Bike Forums - View Single Post - Anyone else hate integrated shift/brake levers?
Old 03-05-20, 11:30 AM
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79pmooney
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Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

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I don't hate them but I just don't use them. I find it easy enough to just leave them on the bikes as is, then leave those bikes on the showroom floor.

I see brake levers as filling two critical functions - operating the brakes, duh! and as one of the 3 contact points with the bike. (Feet/pedals, butt/seat and hands/cockpit.) To now ask that the lever serve a third, equally critical function is to now add another variable. (Let's just say we want a choice of three brake operations, short pull, long pull and hydraulic. Say 4 different choices of lever size and shape for comfortable fit. And say 3 different shifting standards (10, 11 and 12 speed plus double or triple - OK, perhaps more than 3)

So we had (with ordinary aero brake levers) 3 X 4 = 12 models to fit all brake types and hand fits. Add 3 different shifting standards and we have 3 X 4 X 3 = 36! (Never going to happen. So what does the industry do? Limit choices. And make those choices very expensive. (Suppose you want a brifter with more length so you can stretch out more when you come out of the saddle. Changing brifters costs you what? Around $150 for mechanical shifting and braking on Ebay. By contrast, Tektro levers cost less than $40 from a bike shop. The swap is so much simpler also. Yes, you still have to unwrap the bar and re-wrap. But no shift cables to run and dial in.)

There is also that matter which should never happen - crashes that mess up the brake levers. In my racing days, nice levers with road rash could be seen at any race. Periodically we'd sell levers to racers. But crashes that made those levers inoperable were not common. If no bones were broken, the rider got on and finished the race or rode home. Then the choice of living with the scarred lever or replacing. Often doesn't work that way now. (Well, often the ride can limp home on one chainring or cog. But once home, that lever is trash.) Now I have heard it said that no one messes up expensive brifters in crashes. Too much to lose. Guess things have changed and I am an old dinosaur.

Edit: This dinosaur grew up on DT shifters. I can shift in my sleep. Feel completely natural. Yes, I do have to plan ahead on hill and sometimes get taken by surprise. But I also love that they are clean, light, efficient and incredibly both reliable and versatile. They can run any chain standard, FW or cassette. Any dropout spacing. The combos that don't work are uncommon. (Also totally crash proof. Well, I suppose you could break one or hurt yourself on them, but in 100,000 miles of riding them and 55 years around them, I have yet to hear the first case.) And from my racing days - I heard from the vets who'd raced in cutthroat Europe that you didn't want bar end shifters; that a competitor would reach over and dump you onto your small ring going into the sprint but DT shifters were 1) very hard for him to reach and 2) you could chop down with your hand and protect them. (Low level European racing of the day being an avenue out of generations of poverty.)

Ben

Last edited by 79pmooney; 03-05-20 at 11:44 AM.
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