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Question on combo brake levers/shifters

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Question on combo brake levers/shifters

Old 05-18-17, 10:59 AM
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Question on combo brake levers/shifters

I am in the process of turning an older Trek 920 into more of a cruiser with gentle off road capabilities. The shifters are of the rotary type. Many of the new bikes have the combo shifters and integrated brake levers. Has anyone had experience with these? I don't know if this would end up being an upgrade or a down grade.... Any comments..?
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Old 05-18-17, 11:34 AM
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Welcome to the forum.
I view much of this as a hobby. I think a change would feel like an upgrade. My preference is trigger shifters. I did install a set of combined shifter/brake levers on an old touring bike last fall for my winter beater. Worked good for me.

Enjoy yourself.

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Old 05-18-17, 11:47 AM
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Welcome! I have used Shimano EF51 units in the past and have been pleased. Shimano sells a few similar models. There are two things to note. First, if your rear derailleur is a Shimano derailleur, then you'll have no compatibility problems. If you have a Sram derailleur or other brand derailleur that may not have the same cable pull ratio as a Shimano, you'll need to consider other options. Second, I presume your 920 has traditional short arm cantilever brakes. Nearly all modern brake/shifter combos (some call them "brifters") are compatible with direct pull brakes (also called linear pull brakes, also called V-Brakes which is Shimano's trademark name for their brand of them). Direct pull brakes and traditional cantilever brakes use a different cable pull ratio, and you don't want to mix and match that. If you already have direct pull brakes, then you're all set.

Here's an article (with images) on the various types of cantilever brakes, of which the traditional and direct pull are both types:

About Bicycle Brakes with Brazed-on Fittings

You do not want to mix-and-match brakes and brake levers. If you have traditional cantilever brakes, you'll need to change those to direct pull brakes in the process (with one caveat, following). I did this on a similar bike (a Trek 850) with great success. I used Avid's Single Digit 5 direct pull brakes (and the aforementioned Shimano EF51 levers). The caveat is there are just a couple of brifter models that are actually compatible with BOTH types of brakes, allowing you to run either type of brake and just change the selector inside the brake lever according to which type of brake you have.

If you already have direct pull brakes, then you just need the new levers.

Best of luck, and welcome!
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Old 05-18-17, 12:32 PM
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I am a big fan of the Shimano trigger shifters. They're just intuitive to use and they work well.
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Old 05-18-17, 01:17 PM
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I use twist shifters on my commuter, as they are easier to work with winter gloves/mittens. Have nothing against them during summer either.
Have no particular objections against the integrated units.
They do pose some concerns if you want to switch to another type of brakes. Should that happen there are workarounds for every switch apart from hydraulic levers to mechanical disc brake calipers.
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Old 05-18-17, 02:30 PM
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Thanks for the quick response.
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Old 05-20-17, 07:19 AM
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I find Shimano trigger shifters to be easy to use. Changing from twist grip to trigger will take a bit of relearning but it should go pretty quickly. One benefit of going to triggers is that you can now reposition your hands on the grips and bars without inadvertently shifting gears.
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