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Why do C&V Riders scoff at stem mounted shifters?

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Why do C&V Riders scoff at stem mounted shifters?

Old 09-18-22, 07:58 PM
  #26  
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.
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You have converted a road racing bike into a "comfort" bike. You are not allowed to participate in this discussion....

Originally Posted by albrt View Post
I like stem shifters. The current build for this Montagner has stem shifters (along with mismatched turkey levers).



This is just a temporary setup to test ride the bike, but I will very likely keep the stem shifters. I plan to ride it mostly in town, so not down in the drops much, and it is part of the urban camouflage. What self-respecting thief would take a bike with stem shifters and turkey levers?
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Old 09-18-22, 07:59 PM
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Yup. Nobody else wanted it. I tried to put 32mm tires on it but they wouldn't quite fit.

By the way, I would agree with the folks who say stem shifters are not optimal for racing, but they are nice for touring and casual riding.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
At the bike shop I worked in my racing days, we used to tell male customers to think about what part of their anatomy might meet that shifter in a crash and did more than a few conversions to DT shifters on new bikes. As I entered the hotel lobby the night before my last race, an older gentleman approached me to tell me he had done exactly that.
Did he by chance have a high pitched voice?
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Old 09-18-22, 08:13 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
I agree that Stem Shifters are taking a bad rap. Finding a nice set of affordable Stem or Down Tube shifters is becoming a real chore...
That's just it, some of the stem shifters are better than others, especially Schwinn's, which technically aren't stem shifters at all, but mount to a headset spacer bracket which cleverly positions the lever axes ahead of the stem/steerer axis (making room for longer levers), and also positions those levers lower. A comfortable, "S"-logo'd knob shape even graced the tip of Schwinn's "Twin Stik" levers.

Schwinn even had a retrofriction version of their headset-mounted shifters, the levers themselves being one-way-clutched Shimano UniShift levers, having rubber tip covers. Their retrofriction action meant that the protruding levers didn't need to be quite as long to easily downshift the rear derailer.

The added run of cable/ housing (as with bar-end levers) can be a real drawback though, especially as Schwinn's cable stops at the levers (and frame tubes) don't immediately accommodate the size of ferrules that modern shift cable housing requires (hard-to-find 4x5mm metal ferrules do exist, just very hard to find today).
So the shift action might feel more "rubbery" at the lever if modern derailer cable housing isn't used, as when suitably thin (or stepped) ferrules aren't at hand when prepping one of these bikes.

Suntour made a Schwinn-sized (i.e. relatively long) set of true stem shifters that similarly positioned the lever pivots ahead of or behind the stem quill (that's right, there were two versions), presumably to accomodate different stem lengths! These levers had chunky, rubber-covered tips, and the rear derailer's lever featured their Power Ratchet!
Using and cannibalizing two pairs of Suntour's chunky stem levers, one can move one of the ratcheted right levers to the left side of the pair that is to be used, creating a dual-ratcheted pair of levers.

As far as the awkwardness of using "stem" levers from the drops (as when riding in "sporting" mode), one can get used to them pretty quickly, at least if the cables are running in lined housing paths for lighter shifting force (and if the chain, freewheel and derailer are well-matched).
Over time, on many spirited rides, I've adjusted to the occasional knee-strike against these levers while riding off of the saddle for steep climbs or perhaps sprinting.
Taking this to the next level, I've learned to make clean upshifts (to a smaller, "taller" rear cog ratio) using my knee, without having to return to the seated position. The standard Schwinn "Twin Stik" levers (as well as Suntour's own "Big Bertha" version) are among the best levers for this, because of their longer travel out at the end of the lever (and with no sharp corners on their respective lever tips).

By this decade, I think that any "stigma" of using stem shift levers or even old-school auxiliary brake levers has by now been almost entirely replaced by curiosity and nostalgia, though the old-timer's comments about "crotch-area injuries" or "suicide levers" persists so as to at least make for some conversation.

Bikes like the Schwinn Varsity often got a bad rap perhaps as much as from poorly-maintained cables as from their poor saddle, thin 22mm handlebar, gross weight and sluggish geometry. Getting an older bike set up to high standards (using modern chain, cables and a good freewheel) just might change a person's opinion of the bike, or similarly, their opinion of "stem" mounted shift levers. Riding a well-sorted Schwinn Supersport proves to be a lot of fun even with Schwinn's big "stem" levers!

