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Why did bicycle racers in the 60's/70's sometime go with bar-end shifters

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Why did bicycle racers in the 60's/70's sometime go with bar-end shifters

Old 03-13-22, 06:03 AM
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I had a barcon for criteriums. back in 70/80's. In the 90's I had STi. You're in the drops anyway and the ability to shift quickly when sprinting was a big advantage. Let's say you jumped in the 15. If you want to bang the 14 or 13 with DT shifters, I had to sit and then get back up off the saddle. With barcons, you could stay on power. I also had them on my touring bike for similar reasons climbing steep hills with a heavy load.
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Old 03-13-22, 06:25 AM
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When my wife decided she no longer wanted to ride in traffic, I built her a mountain bike and took over the UO-8, which I promptly converted from Peugeot UO-18 style flat bars and stem shifters to drops and SunTour ratcheting non-indexed barcons, with which I am delighted. I have another set I plan to use for the Carlton Franco-Suisse, which had already been converted by a prior owner to 1970s era SunTour derailleurs and freewheel and Sugino Mighty Compe cranks, so they'll fit right in.

My UO-8 with barcon cables routed between the rack and the cylindrical Bellwether front bag.
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Old 03-13-22, 09:07 AM
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I raced around the midwest in the mid 70's. I can remember only one guy that used bar-end shifters. He won a lot of races, went on to be a National champion and Olympic medalist. Downtube shifters were pretty standard.
Another racer that went on to garner a National champions jersey was the only guy I ever saw use Cinelli pedals. That was unique.
There was a lot of innovation going on in the mid to late 70's. Teledyne Titans, Grafteks, Weyless, Hi-E, Pino. Lots of experimentation. But in general the Campanolo Nuovo/Super Record was the standard.

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Old 03-13-22, 09:14 AM
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The one problem I had with bar cons was smashing my right knee into it when sprinting. I sawed an inch off the end of the Cinelli 66-42 bars to solve that issue. I probably was doing something wrong naturally but the barend would get me right at the top of the knee
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Old 03-13-22, 11:00 AM
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I have a 1972 Mondia that came with Campy bar end shifters. I left them on because they were original to the bike and they work fine, but I prefer DT shifting myself. It always takes me a few miles to get used to NOT reaching down to shift whenever I ride the bike. The only problem I ever had was my fault when I crashed and went over the bars on that bike (don't worry the bike is ok!) . The bars were turned towards the left as I crashed so the bar end burried itself in my thigh so now I have a scar where it inserted into my flesh. I guess I could say they are a safety hazard , but really , if you ride the bike instead of trying some fancy acrobatic trick like I did they are convenient and , if one got used to them , probably faster shifting.
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Old 03-13-22, 11:22 AM
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I installed them in the late 1970s because I thought it made more sense to keep my hands on the handlebars than to reach to the downtube. If I was building a bike with friction shifting today, I think I'd be inclined to use them again.
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Old 03-13-22, 01:59 PM
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You can see some riders using them mounted on some famous brands in the classic "60 Cycles."

