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Kid's bike grip shifter rant....geeeezus

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Kid's bike grip shifter rant....geeeezus

Old 10-02-18, 12:03 PM
  #1  
burnthesheep
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Kid's bike grip shifter rant....geeeezus

Ok, this seems to be a total racket to me.

Why is it the difference in cost from a crap grip shifter that many kids can't even comfortably turn, and a trigger, is about $200 worth of bike? Seriously? The parts are like $25 different. Half the combos of grip shifter and RD are totally unworkable for whatever size kid is riding a 20" bike.

I'm looking for a younger kid, and had to return an REI coop bike as even for me as an adult going up the cassette from small to bigger cogs was stupid difficult.

Then started looking for trigger shift, and holy WTF. It's ridiculous. We're talking $400 for a kids bike with triggers when my wife's Trek for $300 has trigger shifting.

I'm at the point of buying a used CL bike and doing the conversion myself to save about $300.

Why is this seem like such an industry wide stupidity thing? I had him try the wife's bike's shifters while I turned the pedals on the work stand and he could do it. Grip shift on the REI bike, nope.
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Old 10-02-18, 12:12 PM
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I replaced the grip shifter with trigger shifters and haven't looked back yet - so much better.
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Old 10-02-18, 12:18 PM
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Di2 would solve this catastrophe.
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Old 10-02-18, 12:28 PM
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Grip shifters are a marketing issue, to emulate a motorcycle throttle. Trigger shifters would be more appropriate, particularly on a child's bike, but appearance trumps function in this case.
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Old 10-02-18, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
I replaced the grip shifter with trigger shifters and haven't looked back yet - so much better.
How hard was that?

Can I swap out any old trigger shifter (with the correct number of cogs) fro the grip shifter?

My kid hates her grip shifter. I'm sure I can get a trigger shifter fro $5 somewhere. (I tell my wife to stop feeding her, but she won't listen so the kid just keeps growing and growing...) Is it just a matter of hooking the cable up to the tigger shifter and adjusting it? Or is it a massive involved process?

My kid will outgrow this bike next year sometime. If I can do this in an hour for $5 it's worth it. If it's more involved than that I may just wait until her next bike.
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Old 10-02-18, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
How hard was that?

Can I swap out any old trigger shifter (with the correct number of cogs) for the grip shifter?
Yes, pretty much.

My kid hates her grip shifter. I'm sure I can get a trigger shifter fro $5 somewhere. (I tell my wife to stop feeding her, but she won't listen so the kid just keeps growing and growing...) Is it just a matter of hooking the cable up to the tigger shifter and adjusting it?
I just replaced an impossible-to-turn pair of grip shifters on a cheap Diamondback with trigger shifters. It was quite easy. You may need new cables if the old ones are too short or beat-up.
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Old 10-02-18, 01:25 PM
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Go to a local co-op or recycled cycles type shop. $5-$15 easy peasy. If you absolutely can not tolerate used, MicroSHIFT has what you need for many less dollars than the big ShimSramCamp megacorp.
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Old 10-02-18, 01:37 PM
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The price increase reflects the more desirable parts on the bike, not just the trigger shifters. This is the game that is played by all manufacturers. You want this feature? Then you pay this price and along with that price comes the wiz-bang super duper turbo X mod and chrome, too. The cost of grip shifters is super low compared to trigger shifters and youth bikes are all about price and color. You get poorly spec'd machines to hit a price point that will sell X number of units. The realities of a price driven market. Besides, how many kids understand using their gears?
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Old 10-02-18, 01:52 PM
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The only thing good about grip shifters is that it's really fun to say "grip shifters". Rode several centuries with grip shifters last year, really made my wrist sore.
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Old 10-02-18, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
How hard was that?

Can I swap out any old trigger shifter (with the correct number of cogs) fro the grip shifter?

My kid hates her grip shifter. I'm sure I can get a trigger shifter fro $5 somewhere. (I tell my wife to stop feeding her, but she won't listen so the kid just keeps growing and growing...) Is it just a matter of hooking the cable up to the tigger shifter and adjusting it? Or is it a massive involved process?

