Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Thumb vs Grip Shifters

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Thumb vs Grip Shifters

Old 11-29-21, 07:24 PM
  #1  
IceTee2
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Posts: 32
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
Thumb vs Grip Shifters

I'm interested in hearing the preference between thumb (specifically Shimano Rapid-Fire) and grip/twist shifters (Microsoft). I'm building a 2005 Trek 520 but will replace the drop bars with either straight mountain bars with barrens or take the plunge with a butterfly bar. Looking for easy installation but reliable. Thanks in advance for your feedback.
IceTee2 is offline  
Old 11-29-21, 08:09 PM
  #2  
Jeff Neese
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 490
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 212 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 77 Posts
I think you mean MicroShift, not Microsoft. But we know what you meant.

I don't think very many people will recommend grip shifters. The few times I've bought a used bike with those, they got removed and thrown away, whether they worked or not. Shimano Rapidfire always works well.

I had butterfly bars on several bikes for a while, but after the novelty wore off I switched back to either flat bars with bar ends (Ergon GP5) or drop bars. I felt like I didn't have as much control with the Butterfly bars, and found the brake lever position was awkward - too close together to maintain control under hard braking.

Last edited by Jeff Neese; 11-29-21 at 08:18 PM.
Jeff Neese is offline  
Old 11-29-21, 10:37 PM
  #3  
robow
Senior Member
 
robow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,616
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 455 Post(s)
Liked 157 Times in 107 Posts
Thumbies are generally considered to be quite reliable and are definitely more available vs. grip shift. Owned both, one vote for thumbies here.
robow is offline  
Likes For robow:
Old 11-29-21, 10:47 PM
  #4  
saddlesores
Senior Member
 
saddlesores's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bangkok...and....Hainan
Posts: 3,351

Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 893 Post(s)
Liked 188 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by IceTee2 View Post
...and grip/twist shifters (Microsoft)....
nearly give me a heart attack! MS-shifters??!!!! damn, imagine having to wait five minutes for your shifters to boot up, or having a 5-second delay in shifts because of a mandatory update!

oh!!! you mean microshift! yeah, been using them for many years.
reliable, dependable, less expensive than shimano.
they make various versions.........grip shift, trigger, brifter, bar end.
i think they might also have some basic thumbies, as well.
saddlesores is offline  
Likes For saddlesores:
Old 11-30-21, 06:13 AM
  #5  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 10,396
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 671 Post(s)
Liked 226 Times in 182 Posts
Thumb shifters are super reliable and just work IME. All my experience with thumb shifters is with vintage Deore XT though. Twist grip are okay, but a bit less reliable of a shift IME, but I have used a cheaper line of those so that may explain the reason.

If you have really arthritic thumbs like me that might be a factor. I have trouble with thumb shifters causing me pain these days.
__________________
Check out my profile, articles, and trip journals at:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/staehpj1
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 07:24 AM
  #6  
jpescatore
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 1,213

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Jamis Renegade

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 336 Post(s)
Liked 259 Times in 189 Posts
My wife developed some arthritis in her left hand and couldn't turn the front derailleur grip shifter on her Specialized hybrid. Had a bike shop switch it over to thumb shifters. Not only solved that problem but has required zero adjustment over the years. The grip shifters were definitely more maintenance.
jpescatore is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 07:33 AM
  #7  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 8,830

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2493 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 692 Times in 565 Posts
Originally Posted by IceTee2 View Post
... straight mountain bars with barrens or ....
What are barrens? Did you mean bar end shifters? I have never seen bar end shifters on straight bars before. I think some people use bar end shifters on butterfly bars.

If I had a flat bar touring bike, I would not want a twist grip shifter. My errand bike has lever shifters (one lever for up shift, other lever for down shift) on flat bars, I think that it is best, but I do not have arthritis in my hands.

I have a twist grip shifter on drop bars on my Rohloff bike, but the shifter is oriented differently (different ergonomics) and that shifter works very differently than a derailleur bike twist grip.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 07:50 AM
  #8  
headwind15
Bikeable
 
headwind15's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 248
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 70 Times in 49 Posts
Because of the hard plastic sleeve inside a grip shifter, the may not even go around the bends of a butterfly handlebar in the attempted installation. Since I was a bicycle store owner for over twelve years, I have a boxes of grip shifters and (Shimano) Rapid Fire shifters. I used to have a big bag of (top mount type) thumb shift levers, but went missing about 6 months ago.
headwind15 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 07:52 AM
  #9  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 26,292

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4185 Post(s)
Liked 1,581 Times in 1,088 Posts
Originally Posted by IceTee2 View Post
Rapid-Fire
rumrunn6 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 08:03 AM
  #10  
Jeff Neese
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 490
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 212 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 77 Posts
Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Because of the hard plastic sleeve inside a grip shifter, the may not even go around the bends of a butterfly handlebar in the attempted installation. Since I was a bicycle store owner for over twelve years, I have a boxes of grip shifters and (Shimano) Rapid Fire shifters. I used to have a big bag of (top mount type) thumb shift levers, but went missing about 6 months ago.
Shifters and brake levers don't go around the bends on a butterfly (trekking) bar. They just slide onto the flat part from the inside. These are Shimano EF-51 shifter/brake levers. I found I did not like this setup as much as I thought I would.

