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Downtube shifters in the 2020s

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Downtube shifters in the 2020s

Old 11-12-22, 09:32 AM
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Downtube shifters in the 2020s

Im curious to know is there anyone doing or planning to do any semi-serious or competitive group rides, lots of mileage or even racing with downtube shifters in 2022-2023? Not talking about only some vintage group rides or special events for vintage bikes like Eroica.

Would downtube shifters be something thats frowned upon today, i.e. would choosing them be considered as a safety risk to the group?

I now have accumulated a bunch of Shimano 600 indexed 7s parts and a 90s Rossin frame. Thinking of building it up next season and maybe do some group rides and maybe a road race or two. With SIS indexing, a hyperglide cassette and a modern chain, the shifting is really nice actually. I know its not ideal as you can not shift out of the saddle, but Im not a contender for the TDF. Really just looking for stronger legs, thats all. I do have a bike with brifters but this is something I would be choosing to do just for fun.
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Old 11-12-22, 09:45 AM
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Go for it. Vinyl records and film cameras have made a comeback lately, why not downtube shifters?
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Old 11-12-22, 09:51 AM
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If you wanna race with DT shifters, why not? People did it for decades upon decades.

Just be prepared for the day when, while waiting at the start line, someone on a carbon fiber wonderbike points and says, "What are those things?" It'll be even more fun if you can drop that person.
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Old 11-12-22, 10:29 AM
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yes ,I don't see why it should be a problem, I bought a pair of sl 7800 for upgrading my peugeot race bike to 20 speed. I have raced in the past with dt shifters, it wasn't a problem.
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Old 11-12-22, 10:41 AM
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I'd say a lot depends on how well you handle the bike. I think if you show up for a group ride of youngish (like, under 50) riders, they may be wary of you, and in that situation you'll want to demonstrate that you can hold the pace and hold your line as well as anyone else, and that the DT shifters don't make you a liability to other riders. The shifters per se aren't the issue, it's how you use them. Are you adept at reaching down with one hand to shift one or both levers without looking and without either slowing down or deviating from your line? Are you good at anticipating the gear you'll need, since when you hit a steep pitch you'll have to be in the gear you need BEFORE you get to it?
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Old 11-12-22, 10:41 AM
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You don't do much sprinting or fast hard climbs do you. During those times I much prefer to have both hands on the bars. So it makes sense for me to keep shifters on the bars where my hands need to be.
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Old 11-12-22, 11:40 AM
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I remodeled most of my old bikes with brifters. I thought it would be fun to put downtube shifters back on one of them. I like that they're lighter and I like the sound, especially on a big aluminum downtube. They were fun until I had to shift while standing on a climb. I switched back when I got home.
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Old 11-12-22, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Tone
I remodeled most of my old bikes with brifters. I thought it would be fun to put downtube shifters back on one of them. I like that they're lighter and I like the sound, especially on a big aluminum downtube. They were fun until I had to shift while standing on a climb. I switched back when I got home.
Route selection is key. The other thing about DT shifter bikes is that since they tend to be from pre-1995, they also tend to have "Hero Gears". You know, 52/42 x 12-21, 13-23 - that kind of thing. I rooted around on Ebay so that I could put at least a 12-25 on all my DT shifter bikes. Even so, I tend to ride them only on routes that don't have extended climbs. I CAN do medium length climbs on them, but it's a chore.
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Old 11-12-22, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Route selection is key. The other thing about DT shifter bikes is that since they tend to be from pre-1995, they also tend to have "Hero Gears". You know, 52/42 x 12-21, 13-23 - that kind thing. I routed around on Ebay so that I could put at least a 12-25 on all my DT shifter bikes. Even so, I tend to ride them only on routes that don't have extended climbs. I CAN do medium length climbs on them, but it's a chore.
Agree. I still have two bike with DT shifters, but they're just for relatively flat rides.
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Old 11-12-22, 12:24 PM
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I'll throw in my two cents here since I do have a performance oriented bike with downtube shifters - it's my 'office bike' and it gets used for group rides, both fast and casual. It's not my primary road bike, but it does get ridden hard. Downtube shifters are fine for riding in a group with others when they're on integrated if you have the handling skills to hold your line while shifting, you're a strong enough rider that being in less than optimal gearing on occasion doesn't hold you back, and you're mindful of how using them changes your shift pattern and timing. A more important thing to be concerned with when riding with people who are on different bikes are the differences in brakes and how that translates to stopping distance and brake timing.

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Old 11-12-22, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by lasauge
I'll throw in my two cents here since I do have a performance oriented bike with downtube shifters - it's my 'office bike' and it gets used for group rides, both fast and casual. It's not my primary road bike, but it does get ridden hard. Downtube shifters are fine for riding in a group with others when they're on integrated if you have the handling skills to hold your line while shifting, you're a strong enough rider that being in less than optimal gearing on occasion doesn't hold you back, and you're mindful of how using them changes your shift pattern and timing. A more important thing to be concerned with when riding with people who are on different bikes are the differences in brakes and how that translates to stopping distance and brake timing.

