Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Are down-tube shifters any good?

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Are down-tube shifters any good?

Old 07-26-09, 07:16 AM
  #1  
ricadoo
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cork, Ireland
Posts: 41

Bikes: Vitesse Sprint

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Are down-tube shifters any good?

I am looking at this road bike. I already have one, but this will be a second sort of back up one. It's second hand and it's really nice, but I have noticed it has down-tube shifters. I am used to grip-shifts and bar-end ones, so, I'm hoping you guys can tell me the advantages and dis-advantages with down-tubes.
Thnx
ricadoo is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:21 AM
  #2  
Steev
Senior Member
 
Steev's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Backwoods of Ontario
Posts: 2,152
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Super simple, cheap and reliable is about all they have going for them.
I guess if you're a luddite, they're what has been used for years and years until intergrated shift/brake levers came along.
Steev is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:29 AM
  #3  
ricadoo
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cork, Ireland
Posts: 41

Bikes: Vitesse Sprint

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Steev View Post
I guess if you're a luddite
What does this mean - Im still quiet new to cycling
ricadoo is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:33 AM
  #4  
Walter
SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07
 
Walter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: SE Florida, USA aka the Treasure Coast
Posts: 5,400
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 4 Posts
"Luddite" is actually a historical term. It denotes people who don't like new technology. You can look up the industrial revolution background if you want more.

I rode downtubes for years and don't disparage them but modern brifters are much easier to use.
__________________
“Life is not one damned thing after another. Life is one damned thing over and over.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Last edited by Walter; 07-26-09 at 07:44 AM.
Walter is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:37 AM
  #5  
Walter
SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07
 
Walter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: SE Florida, USA aka the Treasure Coast
Posts: 5,400
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 4 Posts
BTW, since you're new. "Brifter" is a term coined by the late Sheldon Brown (look him up, definitely worth your time) for the "new" gear shift and brake lever integrated unit.

Shimano calls theirs "STI," Campagnolo uses the term "Ergo." I don't know if SRAM has a specific TM generic name for their shifters.
__________________
“Life is not one damned thing after another. Life is one damned thing over and over.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Walter is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:39 AM
  #6  
BillyD
Administrator
 
BillyD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Posts: 27,779

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene '04; Bridgestone RB-1 '92

Mentioned: 295 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7817 Post(s)
Liked 1,277 Times in 728 Posts
If you're getting a good price for the bike, don't let downtube shifters be a show stopper. They are very reliable and functional despite being "old school" traditional. They're just not as convenient to shift with as brifters . . . you have to lean forward and reach down to change gears.
__________________
See, this is why we can't have nice things. - - smarkinson
Where else but the internet can a bunch of cyclists go and be the tough guy? - - jdon
BillyD is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:43 AM
  #7  
JBHoren
Living 'n Dying in ¾-Time
 
JBHoren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Greenacres, FL
Posts: 640
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Steev View Post
Super simple, cheap and reliable is about all they have going for them.
I guess if you're a luddite, they're what has been used for years and years until intergrated shift/brake levers came along.
Originally Posted by ricadoo View Post
What does this mean - Im still quiet new to cycling
From Wikipedia: "The Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the early nineteenth century who protested—often by destroying mechanized looms—against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their entire way of life."

It's not an Irish thing, at all.
JBHoren is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:50 AM
  #8  
rugerben
Senior Member
 
rugerben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,509
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I like DT shifters.
They are very simple, reliable, don't really break, aren't likely to get mucked up in a crash, and just in case you find a way to break them, they are very very easy and very cheap to replace.

Brifters are significantly heavier than DT shifters, more complicated to tune and adjust, much more expensive, and much more likely to get broken if you crash because of their position. The real advantage here is the ergonomics. I love brifters because I can shift without having to move my hands to another position. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you've ever had to shift while moving down hill at 50+mph, in a strong crosswind, or while sprinting out of the saddle, you know just how big of a deal this is.

One of my favorite shifting methods is bar-end shifters. Kinda like DT shifters, but on the ends of the bars. 95% as easy and functional as brifters, but at the same time, they retain all the advantages of DT shifters.

In the end, my road/race bike uses brifters. My touring bike and commuting bike have bar end shifters, and I could not be happier with the set-ups.