Jeff Neese is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 10:46 AM
  #11  
headwind15
Bikeable
 
headwind15's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 248
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 70 Times in 49 Posts
I did write "may" not fit butterfly handle bars. I did not say they would not fit. I admit that I had seen pictures of grip shift on butterfly handle bars, but was to lazy to re-check to see if they would fit. Nice looking handlebar padding. Anything special?
headwind15 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 10:59 AM
  #12  
daywood 
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 12
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
I prefer the rapid fire style shifters. They are more precise in their shifting, take less effort to shift, and are just as easy to install. Also, it can be much more difficult to replace the shift cable in a twist grip when the time comes. I won’t soon forget the fun I had trying to get a twist grip back together correctly that I accidentally allowed to spring open while changing the cable.
daywood is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 12:43 PM
  #13  
IceTee2
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Posts: 32
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
Thanks for the insight on these types of shifters, always been a 'bar end' guy. Also apologies for not checking that spellcheck did usurp my post. If I could, is there any advantage/disadvantage to combination shift/brake units over separate units? The Alivio sl/bl units I've been looking at have fallen into the 'unobtainium' category of bike parts.
IceTee2 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 03:56 PM
  #14  
Miele Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,522

Bikes: iele Latina, Miele Suprema, Miele Uno LS, Miele Miele Beta, MMTB, Bianchi Model Unknown, Fiori Venezia, Fiori Napoli, VeloSport Adamas AX

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1263 Post(s)
Liked 848 Times in 587 Posts
Fir simplicity and reliability I far prefer the Old School Thumbshifters. No problem remembering which lever shifts up or down (Rapidfire type shifters) and no danger of hitting a bump and accidentally shifting into a harder gear (twist-grip shifters) and a lot of them have a friction mode too.

I like these Deore ones. I can use t hem with any number of rear cogs is I switch it to friction mode.



Cheers
Miele Man is offline  
Likes For Miele Man:
Old 11-30-21, 04:19 PM
  #15  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 8,830

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2493 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 692 Times in 565 Posts
Originally Posted by IceTee2 View Post
... , is there any advantage/disadvantage to combination shift/brake units over separate units? ....
If two parts can be installed so that they both feel like they are both in the right place, that works. If you can't get the two parts to feel right, you will know it.

I had to replace a combination unit when the shifter gave up. But I bought a used one for a buck, so buying a combination one did not cost extra.

Speaking of used parts, many communities have bike coops or bike charities where there are bins of used parts that you can buy. If you have trouble finding the parts you want, see what there is locally. I have bought used parts that are on at least five of my bikes. I think my road bike that I bought new three years ago is my only bike without any used parts on it, but I bought that as a complete bike that did not need anything other than water bottle cages.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 04:31 PM
  #16  
headwind15
Bikeable
 
headwind15's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 248
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 70 Times in 49 Posts
Yep, I had a bag of five or six pairs of LX shifters (like yours/ pictured above) and a pair of XT's. Sadly, they went missing about six months ago. Note: Some of the Rapid Fire shifters are designed to only work with V brake calipers (They have a different cable pull ratio) Some have a set screw, and the cable ratio can be changed to work with cantilever brakes. I have seen over the years where people have put together V brake rapid fire brake levers to cantilever brakes, and they have very, very poor stopping power (no bite), because of the incompatibility.
headwind15 is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 05:18 PM
  #17  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 8,830

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2493 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 692 Times in 565 Posts
Headwind15 makes a really good point, if you use mountain bike levers, they need to be used with mountain bike brakes (sometimes called linear pull brakes). Road brake levers pull cable a shorter distance but with greater tension than mountain bike levers.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 06:31 PM
  #18  
thumpism 
Bikes are okay, I guess.
 
thumpism's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Posts: 7,870

Bikes: Waterford Paramount Touring, Giant CFM-2, Raleigh Sports 3-speeds in M23 & L23, Schwinn Cimarron oddball build, Marin Palisades Trail dropbar conversion, Nishiki Cresta GT

Mentioned: 58 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2270 Post(s)
Liked 1,275 Times in 924 Posts
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never seen bar end shifters on straight bars before. I think some people use bar end shifters on butterfly bars.

If I had a flat bar touring bike, I would not want a twist grip shifter. My errand bike has lever shifters (one lever for up shift, other lever for down shift) on flat bars, I think that it is best, but I do not have arthritis in my hands.
I rigged a city-type bike for a guy with a bum left hand and it featured a straight bar with a top-mount thumbie and a barcon on the right side of the bar.

