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Kelly Take Offs Takeoffs Take-Offs

Old 03-18-08, 12:38 PM
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Kelly Take Offs Takeoffs Take-Offs

Recently I was umming and arring about getting Kelly Take Offs, mostly because I couldn't verify some details. I thought I'd post this to possibly help other people in the same situation......


Going with Kelly Take-Offs
What do you do when you want to use road handlebars for touring with a 8/9/10 speed drivechain, but don't want to use bar end shifters or STI/Ergo? I'm sure other people have been in this dilemma; it seems you only have two choices:
  1. Kelly Take Offs with downtube shifters
  2. Paul's Thumbies with bar end shifters
The problem here is that if you are on a budget, it's likely that you are going to have to commit to a particular shifter set and mount whichever way you go -e.g. bar end shifters are not advertized as being suitable for Kelly Take Offs, and down tube shifters are not advertized as being suitable for Paul's Thumbies. I did a brief search on this, and couldn't find anything to allay my fears. In other words, it looked like if I bought downtube shifters I'd have to buy Kelly Take Offs, or if I bought bar end shifters I'd have to buy Paul's Thumbies. I might be wrong here; but I haven't heard otherwise.

So what to choose? In the end it was simple -just by looking in my (precariously empty) wallet and at my current road bars -it came down to two factors: expense and real estate space. The Kelly Take Offs could be had for $37 including shipping on ebay, and the downtube shifters were $66 at Harris Cyclery -which is fortunately only a 15 minute drive away for me. Contrasting this to approximately $50 for Paul's Thumbies (an ebay price I found) and $70-$80 for bar end shifters, the Kelly Take Off approach was going to be approximately $20-30 cheaper. Finally, by having the shifters not mounted on the top of the bar, it meant that there would be space for my handlebar bag clamp, cyclocomputer and bell -all things I really like to have.

However, I did have reservations about the Kelly Take Offs:
  • would I find shifting easy and suitable for my male medium sized hands?
  • Are the mounts sturdy enough?
  • would the mounts interfere with my handlebar bag (I have 42cm center to center handlebars)?
  • Would the shifter cables interfere when I have stuff on my front rack shelf?
  • Would the mounts interfere with my hand placement on the drop bars?
With these questions in mind, I went ahead and ordered the Kelly Take Offs, but waited until I received them before I committed to buying the shifters -if the mounts didn't work out, I'd re-ebay them and then go with the Paul's Thumbies. Fortunately, about a week later and after receiving the mounts, I deduced from approximately placing the mounts that those issues were fine; I drove up to Harris Cyclery on a wintry sleety Saturday and picked up the 9-speed Shimano Dura Ace downtube shifters.

First Impressions
To install the Kelly Take Offs, you need to have the handlebars without any bar wrap on, but with the brake levers hanging loosely on the handlebars. Unfortunately, the Kelly Take Offs I received did not have any kind of installation instructions, even though they appeared to be in the original sealed Kelly bag. Not to worry anyway; a quick search of the internet reveals https://www.kellybike.com/takeoffs.html as well as instructions. My first impression of the Take Offs was mixed -they seemed sturdy enough, but they don't have any kind of adjustable clamp, and it looked like someone had been a little careless and left a blob of metal on the outside of the band that slips over the handlebars. Since I like everything neat, in my haste I started to reach for a metal file to smooth it over.... when.... I noticed that exact same blob on the other mount. Now, being careless once is understandable, being careless twice in exactly the same place means that that's probably not a mistake, but that the "blob" is there for a reason. I put the file down.

Sure enough, those "blobs" were there for a reason. Since there is no adjustable clamp, the band slips underneath the brake hood below the brake lever (better shown in the online instructions) and the blob acts like a retaining tab just past the brake lever clamp to help keep it in position initially. Once you tighten up your brake hood, the Take Off mount is very firmly in position. It may sound a little suspect, but in practice it's very solid, and I think it's a pretty neat and clever idea. My first impressions changed from "mixed" to "impressed".

Installation
I have to add that I found the installation to be finickety; since the Take Off mounting band was now underneath the brake lever clamp, I had to hold both mount and brake lever with one hand, and the allen key wrench with the other hand whilst maintaining pressure and turning the allen key wrench until the thread started to bite. This kind of aggravation isn't well illustrated in the online directions! In all fairness though, this might have also been a function of my particular brake levers (Cane Creek SCR-5). Finally I had both mounts and brake levers on firmly. Another issue I thought I might have with the Take Offs was that the mount would interfere with the position of the hands when you are in the drops close to the brake levers; this was not the case because the Take Offs don't use a clamp and hence there is no protruding bolt -probably the reason for the clampless design.

