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What so bad about stem shifters??

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What so bad about stem shifters??

Old 01-18-12, 04:40 PM
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What so bad about stem shifters??

I love old steel bikes (even new steel bikes for that matter). I see alot of bar end shifters and even down tube shifters, which seem really dangerous imho, but it seems that stem shifters are seen as unbearably low end. What is the difference, isn't a friction shifter a friction shifter, and what is so bad about stem shifters?
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Old 01-18-12, 04:41 PM
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There's nothing wrong with them at all. Folks who ride high end bikes look down on them and come up with reasons to dislike them, but it's only because they came on low end bikes. They never came on high end bikes. All of the technical explanations are untrue. They're fine.
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Old 01-18-12, 04:47 PM
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Tom hit it on the head. They shift fine. It's just that it's a sign of a low end bike that usually has low end components. IMO, said components usually require more attention to keep them shifting well.
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Old 01-18-12, 04:58 PM
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I think there was also some concern, back in the day, about the safety of having pointy metal things at approximately crotch level. I may be mis-remembering things though.
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Old 01-18-12, 04:59 PM
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They are uber dangerous! They will impale you if you stop short. I read it on the internet.
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Old 01-18-12, 05:03 PM
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I feared the same thing, so I changed out my stem with a rubber spongy stem. I feel so safe now.

If you ride upright, stem shifters are the shizzle.
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Old 01-18-12, 05:03 PM
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You can also blame it on period bicycling magazines/publications whose writers also pooh-poohed such components and added theories like "slower, less precise shifting action due to more cable legnth and housing flex"...........but they still find bar end shifters to be a great thing for some reason.
Only time I could really see a negative situation with stem shifters is when one might want to try riding more on the drops. The position of the shifter will make it more difficult to do shifts as you wil have to bend your arms clumsily to do the shift from the drops. Otherwise, when riding at more upright positions, such as on the hoods or top of the bars, it works pretty well.

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Old 01-18-12, 05:09 PM
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They were popularized right along with turkey wings during the bike boom, because a lot of newbie riders couldn't really make the transition from riding upright to the drops, and thus they needed the controls on top.
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Old 01-18-12, 05:09 PM
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They are just as bad as the black door handles that aren't painted to match cars....they function just fine but they are a symbol that you're driving (riding) a base model.
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Old 01-18-12, 05:11 PM
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So the stemmies came on low end bikes originally and need more maintenance to work well? I could see the maintenance aspect as undesirable considering that one the main reasons to use friction shifters is the "set and forget" ability of them.

Also, I never stopped short enough to impale myself on something on the handlebars but have stopped short enough to impale myself on the road...
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Old 01-18-12, 05:12 PM
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I have a slightly different take on this. What they say is true, but there are a few issues. Stem shifters require a second section of housing compared to DT shifters. This can add some friction, and the compressibility of the housing decreses shifting precision. This was a worse problem in the old days when housings weren't as good as today's Jagwire housing. Of course too, this is no different from bar-end shifters and some people really like them. In any case, DT shifters are wonderfully direct.

Some people argue that large shift levers on the stem can be dangerous in an accident. Going over the bar is bad enough that you don't want the added harm of being gouged by them. But you could argue that if go over the bars you're screwed anyway.

Finally, I always felt like shifting stem shifters affected steering. With DT shifters you have to take one hand off the bars so you use core muscles to hold your body stable, but you push or pull on something fixed to the frame. If you shift bar-ends your hands are anchored to the bars all through the operation. But to shift stem shifters you remove one hand from the bar and push a lever than can torque the steering to one side or the other without you being able to counter it. That's just my opinion (but I'm sticking to it (at least for the time being)).
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Old 01-18-12, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi
you will have to bend your arms clumsily to do the shift from the drops.

