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brake/gear lever combo - for touring

Old 08-04-23, 07:33 AM
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brake/gear lever combo - for touring

Hey everyone
I just bought my wife a 1998 Trek 520 for some long touring we are planning. She doesn't like the drop bars, so will be converting to either butterlfy bars or a flat bar. In any case, I know I'll have to change the brake and gear levers. I don't have much experience with this types of brake/gear system so would love your thoughts on what to buy? I think the combo brake/gear system makes the most sense, and I think it needs short pull. Right now the bike has cantilever brakes which I don't want to change, Deore LX rear derrailleur, an 8 speed cassette with 3 chain rings in front, using shimano bar end shifters. She (uh..we) are getting older so it doesn't need to be flashy - simpler, the better. I don't need the cheapest or the most expensive. Something dependable that fits a bike touring mindset. Any recommendations would be appreciated. thanks.
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Old 08-04-23, 09:34 AM
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As far as i know, there is no such thing as a combo shifter/brake lever for flat bars.

There are some flat bars that would let you use the bar end shifters you already have (i think both Rivendell and Velo-Orange have them), and then you would need canti brake levers.
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Old 08-04-23, 09:36 AM
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I had a chance to pick up a set of microshift thumb shifters and I must say I'm impressed. All metal construction, superb fit and finish, super smooth operation. I'm a vintage gear snob and not easily swayed by new and shiny but these are worth it.
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Old 08-04-23, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ignant666
As far as i know, there is no such thing as a combo shifter/brake lever for flat bars.
There are all sorts of shifter/brake combos for flat bars, they are on mountain bikes. If you don't like indexing the combo revolves around a thumb shifter mounted on a hanger off the brake mount.
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Old 08-04-23, 10:38 AM
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What i meant is that there aren't, as far as i know, any flat-bar "brifters" similar to drop bar "brifters", where one lever both shifts gears and stops the bike. This is what i thought OP was asking for.

There are indeed various mountain bike things that combine separate brake levers and and trigger shifters into a one-piece device, offering the "advantage" of making it impossible to put each at the angle that works best for you. Maybe some of these will work with a triple with an 8 speed cassette and canti brakes, but most seem oriented towards disc brakes and modern drive trains. Perhaps you would be kind enough to recommend some that would work with OP's equipment?

Also, it appears that Velo-Orange no longer has any flat bars that take bar-end shifters, but Rivendell still has several.
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Old 08-04-23, 10:48 AM
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Trigger shifters and short pull brake levers are the ticket.

Since you are changing the shifters, if you want you can go with a 9-speed setup using the same wheel by purchasing 9-speed shifters instead of 8, and replacing the cassette and chain w/9-speed.
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Old 08-04-23, 10:55 AM
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sturmey-archer and sunrace make some nice 8spd thumbies

https://www.sturmey-archer.com/en/products/detail/sls80

pair those with some tektro mtb brake levers.
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Old 08-04-23, 11:44 AM
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Just found out that I can re-use my bar end shifters by adding some thumbie connectors (Paul Thumbie is a popular one) to a flat bar . Does this make sense?
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Old 08-04-23, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ignant666
What i meant is that there aren't, as far as i know, any flat-bar "brifters" similar to drop bar "brifters", where one lever both shifts gears and stops the bike. This is what i thought OP was asking for.
They did say they were using bar end shifters, also not wanting flashing and simpler the better. I don't think they would be interested in brifters even if those were available.

Originally Posted by timdow
Trigger shifters and short pull brake levers are the ticket.

Since you are changing the shifters, if you want you can go with a 9-speed setup using the same wheel by purchasing 9-speed shifters instead of 8, and replacing the cassette and chain w/9-speed.
Personally I prefer 8 speed on touring setups, thicker stronger chains. Not that 9-speed chains are all that weak.

