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Old 12-08-04, 09:50 PM   #1
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Old Timers....

Do any of you old schoolers out there prefer fricion to index shifting? I just switched to a 105/ultegra combination with my deraileurs, and I can switch my downtube shifters between friction and index shifting. Well the friction seems smooth as butter compared to the index, which is still smooth. This isn't a "old vs new" thread, though, just an observation.
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Old 12-08-04, 10:31 PM   #2
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All of my road bikes have friction-only shifters (the original gorgeous classic Campag. downtube levers on the Capo and the Bianchi, SunTour downtube on the PKN-10, and SunTour ratchet barcons on the UO-8). My mountain bike has SunTour Accushift thumb levers, which I keep in friction mode. I absolutely detest indexing of the front derailleur and see little, if any, benefit to indexing the rear. Friction shifters are reliable and low-maintenance.
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Old 12-08-04, 11:06 PM   #3
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I have both, friction on my Bianchi and my E5 has indexed campy centaur.

I like to ride with both but the huge advantage of the friction over the indexed is that you can trim the derailleurs alot more. Of course if you have well adjusted derailleurs you won't have to trim much but it is an advantage.

One thing I don't like about the friction shifters is that I have to take one of my hands off of the handlebars to shift. No big deal but when I ride in traffic I like to keep both my hands on the bars.

oh BTW my friction set up is campy neuvo record.
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Old 12-09-04, 03:19 AM   #4
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I think friction gives me smoother shifting. Although that might be a result of me having Shimano 600 in friction mode and a pair of rather worn Exage in index mode Anyway, I still like friction more because I can control the speed of the shift alot better.
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Old 12-09-04, 03:25 AM   #5
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I still got my "secret stash" of NOS shimano 600. Good stuff.
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Old 12-09-04, 07:49 AM   #6
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I have a couple bikes with indexed and a few with friction. I see absolutely no advantage to indexed shifting. The indexing works fine, but I can't recall ever missing a shift with the friction shifters. And like forum*rider says, the ability to trim is nice. I like a super quiet drivetrain, and I've yet to find an indexing system that is perfectly smooth and quiet in every gear combo.
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Old 12-09-04, 08:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick burns
I have a couple bikes with indexed and a few with friction. I see absolutely no advantage to indexed shifting. The indexing works fine, but I can't recall ever missing a shift with the friction shifters. And like forum*rider says, the ability to trim is nice. I like a super quiet drivetrain, and I've yet to find an indexing system that is perfectly smooth and quiet in every gear combo.
Indexing is great when it works perfectly.
My old Sam Benotto had friction, and I could always get the gear by being gentle and going by feel.
I love my Trek, but i could scream when i go for a low gear and it starts ratcheting under power
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Old 12-09-04, 08:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krispistoferson
Do any of you old schoolers out there prefer fricion to index shifting? I just switched to a 105/ultegra combination with my deraileurs, and I can switch my downtube shifters between friction and index shifting. Well the friction seems smooth as butter compared to the index, which is still smooth. This isn't a "old vs new" thread, though, just an observation.
I use friction or index shifting with several bicycles depending on the configuration.

It seems index shifters require much fine tuning.

I prefer friction shifting for it's infinite adjustability; especially with the front derailleur. . .
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Old 12-09-04, 08:45 AM   #9
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My SunTour friction barcons are great friction shifters. I've never had any problems. When I am riding and wanto to quickly shift several gears at once, friction rocks. However, my Ultegra index shifters are perfect in every gear with no need to trim. In traffic with rolling hills, the index shifting is superior as I need to be concentrating on avoiding potholes and cars.
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Old 12-09-04, 09:15 AM   #10
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I have Dura Ace and 105 STI on my road bikes for group rides where I really want to keep my hands on the bar. One of my commuters has friction shifter (rear only, one chainring) for simplicity, the other is even simpler - fixed gear.

I am planning to do some touring this spring and will use the commuter/tourer with friction shifting to try to minimize things that can go wrong.
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Old 12-09-04, 03:58 PM   #11
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I'm very fond of friction shifting, and have it on all my geared bikes. I am even picky about the shifters themselves, vastly prefering simplex retrofrictions to anything else. If I had an all campy bike, I'd probably take off the shifters and replace them with retrofrictions. They never slip.

In working on other folk's bikes, I've found shifting problems with indexed systems pretty high on the list-- they seem to require a lot of tinkering. The one time I had it on a bike, I took it off as PIA. Perhaps it was invented to help keep bike mechanics in business.
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Old 12-09-04, 07:24 PM   #12
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I have a indexed and a friction shifting bike, and I can honestly say the following: A) (as one other poster observed) Index works great when it's in perfect working condition; B) Index sucks as soon as it stops working less then perfect; C) friction vs index in the time it takes to hit a gear is the same (my friction is downtube so there is about a second lost to reach for the lever vs having it on the brake lever-but that would be a mute point if I had barend shifters); D) friction system can even shift if the derailleur is bent; E) friction shifting is a lot easier to maintain; F) friction systems last way longer in the durablity department; G) some people argue that with index shifting you can shift while climbing and applying power and you can't do that with friction-those people never used Suntour friction systems because I can do the same; and H) with friction shifting you can go from the highest gear to the lowest gear in one throw of the shifter.

