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How stiff should bar end shifters be?

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How stiff should bar end shifters be?

Old 04-19-21, 06:05 AM
  #1  
Arnolfini
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How stiff should bar end shifters be?

Hi all

Newbie here. Been looking to lose a few quarantine lbs and bought myself a vintage bike recently to help with the process.

Itís the first time Iíve used bar end shifters and they feel kinda stiff to me - problem is Iíve got no frame of reference so not sure if theyíre normal or not.

So my question is how stiff should they be? Should I be able to easily shift them with my pinky/palm like modern ones or should they require my whole hand? Theyíre Suntour shifters if that makes any difference.

Iím not sure if you need more info/pics to be able to tell me, but if you do just let me know!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-19-21, 06:15 AM
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What brand/model of shifters. Lots of variance between the brands.
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Old 04-19-21, 06:18 AM
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They should not be stiff enough to require your whole hand. If they are friction shifters (nonindexed), the tension is adjustable and they can be loosened. Look for a pivot screw on the side.
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Old 04-19-21, 06:42 AM
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The SunTour shifters can be adjusted for shifter stiffness with the pair of nuts (outer one slotted) that serve as lock nuts. You back off the outer, slotted nut, then set the tension with the screw / captive nut to your preference, and then re-tighten the slotted nut.

See items 14-16 in this diagram:




If the outer nut has gone missing (very common), then the previous owner may have tightened the screw / remaining nut and made them overly stiff.

If you can upload picture(s) of your shifters to your gallery (link), someone can add them here.
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Old 04-19-21, 07:48 AM
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Awesome - thanks everyone for the speedy responses! My shifters look pretty much exactly like the ones in CO_Hoya 's diagram, so I'll try adjusting the tension and see if I can get them more to my liking.

One follow-up question - is it normal for the levers to need to be pressed *all* the way down (or pulled *all* the way up) in order to get to the last chainring/cog? Or is the range of motion meant to be a little narrower than that (say 70-80 degrees instead of the full 90)? I just ask as when I'm pushing the levers down particularly, I have to take my hand entirely off the bar, which can feel a little unstable.
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Old 04-19-21, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
Awesome - thanks everyone for the speedy responses! My shifters look pretty much exactly like the ones in CO_Hoya 's diagram, so I'll try adjusting the tension and see if I can get them more to my liking.

One follow-up question - is it normal for the levers to need to be pressed *all* the way down (or pulled *all* the way up) in order to get to the last chainring/cog? Or is the range of motion meant to be a little narrower than that (say 70-80 degrees instead of the full 90)? I just ask as when I'm pushing the levers down particularly, I have to take my hand entirely off the bar, which can feel a little unstable.
all the way down is the equivalent of downtube shifters all the way forward - it's when cable has been slacked off as much as possible and put you in the smallest cog (this is the reference point when setting them up). full range will be the maximum "down" position up to whatever gets your RD into first cog - probably 80 degrees of motion, give or take.

It probably feels awkward now due to the shifters stiffness - ideally, when pivot friction is smooth this will become a quick/easy move of the outer fingers and your hand never left the bars.
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Old 04-19-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
Hi all

Newbie here. Been looking to lose a few quarantine lbs and bought myself a vintage bike recently to help with the process.

Itís the first time Iíve used bar end shifters and they feel kinda stiff to me - problem is Iíve got no frame of reference so not sure if theyíre normal or not.

So my question is how stiff should they be? Should I be able to easily shift them with my pinky/palm like modern ones or should they require my whole hand? Theyíre Suntour shifters if that makes any difference.

Iím not sure if you need more info/pics to be able to tell me, but if you do just let me know!

Thanks in advance!
Much also depends on what cables you are using and how they are wrapped.

pic?
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Old 04-19-21, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
....
One follow-up question - is it normal for the levers to need to be pressed *all* the way down (or pulled *all* the way up) in order to get to the last chainring/cog? Or is the range of motion meant to be a little narrower than that (say 70-80 degrees instead of the full 90)? I just ask as when I'm pushing the levers down particularly, I have to take my hand entirely off the bar, which can feel a little unstable.
the left lever should easily handle a double chainring, assuming a reasonably compatible derailleur. A triple shouldn't generally be an issue either.

the right lever may have a little trouble if you are trying to shift over an 8 speed cassette. It was designed in the era of 5 and 6 speed freewheels, which don't require as much movement of the derailleur. The choice of derailleur could be a factor too.

Perhaps you could provide specs and pics of the whole setup?

