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Downtube Shifters?

Old 09-20-10, 10:37 PM
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Downtube Shifters?

Downtube vs. Integrated.

Whats advantages of each? While reading the component list of the Allez Double Steel, I read that the bike has "reliable" downtube shifters. Are they really more reliable than integrated (or brifters?- still a little lax on the roadie lingo).

I read in another post on bike forums via archives, that a disadvantage to DT shifters is that its harder to shift while still in motion, and harder to shift fluidly since you have to reach down and shift as opposed to keeping form and tapping a lever.

If you had a bike, such as the Allez double steel, that had DT Shifters, would you throw on Integrated shifters and use DT boss adapters for it?

Is integrated shifters "less reliable" since there are more moving parts to contend with (..thats an assumption. Sorry if im wrong).

Thanks for the help guys.
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Old 09-20-10, 10:50 PM
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Three advantages to downtube shifters: simple, light, and cheap.

There is one advantage to integrated shifters, but it's a doozy: they make shifting easier.

Disadvantages:
downtube - have to move your hand a long ways to shift. Hence you don't shift as often and thus are less efficient.
integrated - they are expensive. A little less reliable but not hugely, and definitely heavier than downtube.
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Old 09-20-10, 10:54 PM
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They're more reliable because they are so much more simple; brifters have more mechanical parts than downtube shifters, so yes you could say they are "less reliable." However, if you properly maintain your shifters (brifter, downtube, bar-con, etc) they should last you just fine.

Personally, I love downtube shifters, but brifters are much easier to use and are more user-friendly. Downtube shifters are IMO more interesting and the learning curve (especially if they're indexed) is very minimal.

Of course you could upgrade to brifters and put cable stops on the dt braze-ons, but if you want brifters in the first place there are better options for what you want out there for similar money.
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Old 09-20-10, 10:57 PM
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I have a bike with each. Integrated shifters are better if you're an aggressive rider that races, or wants to race soon. If you're commuting or touring or something, DT shifters would make more sense since they are inexpensive and not prone to breaking or being damaged to the extent that integrated shifters are.
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Old 09-20-10, 11:31 PM
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I recently got back riding with DT shifters. It's fun and I want more of it
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Old 09-21-10, 08:21 AM
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I like to think of DT shifts as "suicide shifters" since you have to take your hands (and sometimes eyes) off the bars (and road) in order to shift. Doesn't seem like a big deal until your drafting in a paceline going 25mph+, you reach down to shift, and the guy 2 inches off your wheel front wheel decides to sit up.

YMMV
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Old 09-21-10, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cmolway
I like to think of DT shifts as "suicide shifters" since you have to take your hands (and sometimes eyes) off the bars (and road) in order to shift. Doesn't seem like a big deal until your drafting in a paceline going 25mph+, you reach down to shift, and the guy 2 inches off your wheel front wheel decides to sit up.

YMMV
people were able to do it when all there was was downtube shifters, why can't they do it now?
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Old 09-21-10, 08:47 AM
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I think brifters are one of the best advancements in cycling. I would not go back to DT shifters. I still have a bike with un-indexted DT shifters but I longer ride it. To me, brifters and clipless pedals have changed cycling for the better.

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Old 09-21-10, 09:10 AM
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I like DT shifters... but I don't race. I do ride fast, often pace-line, and ride in the fast group rides.
I ride a 51cm bike, so it's not a far reach for me, and I have learned to shift well... my fingers do the indexing for me (shifters are friction). If I put my hand on my top tube I can use my middle finger to flick through the gears as a accelerate.

If I were doing crits, yeah, brifters for sure. I mean, you can't shift while in a standing sprint with DT shifters. Climbing hills might require a LITTLE more forethought also. But just road riding, it's whatever you are comfy on. Some people don't like taking a hand off the bars. I have ZERO problem riding one or no handed.


I do ride clipless though
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Old 09-21-10, 09:14 AM
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if you are just riding for fun and fitness and want a pretty nice bike at a low cost, that Allez steel is a very nice bike that has caught a lot of peoples eyes. Down the road you could certainly upgrade it to brifters. It's pretty much as everyone here has said, downtube shifters are cheap and durable. The only thing that nobody mentioned that is also nice is if you are running them in friction mode instead of indexed you can trim downtube shifters perfectly so no chain rattling around rubbing against the fd and fewer periodic deraileur adjustments.
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Old 09-21-10, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Submison
people were able to do it when all there was was downtube shifters, why can't they do it now?
People also used to ride Penny Farthings too. Sometimes the technology improves so much that there is no real point to going back to what worked in the past.

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Old 09-21-10, 10:06 AM
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I love 'em, and if it weren't for racing, I'd never buy brifters again. $80 or so for DA 7900 down tube shifters (plus whatever brake levers) vs. $500 or so for the STI's means more room in the budget for wheels. Hell, I have a friend who races (or really, dabbles in cat 5 racing) with DT shifters.

I also race cross with downtube shifters, but I won't tell you it's ideal, or even a good idea.