The Microshift thumb shifters I recommended can be switch from friction to index and do come in 9 speed configuration. I would consider bumping it to 9 speed just to see how well the can be made to index.
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Old 08-04-23, 12:07 PM
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Do not discard the bar end shifters you are taking off the bike. The Shimano ones are quite rare and hard to replace. If she changes her mind and wants drop bar levers later, you will be glad you kept the old parts.
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Old 08-04-23, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ignant666
As far as i know, there is no such thing as a combo shifter/brake lever for flat bars.

There are some flat bars that would let you use the bar end shifters you already have (i think both Rivendell and Velo-Orange have them), and then you would need canti brake levers.
Given my set up, would using these bar end shifters with clamps from Rivendell or Velo Orange work? Is it that simple...apart from install skills?
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Old 08-04-23, 09:08 PM
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Shimano EF-51 used to be what you want - combination trigger shifters and brake levers. They had a shim that you could turn to convert between short pull (cantilevers in your case) and long pull (V-brakes). Unfortunately those were discontinued and aren't available anywhere. (Believe me, I've looked). The new version is the EF500 and it's almost identical, except they only come in long pull, so not compatible with cantilever brakes.

Here's the EF500: Shimano EF500 7-Speed Right Brake/Shift Lever. That's the 7-speed version but they also make 8 speed. There's a matching left shifter/brake lever, of course. You could go this route if you wanted to downgrade from cantis to V-brakes.

On my last flat-bar build I used these SHIMANO Altus Right Shift Lever 7-Speed SL-M315-7R along with the matching left shifter. They're shifters only but that lets you use any short-pull lever you want. I used cheap Tektros and the combination looks and works great.

EDIT: I had butterfly bars on a couple of my bikes at one point. The novelty wore off and I realized I didn't really like them very much. All of my flat-bar setups now are a flat bar with Ergon GP5s. Perfection.

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Old 08-05-23, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob63
Given my set up, would using these bar end shifters with clamps from Rivendell or Velo Orange work? Is it that simple...apart from install skills?
I am not sure what you are asking here. You could use your existing bar-end shifters on the ends of flat bars from Rivendell (but not Velo-Orange, i was mistaken there)- mounted exactly like they are now on your drop bars. Very simple, very minimal installation skills involved.

Or you could mount the bar-end shifters on Paul thumbies or a few other mounts that convert them into thumb shifters. Then you could use them with any flat bar.
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Old 08-05-23, 06:38 AM
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Anything with the Paul name on it is expensive. I do not know if there is a cheaper option or not.
https://www.paulcomp.com/shop/compon...imanothumbies/

I assume your wife is not interested in downtube shifters, either friction or indexed. That may be an option. Eight speed downtube shifters are rare but not extremely rare.

If there is a bike charity or a bike coop in your community, they often have bins of used parts. You might get lucky and find the old flat bar brake and shift units you need. That said, they might not work well on the front if the derailleur is a different model than they were designed for.

Getting a front shifter that is indexed for a triple crank and works well on your hardware is likely not going to happen, so the front shifter will probably have to be friction. I suspect you already knew that.

If you buy shifters and if you wanted to switch to 9 speed, you could. If your cassette and chain need replacement too, that could be a consideration. Or, if you found the perfect shifter and brake units that were 9 instead of 8, ... you get the idea.
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Old 08-05-23, 08:38 AM
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Rivendell sells the Pauls for $65, each (you want two). Rivendell also has a slightly cheaper ($45 each) house-brand equivalent that will work with Shimano bar ends.
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Old 08-05-23, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Getting a front shifter that is indexed for a triple crank and works well on your hardware is likely not going to happen, so the front shifter will probably have to be friction. I suspect you already knew that.

If you buy shifters and if you wanted to switch to 9 speed, you could. If your cassette and chain need replacement too, that could be a consideration. Or, if you found the perfect shifter and brake units that were 9 instead of 8, ... you get the idea.
microshift has a lovely line of trigger shifters the play well with shimano components.

