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Brifters: Do they all suck this badly?

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Brifters: Do they all suck this badly?

Old 04-07-19, 03:41 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
My old 10sp 105 brifters were amazing. I still have them even though all my bikes are with friction shifters right now. I always found the shape of the body and the brake lever to be very very comfortable and I wish that I could have dedicated brake levers in that shape without the weight of the shifting mechanism. I have used broken brifters before in that manner on a fixed gear bike, I'd probably do it again if I could find the same generation ones to install.
I find my Tektro R340 brake levers every bit as comfortable as my Shimano 5500 brake/shift levers.
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Old 04-07-19, 03:59 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post

Regarding 9t/10t cogs, this is largely misinformed. 9t are predominantly used for 20" wheel bikes and sometimes mountain bikes with small single chainrings where the goal is to maximize gear range in the cassette. If you start off with a 10-50t cassette and you want to increase range by 10% you can either make it 9-50 or 10-55. The same goes for 10t, except with SRAM 2x12, which also comes with smaller chainrings.
Team issue for pros in 2019 is 49x10 for top gear. Doesn't matter the amateurs and the punters are not strong enough to push that gear, the pros use it and it will soon be normal for all of us. Just as 53x12 became normal and 50x11 became normal.

Eddy Merckx used a top of 53x13. We are all stronger than Eddy now. My point, which I assumed most would miss, even if anyone read it, was that brifters encourage riders to keep shifting and shifting and shifting some more, until everyone ends up in the big gear. Doing a weightlifting stomp.

As far as I am concerned the top three and often the top four gears on mass market bikes are useless. At which point it makes sense to ask why do we need 10 or 11 or 12 different cogs in back? But I am not selling new bikes. And I don't believe ad copy.
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Old 04-07-19, 04:29 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Team issue for pros in 2019 is 49x10 for top gear. Doesn't matter the amateurs and the punters are not strong enough to push that gear, the pros use it and it will soon be normal for all of us. Just as 53x12 became normal and 50x11 became normal.

Eddy Merckx used a top of 53x13. We are all stronger than Eddy now. My point, which I assumed most would miss, even if anyone read it, was that brifters encourage riders to keep shifting and shifting and shifting some more, until everyone ends up in the big gear. Doing a weightlifting stomp.

As far as I am concerned the top three and often the top four gears on mass market bikes are useless. At which point it makes sense to ask why do we need 10 or 11 or 12 different cogs in back? But I am not selling new bikes. And I don't believe ad copy.
This has very little to do with brifters, and more to do with having more gears. There's very little con to adding an overdrive. There is no SRAM team issue. Riders get to pick from the options what they want for whatever they do. If they don't need the full range of gears most of the time on a flatish stage, they're going to gravitate towards bigger rings as they are marginally more efficient for any given ratio. You act like pro gear ratios on road bikes for sale to the public is somehow a new thing. It isn't.

I have never once seen anyone substantiate that Eddy's biggest gear was 53x13. It was the big gear readily available on road bikes of the era, yes, but there were bigger when paired with bigger rings and when you have limited gear choices, there are always compromises that have to be made. It's not about being stronger than Eddy, it's about trade-offs. Eddy didn't just go what's the biggest gear he could use then settle on 53x13. Adding a higher gear comes at the cost of losing another gear. More gears means fewer trade-offs. With 11 speeds you can have your straight block, a climbing cog and your silly TT downhill tailwind high gear at the same time. No, brifters do not encourage you into shifting into your highest gear. You just previously said yourself brifters enable you to keep your cadence within 5rpm.

If high gears bother you that much, buy junior cassettes or run a CX/subcompact crank, or just blame everything on newfangled evil brifters I guess.
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Old 04-07-19, 04:57 PM
  #29  
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We are all stronger than Eddy now.
I swear a saw something about pulling the majority of the time, or something like that, but it disappeared.

They're just bikes. I'm not stronger than Eddy. I don't think anyone here on BF really is, or 99.99999% of the folks on the Racing or Road forums.