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Old 03-13-22, 02:22 PM
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I've never rode a bike with them. But today I got a parts bike with them on it and I was thinking I'd list them for sale here knowing that a lot of people like them. Just fiddling with them when I rolled the bike into my storage room I can tell I think I would like them. I usually take a bike for a spin around the block just for giggles and to say I did when I bring them home. I'm going to see if I can get the tires to hold air and loosen the chain up enough to take it around the block just to get a feel of them.
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Old 03-13-22, 02:44 PM
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I tried the things on two different bikes... Only lasted 2-3 days on either one. Made me try stem shifters tho just fer grins and those actually were pretty cool. I've many times wished that someone would make a way zoot stem mount for DA levers. And brifters are OK, but even in my old age downtube shifters are still the True Path.
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Old 03-13-22, 09:40 PM
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Hi Folks,
I have an English club racer from the mid 60s (66?) with braze-ons for bar ends. I had the opportunity to communicate with the frame builder and ask him about them. He said that amateur racers liked them because they enabled them to focus more on their riding while not worrying so much about shifting. A bit of history, the frame was built by Bill Soens. He built about 1000 frames in the 60s. These were primarily for his father's shop in Liverpool, England, but he also supplied other local shops and racers. His father, Eddie Soens was a coach in addition to be a shop owner.
Just another bit of info about early use of bar-ends.
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Old 03-14-22, 01:55 AM
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my guess is it is just personal preference. shifting in that era was friction and relied a lot on muscle memory. maybe some riders had issues with their back and wanted to avoid having to bend down constantly. as for allowing gear changes while sprinting, im not sold on that argument. one still has to release the handlebar with one hand and that is not a wise thing to do when sprinting full out, and that generation of riders wasnt shifting around a lot, the mindset was rather if the gear feels to hard, pedal harder - that at least is what a guy who raced in that time (team member for olympics 72) told me
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Old 03-14-22, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Senior Ryder 00
Hi Folks,
I have an English club racer from the mid 60s (66?) with braze-ons for bar ends.
Love to see a pic or two Van...that's a new one.

Interesting thread.
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Old 03-14-22, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by vtchuck
I remember hearing that the advantage was that you could keep both hands on the bars while shifting in a hard sprint. Disadvantages: The longer cables changed the shifting feel and another rider could reach over and shift you out of your gear.

Probably all BS
This is what I have heard before both on the quick shifting, especially when used for hilly criteriums, like the cats hill in los gatos. and on slamming a competitors shifter
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Old 03-14-22, 07:26 PM
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Smacking a knee into the bar-ends probably indicates an inappropriate bike fit. Usually because the handlebar ends are too narrow, too long, or both. It may also indicate a crankset/pedal Q-factor that's too wide, although that gets into some tricky ergonomics. A cyclist with narrow shoulders but wide hips might find it trickier to get the perfect fit to work with bar-end shifters, because the wider knee stance is more likely to smack the bar-ends.

I'm 64, 5'11" and still *can* get my healthy weight down to 145 lbs, my amateur boxing welterweight class decades ago... although I'm more comfy at around 150-155 lbs although I'm wearing a bit of pudge around the waistline that's always a telltale sign that I'm not at my peak fitness. So while I *can* use 38cm wide bars (and do on one road bike, although they flare a bit to 40cm wide at the bar ends), it can cause minor problems with my bar-end mirror on the left side. I have chronic neck pain and limited mobility due to injuries and cervical stenosis, so I can't easily turn my head to peek over my shoulder. I always wear a mirror on my helmet, on the handlebar, sometimes both. I use streamlined bar-end mirrors on my road bikes, with ball and socket joints that hold position through any road jolts, but can be knocked askew by an errant knee when I stand to stomp up a climb. No biggie, I just flick the mirror back into position by feel, then fine tune it as needed. But nowadays I prefer 42cm width, or bars that are narrow at the top and flare at the bottoms.

No problems with the bar-ends on my hybrid with Nitto Albatross bars. Those flare out enough to clear my knees (54cm wide at the bar-ends). However I do need to cut about 1/2" to one inch off the bar ends to give myself a bit more clearance for tight slow speed turns. A few times in group rides on the multi-use path I've run out of handlebar turning radius around pedestrian bridges and U-turns. I've had to stop and paddle-waddle walk while straddling the bike, much to the annoyance of fellow riders on bikes with proper width flat bars.

One local club I ride with occasionally features rides with old school steel bikes, which reminds me of how narrow standard handlebars were on many racing bikes back in the day. The narrowest I've seen was 36cm on an old school crit bike. Looks pretty -- those bikes are sleek and svelte compared with contemporary bikes -- but bar-end shifters would be a mess on that bike. Most of us use downtube shifters on our old school steelies, although a couple of folks use brifters.