Chombi
+1 Not on a race bike. Then there's the aesthetics...
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Old 01-18-12, 05:51 PM
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I've also heard the crouch-gouging argument against stem shifters and I have to say that at first it was rather compelling, in a visceral sort of way. But the way I figure it, if you're in a situation where your crouch is careening at high speed toward the stem, you're going to get mangled, whether it's by shifters or the corner of the stem itself. I've been sent forward lightly into the corner of my stem a couple of times and wouldn't want to repeat the experience in fast forward.
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Old 01-18-12, 05:57 PM
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I aint never had a problem with them. My first road bikes, which were 'bike boom' bikes back in the 70's were all stem shifters. I thought they were rather cool. When I got my first DT shifter road bike I thought it was kinda odd. I had to relearn how to shift and how to orientate myself on the bike without losing my line. Of course I was a lot younger back then.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:06 PM
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I rode with them back in days of yore, and now I can no longer have children. Does that answer your question?
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Old 01-18-12, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by QStorm
...even down tube shifters, which seem really dangerous imho
Down tube shifters aren't dangerous, ATMO.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by QStorm
So the stemmies came on low end bikes originally and need more maintenance to work well? I could see the maintenance aspect as undesirable considering that one the main reasons to use friction shifters is the "set and forget" ability of them.
If you upgrade to better/nicer derailleurs & some good quality cables & housing (like Jagwire or other quality stuff), then the mainenance issue all but goes away.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:32 PM
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As for affecting steering, I think bar end shifters affect steering more than stem shifters. The affect is minimal at the stem.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:36 PM
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Nothing is wrong with stem shifters. As for quality and maintence issues there really aren't any on a better set. A lot of the 70's and 80's DT and stem shifters where basically the same they where just mounted in different places. The issue is the are as said assiociated with lower end bikes and often used by C&V guys as quick way to spot lesser bikes in ads or at a distance.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:42 PM
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I converted the down-tube shifter to a stem shifter on my Takara.

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Old 01-18-12, 06:45 PM
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BTW, I just got rid of my last set of DT shifters. My Super Course has upright bars, at least for the time being, and I installed my first set of ratchet thumb shifters. They're very nice, though I'm still reaching towards the down tube from time to time. Funny. But I'm old enough to do without DT shifters now.
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Old 01-18-12, 06:58 PM
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My Nishiki International came with them in the early 70's and I was fully prepared to hate them. They were SunTour Power Shifters, coupled to a SunTour derailleur. They worked flawlessly and I grew to like them, at least until I discovered bar end shifters.
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Old 01-18-12, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
BTW, I just got rid of my last set of DT shifters. My Super Course has upright bars, at least for the time being, and I installed my first set of ratchet thumb shifters. They're very nice, though I'm still reaching towards the down tube from time to time. Funny. But I'm old enough to do without DT shifters now.
That's an automatic minus 5 mph for you then!

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Old 01-18-12, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow
They were popularized right along with turkey wings during the bike boom, because a lot of newbie riders couldn't really make the transition from riding upright to the drops, and thus they needed the controls on top.
This!
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Old 01-18-12, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller
I have a slightly different take on this. What they say is true, but there are a few issues. Stem shifters require a second section of housing compared to DT shifters. This can add some friction, and the compressibility of the housing decreses shifting precision. This was a worse problem in the old days when housings weren't as good as today's Jagwire housing. Of course too, this is no different from bar-end shifters and some people really like them. In any case, DT shifters are wonderfully direct.

Some people argue that large shift levers on the stem can be dangerous in an accident. Going over the bar is bad enough that you don't want the added harm of being gouged by them. But you could argue that if go over the bars you're screwed anyway.

Finally, I always felt like shifting stem shifters affected steering. With DT shifters you have to take one hand off the bars so you use core muscles to hold your body stable, but you push or pull on something fixed to the frame. If you shift bar-ends your hands are anchored to the bars all through the operation. But to shift stem shifters you remove one hand from the bar and push a lever than can torque the steering to one side or the other without you being able to counter it. That's just my opinion (but I'm sticking to it (at least for the time being)).
I'm a nervous nellie, and I don't like shifting my weight toward the centerline of the bike. This makes me fear the wobbles. For that reason, I don't like stem shifters, and downtube shifters are kind of the same, but I think DT shifters look cool--totally arbitrary taste thing.
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