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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 09-21-22, 05:03 PM
  #76  
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"Geezer" modifications are pretty de-rigeur around here, ...and I see that you've also got the water bottle up where it can be easily reached!
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Old 09-21-22, 05:27 PM
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I've always liked handlebar bottle cages. I had a TA handlebar bottle cage on my first "ten-speeder", but I declined to pay $200 for a vintage one.
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Old 09-21-22, 06:30 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post


“Maybe I’d be interested if he had stem shifters…”
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Old 10-27-22, 07:14 PM
  #79  
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Just a quick report on the Montagner camouflage project - even with stem shifters and turkey levers, I get more "nice bike" comments on this bike than on my Paramount Elite. So I guess the camouflage failed.
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Old 10-27-22, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76 View Post
Luckily I did not ask BF members for permission or approval before putting on a taller stem and stem shifters as one of my first geezer modifications, primarily for safety reasons, as it's a long reach down there for me on my 26-inch frame, and I am not as flexible as I used to be.



Fredo at Rio Grande

They are working well for me, almost as well as DT shifters, with the stiff, skinny Jagwire cables, and the Suntour barrel-style shifters. I always thought that the separate barrel looked kinda clunky and heavy, but boy does it work well. Just one JIS screwdriver to tighten, and it won't scratch up your stem, either.



Suntour stem shifters are just so cool!

My magnificant 'cockpit', above, and I typed that with a straight face!
Oh hells yeah. Stunning. Practical for those who can't bend over like we were in our twenties. Stunning color. Beautiful bike.
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Old 12-03-22, 09:12 PM
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Further update on the Montagner - it finally got upgraded with a set of 40 cm Cinelli bars and stem, along with Cinelli bar tape. After considerable searching I was able to find a matching set of the kind of turkey levers I like. Still has the stem shifters.
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Old 12-03-22, 11:37 PM
  #82  
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Having used all kinds of shifters - relevant to this discussion: downtube, stem and bar end - I find that bar end shifters are much easier ergonomically for me than stem shifters. Let's say you're riding on the hoods or tops of the bar, the way most of us recreational riders ride most of the time. It's easier (for me) to just let the hand drop down to the bar end to shift compared to lifting it up and moving it to the center of the bike Less movement. Seems quite a bit more stable, and much more natural. You don't have to even think about what you're reaching for. Not true for stem shifters, imo and, less chance to get the balance wonky. And add to that, the occasional riding in the drops, it's even better. So, I think stem shifters don't have anything on bar ends. I'm late 60s fwiw and still enjoy down tube shifters on one of my bikes.
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Old 12-04-22, 07:35 AM
  #83  
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Whenever topics like this come up, I always notice that those who raced in their younger days seem to have the higher standards. I don't know that they are always being snobbish or putting down other equipment. But I suspect they have experienced better and so they would not settle for less. I also suspect that as they were racing they have a greater interest in cycling than members that simply rode casually until they switched to driving and so may represent a larger sampling of the population interested in classic and vintage bikes here on the forum. As a result, it is easy to understand why classic and vintage bikes are esteemed higher than bikes that are simply more vintage than classic like bike boom bikes. Additionally I think when someone points out that something like stem shifter are an indicator of lower end bikes in the C&V world, it is an honest statement not necessarily a scoff.

Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
I guess they're OK if they are original equipment, and one is trying to keep a bike as original as possible.

Why one would use them willingly in any other application is beyond me. Same with (un)safety levers.
Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Oh, but the answer to why C&V riders are rarely interested in stem-mounted shifters and turkey levers has to do with why people collect things like bikes, or cars, or watches. Most collectors seem to be most interested in the things they WANTED when they were younger, not the things they HAD. Guys who grew up in families that owned Ford Galaxies and Falcons collect Mustangs and T-birds, not Galaxies and Falcons. Hence, guys like me who grew up with heavy, generic "10 speeds", but wanted a lightweight racing bike collect lightweight racing bikes. So, no stem-mounted levers.
Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
It's just a tell tale sign of a low end bike. Typically will have high ten steel frame, stamped dropouts, turkey levers, etc. There are ALWAYS exceptions!
I can respect how someone would change the originality of a bike if it is something that they want to do to their bike because they want to. But I often wonder how many times not only stem shifters but spoke protectors, reflectors and safety levers have been removed or replaced due to people reading that is what they should do for some reason.

