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Downtube Shifters

Old 04-26-17, 09:21 AM
  #1  
viccrespo
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Downtube Shifters

How do these things work?? I just bought my first road bike, and it has downtube shifters; however, I don't know how to use them. What do the left and right lever do? Is there a standard or it varies depending on the bike? I looked this up on YouTube but the videos there describe how well they work and such, but I could not find a tutorial on how to actually use them. Thank you in advance for your help and guidance!
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Old 04-26-17, 09:26 AM
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When you rode the bike, and moved the levers, nothing happened?? That's odd.
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Old 04-26-17, 09:27 AM
  #3  
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Turn the bike upside down or put it in a repair stand, turn a crank arm with one hand like you are pedaling and start experimenting with the shifters using your other hand. You will come to see how they work.
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Old 04-26-17, 09:48 AM
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Just get on and ride. As you pedal move right lever forward or back to change rear gears. Left lever for chainrings up front. Old school system
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Old 04-26-17, 10:05 AM
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Left is generally for the front derailleur, right for the rear. When the levers are all the way forward, and the cable tension released, the derailleur will go to the smallest ring that it corresponds with. When pulled, it will take the derailleurs through the options, stopping when the derailleur hits its stop (which, may or may not be the last cog depending on how it is adjusted), be careful that it doesn't fall between the cassette and wheel on the back the first time you do it.
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Old 04-26-17, 10:05 AM
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Simplest most friction free shifting on a bike ever.
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Old 04-26-17, 10:09 AM
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Bike has two sets of gears. One set in front, called chainrings or rings. One set in the back, called cogs.

Different combinations of front gear and rear gear make pedaling harder or easier. You want the combination that is "just right"--this will be different for different people--you don't want to be pushing too hard for too long (otherwise, you'll burn up the wrong kind of energy), and you don't want to be spinning in too easy a gear (otherwise, you'll lose energy to spinning your legs rather than turning the gears/wheels).

The left lever changes the front gear--usually push it forward when climbing, pull it back when flat or downhill.

The right lever changes the rear gear--usually just play around with it until you find that "just right" pedaling speed.
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Old 04-26-17, 10:10 AM
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Usually left works the chain rings up front. I think if you flip the lever up, it will go from the larger chainring to the smaller one. Which will make pedaling easier (you go slower in the process). Right lever works the gears in the back, and again, IIRC flipping up makes the gears go from larger to smaller. But here, going from larger to smaller makes the pedaling harder.

I'm not sure if you are novice, but generally speaking, when coming to a stop, downshift so that you are in easy to pedal gears for when you are going again. After time it becomes second-nature. Don't worry about doing this all the time, it's possible to shift by lifting the bike up and spinning the crank with the rear wheel off the ground. But the gears won't shift if you aren't moving.

Also don't pedal backwards when moving the levers.

*

Now the levers are truly doing nothing, then something is broken. Or missing. [I suppose it's possible for someone to make a single speed but forget to remove the levers.] Or stuck, or ___.
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Old 04-26-17, 10:27 AM
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A bike has to be cleaned and lubed occasionally.
No rust or excessive sludge or dried grime on drivetrain.
Do the cables attach tightly? And you can feel them move with the shifter?
Do the shifters stay in place? = tight but not too tight.


Once adjusted a friction shifting system usually only needs to have the limit stops set for good shifting, until components wear out. 7/8spd chains can last a long time if maintained.


The 'knack' of shifting friction on th tube is just old school form; ....like one hand on the bars??? Nobody takes their hands off the bars with more modern systems.
Old school is fun, has lots of followers and cool stuff - but has been a small niche in th market.
Please - if the glove doesn't fit - pass it on.
and enjoy the bikes you will ride the most.
N+1 = happiness.


edit - saw you are a new member, Welcome to BF.
You will get the shifting down soon enough to stop having to check driveline after every shift. One handed, two handed does not matter - just keep eyes on the road and concentrate on riding a straight line when shifting.

Last edited by Wildwood; 04-26-17 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 04-26-17, 04:19 PM
  #10  
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I know that the OP is asking a perfectly honest question and people are attempting to answer. But what happened to just getting on the bike, trying the levers, and figuring it out? That's ultimately what he'll have to do regardless of the written advice given - get on the bike, work the levers and (quickly) understand how they work.

To the OP: I can't really add to the above good advice you've been given and apologize if I seem snarky. But my personal advice remains: just get on the bike, pedal it in a safe place and in an orderly way just figure it out. Have fun with the new bike!
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Old 04-26-17, 04:55 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
Also don't pedal backwards when moving the levers.
Did anybody mention that one should always be pedalling forward when shifting? Generally ease up on the pressure a little bit.

