, I'll ask her, but you are quite correct about aesthetics...
Once wrapped, there really isn't much to it. In fact, I kinda prefer the tiny amount of sweep such a setup gives you when riding on the flat section of the bar.

What about tracking down one of those infamous Denalis with the split drop bar and twist shifters to use as a donor bike?
The bar looks normal enough and ought to be 22.2 mm
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Old 04-15-17, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
Yeah, that's the problem I see, using above the bar shifters that preclude preferred hand position. Any chance you could talk her into an alt bar like Jones H or Surly Moloko?
Maybe with a quill-to-threadless adapter I could get this option?



I do appreciate the suggestions.
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Old 04-15-17, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Once wrapped, there really isn't much to it. In fact, I kinda prefer the tiny amount of sweep such a setup gives you when riding on the flat section of the bar.

What about tracking down one of those infamous Denalis with the split drop bar and twist shifters to use as a donor bike?
The bar looks normal enough and ought to be 22.2 mm
I always wondered how they did that... another interesting option.
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Old 04-15-17, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
Maybe with a quill-to-threadless adapter I could get this option?



I do appreciate the suggestions.
I've seen something like that before. A pic, not in person.
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Old 04-15-17, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
Maybe with a quill-to-threadless adapter I could get this option?



I do appreciate the suggestions.
I've seen something like that before. A pic, not in person.
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Old 04-15-17, 04:25 PM
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How about Stem Shifters? they're just as reachable from her main top hand position. and there's enough styles of these and various adapters that *something* should be workable to fit.
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Old 04-15-17, 04:46 PM
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I thought about stem shifters, but found a possible solution with the suggestion of an "old steel 22.2 drop bar."

You might be a wrench-neck if you go in your attic and find a bike you forgot was there. I found a bike way in a corner that has a nice chromed drop bar with a 22.2 clamp area. It also solves an issue with the 22.2 clamp on the guidonnet levers I bought and was planning on "modifying." It has a nice traditional bend and should be wide enough for my wife. If not, she says, we can just pull it and try something else.

Thanks for all the suggestions!
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Old 04-15-17, 09:04 PM
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These would work pricey at $96

IRD Power Ratchet Thumb Shifters > Components > Drivetrain > Road Shifters | Jenson USA



it looks like sunrace has upgraded from soft sheet metal clamps..... but

wallmart has these at $7.00 say 7 speed and 22.2 but has soft clamp...pull is question

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sunrace-S...&wl13=&veh=sem

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Old 04-15-17, 09:52 PM
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Needs to be 8 speed, but thanks for the suggestion. IRD is one of the most expensive options.

I've done some testing with the steel bar and realized it might be more challenging than I thought to get the Sunrace shifters on. They are designed for straight bars, not drops. It might be impossible to get them around bends which tend to be ovalized. The Velo Orange mounts are hinged - perfect for such an application. I tried to mount some old MTB brake levers and they did NOT want to go on the bars.

A bendable steel clamp would be ideal - just like what is used on the brake levers. I wonder if SIS levers could be mounted to those cheap 7s shifters? I will have to investigate further...
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Old 04-15-17, 10:54 PM
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^^^ 8-speed is going to make things tough. I was going to suggest Shimano SH-A050 shifters (I have a set), but they're 7-speed only.

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Old 04-15-17, 11:34 PM
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Those would be ideal... if they came in 8s.

With everything going 9s, then 10s, then 11s, I thought 8s was supposed to be easy...
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Old 04-16-17, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
Needs to be 8 speed, but thanks for the suggestion. IRD is one of the most expensive options.

I've done some testing with the steel bar and realized it might be more challenging than I thought to get the Sunrace shifters on. They are designed for straight bars, not drops. It might be impossible to get them around bends which tend to be ovalized. The Velo Orange mounts are hinged - perfect for such an application. I tried to mount some old MTB brake levers and they did NOT want to go on the bars.

A bendable steel clamp would be ideal - just like what is used on the brake levers. I wonder if SIS levers could be mounted to those cheap 7s shifters? I will have to investigate further...
Dave to be clear (and I was not) I was suggesting using friction mode. I have cheapy sunrace on a 1x8 setup in friction mode.... with the modern 8 speed cassette with ramps and other magic the shifting is super easy.

also to note IRD are not really indexed, and per the description (below) will handle 8 speed

SD


IRD POWER RATCHET THUMB SHIFTERS
Keep it old school with the IRD Power Ratchet Thumb Shifters. The Power Ratchet shift mechanism delivers excellent shifting reminiscent of classic road barcons with the convenience and comfort of a thumbshifter design. Friction shifting offers simple adjustment, easy maintenence, and compatibility with a wide range of drivetrains.
FEATURES:

Retro friction thumbshifters compatible with up to 3x10 drivetrains, works well with 7,8,9 speed too.
Works for Shimano, SRAM and Campy
Can be used for generators or as a drag brake
Aluminum lever
CNC’d aluminum perch with hinged clamp
Shims to fit 22.2 or 23.8mm OD bars
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Old 04-16-17, 12:10 PM
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Thanks for clarifying. I have contemplated many friction options, but for my wife I need it to be "click and forget" when she's commuting in traffic (yeah, it's Montana, don't laugh at what we think is traffic).

