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What's your preference for touring bike shifters?

Old 08-08-15, 02:43 PM
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Kertrek
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What's your preference for touring bike shifters?

I was looking at touring bikes yesterday and I saw a nice road style touring bike with drop bars and shifters at the ends of the bars (I had no idea what those doohickeys were before yesterday). Those shifters seem far from where I'll be keeping my hands. I saw another one with trekking bars and thumb shifters, but I've heard those shifters can get in the way of your hand placement. What is your preference for shifters?
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Old 08-08-15, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
I was looking at touring bikes yesterday and I saw a nice road style touring bike with drop bars and shifters at the ends of the bars (I had no idea what those doohickeys were before yesterday). Those shifters seem far from where I'll be keeping my hands. I saw another one with trekking bars and thumb shifters, but I've heard those shifters can get in the way of your hand placement. What is your preference for shifters?

I am using Raceface Ride XC Flat Handlebars with Shimano XT mtn Shifters and Avid Speed Dial
Brake Levers on my Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008
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Old 08-08-15, 04:47 PM
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Thumb shifters for me... Those shifters at the end of the handle bars are a step back for me, Maybe a step and a half, especially for the ones that don't have indexing... The new fangled brake lever shifters may be OK once one get's used to them but... Like I said, thumb shifters...
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Old 08-08-15, 04:52 PM
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SunTour ratcheting friction barcons. Friction bar end shifters that ratchet one way to make adjusting easy and precise.

Love em. They are incredibly simple to use and have a classic look to compliment my older bikes.

If I ever buy a new bike, it will have bar ends.
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Old 08-08-15, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
... and shifters at the ends of the bars (I had no idea what those doohickeys were before yesterday). ..

...What is your preference for shifters?
I prefer doohickeys.
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Old 08-08-15, 06:30 PM
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For drop bars, another vote for doohickeys.

My current favorite setup however is Zoom Brahma bars (the version that curl back in at the ends) with regular MTB shifter/brake lever combos.
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Old 08-08-15, 06:54 PM
  #7  
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For drop bar, hands down bar end shifters. Less chance of getting damaged in shipping. If the indexing is damaged, you can always switch over to the old fashioned friction shift.
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Old 08-08-15, 07:03 PM
  #8  
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I just rode about 2700 km from Perth to Peterborough, South Australia. 40 lb steel custom built bike. Bar end shifters. They work and I have never had issues with them on 3 different long tours thru the Australian outback. Another trip for next year is the Cape York peninsula ~ 1000 km on (basically) a remote dirt road. It could take a month during July/Aug 2016.

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Old 08-08-15, 07:16 PM
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I like bar-end shifters and have been switching all of my bikes to them as other shifters wear out. I ride in the drops a lot,mand they are also easy to reach from the hoods or bar tops.
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Old 08-08-15, 07:39 PM
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I have flat bars with bar ends. I'm a big fan of grip/twist shifters in that configuration.
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Old 08-08-15, 08:33 PM
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I'm also a fan of bar end shifters, and am also a fan of the old suntour shifters. Although I'll come in and say that they are not nearly as durable as people claim. I've actually seen more destroyed bar end shifters than various integrated brifters. I completely sheared a bar end shifter off it's mount when I ate it on a dirt path, it hit an embankment pretty hard and was completely toast when I picked up my bike- had to hobble back home in my highest gear, because I certainly wasn't shifting with it. I've also lost two when cable ends have gotten stuck in the recessed hole. I was able to revive one through careful use of a dremel, but the other one is lost to me. It's possible that some form of maintenance will prevent this, but I'm not sure what that is.
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Old 08-08-15, 10:49 PM
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Had Shimano brifters for ~10,000 km, easy shifting was a pleasure though gear cables stuck out interfering w/front luggage. Ridden 6,500 km w/current bar-ends that are reliable & smooth. But reaching down/back to shift necessitates lifting shoulder/arm a bit which can be a bit annoying when tired. AFAIK hands-on-brake hoods is most common position for both roadies & (drop-bar) tourers in which case shifting is quicker & safer.

If Campy or similar top-quality firm made brifters that worked w/Shimano 9-speed derailleurs I'd buy 'em pronto. Campy traditionally emphasized repairable equipment & doesn't often break either. Brifters perhaps not best choice for crossing Gobi desert but I don't do such tours anyway. Current 48/36/26 x 11-34 Disc Trucker gearing requires lots of shifting, middle-chainring near useless on flats (though I'm hardly a speedy rider). So often I have to do both front & rear shifts which takes much more effort & time than w/brifters.
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Old 08-08-15, 11:44 PM
  #13  
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Bar end shifters ... plffft That's the first thing that hits the ground when you wipe out.
My 2 IGH shifters are on the top tube where I can use either hand and the cables don't need to be bothering steering or cargo.
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Old 08-09-15, 08:13 AM
  #14  
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Sun Tour ratchet friction bar end shifters.** used for 30 years, on the derailleur bikes,

** if the bike falls over a scuff in the outside face of the shifter pod won't stop the function.

[even if you have to have a rear ( with its matching 'speeds' count ) indexed right shifter, the other, friction one,
on the left, lets you move the FD aside just enough, to be eliminating any cage rub against the chain]



but the friction less* twist shifter with the Rohloff hub is great.

* in your hand there is no resistance, there is some in the 2 pulling cable runs, but the shift sequencing is all in the hub itself.

Rohloff grip shifter is on Trekking bars


BTW , Not my bikes but have boxed up 4 riders bikes after they crossed the continent. this month,
they liked Brifters ,some Sram most Shimano. UPS is shifting them back to their homes.