And I grew up with cheap department/hardware store bikes. My first "good" bike was a lower to mid level bike boom Takara. So I totally understand the desire to find something I wanted but I also enjoy revisiting my youth by having what I did have that made me memories. I have a Takara one model down from the one I had in high school and is original save for tubes, tires brake pads and bar tape. Hi-ten, stamped drop-outs, stem shifters, Cat-Eyes, and safety levers intact for over 40 years deserve to stay IMHO. I also have an original Takara one model up from my high school ride with down-tube shifters and I clearly prefer them over the stem mounts even for the casual riding I do on it. Piggy backing off of genejockey's comment, I would be hard pressed to make a decision between a '67 Camaro that has had a rough life and all the modifications Hot Rod Magazine advocated for and a pristine all original '66 Impala like my dad had. I still look for nicer bikes from time to time to acquire, but I also like them to be as original as possible.

Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Having used all kinds of shifters - relevant to this discussion: downtube, stem and bar end - I find that bar end shifters are much easier ergonomically for me than stem shifters.
I have a thing where I like to bring old bikes I acquire home and take a spin around the block before overhauling them. Last year I bought a Carabela with Suntour bar ends and I had never rode a bike with bar ends before. That spin around the block has me eager to get that bike on the road. As neglected as that bike was, I could tell the shifters were going to probably be one of my favorite things about it.

Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.
But the additional cable housing just complicates life, and the simplicity of DT shifters is aesthetically more pleasing
This I relate to. I always notice my bikes with down-tube shifters and a minimum of cable housing just look so much better than the one with stem mounted shifters when I'm pulling the car out of the garage.
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Old 12-04-22, 09:42 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Poor performance when compared to downtube shifting.
And yet, the additional cabling and subsequently mushier shifting of bar end shifters never seems to detract from their acceptance from the purists! I suspect that the “tucked” position of the rider whilst operating both DT and bar end shifters made them more acceptable. I originally scoffed at them BITD, but I have grown to appreciate the better made versions, especially the ratcheting versions by Suntour and Huret. For commuting or city bikes, they were an improvement to DT shifters.
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Old 12-04-22, 10:16 AM
  #85  
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@dddd - Didn't know about cutting the bar. Makes too much sense for me at times!

I tried bar ends on the Trek test assembly.
114_PaTrek on Flickr
I did hit my knee a coulple of times but since the cable stop braze on was added, they will likely go back on. I will cut the HB for them as suggested.

They work really well on the tandem since my stoker isn't very smooth and doesn't quite get the balance and movement impact on the captain's ability to control the bike. I often shift with my little finger during trying times.
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What appears to be a stem shifter is the drag brake lever.
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Old 12-04-22, 11:19 AM
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I don’t scoff at them, if fact a winter build of an 82 Trek 412 I am working on will get some Suntour ratchet stem shifters. It also will get my first turkey levers since having those on my Super Sports. Dork disk too, of course.

I am a bit older as lots here are, but I think the speed thing has a lot to do with it. Here in the flatlands we don’t have long high speed descents, and grueling out of the saddle climbs. Most of my riding has been on the tops and at recreational speeds, so this will be a geezer build. I will admit that I have never used barcons, but the extra cables and the routing offend my sensibilities.

My first nicer bike purchased in 1975 was a 73 Super Sport. I still have it in modified form showing lots of use and still with the Schwinn levers. I like those a lot, but after 47 years one gets used to things.