For my own bikes with straight or riser bars I like Grip Shift/SRAM brand twist shifters and I insist on the front shifter being "friction" rather than indexed, many small clicks for precisely trimming the front derailleur instead of the three steps. Never liked Shimano's Rapid Fire.
thumpism is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 06:33 PM
  #19  
Jeff Neese
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 490
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 212 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 77 Posts
Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
... Nice looking handlebar padding. Anything special?
Double wrapped. The top layer is (was) Lizard Skins, with Cinelli cork tape underneath. It was good for one riding season but Lizard Skins does not last. I invested in Lizard Skin tape one year for four of my bikes. None of them lasted more than one riding season before they all started to peel. Expensive garbage, as far as I'm concerned. Now I just double wrap Cinelli tape and that holds up a lot better.
Jeff Neese is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 06:50 PM
  #20  
Jeff Neese
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 490
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 212 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 77 Posts
Originally Posted by IceTee2 View Post
..If I could, is there any advantage/disadvantage to combination shift/brake units over separate units? The Alivio sl/bl units I've been looking at have fallen into the 'unobtainium' category of bike parts.
It depends on the brakes whether they're unobtainium or not. Shimano EF-500 is available in 3x7 and 3x8, but they're long pull so you are limited to V-brakes (on your frame). The old EF-51 and EF-65 used to come in a "four finger" version that was compatible with cantilever brakes by moving a spacer, but those are indeed impossible to find. I've seen references to the new EF-500 coming in a four-finger version that accommodates cantilevers, but I haven't seen those for sale anywhere either. But if you're going to go with V-brakes, those shift/brake combos are available.
Jeff Neese is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 08:50 PM
  #21  
Papa Tom
Senior Member
 
Papa Tom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 4,433

Bikes: The same GT Outpost Mountain bike I've been riding since 1996, although I modify it throughout the year for commuting, touring, and recreational riding.

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 858 Post(s)
Liked 224 Times in 132 Posts
Thumb shifters. I have never ever liked grip shifters and would never buy a bike with them.
Papa Tom is offline  
Old 11-30-21, 11:17 PM
  #22  
MarcusT
Senior Member
 
MarcusT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: NE Italy
Posts: 1,175
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 536 Post(s)
Liked 302 Times in 177 Posts
I have a vacation bike with grip shifters and do not like them at all. At first glance they look convenient, but there is the reliability factor mentioned above, Many times while hard pedalling, my hand accidentally changes gears because the grip is not wide enough
MarcusT is offline  
Old 12-01-21, 11:39 AM
  #23  
jvt
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 16
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
I have bikes with both. The grip shifters are fine, but more difficult to maintain. The thumb shifters are MicroShift, and are excellent.

I get stiffness and cramping in my hands from time to time that means I canít close my hand properly to grip the grip shifters. With the thumb shifters I can nudge them hawing my entire hand so I can still easily change gear.

If I wanted to build something bombproof, I would use thumb shifters. I can change the gear cables easily. I bent a derailleur a year or so ago, and messed up the shifting on my gripshift bike. I couldnít shift as indexing was way out of whack and I didnít have my tools. With thumb shifters I could have just switched between indexed and friction mode and kept on riding.

Easy to shift, easy to set up, easy to maintain, cheap to buy, and the MicroShift ones I have are very well built, high quality, and look the part on my ECR.
jvt is offline  
Likes For jvt:
Old 12-01-21, 12:07 PM
  #24  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 32,419
Mentioned: 201 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14560 Post(s)
Liked 7,917 Times in 3,949 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Thumb shifters are super reliable and just work IME. All my experience with thumb shifters is with vintage Deore XT though. Twist grip are okay, but a bit less reliable of a shift IME, but I have used a cheaper line of those so that may explain the reason.
In '98 I won't a Cannondale M 300 MTB (really more like a hybrid) in a contest. It had grip shifters. They never worked as well as the ol' skool thumb shifters that came on my '92 Trek 930. Those things were super-reliable. They performed great for the 13 or so years that I abused that bike. I finally put it out in the alley with the trash behind my mom's house when she was cleaning out in preparation for sale. It was gone in fewer than 2 hrs. I like to think they are still out there somewhere shifting.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 12-01-21, 01:07 PM
  #25  
Chinghis
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Southern California
Posts: 363

Bikes: Historical: Schwinn Speedster; Schwinn Collegiate; 1981 Ross Gran Tour; 1981 Dawes Atlantis; 1991 Specialized Rockhopper. Current: 1987 Ritchey Ultra; 1987 Centurion Ironman Dave Scott Master; 1992 Specialized Stumpjumper FS

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Liked 96 Times in 62 Posts
Just a note that thumb shifters, like the Deore up above, are not the same as "trigger shifters," like modern Shimano stuff, right? Thumb shifters are the best - I think of them as knuckle shifters. Don't have to use your thumbs, just nudge it with a knuckle. The motion is almost like a grip shift.
Chinghis 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 © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.