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GrannyGear 07-21-05 11:52 PM

Am I the Last Friction Shifter ??
Not trying to bring up the ghosts of a long-lost controversy or be a retropath Olde Farte, so please read on. This a.m. I was riding beside my Friend-with-Ultegra-Ten-Cogs. I was on my barcon friction 7spd SunTour XC Pro Bridgestone. We both reached for the fd shifter and, while I got mine pretty thoughtlessly (even with moving my hand 5 inches), he was still trying to trim using his microdetants or whatever they're called. His rear shift wasn't much better. Admittedly, he just needed some tuning-- but he's had it into the LBS twice. I also admit that I envy his shifting out of the saddle on climbs. Otherwise, am I really missing all that much? 10 speeds would be lovely, and I'm sure with those close set cogs pretty unworkable with "manual" shifting, but still......

Anyway, I enjoy the simplicity and sense of control of friction shifting.


neilG 07-22-05 12:03 AM

Yes, you are. :)

GrannyGear 07-22-05 12:40 AM

Damn, I should have known...only person who will ride with me these days is some guy named Fred. 8-)

Say, am I the last guy here still wearing wool?

stapfam 07-22-05 12:41 AM

if it works for you, Why change? I regret passing on my friction changers to a hard up friend when I upgraded an old Mountain Bike that had done some good years service. They may not be cool, they are irreplacable, but they work. Particulaly when things gets a bit muddy, and the Derailler gets twisted or old.

bnet1 07-22-05 05:29 AM

I can take them or leave them. Friction shifters on my road bike, indexed shifters on my recumbent. Both work fine.

Terex 07-22-05 05:45 AM

I agree with neilG. Also, the only thing I ever allow to be "twisted and old" on my bike is - me. :)

michaelnel 07-22-05 05:55 AM

I put 105 brifters on my Soma Double Cross when I built it recently. I don't like them. I wish I had gone with barcons instead, but these were expensive enough that I guess I'll ride it this way until they break, then convert to barcons.

FarHorizon 07-22-05 08:37 AM


Originally Posted by GrannyGear

Yep - I friction shift. I do it because I like to swap components on my bike frequently (Campy to Shimano to Suntour). It becomes SIGNIFICANTLY harder to friction shift with more cogs on the cassette! 7-speed friction works fine; 8-speed friction is difficult; 9 or 10-speed friction just isn't doable for me. I'm currently running an 8-speed rear, and am thinking of either going back to index (just to avoid the excessive trimming that is required with friction) or going to a 7-speed cassette on my hub with a spacer.

Obviously, front friction is a no-brainer, even with triples.

Friction is the only way to fly if one wants to "mix and match" components.

GrannyGear 07-22-05 09:50 AM

I agree with the mix and match. On my 7 speed Bridgestone I have a Mavic, SunTour, Shimano drive train and a cheesy parts bin Sakae crank that has more miles on it than I have gray hairs.

Many bikes today are so homogeniously the same. Sure, they perform well (mostly), but riders are so bound by dedicated, highly engineered components that it is hard to create a bike that is uniquely your own, or exchange parts....mix and match to suit your style or your ride that weekend. Used to be more fun to go to organized rides and see what people were using and in what combinations. Lots of cool conversations got started.

Oh well.

fsor 07-22-05 01:08 PM

I would say that your friend with the ultegra ten cogs has some problem with his system. STI works very well in my experience, if it doesn't, fix it. I have barcons on two bikes, but since I have 9sp, I use index on the back. I am just too spastic to friction shift with the narrow spacing. That's just me...I am sure that others are better at it. Nothing wrong with friction....but when you get a little deef and maladroit, the index stuff starts to look good.

Velo Dog 07-22-05 06:17 PM

Still got friction and barcons on two bikes, though I gave in and went eight-speed (I don't think it's an improvement). Just bought TWO wool jerseys, my first, and I love 'em. Still got Brooks saddles on three bikes. Luvva God, I'm 60 years old. If I can't ride what I like now, when will I ever be able to?
FWIW, which is certainly not much, I can sort of imagine why people without my natural talent would want index shifting, but the lure of 10-speed completely eludes me. Six may have been an improvement over five, seven didn't work better than six and everything since then has added more complication than help. My first bike when I got back into cycling after a 15-year post-college layoff was a mountain bike with five-speed freewheel and Suntour derailleur. I used to ride it through the hills around Reno and it would grind up sagebrush limbs as thick as pencils. Now my XTR stuff jams up if it gets dust on it.

Bob Gabele 07-22-05 08:12 PM

Hey! I ride in Florida. Not a lot of climbs and lots of wind. I have six road bikes, five of them are Super Record (read: friction). My sixth bike is an Eddy Merckx scandium with full Record (read: 10 speed index).