The next step was to install the shifters -and this caused a bit of consternation for me -the online instructions just don't help here at all. Now admittedly because of their design, you can't include instructions for every conceivable downtube shifter that might be installed, but still, I thought a little guidance would have been nice. I first installed the right hand shifter that controls the rear derailleur, and initially got it wrong -I fixed that quickly but still thought the backplate of the shifter wasn't quite right. Then I installed the front derailleur shifter, and try as I might, found that for useful travel for the shifter (e.g. 12 o'clock to 3'o clock as you look from the left hand side of the bike) the back plate was installed at a 90 degree difference to the right hand shifter. If I changed the backplate position to be the same, the front shifter travel changed to a 3 o'clock to 6 o' clock position. So I ended up with the two backplates being at different positions. Not a big deal really, but remember, I'm the kind of person who looks at a blob of metal and reaches for the file. See if you can see this in the photos.

At this time, I'm almost finished, the mounts are in place, the shifters are on, the brake levers are tight and I've wrapped the handlebars (did that while you weren't reading). The only thing left to do is to install the cables. The cables run down from the mount and loop to the down tube cable stops, using a noodle arrangement to make a 90 degree bend.

And of course..... I can't find the noodles that came with the mount -why? Why? Why? After inspecting my workbench and basement floor (replete with a liberal sprinkling of some choice Anglo-Saxon invectives) I still had no luck finding them. After finally admitting defeat, and since I wasn't working on my roof that week (more on that later), I bit the bullet and went to my LBS and purchased two v-brake noodles -though I was rather shocked to find these two pieces of curved plastic and metal were $4 each! But I will say this: I'd recommend the v-brake noodles over the supplied noodles as the interface that attaches to the v-brake (sort of bullet shaped) allows for flexibility in the cable movement rather than being slotted in precisely.

Mysteriously, the noodles did show up in a box of roofing nails 2 weeks later. How they got there I have absolutely no idea.

Useability
I'm impressed. Yes, they aren't as convenient as STI/Ergo, but they are nicely close at hand and allow for easy gear changing. You might have to change hand position for the rear shifter as you approach the highest or lowest gear, but since we're talking about a touring application here and not racing, I think it's entirely acceptable. There is no interference with the handlebar bag I have, nor is there any problem with hand position or cable positioning interference (but see specifications below for mount widths as this depends on how wide your handlebar is, how wide your bag is, etc). In fact, after using them, I really wonder why these weren't used (not invented then?) instead of downtube or stem mounted shifters which I always thought were poor designs by making you take your hands off the handlebars -Take Offs are much, much more convenient.

Availability
Alas, it looks like Kelly's have gone out of business or at least the manufacturing of these mounts. There are still some regularly available on ebay and from the Kelly Bike web site https://www.kellybike.com. If possible, try them out first (I couldn't find anyone in my area that has Take Offs, so I had to just go for it.)

Would I Recommend Them?
Yes, but with caveats for people with smaller hands, or people who have relatively narrow handlebars and want to use a relatively wide handlebar bag (See specifications below for mount widths).

Anything I'd Change?
Yes. I wish they'd come with installation instructions (maybe they do and I was unlucky) -hopefully making it clear what the "blobs" were for to prevent anybody filing them off by accident, as well as installation directions for some common downtube shifters. I'd also like it if they came in black (though that could be easily rectified by using some old bar wrap.) Though I find changing gear easy, I would still prefer it if the mounts were about 1cm closer to the brakes, but I'm guessing here the reason they go inwards so much is to avoid fingers getting caught up. I'd also like it if they were designed to use bar end shifters as well (or alternatively, if Paul's Thumbies could use downtube shifters!)