I really do appreciate all options suggested. I have bid on some used Paul's Thumbies - we'll see what happens. I just didn't want to get a solid aluminum band clamp then be disappointed because I couldn't slide it around the bends of the drop bars. I have 8s bar ends in the stash to go with the mounts.

I wanted to have her bike done this weekend. Right now with my crazy beard, moustache, hair and this project, my wife is calling me Cranky the Pirate...
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Old 04-16-17, 12:38 PM
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https://www.amazon.com/Sunrace-R80-S...s=stem+shifter


Just sayin'
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Old 04-16-17, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
Thanks for clarifying. I have contemplated many friction options, but for my wife I need it to be "click and forget" when she's commuting in traffic (yeah, it's Montana, don't laugh at what we think is traffic).

I really do appreciate all options suggested. I have bid on some used Paul's Thumbies - we'll see what happens. I just didn't want to get a solid aluminum band clamp then be disappointed because I couldn't slide it around the bends of the drop bars. I have 8s bar ends in the stash to go with the mounts.

I wanted to have her bike done this weekend. Right now with my crazy beard, moustache, hair and this project, my wife is calling me Cranky the Pirate...
ok dave...indexing needed.... so I will try again to make you the perky pirate

again not cheap but how about velo orange thumshifter mounts $65 and ultegra 8 sp bar end $72

velo orange thumbshifter mounts..... hinged and fit road bars
VO Thumb Shifter Mounts - Shifters - Shifting - Components



Thumb shifter mounts allow you to mount down tube and bar end shifters on your handlebars. Thumbies put your shifter within easy reach while avoiding the complexity of brifters. This allows for a comfortable setup for city bikes, MTBs, porteurs. They can even be used on even drop bars.

They fit standard road, MTB, and city handlebars (22.2mm and 23.8mm grip area). VO shifter mounts feature a hinged mount so you do not need to remove your bar tape or grips or brake levers to install them.

They fit Dia-Compe Downtube Shifters, Dia-Compe Bar End Shifters, Shimano 10/9/8 speed Bar End shifters, and many others.

Sold as a pair. Shifters not included.

Note: Not compatible with Microshift shifters or Dia-Compe 11s road/10s dynasys shifters.


and ultegra 8 speed bar ends

https://www.rivbike.com/collections/...-8-speed-17098



Shimano's Ultegra bar-end shifters index good enough with 6, 7, or 8 speed Sram or Shimano cassettes and work with a friction mode, too----so if the "good enough" isn't good enough, throw it into friction, cowboy, and ride away.

Then if later on you graduate to friction only forever and you don't even want the indexing option (sort of like shooting a film camera without a light meter, but way, way easier)---and you want to get the smoothests, best friction in the Universe, just get our Silver downtube shifters and bolt them on to the Shimano shifter pods that are already stuck in your handlebars. No need to buy any additional hardware. Great for touring, commuting, anything, and they also convert to thumb-shifters when you mount them onto Paul's Thumbies.

Includes cables, housing, and downtube cable stops but if you're gonna use these shifters with an Albatross bar and your bike is 58cm or bigger then you'll probably need our extra long shifter cables and housing.

Here is an instructional video of Mark mounting a 9 speed Shimano Bar end to bar-end pods. It also includes how to install bar-end pods.
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Old 04-16-17, 02:25 PM
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@squirtdad, your suggestion is pretty much what I'm planning, but with some used Paul's Thumbies (almost identical to the VO mounts you mentioned). If I don't win the auction on the Paul's, I'll go VO. I've got the 8s bar ends ready to be dismantled and mounted to the Thumbies. I have a few sets of BE's ready for future builds and I always make sure I get the ones with the SIS/Friction combo just in case zombies attack and we can't repair/replace SIS anymore.

Cheers!
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Old 04-16-17, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Viich View Post
I'm going for right under the hand with the shift levers so my wife doesn't have to move hands to shift, but the thought has crossed my mind to scavenge some old single-lever stem-mount shifters and use them on the bar...
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Old 04-16-17, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
I'm going for right under the hand with the shift levers so my wife doesn't have to move hands to shift, but the thought has crossed my mind to scavenge some old single-lever stem-mount shifters and use them on the bar...
Might work, but the stem where shifters usually clamp is 7/8" (22.2mm) diameter. You're back to where you started with an undersize clamp. A steel clamp might "stretch" with an extra-long screw.
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