I still like the friction stuff. I keep all my bikes light and, with friction shifters, I have lighter brake levers. Keep in mind that the old Campy Super Record stuff is light even by today's standards. Although I like my index-shifting Eddy, I've got to tell you that the smoothness of my older S/R setups is really unsurpassed. Keep in mind that in Florida I ride with relatively tight clusters (I use between 12-17's and 12-18's) of six speeds. My Eddy is a 10 speed but I never use past the 18. Front chainrings are 42/53.

I just got back from Colorado where I did some good climbing on index-shifting setups. I can appreciate both and can only add that I think the argument is fairly mute. If racing, I would go with well-adjusted index since that is one less thing to be concerned about. If training however, or an aggressive fitness rider as I am, friction is just fine and much easier to maintain...very bullet-proof too.

Bikewer 07-22-05 08:56 PM

I'm about to "go back", as I'm putting together a 1983 Cilo with friction shifters.

I do have a modern Trek roadster (2120) with Shimano 105 brake/shift levers, and they're very nice indeed. Comfortable too.

Still, I was pretty handy with friction levers some years ago.

Roody 07-22-05 09:08 PM

I have firction shifters on the old Fuji I am riding when I visit another city 4 days a month. I haven't used tham in about 25 years. So far I hate them. I hope that I learn to love them--I'm trying!

GrannyGear 07-23-05 12:04 AM

I am not alone.....bless you all!

Anthony King 07-23-05 01:26 AM

I am 29 and use friction by choice. I don't like being forced to buy matching components. But what I like most is the relatively silent and smooth shifting action. It just feels better.

John E 07-23-05 03:54 PM

Read my posts under "classic and vintage" and "mechanics." Indexed rear shifting "solves" a non-existent problem, and indexed front shifting is a huge step backward.

UO-8: SunTour ratchet friction barcons
Capo and Bianchi: original Campag. friction downtube levers
PKN-10: SunTour friction downtube levers (considering ratchet barcons)
Schwinn: SunTour thumb levers in friction mode

taylor8 07-24-05 05:30 PM

Alas, your not! I would like to leave the coven of friction shifting on my road bike but I have not found replacements for the friction shifters on my Super Le Tour. I'm working on it.


serotta 07-24-05 07:49 PM

Raleigh 531c with Campy Super Record/Nuevo Record 6-speed freewheel with friction shifters mounted on the downtube. One of the quietest, finest shifting bikes I own.

Wildwood 07-25-05 05:41 PM


Absolutely, friction shifting and wool apparel will never die.

jimshapiro 07-25-05 08:25 PM

Funny you should mention that. Normally I ride a "fixie" -- that is, no shifters at all. However, I have (or had) a Trek 1000 that I use where I consult. Between the teeth-rattling aluminum frame and the bar-end shifters that I could never get quite right, I decided just last Friday to swap it out for an older friction-shifting 15 speed Centurion. The Centurion is quieter and easier to shift. What more can I say?


Wildwood 07-25-05 08:49 PM


Originally Posted by jimshapiro
I decided just last Friday to swap it out for an older friction-shifting 15 speed Centurion. The Centurion is quieter and easier to shift. What more can I say? Jim

Jim -- My Centurion is an early 80's ProTour 15, bronze in color. The 5 spd cassette became 6 many years ago. And Yes the drivetrain is quiet and easy to maintain.

foggydew 07-25-05 09:15 PM

Of course, all of us in this 50+ forum have used friction for many, many years, liked it, MASTERED IT, and don't want to admit that there may be technology that is better. Now, for me, indexed is the ONLY way to go. Let's move on...

Wildwood 07-25-05 10:01 PM


Originally Posted by foggydew
Of course, all of us in this 50+ forum have used friction for many, many years, liked it, MASTERED IT, and don't want to admit that there may be technology that is better.

Bad assumption -- 1. many 50+ers have been riding less than 10 years and never experienced friction, 2. I think the majority of us with indexed shifting and brifters sing the praises of the new technology (but that doesn't mean that we can't also appreciate the downtube, friction systems for simplicity, smoothness and low maintenance).

bernmart 07-25-05 10:06 PM

What Wildwood said, but with a qualification. 25 years ago I bought a Peugeot with downtube shifters, and after a period of adjustment got the hang of it and never complained. Later bought a Trek touring bike, also w/downtube shifters. Then I got away from cycling, and when I tried to resume this year the shifting drove me nuts. To simplify my life I bought a new bike with indexed shifting, and I've no regrets. But the lesson is that frequent, habitual riding makes friction a snap.

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