My kid will outgrow this bike next year sometime. If I can do this in an hour for $5 it's worth it. If it's more involved than that I may just wait until her next bike.
It was pretty easy, easier than replacing the one disposable grip shifter with another and better too.
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Old 10-02-18, 04:33 PM
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Time for a drop bar conversion with bar-end shifters!




(Don't mind me; I've been hanging out in the C&V forum again. Those guys are trouble.)
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Old 10-02-18, 04:51 PM
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The biggest hassle with swapping from grip shift to trigger is re-running the shift cable and readjusting it. I've had good luck with used shifters from a co-op, although they sometimes need to flushed with penetrating oil to loosen them . Alternatively you can get Microshift 7 or 8 speed triggers cheaply.
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Old 10-02-18, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
Time for a drop bar conversion with bar-end shifters!




(Don't mind me; I've been hanging out in the C&V forum again. Those guys are trouble.)

I’ve struggled a bit with difficult grip shifters vs. trigger shifters on my kids’ bikes and also my wife's. Triggers are, so far, TOO easy to activate. Hair-trigger, you might say. But they work cleanly, and are preferable to the grip-shifters.
Only thing is that if not maintained, or really old, I find the triggers take quite a bit more work to get going again.
I’ve had one set of grip shifters that seem to work smoothly, and they’re old Sachs, paired with a Shimano STX mtb group.
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Old 10-02-18, 08:03 PM
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SRAM makes some really excellent grip shifters. You will not find them on just about any production bike, though. They are an acquired taste. The ones on cheap bikes are uniformly pretty grim.
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Old 10-02-18, 08:04 PM
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A few years ago I got a mid-1990s rigid 7-speed MTB to use as an urban run-about bicycle. It needed a new shifter so I bought a <$20 SRAM grip shift. Hooked it up (to a Shimano DX rear deurallier), and its worked great. Its needed some adjustment, but that's probably from cable stretch. Otherwise, no problems with it.
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Old 10-02-18, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
SRAM makes some really excellent grip shifters. You will not find them on just about any production bike, though. They are an acquired taste. The ones on cheap bikes are uniformly pretty grim.
I've been satisfied with both twist- and trigger-shifters by SRAM. Their twisters all make a noticeable CLICK! with each shift but I don't mind that.
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Old 10-03-18, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Can I swap out any old trigger shifter (with the correct number of cogs) fro the grip shifter?.
SOMETIMES, it depends on what kind of rear derailleur you have on your bike. The cable pull ratio of the shifter and derailleur have to match.
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Old 10-03-18, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Ok, this seems to be a total racket to me.
Why is it the difference in cost from a crap grip shifter that many kids can't even comfortably turn, and a trigger, is about $200 worth of bike? Seriously? The parts are like $25 different. Half the combos of grip shifter and RD are totally unworkable for whatever size kid is riding a 20" bike.
I'm looking for a younger kid, and had to return an REI coop bike as even for me as an adult going up the cassette from small to bigger cogs was stupid difficult.
Then started looking for trigger shift, and holy WTF. It's ridiculous. We're talking $400 for a kids bike with triggers when my wife's Trek for $300 has trigger shifting.
I'm at the point of buying a used CL bike and doing the conversion myself to save about $300.
Why is this seem like such an industry wide stupidity thing? I had him try the wife's bike's shifters while I turned the pedals on the work stand and he could do it. Grip shift on the REI bike, nope.
I feel you(and your kid’s) pain.
Grip shifters are terrible- little hands have trouble using them. My youngest daughter has one on her 20” wheel bike(1x7) and the only reason I havent swapped it out is because the shifter has been used for so many years(bike was handed down to her from our older daughter) that the grip shift has worn down and loosened up a bit. New grip shifters are often really tight and coarse in their movement. The more they are used, the smoother they become. I think its due to the simplistic shifting design.