I like brifters, running 9000/9100 mix on two bikes, 6800/8000 mix on two bikes, and then I drop to lowly 7700. I also have Centaur 10 on one bike. I've used SRAM (10sp) and Campy 10 (Record Carbon, Centaur, Veloce new era) and Campy Ergo 8sp, 9sp, and 10-sp. Like 'em all. Each had it's issues and since I didn't have a real mechanic set them up, maybe that was the problem. They all worked just fine, but once in a while, one of them worked like grease through a goose, and once in a while, it was like pulling cinderblocks through sand.

Oh, I also run 2x10, 2x9, and 2x7 Shimano DT shifters, a pair of 2x7 Synchro bikes, and lest I forget, a trio of frictions, from 2x5 to 2x7.

I try to keep a variety of gearing on hand, from 12-21 friction to a 9sp corncob, to an 11-34 11sp mounted on a 10sp rear (Zipp, the horrors).

Not lucky enough to have someone pull the majority of the time (@nomadmax last weekend excepted; thanks, dude). Lucky enough to have varied terrain and nearly constant wind. Yep, I use the 11t with a tailwind on the flats. Yep, I shift down to climb. Yep, I'd love to have a 5-rpm "powerband" like some sort of 2-stroke Widowmaker. I don't.

Bring on the gears. Fat ones, skinny ones, I'll dance with 'em all. Including whatever it takes to move the cable. Riddle of Steel has me thinking of using juice, which is what we called electrons before they stuck it in needles.

They're just bikes. If they ran on hot air, there'd be some Tour winners here, for sure.
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Old 04-07-19, 05:06 PM
  #30  
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@ Steve Whitlach - My experience with yard sale and CL bikes from 70s and 80s is that assembly quality was abysmal. People aren't going to much ride bikes that don't work.
@Kurimori - The gears pros use have always been well known. If you don't want to believe what the pros say when interviewed or what the mechanics and team directors say there are photographs. Yes, most pros use what the team issues them and that is that. When Eddy used 57 chainrings that was on his bikes with 571 wheels. His use of 53x13 is endlessly documented. When Bernard and Greg introduced 12 tooth cogs they publicly jested that obliging their competition to follow suit would require them to give up useful cogs at lower end.

You can pretend that what you ride does not affect how you ride. It does.

My two geared bikes have their native gearing. The 1950 Bates has a high of 47x14. The 1960 Carré has a high of 50x15. When I was younger that might, and I do mean might, have been a touch low. The highest gear I have ever used was 53x14, on downhills in big groups at speeds above 70kph. Yes, you can turn the pedals and apply power in that gear at that speed. And it is safer that way. When wearing seven league boots(massive gears) you need more room on the road. That room is not always there. Most of the time when I shifted to 14 it was unintentional. I've had a 13, never once used it. Nearly all are going to use every gear that comes on the bike.
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Old 04-07-19, 05:20 PM
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You can pretend that what you ride does not affect how you ride. It does.
Chicken and Egg.
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Old 04-07-19, 05:28 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by johnnyace View Post
I'm sure there must be better ones out there; maybe the high-end stuff is great. But in my admittedly limited experience with brifters so far, I just can't see myself owning and using these on any future bikes that I ride regularly.
Ultegra 11 speed brifters are the most modern I have, and they are crap. Of all my bikes, the old indexed shimano RX downtube shifters are the best

However, on a hilly, curvey route I am loving brifters - you just can't do that quick shifting with anything else while steering through turns.
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Old 04-07-19, 05:30 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
@ Steve Whitlach - My experience with yard sale and CL bikes from 70s and 80s is that assembly quality was abysmal. People aren't going to much ride bikes that don't work.
@Kurimori - The gears pros use have always been well known. If you don't want to believe what the pros say when interviewed or what the mechanics and team directors say there are photographs. Yes, most pros use what the team issues them and that is that. When Eddy used 57 chainrings that was on his bikes with 571 wheels. His use of 53x13 is endlessly documented. When Bernard and Greg introduced 12 tooth cogs they publicly jested that obliging their competition to follow suit would require them to give up useful cogs at lower end.