Steve in Peoria
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Old 04-19-21, 11:00 AM
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Hmm - I'm too new to be able to post pics, but I've uploaded a handful to my gallery if you're able to view that?
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Old 04-19-21, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
Awesome - thanks everyone for the speedy responses! My shifters look pretty much exactly like the ones in CO_Hoya 's diagram, so I'll try adjusting the tension and see if I can get them more to my liking.

One follow-up question - is it normal for the levers to need to be pressed *all* the way down (or pulled *all* the way up) in order to get to the last chainring/cog? Or is the range of motion meant to be a little narrower than that (say 70-80 degrees instead of the full 90)? I just ask as when I'm pushing the levers down particularly, I have to take my hand entirely off the bar, which can feel a little unstable.
Also, make sure the outer slotted locknut #16 is tight or you will lose it. Many have departed for being a little challenging to tighten and get chewed up by screwdrivers that are not wide enough to engage the whole slot, I use a Craftsman oversize stubby 41586 that works ok and can be held in place good for being short, could be wider and actually needs a slot in the middle to go around the screw that protrude's when it gets tight.

A narrower version similar to a chainring bolt tool seems like what is needed, always wondered if Suntour ever made such a thing?

Paging @pcb
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Old 04-19-21, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
Hi all

Newbie here. Been looking to lose a few quarantine lbs and bought myself a vintage bike recently to help with the process.

Itís the first time Iíve used bar end shifters and they feel kinda stiff to me - problem is Iíve got no frame of reference so not sure if theyíre normal or not.

So my question is how stiff should they be? Should I be able to easily shift them with my pinky/palm like modern ones or should they require my whole hand? Theyíre Suntour shifters if that makes any difference.

Iím not sure if you need more info/pics to be able to tell me, but if you do just let me know!

Thanks in advance!
Welcome aboard, glad you found us, you're in the right place as you can see.

We do need pics (or it didn't happen) always just because.

You need 5 posts X 2 days for 10 to post pics, its an anti spam measure that serves us very well.

Keep responding here, go around and comment on any other threads that interest you to get there.
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Old 04-19-21, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
Hmm - I'm too new to be able to post pics, but I've uploaded a handful to my gallery if you're able to view that?
Man, that's a great looking bike, plenty of Nishiki fans here, somebody may move your pics here,
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Old 04-19-21, 11:41 AM
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Shift levers need periodic internal lubrication no matter where/how they are mounted!

Get the lever assemblies out of their housings and spray with aerosol lubricating oil. It makes a huge difference versus the gummy old lubricant.

And the old-fashioned cabling used on Suntour's Bar-Con shifters was notorious for causing the elasticity of the long cables to be multiplied by cable friction.
Use modern shift cables and good, pre-lubricated SP41 housing for best results, you will be amazed!

Finally, as a last step, do as suggested by others here and set the friction adjustment as light/loose as possible, making sure to secure the locknut firmly using a good screwdriver of the right size. I actually use LocTite on the threads before spinning on the locknuts, but not so much as to spread and soak into to the threading in the adjacent hex nut.

Lastly, for best shifting performance/responsiveness, I use plastic noodle for the cable to slide through the guide at the bb shell, and use modern chain with Uniglide freewheel sprockets, and take all measures needed to adjust the top guide pulley closer to the teeth of the largest freewheel sprocket. The result is race-worthy shifting performance that really helps me enjoy my rides in these ever-undulating foothills, on-road or off.

Many bikes having bar-end shifters also benefit from sawing off an inch from each end of the handlebar, as shown here on this bike's Nitto B105 handlebar:

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Old 04-19-21, 11:42 AM
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See a doctor if your shifter remains stiff for more than 4 hours.

Last edited by jethin; 04-19-21 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-19-21, 11:46 AM
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Old 04-19-21, 11:52 AM
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Old 04-19-21, 12:53 PM
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On my bike, when the rear wheel hits a big bump or drops off a curb, the RD will shift to a smaller cog if the shifter is too loose. So I keep the shifter tight enough to avoid this.
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Old 04-19-21, 01:48 PM
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As has been stated above, you need to keep it tight enough to prevent it from slipping down under the tension of the derailleur spring. In my experience, Suntour rear mechs often have pretty strong return springs compared to more modern stuff, so they may have to be kept tight just to not slip down. I had a Suntour LePree on my Trek that would slip unless the lever was painfully tight. I wanted to use the bike for long rides, but my hand would become fatigued from all the shifting with the stiff lever after even 30 miles, so I had no choice but to change it. I used a newer Shimano XTR and found I could keep the lever a whole lot looser and it would still reliably stay in place.
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Old 04-19-21, 02:50 PM
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Old, gummy lube in a friction shifter is pretty amazing, in that it not only makes moving the lever through it's travel hard work, but it also causes slow slippage while riding.
This viscous action is easily remedied with plain oil, and which usually then works well for several years before needing any further attention.

