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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 03-12-22, 01:15 PM
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uncle uncle
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Why did bicycle racers in the 60's/70's sometime go with bar-end shifters

Anyone in the C&V community want to throw out their ideas on why bicycle racers in the 60's and 70's might have periodically raced with their bicycles set up with bar-end shifters? What were the bar-end shifters of the day... Campy and Simplex? It was just an observation I took away from the photographs people posted with my earlier questions on M.A.F.A.C. racer brake sets. Theories? Facts? Show us if you got them...
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Old 03-12-22, 01:27 PM
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Easier/quicker to reach for while riding? At least that’s why I prefer them over DT shifters.
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Old 03-12-22, 01:28 PM
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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
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Old 03-12-22, 01:30 PM
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My guess is that they did it for the same reasons we use them now - easier to reach and you can have both hands on the bars whilst shifting, which is a seriously good thing sometimes..

By the time I got into this sport c.1973, they were close to extinction in the pro peloton. Jose Manuel Fuentes was still using them when he dueled with Merckx and Ocana in the first half of the seventies, but nobody else leaps to mind. it is possible they did it because barcons did not slip the way some DT shifters can, but that is a WAG.
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Old 03-12-22, 02:04 PM
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Having put in lots of time with both, I wouldn't want bar end shifters for riding close together in a pack because they're exposed and prone to getting bumped out of position.
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Old 03-12-22, 02:25 PM
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Bar end shift levers also have a "telegraphing" advantage over down tube shift levers. Telegraphing a shift is the ability of other competitors to detect that a shift is going to occur before it actually takes place. Since the arm and hand movements aren't as large with bar end shift levers, other riders are less likely to detect them and/or react as quickly. This can be critical in something like a final sprint.
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Old 03-12-22, 02:26 PM
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So, in the other thread, here:
Teach me the ways of the Mafac Racer
You can see the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx, has is Peugeot outfitted with both types of shifters (bar-end and down tube). Let's assume the photos were taken within a close period of his career... why does Eddy choose different shifters? Different racing strategies?
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Old 03-12-22, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Bar end shift levers also have a "telegraphing" advantage over down tube shift levers.
I can definitely see how bar-ends would be advantageous in this scenario.
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Old 03-12-22, 03:25 PM
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Eddy is also sporting high and low flange hubs in the pics.

I suspect both choices are mostly, if not entirely fashion choices.
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Old 03-12-22, 03:49 PM
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More aero.
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Old 03-12-22, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
More aero.
With all that cable? And sticking down into the full wind instead of behind the headtube and top of the wheel? /
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Old 03-12-22, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
So, in the other thread, here:
Teach me the ways of the Mafac Racer
You can see the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx, has is Peugeot outfitted with both types of shifters (bar-end and down tube). Let's assume the photos were taken within a close period of his career... why does Eddy choose different shifters? Different racing strategies?
Eddy is in Peugeot livery for all those, so you can safely assume they are from 1966 or 1967.

IIRC. Merckx turned pro in 1965 with Rik van Looy’s Solo Superia team (not a happy experience for him), went to Peugeot for the next two years, then to Faema 1968 through 1970 (called Faemino the last year) then on to Molteni from 1970 to 1976, then to Fiat for 1977, then to C&H for his last few days races in 1978.
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Old 03-12-22, 04:39 PM
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I recall a member here, @Slightspeed I think, still has the bar-end equipped Legnano he raced with.
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Old 03-12-22, 06:35 PM
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Judging from photos and information about the races in which Merckx and others switched from downtube to bar-end shifters, it appears they favored bar-end shifters for races or stages with more sketchy pavement, cobbles and gravel, presumably to keep both hands on the bar.

I put bar-end shifters on my Univega hybrid with albatross bars a few years ago and it does help on sketchy terrain. I've considered bar-ends for my Centurion Ironman road bike for the same reason, since some of our group rides include mixed terrain. But I'll probably install a set of either MicroShift 7-speed brifters, or 8-speed Dura Ace brifters. Those are even better for keeping both hands on the bar on sketchy terrain.