The cool thing about them is that once you develop the muscle memory to reach for them (takes maybe a week), you don't have to look down at all to see where you are on the cassette; you'll be able to tell by feel.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mazdaspeed
I have a bike with each. Integrated shifters are better if you're an aggressive rider that races, or wants to race soon. If you're commuting or touring or something, DT shifters would make more sense since they are inexpensive and not prone to breaking or being damaged to the extent that integrated shifters are.
I like brifters even for the commuter because you can shift more often, and they work particularly well when standing. As far as reliability goes, of course they can't match DT, but you can abuse them and they'll still give years of service. I've never had one fail to last at least 25K miles, and I'm hard on equipment.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by banerjek
I like brifters even for the commuter because you can shift more often, and they work particularly well when standing. As far as reliability goes, of course they can't match DT, but you can abuse them and they'll still give years of service. I've never had one fail to last at least 25K miles, and I'm hard on equipment.
Yup. People talk about STI internals in particular as though they're a hard drive or something, but I've never had one fail on me.

I don't think the "shifting more often" argument holds water. It's more habit than anything else, once you get past the not-so-steep learning curve with DT's. If you're used to STI's and shifting every 10 pedal strokes, you're likely to do the same with DT's. Riding one or the other exclusively will change your habits over time, of course, but I frequently ride both in the same day (commute on the aforementioned DT-equipped CX bike, then go home and jump on the road bike), and I shift about the same on either. Only difference is I find myself reaching down to shift if I'm tooling along at commute speeds on my road bike.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by pretzelface
I love 'em, and if it weren't for racing, I'd never buy brifters again. $80 or so for DA 7900 down tube shifters (plus whatever brake levers) vs. $500 or so for the STI's means more room in the budget for wheels. Hell, I have a friend who races (or really, dabbles in cat 5 racing) with DT shifters.

I also race cross with downtube shifters, but I won't tell you it's ideal, or even a good idea.

The cool thing about them is that once you develop the muscle memory to reach for them (takes maybe a week), you don't have to look down at all to see where you are on the cassette; you'll be able to tell by feel.
I have Campagnolo brifters which are rebuildable. So, cost is not really an issue with me. I bought the bike used in 2006 and haven't had any problems with the brifters. I think they can be rebuilt for around $80.00.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pretzelface
I don't think the "shifting more often" argument holds water. It's more habit than anything else, once you get past the not-so-steep learning curve with DT's. If you're used to STI's and shifting every 10 pedal strokes, you're likely to do the same with DT's.
This is certainly the case -- I rode DT's for many years.

However, even with HID lighting, I hit a heck of a lot of debris (some of which is quite large) when riding in the winter, so I see keeping my hands on the bars as safety issue, though not a major one. And shifting while standing is definitely way better with brifters.

One advantage of DT not mentioned yet is if you ever intend to lock your bike to a rack, you're a bit less of a target.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:32 AM
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I wonder what people would think if the "original" shifters were integrated and then recently someone invented DT shifters.

FWIW I have one bike with DT shifters and one with brifters. Each shifter type has its relative strengths and weaknesses.

I really don't think I buy that brifters are "safer" since you keep your hands on the bar. Maybe, but in decades of using DT shifters I have never had a problem. The main thing is to keep one hand on the bar with thumb butted up near the stem and make sure fingers are hooked around the bars, that way an unexpected bump will not cause problems.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:33 AM
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Unless you are racing at a high level, it makes very little difference.

It is just what you get use to. Once you learn how to use DT's they become second nature.
Brifters to me have become the norm, but DT's work just as well. At times better.
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Old 09-21-10, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas
I really don't think I buy that brifters are "safer" since you keep your hands on the bar. Maybe, but in decades of using DT shifters I have never had a problem.
I've wiped out shifting on rough terrain, but again, nobody said using DT's for cyclocross was smart.
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Old 09-21-10, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jr59
Unless you are racing at a high level, it makes very little difference.
why doesn't everyone racing at a low level use them then?

you can shift using indexed at any time over anything. DT shifters not so much.
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Old 09-21-10, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by darkadious
why doesn't everyone racing at a low level use them then?

you can shift using indexed at any time over anything. DT shifters not so much.
My down tube shifters are indexed. I assume you meant to say "integrated shift levers," "brifters," or possibly "STI's."

To answer your question, though, your implication is correct. Racing at the lower categories is sketchy enough without everyone reaching down to shift. That said, they're still legal, and there are a few guys who show up with them and don't have problems. I wouldn't want to multiply that by the entire pack, though.

The only real performance disadvantage other than the sketch factor is that you have to pick your shifts a bit in advance; you can't shift standing up or while doing active bike-handling.
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Old 09-21-10, 11:57 AM
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The Tuesday Crits still has guys riding DT and do well. MY steelie equipped with campagnolo ergo 8 speed has not needed a rebuild since I owned 1999. I started using it less using it last year and even in my not so much cycling years I rode to work not less than 80 miles a week, so it has 30K plus miles if I just count commuting miles. A upper Cat racer owned it before me and used it a lot before for almost 2 years and I do not think he rebuilt it either. So brifters can last a while as well.

Oh BTW I like them. I even like the friction shifters type. the non indexed.
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Old 09-21-10, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jr59
Unless you are racing at a high level, it makes very little difference.
Not sure that actual need should be a consideration. Sports/luxury cars make no sense from a practical point of view. Come to think of it, none of the nice stuff from any area of life does.
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Old 09-21-10, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by darkadious
why doesn't everyone racing at a low level use them then?

you can shift using indexed at any time over anything. DT shifters not so much.
Bike shops and bike co.'s wouldn't have anything to sell.

What makes you think you can't shift DT's over anything?
Besides you have never/rarely used them.
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Old 09-21-10, 12:06 PM
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I have found one advantage of DT friction shifters is that i can use any cassette on the back. I can easily use 8,9, or 10 speed rear wheel with virtually no hassle.
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