Adjust the shifters so that the chain doesn't rattle after shifting.
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Old 04-26-17, 05:22 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
But my personal advice remains: just get on the bike, pedal it in a safe place and in an orderly way just figure it out. Have fun with the new bike!
That ^ pretty much




My first road bike has down tube shifters too and they were a bit confusing at first - mainly just the "which way do I flip it for an easier or harder gear?". I knew the left one controlled the front gears and the right controlled the rear gears, just like on my other bikes.

I started by keeping the left one flipped up so that I was in the smallest chain ring up front, and just worked the back one. To remember which way to flip the rear I thought of it like "I'm slowing down, flip down" (If I'm slowing down/its getting hard to pedal, I need to flip it down a gear) or "I'm speeding up, flip up" (As I speed up, I need to flip it up to a harder gear)... If that all makes sense...it does in my mind at least lol **

Do you have friction only shifters or friction front with friction/indexed rear, or just indexed?

I have friction for the front gears and a friction/indexed option for the rear - I set my rear shifter to indexed to make it easier for me to learn without over shifting all the time. Though, If I go back to friction, I'll still need to deal with that part.


**Want to add that flipping up the rear shifter makes the chain go down from largest to smallest/easiest to hardest...so I'm not meaning "up" as in the direction the chain itself is moving on the cogs. Just meaning "by feel", or whatever...

Last edited by Hardrock23; 04-26-17 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 04-26-17, 06:00 PM
  #13  
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i'm just bummed because people are taking this thread seriously.

...i feel soooo old.

is it conceivable that people don't know how to work friction shifters? has it been THAT long ago?

what next? do we need a "How To" on tea bags?

maybe it's time to hang up the cleats. (i know, what are cleats? right?) ...IDK.
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Old 04-26-17, 07:09 PM
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We don't know whether they are friction shifters or indexed. The first SIS shifters were probably downtube on racing bikes.
I would be more disturbed by someone asking how to shift a common 3-speed bike. Or, a fixie!
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Old 04-26-17, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
I would be more disturbed by someone asking how to shift a common 3-speed bike. Or, a fixie!
What about a 3-speed fixie?

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/en/pro...ail/s3x-silver
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Old 04-26-17, 07:24 PM
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My Univega touring bike had down tube shifters, and they were 7 speed click shift. Worked great.
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Old 04-26-17, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
But what happened to just getting on the bike, trying the levers, and figuring it out? That's ultimately what he'll have to do regardless of the written advice given - get on the bike, work the levers and (quickly) understand how they work.
When I bought my Schwinn, the levers did not work. We really have no idea what condition the OP's bike is in.
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Old 04-27-17, 05:02 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
is it conceivable that people don't know how to work friction shifters? has it been THAT long ago?
There's members here who were born long after STI's took over.
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Old 04-27-17, 06:57 AM
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Of the five bikes that I actively ride only one of them has STI...and I don't ride it often so that I can keep it in good condition for races (triathlon). It's a 10-speed...that's 10 gears in the rear (two chainrings). The rest are all old bikes that I maintain and all have SIS downtube shifters. One of them is a 12-speed...that's two chainrings, and six gears in the rear...not 12 in the rear. And of course that's a freewheel and not a cassette...which is getting more difficult to support. I believe I'm going to have to convert to a higher gear cassette soon which will mean a new wheel and shifters. Remember back when we referred to a bike with the total number of gear combination...3-speed, 5-speed, 10-speed, 12-speed, 14-speed...rather than the new way by referencing the number gears on the rear wheel only. By the old way, some of today's new bikes are 36-speed or 42-speed.

Dan
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Old 04-27-17, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
i'm just bummed because people are taking this thread seriously.

...i feel soooo old.

is it conceivable that people don't know how to work friction shifters? has it been THAT long ago?
Why not? I haven't tried downtube shifters either. For most of my life I only used grip and trigger shifters. I didn't even knew STIs, there was a learning curve on my first ever road bike (which I got last year, I was 29).
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Old 04-27-17, 08:33 AM
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Heh....I was so used to using downtube shifters 20 years ago, that last year when I first test rode a road bike since getting back into riding, the LBS had to give me a quick tutorial how the new shifting systems work on road bikes.
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Old 04-27-17, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
what next? do we need a "How To" on tea bags?
Well, they do print instructions on shampoo bottles.
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Old 04-27-17, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
But what happened to just getting on the bike, trying the levers, and figuring it out?
That's what I did the first time I ever rode an old 10 speed we had back when I was a teenager. Had the two levers on the stem. Didn't take long to learn how to shift gears.
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Old 04-27-17, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
Well, they do print instructions on shampoo bottles.


point taken. but no mention of how to unscrew the cap.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 04-27-17 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 04-27-17, 12:27 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post


point taken. but no mention of how to unscrew the cap.
you knew it would happen....dry shampoo, though...
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