I've heard claims that bar-ends have more slop in shifting compared with downtube, but I don't really notice much difference on my bikes. Might depend on the type of downtube shifter. I have Dura-Ace and Ultegra SIS bar-ends that offer indexed or friction shifting. I'm not sure I've ever tried Suntour barcons or other bar-ends.
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Old 03-12-22, 06:42 PM
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The Swiss bikes, Mondias and Allegros, seemed to come with them as standard equipment for quite a while. My cycling coach in the early seventies wouldn't let us use them. He had seen a teammate tear up a knee pretty badly on one.

He did teach us how to upshift a downtube shifter into the smallest cog with your knee in a sprint. (Not that it ever did me any good: I had all the sprinting power of a bull hamster!)
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Old 03-12-22, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
Jose Manuel Fuentes was still using them
Heh....that was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the thread title.
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Old 03-12-22, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
I recall a member here, @Slightspeed I think, still has the bar-end equipped Legnano he raced with.
Yes, I got my Legnano Roma new in 1965 as a junior racer. It came with Campagnolo bar ends which I loved. I guess I didn't know any better, because they worked for me. I rode my first junior race on a boat anchor Schwinn Continental, so the Legnano was a huge step up for me, and I thought the bar ends were really cool. Still do. That said, I have Suntour bar ends on two other vintage bikes and the ratcheting mechanism is far superior to the Campy ones on my Legnano. I love the Legnano, still ride it and have no plans to change them. I have an old Peugeot PR10 with down tube Simplex shifters. I prefer my bar ends any day.​​All the reasons to use them have been mentioned here, ease of operation, easier to modulate gear selection, plus I'm a fairly tall rider, and its a long reach down to the down tube shifters, and just feels plain awkward.

Last edited by Slightspeed; 03-12-22 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 03-12-22, 09:15 PM
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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.

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Old 03-12-22, 09:24 PM
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Putting barcons on your bike in the 70s was like dropping your gloves in hockey. it meant that you were serious about riding crits( what else was there?) and you were prepared to take no prisoners in a sprint. If you didn’t have to let go of the bars, you could throw an elbow and up shift at the same time.
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Old 03-12-22, 09:32 PM
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@Slightspeed, it's a beautiful bike, and when I saw this thread I remembered seeing it posted before.
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Old 03-12-22, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
@Slightspeed, it's a beautiful bike, and when I saw this thread I remembered seeing it posted before.
Thanks so much. I love this old bike. Following the last pre-Covid Eroica, I came across a cousin to mine at a price too good to pass up. It was a 1961 Gran Premio, blue like mine, with lots of frame "patina", Campy down tube shifters, but too small in the frame, so I moved it on. Fun bike, but besides being too small, I hated the downtube shifters.



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Old 03-12-22, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
@Slightspeed, it's a beautiful bike, and when I saw this thread I remembered seeing it posted before.
Thanks so much. I love this old bike. Following the last pre-Covid Eroica, I came across a cousin to mine at a price too good to pass up. It was a 1961 Gran Premio, blue like mine, with lots of frame "patina", Campy down tube shifters, but too small in the frame, so I moved it on. Fun bike, but besides being too small, I hated the downtube shifters.



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Old 03-12-22, 11:11 PM
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I’ve heard it was most common for crits, and that people would cut off some of the drop bar ends to shorten the level part. That way you could go quickly from brakes to shifters with little hand movement
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Old 03-13-22, 01:14 AM
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Some riders, like Godefroot, used them for the cobbled classics only, mainly Paris-Roubaix. All hands on bar, all the time!



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Old 03-13-22, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by vtchuck View Post
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

Someone stupidly showed me that little trick once. He was a friend of a friend that went on a lunch break ride with us now and then. He was nicely chatting with me and the next thing I new it was very hard to pedal. He reached down pushed my DT shifter all the way down and took off for the Town Line Sprint with Eric candy I was like .

So I added that my little bag of fun Peleton tricks like sprinting around a bend in the road and hiding behind the bushes or a van, or grabbing a seat bag and gradually letting someone pull me along. The coupe de Grace was unplugging the boss’s ZAP rear derailleur one morning. I miss those guys and those great rides.


as the the bar cons, I knew a few guys who liked them for “Crits” since they spent most of the time in the drops anyway.


I don’t have any experience with them so we’re the early Campagnolo and Shipmano ones retro friction like Suntour?
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