Summary:
+ Well designed, simple, elegant quality solution providing sturdy and convenient shifting
+ Suitable for many kinds of downtube shifters
+ Does not interfere with hand positions or most front handlebar bags, nor do placing of shifter cables cause any issues
+ Cheaper than a Paul's Thumbies conversion and assuming you have brake levers, still cheaper than most STI/Ergos models.
+ Does not take up space on the top of the handlebar

- Not easy to install, but still very doable for an intermediate mechanic
- Probably not as good for smaller hands as mounts are quite a way from the hoods
- Instructions are lacking
- Requires hand position change to change through all the gears
- Not quite as convenient or as easy to change gears as STIs/Ergos

My Specifications:
Handlebars: Easton EA50 with a reach/Drop of 78/152mm and width of 42cm center to center
Brake Levers: Cane Creek SCR-5

Take Off Specifications:

Width from mid handlebar to extreme edge of mount = 8.75cm

Approximate Total Costs For My Bike (including shipping and tax, assuming you have a handlebar and brake levers):
Take Off Mounts $37
9 speed Shifters* $68
Bar wrap $15
Cables $10
V brake Noodles** $8
Total: $138

*this depends on your current drivechain; 6/7/8 speed downtube index shifters are going to probably cost much less or you may have them already, or you can just use old friction shifters
**can use provided noodles at no cost.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
takeoffs.jpg (59.3 KB, 294 views)
File Type: jpg
leftshifter.jpg (96.6 KB, 202 views)
File Type: jpg
rightshifter.jpg (49.3 KB, 189 views)

Last edited by Nigeyy; 03-18-08 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 03-18-08, 01:27 PM
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Nicely done, Nigeyy.

If you shake that magic box of roofing nails and a pedal-spindle bearing race for a 1984 Deore AX crank arm turns up, please let me know.
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Old 03-19-08, 07:16 AM
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I have seen these and been intrigued as well. are you using index shifters or friction shifters? I was wondering if using friction shifters, how easy is it to get into gear without having to fumble all over to line it up right? I am running Sun Tour barcons right now and would like to have the shifters up higher, but like you said, I don't have the dough for STI shifters right now.
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Old 03-19-08, 09:37 AM
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I'm using indexed shifters (but the left shifter is not indexed anyway), so I would think it would be just as easy to have both of them as friction shifters. If you could find a pair of down tube friction shifters really cheap or have them already, I'd say these mounts at $37 are a worthwhile gamble to see if you like them. Worst case scenario is if you don't like them, you can ebay them.

However, in case you are thinking of using your barcons, as far as I know, bar end or barcon shifters are not recommended -not because they wouldn't fit, but because the angle of the levers would make them harder to use. I've not heard of anyone using bar end or barcon shifters on take offs.

Originally Posted by bigfo
I have seen these and been intrigued as well. are you using index shifters or friction shifters? I was wondering if using friction shifters, how easy is it to get into gear without having to fumble all over to line it up right? I am running Sun Tour barcons right now and would like to have the shifters up higher, but like you said, I don't have the dough for STI shifters right now.
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Old 03-19-08, 09:48 AM
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Thanks. Just surprized I didn't find a ton of other "lost" stuff in that box as well! (sorry, no Deore AX crank arm spindle races in there)

Originally Posted by toodman
Nicely done, Nigeyy.

If you shake that magic box of roofing nails and a pedal-spindle bearing race for a 1984 Deore AX crank arm turns up, please let me know.
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Old 03-19-08, 10:55 AM
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Very nice! These would be great for converting old MTB bikes to touring bikes with drop bars.
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Old 05-19-08, 06:07 AM
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Just a last re-visit to my Take Offs experience. I've now got some miles on them, and I think I've picked up on any issues:

1. they are terrific, I mean I really like them. The ease of being able to change gear is very nice. I'll still say they aren't quite STI/Ergo level of ease, but they are pretty close. Your hands can be comfortably in the hoods and holding the bars firmly when you change gear.

2. I still think for even more convenience, a centimetre could have been shaved off the length -I still find them comfortable to use, but I realize that people with smaller hands would have more problems. Ideally, if they could have been made with a customizable length......

3. a comment on the shifters I used (Dura-Ace DT 9-speeds) -I've found that since you don't get the same leverage as you would on a down tube mount, they are harder to change gear with. No, not in the sense you struggle, but it's just noticeable. Again, smaller hands might have a problem with this setup.

Assuming longevity (no reason to suspect otherwise) I still give them two very big thumbs up from me -highly recommended and worth a look if you want road handlebars but don't want to go the STI/Ergo/bar end gear shifting route. The best recommendation I can give is that if I had to buy a touring bike with road handlebars all over again, these would be some of the first things I'd put on.
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Old 05-19-08, 07:05 AM
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Nice write up. I am an STI fan myself, but these look like a good option for those who don't like STI for whatever reason.