You can pretend that what you ride does not affect how you ride. It does.

My two geared bikes have their native gearing. The 1950 Bates has a high of 47x14. The 1960 Carré has a high of 50x15. When I was younger that might, and I do mean might, have been a touch low. The highest gear I have ever used was 53x14, on downhills in big groups at speeds above 70kph. Yes, you can turn the pedals and apply power in that gear at that speed. And it is safer that way. When wearing seven league boots(massive gears) you need more room on the road. That room is not always there. Most of the time when I shifted to 14 it was unintentional. I've had a 13, never once used it. Nearly all are going to use every gear that comes on the bike.
And current pros change gearing between stages. Even pros back then changed gearing. There's no magic team issue chainring size. I have no doubt that Eddy used 53x13, I already said it was the common big gear. My point was that just because that was a general purpose top gear for him doesn't mean it was the highest gear he ever used or the highest gear he could push. It does not follow from the premise that Eddy used 53x13 that having a higher gear means you're stronger than Eddy.

I mean even the point you made about Bernard and Greg proves one of the points I made exactly. Gearing is a trade-off. To add a higher top gear is to sacrifice a low gear, unless you manage to add more gears. Then there's no trade-off. Clearly the point they were making wasn't that you had to be stronger to push 12, it was that you had to be stronger to give up a low gear.

Of course what you ride affects how you ride. What it does not do is simultaneously keep you within a 5rpm cadence range and make you shift you your top gear and do weight lifting stomps at the same time and then somehow mean that keeping within a narrow cadence range is inherently bad, or somehow the thought process behind 2x5 is somehow good and the thought process behind 2x11 is somehow bad and then force you to use a straight block with 11t cogs or even use more than 7 speeds in the back.
*

Last edited by Kuromori; 04-07-19 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 04-07-19, 06:21 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
@ Steve Whitlach - My experience with yard sale and CL bikes from 70s and 80s is that assembly quality was abysmal. People aren't going to much ride bikes that don't work.
@Kurimori - The gears pros use have always been well known. If you don't want to believe what the pros say when interviewed or what the mechanics and team directors say there are photographs. Yes, most pros use what the team issues them and that is that. When Eddy used 57 chainrings that was on his bikes with 571 wheels. His use of 53x13 is endlessly documented. When Bernard and Greg introduced 12 tooth cogs they publicly jested that obliging their competition to follow suit would require them to give up useful cogs at lower end.

You can pretend that what you ride does not affect how you ride. It does.

My two geared bikes have their native gearing. The 1950 Bates has a high of 47x14. The 1960 Carré has a high of 50x15. When I was younger that might, and I do mean might, have been a touch low. The highest gear I have ever used was 53x14, on downhills in big groups at speeds above 70kph. Yes, you can turn the pedals and apply power in that gear at that speed. And it is safer that way. When wearing seven league boots(massive gears) you need more room on the road. That room is not always there. Most of the time when I shifted to 14 it was unintentional. I've had a 13, never once used it. Nearly all are going to use every gear that comes on the bike.
You have probably been a very strong rider for a long time. When I got back into cycling my lungs were shot from smoking 2 1/2 packs a day for 30 years. I had Emphysema and was told I would be on oxygen in 5 years if I did not quit smoking. Switched to vaping. Started riding again after trying running. Running hurt my knees. I can tell you that I almost gave up riding because the 42 28 on my Schwinn was still to hard for me to get up small hills.* My lungs got better each and every month. Now I can do 70 mile rides and not die. I have come a long way. It was a lot of hard work. My point was, had I not been stubborn, I would have just walked away just like thousands of others did because the gearing on their bikes made it hard work to ride.* *