I build all the bikes for my kids at this point. Get a frame off ebay or this site and build it up. Or start with a bike from the internet(DBack for example) and swap out components.
The bikes end up being more expensive than entry level kids bikes, but less expensive than mid-high level kids bikes. And the quality is significantly higher than bikes in the same price range at shops.
It takes time to build/swap compared to buying from a store, but I also get my kids involved in it so they better understand the parts of a bicycle and how everything interacts with everything else.

As an example to all this- A few years ago I bought a 24” rigid Specialized Hardrock for my older daughter to start riding the flowing singletrack we have here. Rigid frame and fork because she was light enough to not need suspension and because suspension forks on 24” bikes are almost all heavy and junk.
Swapped out the bolt on wheels for some quality QR wheels with Deore hubs. New 9sp cassette. Used front and rear derailleurs that are 25 years old but works great. Found a small(152mm or something like that) crankset that I could change from 3x to 2x. Cheap no-name wider aluminum handlebars. 3x9 trigger shifters with the front derailleur locked out so it runs 2x up front. Quality Schwalbe MTB tires that are lightweight.
- I took all the old components to our local bike collective so they could be used to refurbish kids bikes.
- Due to swapping out the wheels, tires, cassette, crank, and handlebars the bike dropped something like 7 pounds of weight which is significant.
In total it cost something like $375. Not cheap for a kid’s bike, but it is also now a well made bike that will last and be passed down to our younger kid. It will be ridden for probably 4 years and can then be sold. I wont get out what I have in it, but even if its sold for $150, it means 4 years of riding a well built and smooth performing bike only cost a couple hundred bucks. When I look at what I could otherwise buy for that or less, it isn’t a bad cost. At least I justify it that way!


As for the REI bike- if the only drawback is grip shift, then swap em out for trigger. Its a $20-40 job depending on what you buy and where, and can make a good bike into a great bike.
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Old 10-03-18, 09:24 AM
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I bought my kid a 20 inch bike this summer from a LBS. I had them upgrade to a trigger shifter. They only charged me $25 for the part and no labor since they had to assemble the bike anyways.
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Old 10-03-18, 12:32 PM
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Ran into this as well. It was hard even for me to upshift that thing, let alone for an 8 year old. Glad/mad I'm not the only one who's noticed this. Should be illegal imho. It's straight up unusable.
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Old 10-03-18, 01:56 PM
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There's no reason why they should be hard to operate. The more common complaint is accidentally shifting when going over a bump (too easy to shift.) Like Retro says, make sure you get the right model - either Shimano-compatible or ESP. If you try to use an ESP shifter on a Shimano derailleur, the pull ratio will be wrong and yes it'll probably be hard to work.
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Old 10-03-18, 02:39 PM
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Never had an issue with grip shifters myself as a child or an adult. Only went to triggers when I switched to trekking bars, and the grips just didn't work as well with the system.

Grips at the end of the day are scant little but fancy friction shifters. Much less to break in them than cheap triggers.
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Old 10-03-18, 03:08 PM
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Back when we bought a Trek 7100 for my son (15 years ago?) we had the LBS swap the grips for triggers for a minimal charge.
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Old 10-03-18, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
There's no reason why they should be hard to operate. The more common complaint is accidentally shifting when going over a bump (too easy to shift.) Like Retro says, make sure you get the right model - either Shimano-compatible or ESP. If you try to use an ESP shifter on a Shimano derailleur, the pull ratio will be wrong and yes it'll probably be hard to work.
I can give you a reason. The diameter of the grip is too large for my 8 year old daughter's hand. She can't grip and squeeze it hard enough to turn it. I can turn it, but it's more difficult than the friction levers on my bike. I plan to get a tx50 shifter for her soon.
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Old 10-03-18, 07:02 PM
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I have never seen that issue with kids and grip shifts. I put some on kids bikes and there were no issues. 3rd and 6th grade girls. They are much more intuitive than trigger shifters for inexperienced riders.
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