Well used and abused 1973 Super Sport with modified gearing

And of course there is that whole nostalgia thing which I did on another 73 Super Sport that I made as near stock as possible for that ride down memory lane.



Stock 73 except vintage mirror and different bar tape

I think comfort is the thing for upright casual riding. Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 12-04-22, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by elcraft View Post
And yet, the additional cabling and subsequently mushier shifting of bar end shifters never seems to detract from their acceptance from the purists!
That, the clunk factor of additional cabling, and a tendency to bang the shifter with my knee at stops, are why I hate bar ends.

Stem shifters are just scary. If you're in the drops or the brake hoods, you have to sit up a bit to shift (I use a longish stem, so it's even awkward from the tops). With DT shifters, if you're on the tops or the brake hoods, reaching down to shift lowers your CoG. Much more secure at any decent speed. Though I can see how stem shifters could be entirely appropriate for a city bike with city bars.
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Old 12-04-22, 03:58 PM
  #88  
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It is because stem shifters only came on cheap bikes for people who wanted to look sporty, but were too dumb to actually learn to use proper downtube shifters. They are for people who want drop bars so they look like they are racing, but learning how to actually shift can't get through their thick skulls, so companies took advantage of that and invented stem shifters. Any actual racer will tell you that stem shifters are an unnecessary scam for companies to make more money. If you really can't shift, just use a 3 speed thumb shifter and stop pretending to be something that you are absolutely not. This is the same thing with those safety levers. People are trying to look cool, but they don't know how to actually use drop bars, so they only put their hands on the top of the bars, but they are not smart enough to know how to move their hands to the brake levers, so they end up crashing.
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Old 12-04-22, 09:37 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
.... Last year I bought a Carabela with Suntour bar ends and I had never rode a bike with bar ends before. That spin around the block has me eager to get that bike on the road. As neglected as that bike was, I could tell the shifters were going to probably be one of my favorite things about it....
The one and only all-new bike I ever owned was a Windsor, which at the time I understood to be the same as a Carabela, just different labeling. It had, IIRC, Suntour derailleurs (VGT?) and bar end ratcheted shifters. I know it was Suntour because at the time Suntour was considered better than Shimano (mid 70s) and a lot better than Huret and Simplex (although I had very fun bikes with both). It was a very nice bike until it got stolen off my back porch about 1 year later. I keep visiting an EBay search for Windsor and Carabela hoping to find something I could maybe build up, but I also have other distracting searches and occasionally am in a place where I should not search for anything because N+1 would exceed S-1. But if a good upper tier Windsor or Carabela frameset fell into my lap, I would be a happy puppy.

I have had other bar end shifters since then, and always think they're excellent function-wise. I've only, in the past decade, ridden a friends dusty old bike-boom era entry level bike that had stem shifters. It got me out for a ride when i was visiting, but I never liked reaching for those stem shifters.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:57 PM
  #90  
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What everybody else said. When I was getting into cycling, and needed to distance myself from my old Huffy 10-speed, all the higher-quality bikes had downtube shifters. So that was among the things I lusted after. Downtube shifters are better if you're riding in the drops.