8-Speed, 3x Triple https://www.microshift.com/models/ts39-8/

the full line https://www.microshift.com/products/...ents/shifters/
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Old 08-05-23, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
microshift has a lovely line of trigger shifters the play well with shimano components.

8-Speed, 3x Triple https://www.microshift.com/models/ts39-8/

the full line https://www.microshift.com/products/...ents/shifters/
It was my understanding that for a shifter to work well on the middle ring, you need to have the right derailleur and right crankset for that shifter to get one that is indexed just right for the middle ring.

But, quite frankly, only one of my bikes has an indexed front shifter on a triple, so maybe it is simpler than I thought? I have lots of bikes with triples, but they have friction bar end shifters for the front, or my rando bike has a downtube friction shifter for the front.

I do not know if the 520 of this vintage has a road triple and road front derailleur or not. I think older 520s did. I think this came from the factory with a friction front.
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Old 08-05-23, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
microshift has a lovely line of trigger shifters the play well with shimano components.

8-Speed, 3x Triple https://www.microshift.com/models/ts39-8/

the full line https://www.microshift.com/products/...ents/shifters/
I'm a vintage gear snob but I got a hold of a set of their thumb shifters for a flat bar bike and they are the cat's meow.

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Old 08-06-23, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
.....
Getting a front shifter that is indexed for a triple crank and works well on your hardware is likely not going to happen, so the front shifter will probably have to be friction. I suspect you already knew that.
...
There are several options for index shifting on a triple, and some have been mentioned already. Easy.
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Old 08-06-23, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob63
Just found out that I can re-use my bar end shifters by adding some thumbie connectors (Paul Thumbie is a popular one) to a flat bar . Does this make sense?
Yes, perfect sense. They work well. Paul Thumbies may be a bit more expensive, but they are very high quality.
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Old 08-06-23, 04:59 PM
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Just looked into the GP5. Definitley an option. Thnaks for that.
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Old 08-06-23, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ignant666
I am not sure what you are asking here. You could use your existing bar-end shifters on the ends of flat bars from Rivendell (but not Velo-Orange, i was mistaken there)- mounted exactly like they are now on your drop bars. Very simple, very minimal installation skills involved.

Or you could mount the bar-end shifters on Paul thumbies or a few other mounts that convert them into thumb shifters. Then you could use them with any flat bar.
got it thanks.
The more I learn, the more I learn how complex bikes are.
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Old 08-06-23, 07:55 PM
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An alternative approach is using gravel bike handlebars that are more moderate with the drops so the rider can be more upright and with these there is not the problem with standard brake/shift controls.

Without drops on my touring bikes I would have had to walk up many a grade. Sitting upright is fine on flat ground but greatly reduces the amount of force a rider can apply to the pedals going up hills.

https://www.jensonusa.com/Drop-Bars?...86604f08ead831
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Old 08-07-23, 06:54 AM
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Yes, you could do that, but.... I get $127 on the website for the thumbies you mentioned below (not including the shifters). 8 or 9 speed triggers are much less expensive:
Example: https://www.amazon.com/DMAIP-Profess.../dp/B07T72F7J9
And I think that the shifting experience will be better with the triggers, but of course YMMV.

Originally Posted by Rob63
Just found out that I can re-use my bar end shifters by adding some thumbie connectors (Paul Thumbie is a popular one) to a flat bar . Does this make sense?
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Old 08-08-23, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by timdow
Yes, you could do that, but.... I get $127 on the website for the thumbies you mentioned below (not including the shifters). 8 or 9 speed triggers are much less expensive:
Example: https://www.amazon.com/DMAIP-Profess.../dp/B07T72F7J9
And I think that the shifting experience will be better with the triggers, but of course YMMV.
The link you posted is to a Shimano knock-off. I would highly recommend sticking with genuine Shimano Rapidfire shifters. They work great, reliable, and bulletproof. They're available in 7 or 8 speed, and also 2 or 3 speed front.

SHIMANO Altus Right Shift Lever 7-Speed SL-M315-7R

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