Last edited by rugerben; 07-26-09 at 08:05 AM.
rugerben is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:53 AM
  #9  
big john
Senior Member
 
big john's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: In the foothills of Los Angeles County
Posts: 14,335
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1467 Post(s)
Liked 935 Times in 569 Posts
We used them for years without problems, well, except for sticking my finger into the front wheel a couple times.
big john is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 07:56 AM
  #10  
eb314
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 848

Bikes: 07 Cannondale Six13 (9 speed Ultegra) + 19?? Lugged Steel Specialized Allez Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
They aren't good for racing - they'll put you at a disadvantage to people using brifters. This could also hold true for group rides. I've done group rides on my downtube bike and it isn't as convenient during sprints.
eb314 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:08 AM
  #11  
BreakingWind
BreakingWind
 
BreakingWind's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Colorado
Posts: 51

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, Specialized Ruby Pro, Santana Tandem, Trek MTB, Santa Cruz Blur

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I always liked the DT shifters. Before there were any other styles, nobody thought twice about DT functionality. IMO the drawback comes when you need to shift while out of the saddle. Not sure I need to shift while going 50+ mph because I'm spun out, but the point is well taken regarding leaving handlebars to shift under less-than-ideal conditions. I also believe DT shifters are superior when it comes to trimming deraillers.
BreakingWind is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:10 AM
  #12  
green814
Sneaky Fast....
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Swartz Creek, Mi
Posts: 394

Bikes: 2007 Specialized Epic Expert, 2005 Giant TCR C3, 1996 Specialized Stumpjumper M2Comp, 1986 Raleigh Capri 10spd, 1982 KHS Turbo 12spd, Wife's: 2010 Specialized Safire Comp Komen, 2007 Specialized Dolce Elite, 2005 Giant OCR3, 2000 Trek 6000 WSD

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by BillyD View Post
If you're getting a good price for the bike, don't let downtube shifters be a show stopper. They are very reliable and functional despite being "old school" traditional. They're just not as convenient to shift with as brifters . . . you have to lean forward and reach down to change gears.
And if it is REALLY a good price, you can always look for some good condition used "Brifters" down the road.

Pictures when/if you get it!

Chris
green814 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:17 AM
  #13  
eb314
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 848

Bikes: 07 Cannondale Six13 (9 speed Ultegra) + 19?? Lugged Steel Specialized Allez Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by green814 View Post
And if it is REALLY a good price, you can always look for some good condition used "Brifters" down the road.

Pictures when/if you get it!

Chris
Yeah..For an older bike I bet you could get some Shimano 600 for cheap.
eb314 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 09:07 AM
  #14  
rugerben
Senior Member
 
rugerben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,509
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by BreakingWind View Post
I always liked the DT shifters. Before there were any other styles, nobody thought twice about DT functionality. IMO the drawback comes when you need to shift while out of the saddle. Not sure I need to shift while going 50+ mph because I'm spun out, but the point is well taken regarding leaving handlebars to shift under less-than-ideal conditions. I also believe DT shifters are superior when it comes to trimming deraillers.
Red light at the bottom of a looooooong hill on my route. I like to downshift on the way up to the light so I can get through the intersection faster, so even if I'm spun out, I'll still downshift in preparation.

Yeah, removing hands while in hairy conditions is asking for it. At least when you are an uncoordinated Fred like me.
rugerben is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 09:15 AM
  #15  
sirious94
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 697
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
if you rides are steep rolling hills and twisty roads, DT shifters are a very big inconvenience. But on the flats, long uphills, and long downhils, reaching them is no problem. A ride where you don't have to shift as much as normal is definitely reccommended, but if you have to shift suddenly, they will still work... barely.
sirious94 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 04:29 PM
  #16  
ricadoo
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cork, Ireland
Posts: 41

Bikes: Vitesse Sprint

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thnx guys, so many good inputs here I can't quote them all . In regard to me racing the bike - I won't be. I'm going to use this a second sort of errand-bike - so I wouldn't mind about the shifting problems while racing . I'll try and get some pics when I get it so you can criticise ( constructively I hope!! )
ricadoo is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:05 PM
  #17  
DannoXYZ 
Senior Member
 
DannoXYZ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Saratoga, CA
Posts: 11,739
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 106 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
I used DT shifters for 20-years before going to the 1st-gen DA 8-spd STI levers 5-years into racing. In all-out conditions, they do provide some benefits; like the difference between 1st & 2nd or 5th and 3rd. But they won't turn pack-fodder into winners.