Bike fit theories vary on bar width. The contemporary conventional wisdom seems to be that it's better to use somewhat wider bars to enable the chest to expand fully. But the massively muscular Chris Hoy reportedly favored 38cm wide bars. Although he didn't need to worry about bar-end shifters, mirrors, etc., on his track bikes. Meanwhile, aero gains from skinsuits, helmets, etc., may offer more advantages than narrow bars, so a cyclist who preferred wider bars may not lose much, if anything, after attending to every other aero gain.
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Old 03-15-22, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll
I don’t have any experience with them so we’re the early Campagnolo and Shipmano ones retro friction like Suntour?
In a word: No.
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Old 03-15-22, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
and on slamming a competitors shifter
Was that really a thing outside of "breaking away"? I never heard about that from our veterans. Doing that to someone just to gain an advantage on a climb would certainly buy you no friends at all in a pack, and there are always ways to "retribute" although not as camera friendly maybe. I imagine the "capos" in any given field would not look too kindly on that kind of shenanigans, grabbing at someone else's handlebars, as it puts everyone in that group at a considerable risk of crashing. Maybe as a retribution if someone was riding very, very stupidly *and* had no standing at all in the Peloton, but I highly doubt it was a permanent risk.

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Old 03-15-22, 06:59 AM
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Maybe it is just me but when I see pics like this I think that's gone beyond patina and crossed over into neglect. Not reason that can't at least be minimized by a little proactive cleaning and protection.

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Old 03-15-22, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude
Maybe it is just me but when I see pics like this I think that's gone beyond patina and crossed over into neglect. Not reason that can't at least be minimized by a little proactive cleaning and protection.
You may put your worries to rest. That particular frame, which @Slightspeed was nice enough to pass along to me, is now owned by an old friend of mine, a framebuilder with 40 years of experience, who has done a lot of very nice restorations to bikes in much worse shape than that.



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Old 03-15-22, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by martl
Was that really a thing outside of "breaking away"? I never heard about that from our veterans. Doing that to someone just to gain an advantage on a climb would certainly buy you no friends at all in a pack, and there are always ways to "retribute" although not as camera friendly maybe. I imagine the "capos" in any given field would not look too kindly on that kind of shenanigans, grabbing at someone else's handlebars, as it puts everyone in that group at a considerable risk of crashing. Maybe as a retribution if someone was riding very, very stupidly *and* had no standing at all in the Peloton, but I highly doubt it was a permanent risk.
Never once saw anyone do this in a race. On a training ride? Sure. But that would be among friends and it would have been done as one of the on going pranks that people who trained together did. Like filling an unsuspecting rider’s tires with water before the ride.
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Old 03-15-22, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by martl
Was that really a thing outside of "breaking away"? I never heard about that from our veterans. Doing that to someone just to gain an advantage on a climb would certainly buy you no friends at all in a pack, and there are always ways to "retribute" although not as camera friendly maybe. I imagine the "capos" in any given field would not look too kindly on that kind of shenanigans, grabbing at someone else's handlebars, as it puts everyone in that group at a considerable risk of crashing. Maybe as a retribution if someone was riding very, very stupidly *and* had no standing at all in the Peloton, but I highly doubt it was a permanent risk.
no direct experience, but heard this from people who rode the Cat's Hill criterium, back in the day who don't tend to tell "bike stories...like sea stories.... start with "no bs this really happened" "
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Old 03-15-22, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman
Love to see a pic or two Van...that's a new one.

Interesting thread.
Here they are:


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Old 03-15-22, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Senior Ryder 00
Here they are:

Thanks...I blanked out, thinking there were custom mounts on the bars for some reason. My idiocy at it's finest.
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Old 03-16-22, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Slightspeed
My Legnano, had since new in 1965, Campy bar ends, still loving them, and the bike. Picture is 2016 Eroica California.


Me, junior racer, on the new Legnano, 1965.

