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Downtube shifters are pretty much useless.

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Downtube shifters are pretty much useless.

Old 11-21-12, 12:07 AM
  #1  
Zap Hassellhoff
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Downtube shifters are pretty much useless.

I'm not really a fan of downtube shifters.

I ride an old Trek 400 that I upgraded to 8-speed about 2 years ago. I swapped out the downtube shifters with a pair of the Shimano 2200-2300 Integrated shifters. They’re the old Sora design. I commute 3-4 days a week. I don’t think that I would ever use downtube shifters for the type of riding I do. Integrated shifters are such a good upgrade. The 2200 series are rock solid. I probably shift the right lever one hundred times during my ride. The left one is way less. They add so much more control over the bike. Plus they’re relatively cheap.

I doubt that I’ll ever use downtube shifters again for commuting purposes. They’re a pain to reach and the whole shifting process takes too long. There are just too many things going on at once during the ride. I’ll likely hang on to a couple pairs to install on a “vintage” recreational bike but not on a serious commuter rig.
I guess they still have their place in the old-school realm but not for daily commuting.

What do the other commuters think?
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Old 11-21-12, 12:46 AM
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Feel better now that you've gotten that out?

I prefer 'em, but it's not hard to see why most prefer their shifters to be indexed and somewhere on the handlebars.


P.S. Of course, I should mention that my main commuting bike has no shifters.
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Old 11-21-12, 12:53 AM
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You're not a fan? OK. Pretty much useless? Not hardly. Downtube shifters were introduced not long after derallier equiped bike were in the first half of the 1900s, and were used for a very long time on many types of bikes including those used daily for transportation. Of course plenty of folks still use them. I'd say that's far from useless.
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Old 11-21-12, 01:46 AM
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I'm not really a fan of brifters.

[Irrelevant back-story excerpted]

I doubt that I’ll ever use brifters again for commuting purposes. They’re a pain to pay for initially and to maintain when they wear out. There are just too many things that wear out during the ride. I’ll likely hang on to a couple pairs to install on a “race bike” but not on a serious commuter rig.
I guess they still have their place in the peloton but not for daily commuting.

What do the other commuters think?
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Old 11-21-12, 02:12 AM
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I see what you did there, acidfast7!

Friction shifters on handlebars FTW, at least in winter. Having the little clickbox freeze it's innards out and stop working is the second most frustrating issue in winter cycling. The most frustrating issue is having the rear hub pawls freeze in the coasting position. There's no roadside fix for either two, only preventive measures help.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:32 AM
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I still use downtube shifters, but then I am possibly older and shorter than most of you. I remember racing before intergrated shifters were introduced, so have not introduced them to my bikes. Being only 5'8" tall, I find it not a problem, but concede that taller riders may find it a bit of the reach.
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Old 11-21-12, 02:53 AM
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Well that is why there is more than1 place to fit shift levers on a bike,
different strokes.
pick up a couple cable housing stops to replace the levers where they mount,
and some housing and longer cables for some of the other shift lever placements
'thumbies'. bar end or the front of the brake levers
are a few alternate shifter mounting places..
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Old 11-21-12, 07:08 AM
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My Specialized Allez Steel came with downtube shifters. I commuted with that setup for a couple of years. Decided I wanted the shifters on the bars, so I swapped them out for bar end shifters. They are a little more convenient, but I actually miss the downtube shifters. It was second nature to reach down and shift the downtube shifters, even in traffic. I can say that, for me at least, the bar end shifters share their simplicity with the downtube shifters. They are nothing fancy or special, but they shift reliably.

My other bike is a drop bar 3 speed, with a Sturmey Archer bar end shifter.
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Old 11-21-12, 07:17 AM
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Can't we all just get along?!



The Retroshifters out of Portland, OR, solve all the pros and cons!
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Old 11-21-12, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Can't we all just get along?!



The Retroshifters out of Portland, OR, solve all the pros and cons!
Well played!
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Old 11-21-12, 07:45 AM
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STI shifters FTW.
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Old 11-21-12, 07:46 AM
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My main commuter is fixed, but where I like downtube shifters is on my foul weather bike. Used to have brifters but the slop and crud from riding in the rain messed them up... needed the WD40 treatment too frequently and it was never great. DT shifters have no little gaps to fill up with sludge, very reliable.

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Old 11-21-12, 07:46 AM
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I think that it is best look at the OPs post as his perspective, not that (s)he is tryng to persuade everyone to join in the anti-DT quest.

I used DTs for years. Started to use STIs in 1998, and I won't go back to DTs.

When commuting, I find I am shifting and braking constantly. DTs makes this alot more cumbersome, thus I prefer STIs.

In fact, having just started to commute on a MTB with slicks, I decided that I prefer a flat handlebar than a drop bar for commuting, using rapid-fire shifters.

Does this make drop bars useless? In a way...yes, for me. But "useless" is a bit of a strong word.

If I HAD to use DTs, then I would prefer to use them in a rural riding situation where one does not brake as much as compared to downtown core traffic.

However, I would not want to be riding a flat handlebar bike for long rides. Pretty much useless.....for me.

If I see you with DTs will I point and laugh? No.

