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Help! Thumb Shifter Advice

Old 10-21-17, 08:05 PM
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IslandTimePE
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Help! Thumb Shifter Advice

Hi All: Looking for some advice on Thumb Shifters. First a little background:

I have been running indexed shifters on my bikes for the past 15+ years...until I picked up my new bike - a 1985 Miyata Two Ten that I intend to use as a gravel/dirt road bike. Indexed shifters have been fine and I was planning on upgrading the Miyata to indexed shifters as soon as I could round up the parts. I am also converting it to a flat bar setup because I really prefer flat bars over drops.

But then I took the Miyata out for my first couple rides and wow....am I ever impressed with the performance and ease of setup of the original Shimano downtube friction shifters coupled with the original derailleurs. I changed out the wheels to 700c and put on a 7 speed cassette and new chain (bike was originally 5 speed freewheel). I didn't have to touch a thing on the shifters/derailleurs to get them working with the new chain and cassette. It just works, smoothly and with no fuss. Manually finding the gears with a 7 speed setup is not hard.

So the dilemma I have is that I love the original shifters, but downtube shifters on a gravel bike are not practical. I need to move them to the bars. So I am looking for suggestions and options.

Here is what I have found so far:

1) I could get a set of Paul's Thumbies and try to mount the original downtube shifters on the bars with them. Not 100% sure they will fit on the thumbies. And the Paul's Thumbies are expensive for what they are, IMO. Any other options available for flat bar mounts?

2) Buy a new set of Thumb Shifters. I have see the SR thumb shifters that work with 8 and 9 speed setups. I could swap the 7 speed cassette for an 8. Have also seen some Microshift thumb shifters. Does anyone have any experience with either of these products? Any other options out there for a 7 or 8 speed setup?

I anyone has other options/suggestions or experience with the available products, I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks!
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Old 10-21-17, 08:14 PM
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Cheapest option by far is a set of used stem shifters. Sure, they look kind of clunky, but they work just fine.

Second cheapest option is a set of Tourney trigger shifters like these. https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-Tourn...3SQ?th=1&psc=1

They have a steel band, so they can be "encouraged" to fit on drop bars. They are sized to fit MTB bars. I've used them on drop bars, North Road bars, and flat bars. Better still, they come with cables and all housings.

Since you like flat bars anyway, the Tourneys are a definite winner. You should also look into North Road bars. I've built quite a few bikes lately with North Roads, I am down to my last set. I snag them any chance I get.
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Old 10-21-17, 08:54 PM
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Suntour friction thumb shifters should do the trick.


https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vtg-Suntour...4AAOSwjZJZ6LTD
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Old 10-21-17, 09:19 PM
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I don't do flat bars. Just can't stand 'em anymore. But if I did, I'd go with the trigger shifters; they worked great on the modern MTB I sold early this summer.

My ideal gravel bike will have either barcons or brifters. For any bike I'm going to ride hard in the gravel, indexing is kinda important.
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Old 10-21-17, 09:21 PM
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Get SunTour thumbies and operate in friction mode. That's what I do on my mountain bike.

Would barcons be a suitable option for you?

As you are seeing, nothing compares to the simplicity and robustness of friction shift, and once you get used to it, indexing does not offer any tangible benefit.
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Old 10-21-17, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Get SunTour thumbies and operate in friction mode. That's what I do on my mountain bike.

Would barcons be a suitable option for you?

As you are seeing, nothing compares to the simplicity and robustness of friction shift, and once you get used to it, indexing does not offer any tangible benefit.
The caveat is "getting used to it." If you are on serious gravel a lot, indexing is nice because it is "click and forget." That being said, I have the Suntour thumbies mentioned above and like them. They are certainly the best friction thumb shifters available, I really wouldn't consider anything else (unless Simplex secretly made a Retrofriction thumb shifter...). Even my friend who now rides DT indexing tried them and exclaimed, "These are so nice and smooth, I love them!"

The older Shimano thumb shifters had friction and indexing as options, so you could go friction if the apocalypse hit during your ride.

But if you go modern, you don't necessarily have to upgrade to 8s cassette to match an 8s shifter (the cassette wouldn't fit on the hub anyway, it's too big for a 7s hub). Just adjust the system to start at the 7th notch in your highest gear and work from there. 7s and 8s sprocket spacing is close enough to be intercompatible.

Also, I would avoid the Tourney thumb shifter, I just replaced one on a Trail-a-bike after the "return button" broke off and rendered it useless. A guy could consider SRAM grip shifting - lots of those laying around parts bins everywhere... It's what went on the Trail-a-bike.
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Old 10-22-17, 01:15 AM
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Your options for mounting your downtube shifters are Paul thumbies, Velo Orange thumbie mounts, and Kelly Take Offs.

I run a Shimano 600 tricolor downtube shifter in friction mode on a Paul Thumbie on my gravel bike. With a 10sp SRAM X0 rear derailleur. Works great. Just make sure you get the flat (not concave) base mount for the lever.
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Old 10-22-17, 04:35 AM
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People are back to wanting big money for used Shimano thumbshifters on ebay but if you wanted to stay vintage, you could go for a set of them. These are the cheapest currently listed.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/80s-SHIMANO...oAAOSw1CBZ3tZo
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Old 10-22-17, 04:48 AM
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I have a set of Suntour Power Shifters that I am willing to part with. One of the best thumb shifters I have used so far. In fact, the bars, stem, levers and grips are all waiting for a new home. If interested, I will list them in the For Sale forum.