Our club, me on the right.
Very cool photo of the Bakersfield Wheelmen Steve. A little before my time, I started riding/training/racing in 1972. Wondering if you purchased your Legnano in Bakersfield or LA? Great shot of you climbing China Grade. Can you tell me the colors of your club jersey? We sort of revived the group in the mid 70's with the same style (diagonally split in red and white with "Bakersfield Wheelmen" in blue letters)
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Old 03-17-22, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by glenfong
Very cool photo of the Bakersfield Wheelmen Steve. A little before my time, I started riding/training/racing in 1972. Wondering if you purchased your Legnano in Bakersfield or LA? Great shot of you climbing China Grade. Can you tell me the colors of your club jersey? We sort of revived the group in the mid 70's with the same style (diagonally split in red and white with "Bakersfield Wheelmen" in blue letters)
Yes, the Kucharik (still in business) jerseys were diagonal red and white. I didn't really like them, they were some kind of synthetic nylon or something, and were track jerseys with no back pockets. We used them mainly for short club training races. I wore a red white and blue wool jersey for most races, with "Bakersfield" lettered on the back. We werent allowed any sponsor logos then. One funny thing, a local sign shop put lettering on the club jersies spelled "Bakersfield" wrong (left out the "i"), so we had the curving "Bakersfield" arrow banner made to fix it. We also had warm up suits lettered for the wheelmen. I got my Legnano from Bicycle Center, on 18th St, I think. Long gone now, but may have survived into the 70s. They gave us some support on bike discounts, parts, and let us have club meetings there. The shop owner was a nice guy named Bernie. I traded my nearly mint condition Schwinn Continental for the Legnano, which we got for $175 in 1964. Here are some scans of the Wheelmen. My dad was a semi pro photographer and took a lot of pictures of us. I was on a charity ride a few years ago, and came up on a guy in a Kern Wheelmen jersey. We chatted awhile, and I told him I was from Bakersfield. He said, "That's a good place to be from".

https://goo.gl/photos/W4QPTZ7KtYqBKi1Z7




This Jersey almost fits ... almost. The red/white club one, not so much.



Bicycle Center was on 19th St.

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Old 03-18-22, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Slightspeed
Yes, the Kucharik (still in business) jerseys were diagonal red and white. I didn't really like them, they were some kind of synthetic nylon or something, and were track jerseys with no back pockets. We used them mainly for short club training races. I wore a red white and blue wool jersey for most races, with "Bakersfield" lettered on the back. We werent allowed any sponsor logos then. One funny thing, a local sign shop put lettering on the club jersies spelled "Bakersfield" wrong (left out the "i"), so we had the curving "Bakersfield" arrow banner made to fix it. We also had warm up suits lettered for the wheelmen. I got my Legnano from Bicycle Center, on 18th St, I think. Long gone now, but may have survived into the 70s. They gave us some support on bike discounts, parts, and let us have club meetings there. The shop owner was a nice guy named Bernie. I traded my nearly mint condition Schwinn Continental for the Legnano, which we got for $175 in 1964. Here are some scans of the Wheelmen. My dad was a semi pro photographer and took a lot of pictures of us. I was on a charity ride a few years ago, and came up on a guy in a Kern Wheelmen jersey. We chatted awhile, and I told him I was from Bakersfield. He said, "That's a good place to be from".

https://goo.gl/photos/W4QPTZ7KtYqBKi1Z7




This Jersey almost fits ... almost. The red/white club one, not so much.



Bicycle Center was on 19th St.
back
The jerseys we used also came from Kucharik! Also made of nylon/rayon synthetic, no pockets. We used to tuck the jerseys into our shorts. Bicycle Center & Bernie Foxal! He would always be whistling whenever we stopped by his shop on Chester & 8th. I had heard he moved from another location downtown. Maybe it was too close to his former empoyer, Vincent's Cyclery. I always wanted to get a Raleigh Professional after seeing his on display on the back wall. Your pictures look like our training rides on Round Mtn Road, and the Bena Road towards Caliente & Bear Mountain. I noticed a guy with a Montrose jersey in the last photo of the album. You must have known Charlie Morton & his son Harry?
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