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Old 11-12-22, 12:33 PM
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You can move your downtube shifters to the bar ends with pods - an easy conversion - and keep both hands on the bars while shifting
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Old 11-12-22, 12:42 PM
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I have 11-speed bar-end shifters, and if possible would like to replace them with down-tube friction shifters. Are there any options? Do they actually work?
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Old 11-12-22, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I have 11-speed bar-end shifters, and if possible would like to replace them with down-tube friction shifters. Are there any options? Do they actually work?
I'm not aware of any friction DT shifters that pull enough cable for an 11-sp drivetrain, but you can install your bar end shifters on downtube studs and retain the indexing.
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Old 11-12-22, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Route selection is key. The other thing about DT shifter bikes is that since they tend to be from pre-1995, they also tend to have "Hero Gears". You know, 52/42 x 12-21, 13-23 - that kind of thing. I rooted around on Ebay so that I could put at least a 12-25 on all my DT shifter bikes. Even so, I tend to ride them only on routes that don't have extended climbs. I CAN do medium length climbs on them, but it's a chore.
Agreed - I have a 11-28 cassette and a 42 small ring. Thats plenty enough for the terrain(the lack of it) here and my fitness situation but I can see it being a problem for many.

Encouraged by the responses here, I think I will proceed with the bike. I have a fair bit of experience with dt shifters so Im quite confident on my handling skills. Looking forward to this, thanks all
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Old 11-12-22, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I have 11-speed bar-end shifters, and if possible would like to replace them with down-tube friction shifters. Are there any options? Do they actually work?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/11385218351...iABEgKA_fD_BwE
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Old 11-12-22, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by lasauge
I'm not aware of any friction DT shifters that pull enough cable for an 11-sp drivetrain, but you can install your bar end shifters on downtube studs and retain the indexing.
Thanks. I never even thought of that. They are Microshift, FWIW. If that rectangular-shaped bolt matches what is on the frame, I guess this should be an option.
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Old 11-12-22, 01:11 PM
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Am I the only one who would prefer downtube friction front shifting to index/brifter?
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Old 11-12-22, 01:16 PM
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No.
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Old 11-12-22, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster
Am I the only one who would prefer downtube friction front shifting to index/brifter?
It was a popular choice for mountain Time Trial stages, among drug-assisted Tour de France Winners in the 1990s.
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Old 11-12-22, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster
Am I the only one who would prefer downtube friction front shifting to index/brifter?
I went from friction downtube shifters to Di2 and skipped everything between 1987 at 2014 (two different bikes). I like both of these extremes. Then I started to use mechanical indexed shifting, and now realize electronic shifting probably was developed in part to compensate for "progress" since the late 1980s.
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Old 11-12-22, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Route selection is key. The other thing about DT shifter bikes is that since they tend to be from pre-1995, they also tend to have "Hero Gears". You know, 52/42 x 12-21, 13-23 - that kind of thing. I rooted around on Ebay so that I could put at least a 12-25 on all my DT shifter bikes. Even so, I tend to ride them only on routes that don't have extended climbs. I CAN do medium length climbs on them, but it's a chore.
Originally Posted by Jack Tone
Agree. I still have two bike with DT shifters, but they're just for relatively flat rides.
Hmm. My only DT shift bike currently has an 8 speed cassette with 50-34 in front and 11-28 in back. I'm no hero, but I can ride pretty good hills with it. I have the exact same gearing on my two other road bikes that have shift/brake levers. Nothing's flat round here.

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Old 11-12-22, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I have 11-speed bar-end shifters, and if possible would like to replace them with down-tube friction shifters. Are there any options? Do they actually work?
I don't know about 11 speed friction from any personal experience But I did try friction DT shifting with a 9 speed cassette a few years ago. I "grew up" and rode through the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s with 5-7 speed (rear) friction shifting. I feel I know how to shift friction shifters.

I could shift the 9 speed OK but it was a bit fussy to trim. The spaces between the sprockets is so small that it's much more difficult to get the shift just right and I had a few occasions where it would ghost shift without me hearing any sound that sounded like it needed trimming. So I just was too distracted getting the 9 speed right on. I got some 9 speed DA indexed DT shifters and they worked much better. My guess is that 11 speed friction might be way too fussy to get right.
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Old 11-12-22, 06:07 PM
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Yeah, my 11-speed indexed bar ends are hard enough to get right. I was hoping for a miracle, with shorter shift cables, but the truth is my arms are so short I was never a natural down-tube shifter.
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Old 11-12-22, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
Hmm. My only DT shift bike currently has an 8 speed cassette with 50-34 in front and 11-28 in back. I'm no hero, but I can ride pretty good hills with it. I have the exact same gearing on my two other road bikes that have shift/brake levers. Nothing's flat round here.
It's definitely possible to build a DT shifter bike with wider gearing. For me, though, my DT shifter bikes are C&V, and the cranksets are all 130mm BCD, so I can't do chainrings smaller than 39 without changing to a different crankset, which doesn't fit with what I want the bikes to be (as close to original as possible). Similarly, at the back end, I could use a wider cassette, but then I'd have to use different derailleurs, which also doesn't fit with what I want. AND they've all got C&V brakes, which are not as good as dual pivots, so the fact that I can't do extended climbs also means I don't do long descents, so it all works out. I do have one with a 6sp 13-32 cassette, but I find I'm not really fond of the big jumps between cogs - I'm spoiled by 10 and 11 speeds!
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