My impression is that either these or the Paul's work with either levers from bar ends or dt shifters. I am pretty sure I recall that the levers on an ancient set of Dura ace bar ends that I had were completely compatible with dt bosses. I am not sure if newer bar ends are the same, since I am not a fan of bar end shifters. Can someone confirm or refute this?
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Old 05-23-08, 09:12 PM
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I switched my touring bike from suntour power ratchet bar ends to Kelly Takeoffs with 8-speed 105 and could not be happier. I can second Nigeyy's experience that they are a little finicky to set up, but then compared to bar ends and their myriad issues, these were a dream.

I've got mine set up to shift from the drops, which are 1/2" below the saddle and where I spend the majority of my time. Since the keyed washers for dt shifters are square, you could key them to one of four different configurations, and therefore bias the sweep more for shifting from the hoods. I have no interest in doing that and do not believe it would be as comfortable or as ergonomic, but ymmv.

As far as use goes, they generally smoke bar ends, and I actually prefer them to STI in a few ways. First of all, good DT shifters=muuuuuuch crisper shifts than STI. And when I hit a hill, it's easy to dump as many gears in back as I want, with one smooth push of the thumb. None of that pez-dispenser STI action slowing things down at a critical time. Friction front shifting also better than STI. I like that I can shift to the big ring by pushing with my thumb; the direction which requires the most force is also the one where it is easiest to apply that force. And this is better than STI, where I always thought shifting to the big ring took too long of a lever throw and was awkward, but I know Shimano improved this with the 10 speed shifters by shortening the travel and angling the sweep inwards a few degrees.

As far as shifts that go with the springs, with Takeoffs this means pulling the levers back, which I generally do by putting my thumb in front of the lever striking it with my base knuckle. This is awkward, but since the motion goes with the spring the forces required are less than going the other way, so it works as well as it can.

STI is still better for overall shifting ergonomics, but also more expensive and less reliable (though arguably reliable enough).

One other really cool thing that I've found, which I was not expecting at all, was how much I like wrapping my thumb around the takeoff mount while in drops. Doing this gives a vastly superior hand brace for more secure braking, and a less wandery grip while standing up from the drops (reason that works at all is because I use salsa bell laps which splay outward 12 degrees). It works by anchoring my hand in position so it is no longer able to rotate around the bar. I have significantly more confidence while braking hard because of these shifters.

They effin' rock. I've you've been thinking about it, get on fleabay now and find a pair.
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Old 05-25-08, 02:18 AM
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When I put Take-offs on my LHT, I found it made a lot of sense ergonomically to use a rapid-rise derailleur. I tend to use bigger sprockets on the hoods, and smaller ones in the drops, so the lever was up and nearer the hands when I was on the hoods,and down nearer my fingers when I was in a higher gear. I also with Thasiet that hooking thumbs over the strut in the drops is nice.
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Old 07-30-08, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Nice write up. I am an STI fan myself, but these look like a good option for those who don't like STI for whatever reason.

My impression is that either these or the Paul's work with either levers from bar ends or dt shifters. I am pretty sure I recall that the levers on an ancient set of Dura ace bar ends that I had were completely compatible with dt bosses. I am not sure if newer bar ends are the same, since I am not a fan of bar end shifters. Can someone confirm or refute this?
I don't know the answer to your question, but the Kelly site says the Take Off's work with bar end shifters:

Do bar end shifters work on Take Off’s?
Yes.
I'm going to give it a shot. I was thinking about going to bullhorns with Paul Thumbies, but this is cheaper and still leaves me with the drops if I ever decide to use them. Eventually, I might go with the bullhorn/thumbies set up on my bad weather commuter and get a set of 9spd Downtubes for my LHT, but for now I will just stick with the bar ends and give the Kelly's a shot.
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Old 07-30-08, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Nigeyy
Just a last re-visit to my Take Offs experience. I've now got some miles on them, and I think I've picked up on any issues:

2. I still think for even more convenience, a centimetre could have been shaved off the length -I still find them comfortable to use, but I realize that people with smaller hands would have more problems. Ideally, if they could have been made with a customizable length......
I feel the same way. There not hard to use, But I could use them a smidge closer.
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Old 07-03-13, 09:40 AM
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I realize this is one heck of a bump, but to people who've used Kelly Take-Offs, what do you think of Retroshift's mounting shifters on the front of the brake levers. Seems a cleaner setup, although that doesn't necessarily mean they're more comfortable to use. It fits the same niche (want on-bar shifting, but without bar-end shifters or dual-control levers).
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