Edit: I want to add that a novice who goes into a bike shop today to buy a racing bike because that is what he wants will walk out with an 11 speed compact double with a full range of gears at his fingertips, and will have a hell of a lot more fun than a novice going into a bike shop in 1980 buying a racing bike because that is what he wants.
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Old 04-07-19, 08:09 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I find my Tektro R340 brake levers every bit as comfortable as my Shimano 5500 brake/shift levers.
I have the 5600 set. I do use the R340 on one bike and the hoods are very close in feel to the Shimano hoods but the feel of the lever itself isn't the same or as nice, but that's just me being picky. I've enjoyed many sets of Cane Creek SCR5s but they don't have the length in the hoods that make Shimano STIs feel good to my hands (I have big hands).
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Old 04-07-19, 08:10 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Boy, I sure have a different understanding of the word 'technology' than most people on this forum.
It could be seen as semantics.
I think of 'new technology' as adding something that didn't exist before - not an improvement or upgrade.
Wouldn't that apply here? Something was added that didn't exist before...right?
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Old 04-07-19, 08:12 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
Ultegra 11 speed brifters are the most modern I have, and they are crap.
funny cuz I love my 6800 STIs. Shifts are smooth and immediate...exactly what they should be.
what makes them crap for you?
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Old 04-07-19, 08:12 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
This is like me asking if DT shifters all work badly when they ghost shift and have a broken wingnut and the limit screws are not adjusted and the chain is too long and broken friction washers and frayed rusty cables. Obviously the answer is yes, all DT shifters suck this badly. Decades old DT shifters need maintenance and tune ups, decades old STIs need WD-40 and tune ups. STIs are not especially fragile unless you enjoy crashing often and throwing your bike into sandpits, and just like any other shifting mechanism, requires a little practice before it becomes second nature. They are certainly more durable than indexed Shimano bar end shifters. Most brifter designs work better as a hood hand position and useful brake from the hood than any non-aero brake lever, and better than many aero ones.Obviously the more speeds you have, the more likely it is to misshift if everything isn't perfect.
This.
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Old 04-07-19, 08:33 PM
  #39  
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Oh, I wouldn't say brifters suck... I just hate them, that's all.

Some time around 1982 I tried various ways to get a shifter up onto the brake lever. It wasn't easy. I would have loved brifters.

Now that I've tried them, I don't want them any more. The ergonomics don't agree with hands. After five or six hours on the handlebar with countless shifts, carpal tunnel syndrome sets in and I can't move fingers comfortably. I've finished brevets riding in one gear for the last thirty miles because shifting was too painful. I know they work for a lot of riders, but they don't work for me.

I now shift the rear derailleur with a bar end shifter on the right sidei, and the front derailleur with a down tube shifter, also right side. This keeps my hands moving all around all the time, and it's more arm movement than finger movement. For me, this works far better than brifters. But that's just me.
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Old 04-07-19, 08:36 PM
  #40  
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I spliced your rant and wanted to respond to a couple of your comments.​​​​​​

Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
First attribute of brifters, the one that makes people say "vastly superior technology", is that you will shift far more frequently. Why is that a good thing? Is it good for your legs to find a narrow band of 5 rpm or less and make that the only spot where you want to ride? Is it good to never have to think about what you are doing as you run through the gears? Now that there are insta-shifting systems that sound like a .22 when resonating through CF it is very easy to know how others on the ride are shifting. There are times I am doing the lions share of the pulls and not shifting at all for miles, while the others are shifting every 100 meters, or even more frequently. What is the purpose? Why do we need this "vastly superior technology"?
Yes it does seem like people shift more often on STIs than on downtubes. I'm guessing it's due to convenience. STI shifting is simply more convenient to shift, so shifting happens more often. You really don't seem to like this reality, but I'm not sure why. What's it matter if more shifting happens? What's it matter if people like staying in a cadence range?
I ride in different cadences all the time...but I am aware that I'm not the most efficient cyclist out there. I like different cadences depending on terrain, length of ride, etc. Its literally a change of pace, which i enjoy. But others might like to be more efficient and that's ok.

Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
The other thing that has occurred as shifting is too easy and no one ever thinks before shifting is that gears keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger again. Used to be that anyone riding in top gear was considered a complete neophyte who didn't know how to ride. Now everyone uses the top gear and then gets a topper gear. Ten tooth cogs are in use and nines have arrived. Translating and paraphrasing Velocio "The longer the ride, the longer the season, the longer your life in the saddle, the greater the temptation to use bigger gears. Do not give in. The big gears will tire you, they will end your long ride." Brifters vastly accelerated the drift towards high gears. It looks like weightlifting on wheels.
bikes of old were limiting with regards to gears. A 42-26 bailout gearing isnt enough for many people and I can absolutely understand why it wouldn't habe been fun to casually ride such a bike since it limits where you can comfortably ride.
if a 34-28 is needed for someone to comfortably spin up hills, then why would anyone complain about another person utilizing that ratio? Same with 28-32 or any other ratio we could think of.
as for the complaint about 9 and 10t cogs...i don't know what to say to this. Its been mtb and small wheel bikes where I've read about small cogs being utilized. If so...ok I guess. Again- whatever works.
it sounds like you are annoyed with large tooth cogs and small tooth cogs...is that correct? If so, you have a bad case of get off my lawn syndrome.
I push against a lot of new tech and design on bikes, but what you are complaining about seems really out there.

hopefully ive just misunderstood you.
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Old 04-07-19, 08:44 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Oh, I wouldn't say brifters suck... I just hate them, that's all.

Some time around 1982 I tried various ways to get a shifter up onto the brake lever. It wasn't easy. I would have loved brifters.

Now that I've tried them, I don't want them any more. The ergonomics don't agree with hands. After five or six hours on the handlebar with countless shifts, carpal tunnel syndrome sets in and I can't move fingers comfortably. I've finished brevets riding in one gear for the last thirty miles because shifting was too painful. I know they work for a lot of riders, but they don't work for me.

I now shift the rear derailleur with a bar end shifter on the right sidei, and the front derailleur with a down tube shifter, also right side. This keeps my hands moving all around all the time, and it's more arm movement than finger movement. For me, this works far better than brifters. But that's just me.
you fpund what works for you and thats whats most important.
I can't imagine riding 6 hours without coming off the bikes thsts impressive on its own, not to mention being on there longer to finish brevets.
since you need to move ypur hands around to shift ypur current setup, couldn't you do the same with STIs? Hold the tops, ramps, hooks, drops, and hoods while riding, then reach for the hoods to shift. Seems similar to your setup.
obviously you know what's best for you, just curious whst thebdifference between your way and what I suggested is. Again, lack of ever tying a randonneur event exclude me from having an educated reason for knowing the difference.
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Old 04-07-19, 08:57 PM
  #42  
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I love my bar end Suntour shifters, I like my Campy bar end shifters, I hate my Simplex downtube shifters, I like my 105 mechanical brifters, I absolutely love my Ultegra Di2 electro brifters. This whole argument/discussion makes no sense. It's like arguing whether or not you like broccoli. Either you get it or you don't. You're not going to change anybody's mind, so why bother. I like choices, just make one and ride. That being said, I use all the gears I have 5,6 9 or 10 of them. I used all of them today on Eroica.
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Old 04-07-19, 09:18 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Spraying lubricant out of a can is not the sort of service that makes you feel like you now know how it works . Does not impart confidence.
This is common practice in many shops. Lubrication in the shifters start to gum up over time, especially when they have been sitting out of use for long periods, and the small catches that us springs to pop in place become to still for the springs to move them. a cleaner/lubricant sprayed in merely loosens this up and flushes it out without disassembly of the unit.

I would have less confidence is someone who wanted to take the unit apart when all it needs is cleaning. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:03 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
...
since you need to move ypur hands around to shift ypur current setup, couldn't you do the same with STIs? Hold the tops, ramps, hooks, drops, and hoods while riding, then reach for the hoods to shift. Seems similar to your setup.
....
Yes, to the degree that moving my hands around the bar is the key to comfort, then I should be able to emulate that effect while using brifters. Moving your hands around is an important habit for every cyclist, regardless what kind of shifters.

On the other hand no, some of my trouble with brifters is the repetitive motion of just a couple fingers. Add carpal tunnel syndrome and I can't even tell you whether those fingers are too weak to shift, or it's too painful. But would that still happen if I moved my hands around diligently, I honestly don't know. Never succeeded at that.