I've seen the same thing happen inside of the steer tube, where old grease makes it hard to adjust the stem height, yet causes slippage of the handlebar's steering angle while in use.
The good thing is how just a bit of oil frees it up and lets the expander get a good grip against the inside of the steerer.
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Old 04-19-21, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Get the lever assemblies out of their housings and spray with aerosol lubricating oil. It makes a huge difference versus the gummy old lubricant.
When you say aerosol lubricating oil is that like WD40, or would I need to get something specific?

Use modern shift cables and good, pre-lubricated SP41 housing for best results, you will be amazed!
Any recommendations and/or good tutorial vids? I'm extremely new to all this stuff!

Lastly, for best shifting performance/responsiveness, I use plastic noodle for the cable to slide through the guide at the bb shell, and use modern chain with Uniglide freewheel sprockets
OK, I understand all of these words individually, but not in that order! Again, if you know of any good tutorial vids so I can see what you mean, that would be awesome
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Old 04-20-21, 08:54 AM
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So I tried loosening the right shifter yesterday, and if I loosened it enough to make a difference, it had the side effect of making the chain fall off the largest sprocket the moment I let go of the lever. Tightened it back up again, and will try lubricating everything and changing the cables (I'm going to be re-taping the bars shortly anyway).
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Old 04-20-21, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Arnolfini View Post
So I tried loosening the right shifter yesterday, and if I loosened it enough to make a difference, it had the side effect of making the chain fall off the largest sprocket the moment I let go of the lever.
The largest chainring, or the largest cog? In either case, you probably also have a derailleur limit adjustment issue.
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Old 04-20-21, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
The largest chainring, or the largest cog? In either case, you probably also have a derailleur limit adjustment issue.
I think it was just that without any screw tension, the chainb instantly dropped to the smaller cogs.

It's important to loosen it up temporarily to get the lube into the lever pivot bore and the friction surfaces. No worries if the derailer drops down during the lubing task, it'll hold just fine after the screw is re-tightened.

WD40 is mostly solvent, so is only good for a relatively short time before it evaporates away. I buy aerosol lubricating oil for this purpose, works great on all kinds of shifters including STI's, These aerosol lubes foam up a bit so are very good at saturating the entire mechanism:

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Old 04-20-21, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
The largest chainring, or the largest cog? In either case, you probably also have a derailleur limit adjustment issue.
Largest cog - it was just the shift lever being too loose

Originally Posted by dddd View Post
It's important to loosen it up temporarily to get the lube into the lever pivot bore and the friction surfaces. No worries if the derailer drops down during the lubing task, it'll hold just fine after the screw is re-tightened.

WD40 is mostly solvent, so is only good for a relatively short time before it evaporates away. I buy aerosol lubricating oil for this purpose, works great on all kinds of shifters including STI's, These aerosol lubes foam up a bit so are very good at saturating the entire mechanism:
Thanks so much for the tips! Just ordered some tri-flow stuff that looks like it should do the job. With new cables, bar tape and brake hoods on the way, Iíll be rocking before too much longer!
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Old 04-21-21, 07:43 PM
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Sorry, late to the party as usual.

To the best of my recollection there never was a TA-xxx tool for tightening that persnikity and easily lost outer domed locknut. Like merziac sez, a large/wide tip is necessary. Longer shafts/handles are nicer for more easily generating proper torque, but depending on frame size/angles/bar-shape-position/etc the head tube can get in the way of letting a longer screwdriver fit squarely into the slot. Stubby is yer friend then.

It's been a while since I've frequently messed with these, but I seem to recall wanting to also use a screwdriver to hold the pivot bolt in place when tightening the outer locknut, to make sure the tension adjustment didn't change. I can't say that's necessary, meaning I don't particularly remember tightening the locknut resulting in moving the pivot bolt, thus changing the tension adjustment. Might have done it out of an abundance of caution, or ignorance.

And all the friendly advice has been spot on. On a long-unused lever, you want to flush out and relube the innards. And tight enough generally means the minimum tension necessary to prevent slipping. Ghost shifting is too loose.

Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Also, make sure the outer slotted locknut #16 is tight or you will lose it. Many have departed for being a little challenging to tighten and get chewed up by screwdrivers that are not wide enough to engage the whole slot, I use a Craftsman oversize stubby 41586 that works ok and can be held in place good for being short, could be wider and actually needs a slot in the middle to go around the screw that protrude's when it gets tight.

A narrower version similar to a chainring bolt tool seems like what is needed, always wondered if Suntour ever made such a thing?

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