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left-handed, rear-shifting question...

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left-handed, rear-shifting question...

Old 06-11-05, 10:16 AM
  #1  
pacman76
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left-handed, rear-shifting question...

my name is james from cleveland, USA. i hope you don't mind me jumping in with a heatry post for my first time.

i'm doing some very specific mods to my bike, and i wanted some suggestions or leads

i ride a fuji road bike, and i've taken it down to a single 52-tooth chainring, but i'm keeping the 8 speeds in back. i've removed the front derailleur and cables. i've also taken off the rear brake, so i only ride with a front brake. [it's actually proven to be not that dangerous going without the rear. i've done quite a bit of testing in controled environments with high-speed hard stops, and it doesn't put me in much more danger. i've just had to develop the reflex of setting my weight back a little when i slam on. anyhow... that's not my point.]

what i want to do now that i'm comfortable with things the way they're set up is i want to move all my controls to the left side. right now i have a shimano soma integrated shifter on the right that controls my rear gear shifting (8 gears), and that used to control my rear brake. and i have an integrated shifter on my left that controls my front brake, and used to but no longer controls my front derailleur. now, i know it would be easiest to put all my controls on the right, because i could just move my front brake into the right shifter. but i'm right-handed, and sometimes i need the right hand free. so what i WANT is to have an 8-speed integrated shifter that is designed for the left side, so i can control my front brake and my rear 8-speed derailleur with my left hand and have my right hand free if i need it (which i often do).

does anybody know if such an animal exists? and where i could get it? does shimano make a "leftie" rear shifter? i've checked their site, but i don't see one. or does anybody have any other suggestions? an off-brand? rebuilding the insides of the left shifter (i doubt that but...)?

boy, for my first post this seems a little demanding.

thanks

j
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Old 06-11-05, 10:52 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by pacman76
my name is james from cleveland, USA. i hope you don't mind me jumping in with a heatry post for my first time.

i'm doing some very specific mods to my bike, and i wanted some suggestions or leads

i ride a fuji road bike, and i've taken it down to a single 52-tooth chainring, but i'm keeping the 8 speeds in back. i've removed the front derailleur and cables. i've also taken off the rear brake, so i only ride with a front brake. [it's actually proven to be not that dangerous going without the rear. i've done quite a bit of testing in controled environments with high-speed hard stops, and it doesn't put me in much more danger. i've just had to develop the reflex of setting my weight back a little when i slam on. anyhow... that's not my point.]

what i want to do now that i'm comfortable with things the way they're set up is i want to move all my controls to the left side. right now i have a shimano soma integrated shifter on the right that controls my rear gear shifting (8 gears), and that used to control my rear brake. and i have an integrated shifter on my left that controls my front brake, and used to but no longer controls my front derailleur. now, i know it would be easiest to put all my controls on the right, because i could just move my front brake into the right shifter. but i'm right-handed, and sometimes i need the right hand free. so what i WANT is to have an 8-speed integrated shifter that is designed for the left side, so i can control my front brake and my rear 8-speed derailleur with my left hand and have my right hand free if i need it (which i often do).

does anybody know if such an animal exists? and where i could get it? does shimano make a "leftie" rear shifter? i've checked their site, but i don't see one. or does anybody have any other suggestions? an off-brand? rebuilding the insides of the left shifter (i doubt that but...)?
Nobody makes an indexed rear shifter for the left side of drop handlebars. You might want to consider a bar-end shifter, these can be installed on either side.

You mention moving the front brake to the right shifter, and this would be a good approach. You say you don't do this because you need to "have your right hand free" for some unspecified use...?

Personally, I have all of my bikes set up with the front brake operated from the right lever. See:

http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn

I agree that the front brake by itself is the way to go if you're only going to have one, but you really ought to have a rear brake available as a backup, in case your front fails, or if you get a front blowout.

Sheldon "Two Brakes On Freewheeling Bikes" Brown
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Old 06-11-05, 10:53 AM
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I don't think so. I have never seen one. And moving the right lever to the left would, of course, have it operating to the outside. I don't think I could make that work. I've had these shifters apart and it is not something for the faint of heart (and they're very specific to their own function. There ain't one thing like the other side).
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Old 06-11-05, 10:56 AM
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pacman,

Just so you know, as a rookie poster, you've hit the jackpot. It's like walking into a casino, putting a single nickel in a slot machine, and winning 1,000 bucks with one pull of the arm. Any post by sheldon brown is a cause for celebration. Heed his words, if there has to be one, he is the bike guru of the internet.


PS I don't know crap about rightie/leftie indexed shifters, but good luck with your search.

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Old 06-11-05, 11:08 AM
  #5  
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I'd say use a barcon for the rear shifting, and put it on your left handlebar. This is a pretty weird configuration though, your left hand gonna be busy...
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Old 06-11-05, 11:17 AM
  #6  
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As usual, I agree with Sheldon. Either use a bar end shifter on the left side, or move everything to the right (which I think is the best solution). I ride with 'moto' style with my front brake on my right side, and find it to be a good way to do things. Its easier to switch brake cables than it is to find weird shifters or disassemble them or anything.

peace,
sam
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Old 06-11-05, 11:25 AM
  #7  
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I have owned one bike with one hand brake and one gear changer (3-speed coaster hub), and I found it very useful to put the gear change and brake controls on OPPOSITE sides. It wasn't critical with epicyclic hub gears, but with a derailleur, one frequently will want to downshift while braking.