If it's just a commuter, then you won't notice any major functional differences between DT shifters versus brifters. I actually removed them from my race bike and went back to DT shifters because the additional weight on the handlebars slowed down my handling too much.
DannoXYZ is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:14 PM
  #18  
johnny99
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Northern California
Posts: 10,878
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 104 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
If you prefer bar-end shifters, they are still available and replacing the downtube shifters with bar-end shifters is fairly easy to do and not very expensive.
johnny99 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:39 PM
  #19  
JesseJarj
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 23
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My commuter has a mid-80's 105 groupo with DT shifters. When you mix them with a wonky headset it's actually kind of fun... Fun in a suicidal way that is.

... But seriously I don't mind it that much compared to brifters. I keep threatening to do a crit with my commuter.
JesseJarj is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:42 PM
  #20  
Jtgyk
Senior Member
 
Jtgyk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Richardson TX
Posts: 1,308
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
With DTs you can shift both the front and back der with one hand.
__________________
Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
>>>Team Critical Mess<<< (You mean it's not SUPPOSE to hurt?)

My nice new Nashbar Touring Build AKA "The Flying Avocadooooooooo!"
1998(?) Trek 700 Multitrack
1995 Trek 1220 AKA "Jimi"
Older Non-suspension Specialized Hardrock
Jtgyk is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 08:52 PM
  #21  
trueno92
Building a better Strida
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: toronto, canada
Posts: 1,107

Bikes: bianchi brava 1988. fuji track 2007, 2006 Bianchi Pista, 1987 Miele and a strida knock off

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
With DTs you can shift both the front and back der with one hand.
I think with enough practice its possible.

With right hand, pull down on the left shifter to get on the big ring.
at the same time use middle/index finger to throw the right shifter forward a gear or so.

But if the rider likes his/her face, then not a good idea.
trueno92 is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 09:22 PM
  #22  
trustnoone
Senior Member
 
trustnoone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Edmonton AB
Posts: 520

Bikes: 2011 Colnago World Cup, 2012 Eddy Merckx AMX-2

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yes they're good. More races have been won with DT shifters than any other type of mechanism. Just none in the last 10 years.

I've ridden DT since the late 80's until this spring when I bought a new Kona with a 105 10sp group. I love STI/brifters. Shifting while turning and out of the saddle is great. That being said I rode my old Specialized w/ 7sp DT yesterday over 60km. I had to think a little more about gear selection and no matter how hard I pushed my break levers I couldn't get my derailleur to shift (coincidently this is now considered a benefit of the new DA 7950 electric shifting).

As a secondary bike DT's are fine. They last nearly forever. At least mine are going on 17 years. Easy maintenance. I looked at the STI's when I needed a cable replaced and threw the bike in the back of the car and took it to the shop.

If it is a classy bike with a good group I'd say rock on. You'll get lotsa bang for the buck and when you watch 'Quicksilver', 'Breaking Away', and TdF pre-90s you'll know what they're doing with their hands.
trustnoone is offline  
Old 07-26-09, 09:43 PM
  #23  
halfspeed
Senior Member
 
halfspeed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: SE Minnesota
Posts: 12,275

Bikes: are better than yours.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Walter View Post
BTW, since you're new. "Brifter" is a term coined by the late Sheldon Brown
He strenuously denied this claim.

Originally Posted by Walter View Post
Shimano calls theirs "STI," Campagnolo uses the term "Ergo." I don't know if SRAM has a specific TM generic name for their shifters.
Double Tap.
__________________
Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.
halfspeed is offline  
Old 07-27-09, 03:40 AM
  #24  
ricadoo
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cork, Ireland
Posts: 41

Bikes: Vitesse Sprint

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
If you prefer bar-end shifters, they are still available and replacing the downtube shifters with bar-end shifters is fairly easy to do and not very expensive.
I might look into this - I'll see first how the DT's are going.
How would I go about this; would I do it myself or go to a shop?
ricadoo is offline  
Old 07-27-09, 05:59 AM
  #25  
rugerben
Senior Member
 
rugerben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,509
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Easy to do yourself. I replaced RSX DT shifters on my c-dale touring bike with Ultegra bar-end shifters. $56 from Jenson for Ultegra level. I set up the bar-end shifters in about one hour. Even then, it was my first time and I was going slowly.

Here's a pic just so you get an idea.

rugerben is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.