So in answer to your question; I way perfer friction over index. I have over 145,000 miles on my friction system without ever a breakdown; my index system has failed me too many times to count and it only has less then 15,000 miles.
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Old 12-09-04, 07:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by froze
with friction shifting you can go from the highest gear to the lowest gear in one throw of the shifter.
Sure, per derailleurn ot total. They both have their pros and cons.
It seems like a person should master adjusting their indexed shifters, hopefully it's not too hard, I need to adjust my fairly new Trek. Had a supposed free cable stretch tune up but it didn't cure it....ot just take it back. Koehlinger's..Froze knows where that's at I bet. Or do you go to Summit bikes?
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Old 12-09-04, 09:04 PM   #14
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Everyting I get a bike with STI I go back to a pair of Barcons in friction mode. Easier to trim and they feel right.
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Old 12-09-04, 10:27 PM   #15
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FXjohn it isn't that hard. Takes me about 5 minutes a derailleur to tune my indexed campy.
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Old 12-10-04, 01:33 PM   #16
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No one has brought up friction shifting on mountain bikes. I toy with the idea of putting a bar-top friction shifter on for the front der. It's tough to find good shifters NOS, and older ones can be problematic. Rivendell sells some that should to the job.

I like indexed on my MTB because I keep it in good working order. However, I think a friction shifter on the front would be superior to my Deore indexed shifters for going into the granny gear. A lot quieter, too, when cross-chaining a bit.
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Old 12-10-04, 01:38 PM   #17
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No one has brought up friction shifting on mountain bikes. I toy with the idea of putting a bar-top friction shifter on for the front der. It's tough to find good shifters NOS, and older ones can be problematic. Rivendell sells some that should to the job.

I like indexed on my MTB because I keep it in good working order. However, I think a friction shifter on the front would be superior to my Deore indexed shifters for going into the granny gear. A lot quieter, too, when cross-chaining a bit.
Friction for just the front derailleur...I like that idea
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Old 12-10-04, 03:26 PM   #18
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I'm not exactly an 'old timer' myself, but my bikes probably qualify.

My beater mountain bike has an indexed shifter for the rear and a friction shifter for the front. They're old SIS thumb-shifters/derailleurs, and work great... can't recall when I had to adjust them last.

My road bike has shimano friction downtube shifters and suntour derailleurs. Reliable and smooth as butter, with no compatibility problems between the brands (I also like the idea that I could put vintage Campy or other parts on the bike, and most would work just fine together). However, if I was racing, I'd probably want STI or similar because I wouldn't have the luxury of reaching down and carefully adjusting the trim. In my opinion, they seem more agressive and slightly tempermental, but high performance. Ideal for competition, but not offering a tangeable advantage for everyday riding. Could be wrong though... and I will almost definitely have them on my next road bike.

That said, I have a quick question for those with STI or similar... is it true that you can't shift up or down more than one cog at a time? And if so, is that a problem when preparing to come to a stop and needing to get into a low gear, or cresting a hill and wanting to quickly move from low gear into high?
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Old 12-10-04, 03:28 PM   #19
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Friction for front and rear if you aren't doing aggressive group rides or racing. For racing, indexed brake lever shifting in the rear is the only way to go. The indexed brake lever lever shifter ability to shift rear derralieurs while standing, cornering and under power while keeping both hands on the bars has a huge advantage over friction. I think a down tube friction front / indexed brake lever rear combination is great, but many frames don't have bosses for down tube shifters anymore.
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Old 12-10-04, 03:55 PM   #20
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I find friction shifters sometimes are a solution when I'm combining drivetrain parts that would be otherwise incompatible with indexing (ex. index-style cheap SRAM Rr Derailleur that doesn't swing between the stops at the same index rate as a Shimano shifter). Sometimes the bikes I work on need one thing -- to get a kid mobile. Swapping to inexpensive friction shifters allow that 18-speed Murray 24" girls bike to remain roadworthy until they grow out of it. And I see a lot of 18-speed Murray 24" girls bikes....
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Old 12-10-04, 04:45 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chongo
Friction for front and rear if you aren't doing aggressive group rides or racing. For racing, indexed brake lever shifting in the rear is the only way to go.
I'll second that...once I discovered index I never went back. I donated all my old dura-ace and campy friction components to the local bike co-op. Good riddance to old garbage. Missing a shift under load while trying to be the first to the top of the hill is never fun.
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Old 12-10-04, 04:48 PM   #22
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I'll second that...once I discovered index I never went back. I donated all my old dura-ace and campy friction components to the local bike co-op. Good riddance to old garbage. Missing a shift under load while trying to be the first to the top of the hill is never fun.
You could miss a shift with either system...friction is more dependant on skill, index is more dependant on mechanics.
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Old 12-10-04, 05:11 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by FXjohn
You could miss a shift with either system...friction is more dependant on skill, index is more dependant on mechanics.
Yeah, it's kind of a shame that the art of friction shifting is unknown to a lot of riders today.
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Old 12-10-04, 05:25 PM   #24
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Yeah, it's kind of a shame that the art of friction shifting is unknown to a lot of riders today.
There is also of that chess factor of thinking before you shift...in other words, your brain is caught up to the time lag of reaching down and flipping that lever...of course you know your own system so well you know exactly how far to move the lever...so in many cases there is no time lag...and do you have that "fixed gear" type of thinking that lets you work that second in the "wrong" gear when you are taken by surprise? Seems like the looney zen types would love it Or am I that type in my own way...
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Old 12-10-04, 05:35 PM   #25
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There is also of that chess factor of thinking before you shift...in other words, your brain is caught up to the time lag of reaching down and flipping that lever...of course you know your own system so well you know exactly how far to move the lever...so in many cases there is no time lag...and do you have that "fixed gear" type of thinking that lets you work that second in the "wrong" gear when you are taken by surprise? Seems like the looney zen types would love it Or am I that type in my own way...
You're not alone. When the adrenaline starts pumping from the surprise attack, just go, worry about proper gearing later.
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