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-13-15 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 08-09-15, 08:52 AM
  #15  
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I've used downtube shifters, STIs, thumb shifters, and bar end a/k/a doohickies. The doohickies are my favorite but they all work. I did a cross country with rear panniers and low riders in '97 with downtube shifters. They worked fine. I have STI's on a bridgestone XO-2 and I just rode that bike in the Dairyland Dare. The STIs are pretty sweet for a very hilly ride. I've used the suntour ratcheting bar end shifters; they're great. But hands down the best are the shimano bar end shifters.
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Old 08-09-15, 10:21 AM
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I like bar end shifters as well on drop bars.
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Old 08-09-15, 11:40 AM
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Bar ends. I've never had brifters break, but I've had plenty of derailleurs and derailleur hangars damaged. When the indexing goes south, the first thing I do is switch my shifter to friction mode. With brifters, I'd be f'ed. I've toured in plenty of places where it would have taken me weeks, if not a month, to ride to the closest city with a modern bike shop.

I do enjoy brifters on my road bike.
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Old 08-09-15, 10:21 PM
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Bar End shifters are the way to go, for me. They are super versatile, I can mount them as bar end shifters, I can get Paul thumbies and mount them elsewhere on my bars, I can get Genvenalle "brifters" and mount them on the brake levers or I could probably figure a way to mount them on the stem or downtube? There are fewer parts to break and I could go friction or indexed. Heck I can even get plastic "crabon" ones and run a fancy new SRAM Red drivetrain if I wanted to.
@DropBarFan, I have a friend who is running Crampandgoslo 8 speed brifters on a Shimano 9 speed. Currently they are semi-broken and he has some how cobbled them together to run them on friction but at one point they functioned quite well.
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Old 08-10-15, 05:06 AM
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Non indexed bar ends. By far the most reliable.
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Old 08-10-15, 06:43 AM
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I've got bar end shifters on drop bars, but will be putting a down tube shifter on the left side, in order to free up the bar end for a mirror.

That said, I still find the smoothest shifting is on my commuter with friction stem shifters, so I'd happily but them on my touring bike as well if the bar-end shifters broke or whatever.
I know a lot of people have a problem with "suicide" stem shifters, but they've always worked for me...

Moving your hand to shift is so automatic that bar-end or stem is a non issue. Bar-end shifters are great when you're in the drops.
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Old 08-10-15, 06:50 AM
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I have tried brifters, bar end shifters, and down tube shifters.

I liked STI brifters pretty well, found down tube shifters fine, and disliked the "dohickies". I found the dohickies to be bumped by a knee pretty often, often bumped out of gear while parked, and to not be especially convenient. I actually find down tube shifters to be more convenient than bar ends. Since I use a smallish frame, and like my bars low, down tube shifters are about the same reach as bar end shifters. Folks with higher bars and bigger frames may need to reach a bit farther for down tube shifters.

BTW, I think that old time stem shifters would be a good answer for those who ride in a more upright posture regardless of bar type. You would probably have to source them used from eBay though.
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Old 08-10-15, 07:53 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
If Campy or similar top-quality firm made brifters that worked w/Shimano 9-speed derailleurs I'd buy 'em pronto.
I'm pretty sure I've read Campy 11 speed shifters work perfectly with Shimano 9 speed derailleurs and cassettes. I think Athena triples are available.
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Old 08-10-15, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
That said, I still find the smoothest shifting is on my commuter with friction stem shifters, so I'd happily but them on my touring bike as well if the bar-end shifters broke or whatever.
I know a lot of people have a problem with "suicide" stem shifters, but they've always worked for me...
Besides the stigma that stem shifters were what came on entry level road bikes, I have never understood the dislike for them. Functionally speaking, they work just as well as friction downtube shifters for me. They work just as well as my friction SunTour barcons too.

I fully refurbished an ’89 World Sport that had SunTour Accushift stem shifters and they were fantastic. Quick shifts that were precise with a solid click.

Maybe I have really low standards for shifting, but stems can be great.


And the whole claim that they are dangerous because you may get racked in the sack by the stem shifters if you are flying over the handlebars? Well, if you are flying over the handlebars, getting hit by some stem shifters should be the least of your worries. Furthermore, that quill stem is right there, even if you have downtube shifters, STIs, or barcons and that quill will get you just the same.
The safety excuse has always made me chuckle. I am being launched over my handlebars and I am most worried about a groin bump into some shifters?
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Old 08-10-15, 09:05 AM
  #24  
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I'm leaning more towards brifters (Shimano STI and Campagnolo Ergo) for reliability nowadays. I've got a pair of STIs with something over 30,000 miles on them; had to shoot some WD-40 and them some thicker spray grease through them a couple year ago, but they're still working. Ergos are great, although I've had to rebuild them every 10,000 miles or so. Both kinds have worked through crashes that required replacing handlebars. They just rotated around the bar.

Bar-ends haven't been as reliable for me as they were advertised. I'm not sure what happened to my Shimano shifters, but they got buggered up and had to be replaced within 3,000 miles. OK, it's possible the problem was airline gorillas since they're on my S&S bike, but I can't see that as being any worse than the crashes the brifters survived.
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Old 08-10-15, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I'm pretty sure I've read Campy 11 speed shifters work perfectly with Shimano 9 speed derailleurs and cassettes. I think Athena triples are available.
I am not sure about that specific example, but I think you are looking for a Jtek Shiftmate for some of the combinations, whereas some combinations work without an adapter.

https://jtekengineering.com/products/shiftmate/J

Jtek was recently bought by SJS.

ShiftMate Guide
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