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Old 10-22-17, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Cheapest option by far is a set of used stem shifters. Sure, they look kind of clunky, but they work just fine.

Second cheapest option is a set of Tourney trigger shifters like these. https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-Tourn...3SQ?th=1&psc=1

They have a steel band, so they can be "encouraged" to fit on drop bars. They are sized to fit MTB bars. I've used them on drop bars, North Road bars, and flat bars. Better still, they come with cables and all housings.

Since you like flat bars anyway, the Tourneys are a definite winner. You should also look into North Road bars. I've built quite a few bikes lately with North Roads, I am down to my last set. I snag them any chance I get.
Have stayed away from stems just because I want to be able to keep my hands on the bars as much as possible. Tourneys area possibility. Will look for some pics of there mounted on a bar so I can see how the button trigger fits.
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Old 10-22-17, 04:55 AM
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[QUOTE=Steve Whitlatch;19944314]Suntour friction thumb shifters should do the trick.

Hadn't done any searching for Suntours. Will check them out

Last edited by IslandTimePE; 10-22-17 at 05:16 AM.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Get SunTour thumbies and operate in friction mode. That's what I do on my mountain bike.

Would barcons be a suitable option for you?

As you are seeing, nothing compares to the simplicity and robustness of friction shift, and once you get used to it, indexing does not offer any tangible benefit.
Have never tried barcons. It's been a while since I've consistently ridden a bike with drops. Although it appears to be counter to the experience of most people, flat bars just seem to work for me. With bar ends and using the brifters/brake levers as a third hand position (on smoother surfaces) I can ride for hours without discomfort.

Will search for some SunTours.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
I don't do flat bars. Just can't stand 'em anymore. But if I did, I'd go with the trigger shifters; they worked great on the modern MTB I sold early this summer.

My ideal gravel bike will have either barcons or brifters. For any bike I'm going to ride hard in the gravel, indexing is kinda important.
My experience with flat bars appears to be different from most. I love the classic look of drops on a bike, but flats just seem to work for me. I cut them down so that when I ride on my bar ends my hands a just about shoulder width apart. Can ride for 5 or 6 hours with no hand discomfort.

I have brifters on the gravel bike I rode this year. They worked well and I may very well end up going back to them if this experiment doesn't work. But in my test rides with the new bike, I've not missed the indexing as much as I thought I would.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
Your options for mounting your downtube shifters are Paul thumbies, Velo Orange thumbie mounts, and Kelly Take Offs.

I run a Shimano 600 tricolor downtube shifter in friction mode on a Paul Thumbie on my gravel bike. With a 10sp SRAM X0 rear derailleur. Works great. Just make sure you get the flat (not concave) base mount for the lever.
Thanks. I hadn't come across the Velo Orange mounts. Will check them out. My original equipment downtube shifter - Z-204-GS - aren't far off from the 600's so encouraged to hear they work on the Paul Thumbies.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mountaindave View Post
The caveat is "getting used to it." If you are on serious gravel a lot, indexing is nice because it is "click and forget." That being said, I have the Suntour thumbies mentioned above and like them. They are certainly the best friction thumb shifters available, I really wouldn't consider anything else (unless Simplex secretly made a Retrofriction thumb shifter...). Even my friend who now rides DT indexing tried them and exclaimed, "These are so nice and smooth, I love them!"

The older Shimano thumb shifters had friction and indexing as options, so you could go friction if the apocalypse hit during your ride.

But if you go modern, you don't necessarily have to upgrade to 8s cassette to match an 8s shifter (the cassette wouldn't fit on the hub anyway, it's too big for a 7s hub). Just adjust the system to start at the 7th notch in your highest gear and work from there. 7s and 8s sprocket spacing is close enough to be intercompatible.

Also, I would avoid the Tourney thumb shifter, I just replaced one on a Trail-a-bike after the "return button" broke off and rendered it useless. A guy could consider SRAM grip shifting - lots of those laying around parts bins everywhere... It's what went on the Trail-a-bike.

Another vote for SunTour. will be checking them out.

Sorry, fotrgot to mention with the cassette that I am running thee 7 speed on a 9 speed wheel with a spacer so switching to an 8 speed should be OK. But also good to hear that I could adjust an 8 speed shifter to 7 gears.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
I have a set of Suntour Power Shifters that I am willing to part with. One of the best thumb shifters I have used so far. In fact, the bars, stem, levers and grips are all waiting for a new home. If interested, I will list them in the For Sale forum.

Thanks. I am interested in the shifters.
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Old 10-22-17, 08:29 AM
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This is the bike in current configuration. Waiting for cable stop clamp so I can switch from the down tube shifters.
Chainrings are 52-45-28; probably will swap to something like 50-36-28 at some point down the road. Cassette is 12-32. The old derailleurs handle the triple and relatively wide gear spacing easily.Originally was planning to replace it all, but they just work so well.
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