Even though I frequently use just the front brake, I would not feel at all safe without some sort of rear braking, for two reasons: 1) redundancy for mechanical failure; and 2) on slippery pavement, hitting just the front brake is a recipe for disaster. You cannot recover from a front-wheel skid. (Been there ... done that ... returned to using both brakes on wet surfaces.)

The bicycle polo folks control their rear derailleurs from the left side, usually with twist grips or barcons.
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Old 06-11-05, 11:55 AM
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Maybe there is something useful to you in a Pauls thumb shifter....it won't integrate with the brake lever but it could be placed adjacent to it. I suspect that somewhere in the world (probably Japan) there is a cottage mfg. of "left handed" brifters....the cost would probably be insane.
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Old 06-11-05, 01:40 PM
  #9  
pacman76
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woah... this is all really great stuff. thanks to all.

the reason i need my right hand free is because i'm a messenger, and i use my radio when i'm in motion a lot, or i have to manage a package or my bag while riding. i know a lot of messengers use fixed gears, but trust me... that's not for me. my knees are way too shot for that. i need, and like, to have several gear options available to me. others have suggested a free-wheel single speed at a low ratio, but i just like having a few options. plus, on a straight shot, i can top out in a 52-11 combination which helps me and my bad knees a make up for some of the advantages the other couriers have.

i had a feeling i was asking the impossible. i think i might just keep things the way they are for now - having the brake on the left and the shifting on the right.

really the only problem i've had with this set up was that - and apparently this is common - after i converted to a single chainring, i lose the chain a lot when i take a hard hit (pothole, curb descending). but i've worked that out mostly. i've built a chain cage much lighter and better suited for my bike than the commercal ones. the proto-type worked well, and so i'm in the stages of building the final piece.

as far as the sasfety issues of going without a rear brake... i've tested it in heavy rain and traffic and it's gone well. obviously i can't "test" what to do in case of a brake failure. so that's something to consider. and i know there are weak excuses compared to, well, my life... but it's so much extra baggage to haul, it's a more "free" feeling ride without, it's one less thing to break or adjust out there on a busy day... and the classic of all excuses "it's been fine so far".

any more input, i'm open. i hope to post here more often. it's been very welcoming. thanks folks.
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Old 06-11-05, 05:00 PM
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you could get a remote mike/speaker earpiece for your radio. ( I hope you welcomed that one - just trying to help.)
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Old 06-11-05, 05:09 PM
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oh, i welcome any and all advice, whether or not i take it .

i think i'm just deciding that i'll have a left brake and a right shifter, and c'est la vive. what i might do though is get different controlers for each. who knows. since i have to ride it 10 hours a day (aw, poor me) i'm always thinking of how to make it nicer for me.
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Old 06-11-05, 09:52 PM
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Simpler to learn to use your left hand for your radio and handling stuff in your bag.
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Old 06-12-05, 10:44 AM
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Rear breaks are nice for changing speed mid-turn. Have you practiced cornering w/ speed changes using only the front break--tricky.

And if you're going to run w/o a front derailleur, you should ditch the STI lever (that'll knock off 200 g in one swell-foop)
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Old 06-12-05, 12:09 PM
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i've been practicing mid-turn speed changes with the front brake only and it's going fine. i actually find it a very crisp motion, and that suits me. plus, riding downtown as i do, there is lots of sand and construction debris about, so losing the rear tire out from under me made rear-braking on a turn obsolete long before i cut the rear brake out. as far as dealing with the very rare possibility of my front brake failing, i've been working on the rather primitive tricks that the no-front-brake-fixie riders know and that is slowing the front wheel with a gloved hand and/or slowing the rear wheel with a careful placement of the sole of the shoe.

this has to be one of the friendliest forums around.
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Old 06-12-05, 05:38 PM
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When I see loose slippery stuff like sand and gravel on the road, I'm glad I have my rear brake - I'd rather the rear wheel slip out from under me a little than the front, from which I couldn't recover. But then I don't bike 10 hours a day.
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Old 06-12-05, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by briancady413
But then I don't bike 10 hours a day.
you should give it a try! after 10 hours, i come home, crash on the couch, and think to myself "what am i going to do now?" i usually answer that with a nice bike ride. or bar dips...

i was actually on a long ride today (not on my work bike) and i spent some of it practicing the emergercy foot brake. i've come up with a technique that works great on a free-wheel, but wouldn't work on a fixie because of the constant pedal rotation. in an emergency where a mechanical brake is not an option, one can drop the right pedal to the bottom of its circle, take one's left foot out of the pedal, point it down and wedge/place the toe of it down where the chainstay and seat tube meet. then you can use the side of the shoe to control the rear tire by varying the pressure against the rim/tire-wall. with some practice and high-speed trials i realized i could stop a bike rather quickly this way in a pinch without putting undue strain on my joints in any way. the pose for foot-braking that the fixie folks taught me could easily snap an ankle or cut off a toe if done wrong (as a safety issue, i count on myself to do things wrong). but by pointing the toe against the chainstay/seat-tube joint that way it immobilizes the foot in a secure position, and the brake control comes in laterally against the tire/rim from the medial side of the foot. and since you're using such a long portion of foot, the friction area is large enough to brake quickly with minimal pressure. it probably isn't good for the tire sidewall, but in a situation where i'd need to use it, that's the least of my concerns. has anybody tried a similar emergency brake technique? is this common knowledge that i just found out? am i like the sailor who left port, got turned around and "dicovered" england? well, if it's not a common thing, i thought i'd share it as a last ditch technique for anybody who might on a freak day lose both brakes, or one brake and a tire, or something, and who might want to try something other than dumping the bike or stoping things flintstone style (which can brake an ankle or snap some sinew).

peace.
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