As I get older, and ride in the drops less and less, I still feel the same knee-jerk reaction to stem shifters, although to be honest I'd probably find them really handy (pun intended). Old habits die hard, I guess.
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Old 12-05-22, 01:19 PM
  #91  
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When I was young, over half the time I was down in the drops to be more aerodynamic. Now that my body is vintage, 99% of the time I'm on top of the bars, so even bar ends require bending down. If I'm not using brifters, stem shifters would be a good option. I've got a "grocery getter" city bike plan in my mind, stem shifters are definitely in the running.
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Old 12-05-22, 02:30 PM
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One other reason that probably made sense to many of us BITD but sounds kind of stupid in retrospect: stem shifters got in the way of your face. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who took longer, straightish downhills with hands on the tops next to the stem, chin next to the stem, elbows in, back flat (I chipped a tooth on the stem that way when I hit a bump). Being a fair bit older, marginally less dim (I think) and significantly less repairable and bouncy I don't do that anymore. But muscle memory being what it is, sitting up (even though my bars are higher and my saddle lower now) and reaching back for stem shifters still feels unnatural and a bit unnerving. I don't scoff at stem shifters, I just don't like them (yet).
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Old 12-05-22, 04:16 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by sincos View Post
One other reason that probably made sense to many of us BITD but sounds kind of stupid in retrospect: stem shifters got in the way of your face. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who took longer, straightish downhills with hands on the tops next to the stem, chin next to the stem, elbows in, back flat (I chipped a tooth on the stem that way when I hit a bump). Being a fair bit older, marginally less dim (I think) and significantly less repairable and bouncy I don't do that anymore. But muscle memory being what it is, sitting up (even though my bars are higher and my saddle lower now) and reaching back for stem shifters still feels unnatural and a bit unnerving. I don't scoff at stem shifters, I just don't like them (yet).
I've got bikes with DT shifters, brifters, bar ends, and one with SunTour Command shifters. When I shift from one bike to another it takes a few minutes to remember how to shift!
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Old 12-05-22, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
I've got bikes with DT shifters, brifters, bar ends, and one with SunTour Command shifters. When I shift from one bike to another it takes a few minutes to remember how to shift!
I go from a Mercedes SUV with up/down PRND on a stalk, to an auto VW Golf (between the seats), to an Alfa 5 speed (dog-leg) and my hands are always flopping around wondering where to go.

I get it!!
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Old 12-05-22, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz View Post
...and my hands are always flopping around wondering where to go.
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Old 12-05-22, 05:29 PM
  #96  
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I always found stem mounted shifters to be more awkward to use than downtube shifters or bar-end shifters. On a cheap bike with a steel handlebar I'd swap out the stem mounted shifters for thumb shifters.

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Old 12-05-22, 07:21 PM
  #97  
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If going for stem shifters, the Shimano Uni-Shift model was actually pretty nice to use. Pretty smooth action on those and mounted as a headset spacer with a bit of a forward position, as opposed to most that sit behind the stem.
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Old 12-05-22, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz View Post
...and my hands are always flopping around wondering where to go.

...
I keep reaching down to that bare down tube on my fix gears.

Glad I read this entire thread. I'll never put stem shifters that even can project back on any bike I'll ever own. (See post #19.) But reading dddd's post re barcons - I never heard about trimming down the drops for them. Yeah! (I've gotten cut down bars on used bikes. Wondered why? but they rode just fine. I almost never slide my hands back that far just riding and when I do, it's just to find a place very different.)

I've always ruled out barcons for that knee thing. Now does anyone make bar extensions for those of us who go barcon and choose to go back?
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Old 12-05-22, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz View Post
I go from a Mercedes SUV with up/down PRND on a stalk, to an auto VW Golf (between the seats), to an Alfa 5 speed (dog-leg) and my hands are always flopping around wondering where to go.

I get it!!
I remember first time driving in Ireland (I'm from the States). Driving on the wrong side of the road wasn't an issue, but wanting to shift and finding the window winder (yeah, it was a while back) drove me spare. Didn't take too long to get used to it ... and then it was time to fly back. And do the same thing all over again.

Anyway, speaking of muscle memory, I wonder how many of us still automatically overshift a bit and trim?
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Old 12-05-22, 11:00 PM
  #100  
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Originally Posted by Robvolz View Post
It’s interesting, ergonomically speaking it takes less movement to take your hands off the handlebars to shift on a stim mounted shifter than a downtube mountain shifter.

none of the high-end Italian French or English racing bikes use this. I admire the SunTour stem mounted shifters. Is it just a social thing or something deeper?
It's worked out pretty well for me. Though the change in wrist orientation can be tiresome, over time. I may yet consider moving the shifter a bit forward, integral to the decaleur, and laid horizontally for right hand operation.

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