Here's a pair of the Suntour stem levers that came mounted on a boxy bracket that was offered in two versions for use with longer or shorter stems. These have been installed on a downtube clamp as shown. Not shown here, but both levers are now right-side levers, so both are ratcheted. It's a great lever set for operating an Allvit (or other stiffly-sprung derailer, such as a Campagnolo Gran Turismo, Velox or Valentino).




And here's a picture (at right) showing Schwinn's headset-mounted Twin-Stik bracket, as originally fitted with Shimano's UniShift retrofriction levers:



Lastly, here are a pair of Suntour's "Big Bertha" stem levers as mounted on an early-70's Concord DeLuxe. Note this version features the boxy mounting bracket and lever pivot shaft mounted behind the stem quill, inappropriate for this long of a stem:




Schwinn's non-standard frame tube diameters (as used on the Supersport or Varsity) seem to beg for the use of stem levers, as few if any DT lever clamps will fit!



Last edited by dddd; 09-18-22 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:14 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
Stem shifters may be more "convenient" psychologically, but certainly not more "ergonomic". If they were, racers would use them more.
A racer's first priority isn't ergonomics, it's speed. I wouldn't call a flat back riding position ergonomic, but it is aerodynamic.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:16 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by jethin View Post
A racer's first priority isn't ergonomics, it's speed. I wouldn't call a flat back riding position ergonomic, but it is aerodynamic.
When you're flat-back riding, what's more ergonomic, DT or Stem shifters?
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Old 09-18-22, 08:21 PM
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To add to what others have said, stem shifters are easy to reach when you're riding with an upright posture, but much harder to reach than downtube shifters when you're leaning forwards. Stem shifters end up too close to your chest, while downtube shifters are about the same distance from your shoulders as the drops are.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:22 PM
  #33  
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Some folks up top questioned why this topic is in C&V. Do any current bikes use stem shifters? I see a decent number of bikes pass through our charity shop, but I can't recall seeing any recent bikes with stem shifters.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:39 PM
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I won't repeat what everyone else has said, as it's been summarized quite well.

I'll just add that the Super Tourer and upright-bar variants thereof were probably the only bikes of the time that made sense to come from the factory with stem shifters - in their era.




Mind, the moment thumbies came onto the scene, stem shifters became irrelevant, IMHO. I still avoid them today, even on upright bar builds. Yes, stem shifters make a lot more sense on upright bar builds than drop bar builds from an ergonomic standpoint, but they're still not ergonomically friendly when upright - shifts at near instant of desire are not a thing, and it stinks in an urban environment (YMMV in rural areas and quiet towns).

Personally, I find there are too many nice options in modern thumb shifters today - even though very few of them look C&V - but they're so much more ergonomically friendly that I'll give in to them if I have this choice to make. Case in point:



This is IGH, not derailleur, but I knew I wanted under-the-bar thumb-and-index finger control of all shifts from the start, and even the choice of a Nexus 8 was predicated on the need for there to be a non-stem and non-twist shifter available for that hub that would fit the bar and not come off as a huge wart. Luckily, Microshift did have this option, which I still think is a bit ungainly, but it works.

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Old 09-18-22, 08:41 PM
  #35  
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We just like scoffing at stuff.
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Old 09-18-22, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
We just like scoffing at stuff.
Ugh!

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Old 09-18-22, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by albrt View Post
.. I can't recall seeing any recent bikes with stem shifters.
Paddle shifters- the spiritual heir to stem shifters
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Old 09-18-22, 09:24 PM
  #38  
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I have not seen those. I guess I would say you are right.
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Old 09-18-22, 10:20 PM
  #39  
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I always hit them with my knees when getting out of the saddle to climb or sprint, as mentioned above. Some of my C&V friends and family call them "knee shifters" for this reason. That's why I wouldn't use 'em.
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Old 09-18-22, 10:44 PM
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Yeah, why don’t those track racers use stem shifters on their fixies? Makes no sense to me.
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Old 09-18-22, 11:33 PM
  #41  
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Non-scoffer here. And not a scared newby either.