In the real world the fact is I get mentally lazy and forget to move my hands around. It has happened every time I use brifters, so I don't use them any more.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:10 PM
  #45  
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Shoot them all full of WD-40 as everyone has explained. Work them until your fingers ache, then WD-40 'em and work them some more.

Then, once they're working, put both projects to the side for a week. After a week, pull the projects back out, ride them, try out the working brifters, then report back with your findings.

^
This was more or less my introduction to brifters, courtesy of a very, very PITA pair of Shimano 600 ST-6400's. Rode them for a while until I was clobbered by a Mercedes. Have done a few flips with brifters since; the later Shimano stuff feels more robust than the 600's. I've also had an opportunity to try the first-gen Campag brifters, and I prefer the overall feel of the Campag parts. Might have something to do with the spring tension on the brake levers being stiffer than the easily-movable Shimano design.

At least, that's what I remember; it's been a while - I crawled back into my cave of resistance to enjoy downtube shifters

-Kurt
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Old 04-07-19, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
This was more or less my introduction to brifters, courtesy of a very, very PITA pair of Shimano 600 ST-6400's. Rode them for a while until I was clobbered by a Mercedes.
-Kurt
Do you remember who you mailed them to, for free?

My first brifters came on an Ironman from eBay, $135 and the rear freehub had been swapped for an 8-sp capable Shimano. I had no clue what they were, having not been on a bike for about 15 years at the time. I reflexively shifted them all the way "in," and took them to Dee at the local bike shop, saying they didn't work. She shifted them back for me and kept a straight face the whole time.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Do you remember who you mailed them to, for free?

My first brifters came on an Ironman from eBay, $135 and the rear freehub had been swapped for an 8-sp capable Shimano. I had no clue what they were, having not been on a bike for about 15 years at the time. I reflexively shifted them all the way "in," and took them to Dee at the local bike shop, saying they didn't work. She shifted them back for me and kept a straight face the whole time.
Even if I forgot, I would have said "RobbieTunes." Though you don't own all the 6400-era stuff on earth yet, all of it is slowly working its way to you, like the inevitability of a big black hole sucking in all the nearby matter.

That's scientific fact.

-Kurt

P.S.: Admit it, you just wanted Dee to shift your gears. We know how you think. So much so that the 6400 series Ultegra group now has a "ladies man" connotation. It's Playboy's Gruppo of the Year, thanks to you.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
She shifted them back for me and kept a straight face the whole time.
After you left I'm sure the rest of the day consisted mostly of ROFL.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
After you left I'm sure the rest of the day consisted mostly of ROFL.
"Oh, that Robbie guy again. We'd kick him out, but we really like befitting from his avatar."

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Old 04-08-19, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Yes, to the degree that moving my hands around the bar is the key to comfort, then I should be able to emulate that effect while using brifters. Moving your hands around is an important habit for every cyclist, regardless what kind of shifters.

On the other hand no, some of my trouble with brifters is the repetitive motion of just a couple fingers. Add carpal tunnel syndrome and I can't even tell you whether those fingers are too weak to shift, or it's too painful. But would that still happen if I moved my hands around diligently, I honestly don't know. Never succeeded at that.

In the real world the fact is I get mentally lazy and forget to move my hands around. It has happened every time I use brifters, so I don't use them any more.
Unless you have some underlying hand strength issues, nerve damage, or are shifting gears several times a minute, painful shifting brifters is probably a symptom rather than the cause.
In my case, it was bars that were too narrow and / or too high that were creating pressure on the (ulnar) nerves and causing my fingers to go to sleep. The 40mm bars on 70's and 80's C&Vs, it was just annoying, DT shifters were still easy enough to manage, but STI's and moving from the 'pinch' to the hoods didn't help, until I went to 42, then 44mm bars. Just upgraded my primary 'fast' road bike with a 24° flared drop bar (Cowchipper) to angle the hoods in, and the difference in comfort is incredible; one of those "why didn't I do this sooner?" moments.
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