Will I even notice? Unlikely.

But keep your distance, I do not want anyone to assume I associate with DT users.

Last edited by digger; 11-21-12 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 11-21-12, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
My main commuter is fixed, but where I like downtube shifters is on my foul weather bike. Used to have brifters but the slop and crud from riding in the rain messed them up... needed the WD40 treatment too frequently and it was never great. DT shifters have no little gaps to fill up with sludge, very reliable.

That is an issue with STIs. That, and they do have a life. DTs can last forever.

Those reasons are why I recommend bar ends to those who think I am in the know, rather than STIs on their touring bike.

Depends:
1) STIs CAN gum up.
2) STIs do have a life
3) STIs (or the indexing) can become out of adjustment. Hence, unlike DTs or BEs, you cannot shift to friction. Are you comfortable adjusting STIs when they do become out of adjustment?

Although, I have STIs on my touring bike - I helped a friend build a touring bike for her and she decided to go with bar ends, because of those 3 points.
Will 1 and 2 ever happen? Maybe, maybe not.
She was more concerned about point 3. She didn't want to frig around with it and wanted the option.

Last edited by digger; 11-21-12 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 11-21-12, 08:01 AM
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They seemed to have worked for this guy.

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Old 11-21-12, 08:03 AM
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I'm trying to figure out what the purpose of this thread is.

Is it 'start a pointless thread' day?
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Old 11-21-12, 08:18 AM
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I doubt that I’ll ever play the violin for entertainment purposes. The violin takes skill to play and the whole learning process takes too long. There are just too many things going on at once using the instrument. I’ll likely hang on to few violin LPs to play on my "vintage" stereo.

I guess they still have their place in the old-school realm but not for daily playing.

What do the other musicians think?


I doubt that I’ll ever use a manual transmission again for commuting purposes. They’re a pain to learn and the whole shifting process takes too long. There are just too many things going on at once during the drive. I’ll likely just buy an automatic tranmission because it's easier to use.

I guess they still have their place in the old-school realm but not for daily commuting.

What do the other drivers think?
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Old 11-21-12, 08:22 AM
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I use them on 2 bikes that I commute on.... but then again I like 8 speed and do not shift a lot on my commute
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Old 11-21-12, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I'm trying to figure out what the purpose of this thread is.

Is it 'start a pointless thread' day?
Meh....I find the differant perspective interesting. Even though they are wrong.

What I find detracts from the discussion is when, intentionally or not, the word choices upset others and the battle of smarmy comments start.
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Old 11-21-12, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post

I doubt that I’ll ever use a manual transmission again for commuting purposes. They’re a pain to learn and the whole shifting process takes too long. There are just too many things going on at once during the drive. I’ll likely just buy an automatic tranmission because it's easier to use.
My wife would agree with this point.

Ergo, a manual is pretty much useless for her. She is a pharma rep and uses her vehicle alot. She does not want the extra "hassle" of a manual.

Just her perspective.
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Old 11-21-12, 08:58 AM
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I've used them once on an older bike and thought they were nifty.

Especially now that I'm a stronger rider, I don't feel the need to shift as much. I would consider them if I was doing a vintage build or something.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
excerpted
Is "excerpted" really a word?

I no longer use downtube shifters on my fixie, so I'm right there with you op!
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Old 11-21-12, 09:14 AM
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my first drop bar bike when i was a kid was an old schwinn hand-me-down with downtube friction shifters.

a short while later i mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and did whatever i could to save up enough money to get a mountain bike with indexed shifting. (it was 1990 when every single boy in north america wanted a mountain bike). since the very first ride on that indexed shifting mountain bike I have never experienced a single moment of nostalgia for friction shifting.

shifting with discreet clicks form the handlebars is such a wonderful joy that any shortcomings of handlebar indexed shifters are very easily and completely forgotten.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
my first drop bar bike when i was a kid was an old schwinn hand-me-down with downtube friction shifters.

a short while later i mowed lawns, shoveled snow, and did whatever i could to save up enough money to get a mountain bike with indexed shifting. (it was 1990 when every single boy in north america wanted a mountain bike). since the very first ride on that indexed shifting mountain bike I have never experienced a single moment of nostalgia for friction shifting.

shifting with discreet clicks form the handlebars is such a wonderful joy that any shortcomings of handlebar indexed shifters are very easily and completely forgotten.
I'm the opposite, I feel a lot of nostalgia for friction shifters but I think it's because I'm older. I worked mowing lawns and things like that for my first "ten speed" in the 1960s before there was indexed. So I remember the feeling of knowing just how far to move the lever, and without looking reaching down to adjust the D ring juuuuust riiiight . . . However I'm not sure I'd want to go back there, but it does bring about a lot of pleasant memories
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Old 11-21-12, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
I'm trying to figure out what the purpose of this thread is.

Is it 'start a pointless thread' day?
Well, it is Thanksgiving week. Always a little slack during this time of year.


P.S. tractorlegs's signature reminded me of an important point that we should all remember:

"It takes alkynes to make the world go 'round."
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There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
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Last edited by ThermionicScott; 11-21-12 at 10:36 AM.
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