I probably was a bit elitist and snobby BITD but I'm better now. <brag> I have ridden probably 100,000 miles, raced road, track, cyclocross, MTB (briefly held a NORBA Pro license), competed in Observed Trials in Expert class, and played over 100 games of bike polo. Toured across North America with camping gear, and commuted in the city for decades. I built custom frames that were raced in two Olympics, a silver at Worlds, gold at Pan-Am Games, and too many Nationals medals to count. </brag>

Now the bike I ride most often has stem shifters (well actually headset-mounted). OK I rarely ride it more than 3 miles at a stretch; it's a grocery-getter. '73 Schwinn Super Sport with semi-upright riding position ("sporty", not omafiets). Original Schwinn shifters that weigh some fraction of a ton, but I kinda like 'em. My next new bike (planned but not started yet) will replace the SS as grocery-getter, but it'll be an IGH, no stem shifters. It's not like I love stem shifters, but I tolerate them on the right bike

I'm very aware of keeping my crotch away from them during any unplanned dismount. Never have hit them with my knee, a problem some others report. I have shifted to a higher gear in back accidentally while standing over the toptube, which is annoying when I start back up and it completes the shift with a loud crunch. I definitely don't love that, especiallly if anyone else is around to witness it! Thankfully rare or I'd have ditched them by now.

Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Suntour made a Schwinn-sized (i.e. relatively long) set of true stem shifters that similarly positioned the lever pivots ahead of or behind the stem quill (that's right, there were two versions), presumably to accomodate different stem lengths! These levers had chunky, rubber-covered tips, and the rear derailer's lever featured their Power Ratchet!
Using and cannibalizing two pairs of Suntour's chunky stem levers, one can move one of the ratcheted right levers to the left side of the pair that is to be used, creating a dual-ratcheted pair of levers.
Everything you said is true and useful, except if you imply Suntour never made stem shifters with Power Ratchet on both sides. They did; I have some (OEM, not cannibalized). They have a Motobecane logo sticker on them and they came on a couple models of Motos in the early-mid '70s.

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Old 09-19-22, 01:57 AM
  #42  
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I think it's a US thing. In Europe You saw these seldom, even the cheapest 'racing' bikes had down tube shifters.



In my opinion it's ugly and more dangerous a down tube shifters.
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Old 09-19-22, 02:37 AM
  #43  
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I always found my knees would hit them when I would get out of the saddle to pedal uphill or just to go fast. This was bad not because it hurt my knees but because it would cause the bike to suddenly shift gears and I would lurch forward almost crashing. I got rid of them pretty quickly on both of those bikes.

Also the guy who mutilated that Montagner frame, please sell me that frame I will do it justice and you could buy a bike better suited to your needs!
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Old 09-19-22, 07:15 AM
  #44  
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Stopping to help a gentleman car doored in the Adelaide CBD and seeing the resultant injury from stems well above the bars I would not have them on any of the families bikes.
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Old 09-19-22, 07:38 AM
  #45  
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If you wear white socks with sandals, and have plastic pink flamingos in your front yard, you probably have stem shifters too.
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Old 09-19-22, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
If you wear white socks with sandals, and have plastic pink flamingos in your front yard, you probably have stem shifters too.
I resemble that remark and don't have stem shifters. Bikesist.



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Old 09-19-22, 08:20 AM
  #47  
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My top-tube mounted shifters scoff at your stem shifters.



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Old 09-19-22, 08:29 AM
  #48  
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nlerner - you’re the best…

From the website that people like to hate on;

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Old 09-19-22, 09:02 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
My top-tube mounted shifters scoff at your stem shifters.
Very interested in how you ran the cables...
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Old 09-19-22, 09:31 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
Very interested in how you ran the cables...
I can't speak for nlerner but traditionally with Sturmey, you use a pulley attached near the top of the seat tube, just below the TT joint.

On my old bike with an old S-5, which needs cables on both sides, I made myself a clip-on with pulleys both sides. I don't think Sturmey ever made those, someone correct me if that's wrong.



On that bike, the right-side shifter is a trigger on the handlebar, and the left is top-tube mounted Cyclo (the British one, not the French company of the same name.)


That TT lever points forward or just the amount back shown in the pic, never further back, so impromptu vasectomy is not likely. If I were to hit it, it's just flop over forward.

One-owner Super Course, I bought it new in 1971. I doesn't get many miles these days but I can't bring myself to sell it, for sentimental reasons.
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