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Anyone else hate integrated shift/brake levers?

Old 03-05-20, 05:44 AM
  #1  
Rajflyboy
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Anyone else hate integrated shift/brake levers?

Iím getting tired of integrated brake/shift levers. Separate Is much better in my opinion. Makes it easier to change out one or the other if you want to. (Less expensive too)
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Old 03-05-20, 05:46 AM
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cb400bill
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I like both.
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Old 03-05-20, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Rajflyboy View Post
I’m getting tired of integrated brake/shift levers. Separate Is much better in my opinion. Makes it easier to change out one or the other if you want to. (Less expensive too)
You're of course right about easier to replace, but it's a good trade off, in my opinion.
For drop bars, nothing beats the ease of operation of the integrated levers. That matters more to me. I'm going to shift any given bike thousands of times, and I very rarely replace that part.
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Old 03-05-20, 05:54 AM
  #4  
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I have bikes with with down tube shifters and bikes with the integrated brake/shifter levers. I like both, but I find it more convenient to shift with the integrated levers, I'm never in the wrong gear with them. I ride with all age groups and the younger riders are amazed that I'll take my hands off the bars to grab a shift lever on the down tube. Pretty funny. I had a guy in his twenties behind me in a paceline a while ago and it was his first time seeing down tube shifters. During a break he asked me if I shifted less because of the down tube shift levers. When we got back to the ride I constantly touched the right hand lever, even though I didn't shift, just to goof on the younger guy behind me. After the ride he said he noted how many times I shifted and was amazed. I never told him the truth.

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Old 03-05-20, 05:56 AM
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For drops, they are great. For flats, separate is better but I-spec/Matchmaker is the best of both worlds - great adjustability and small footprint
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Old 03-05-20, 06:29 AM
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I bought my first bike with STI/"brifters" over 20 years ago, have never missed the old separate shifters/levers. My multi-day touring is never longer than 4 or 5 days - I know long distance tourers still prefer the bar end or even down tube shifters for simplicity and fix-ability, but in those 20 years and three bikes with integrated, I've never had a failure. For 99.99% of my riding, having my hands near both the brakes and the shifters when riding on the hoods or the drops has been a big gain in my ability to quickly react.
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Old 03-05-20, 06:43 AM
  #7  
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I like integrated, but most of the bikes I ride are still on the down tube...with only 6, 7, or 8 gears. For me, and my type of riding...shifting on the down tube is no problem at all. I do have a very modern CF road bike with integrated...but it's set up for triathlon and I only use it in races and race prep...so it doesn't get ridden much. I like my older road bikes...steel, ChroMo, aluminum. I've rebuilt/restored/maintained them myself. I would switch them out to integrated...but that involves so much more than just switching the brake levers. You also have to consider increasing the number of gears to match modern integrated shifters. That means new cassettes, and chains. If the wheel isn't dished to accommodate the new cassette then it has to be replaced (or re-dished). And then if the frame/dropouts aren't wide enough to accommodate the wider wheel then that has to be dealt...widened if possible. Likely have to get a new rear derailleur too.


Dan
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Old 03-05-20, 06:47 AM
  #8  
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STIs plus BarMitts...

...have revolutionized my morning winter commutes. I can wear a thinner glove and slip my hands into the Mitts and then have both comfort and control.

As to the OP's question of ease of changes, yes. When you're still deciding on how a bike will be set up, it is simpler to some degree. But this doesn't matter to me, as I don't begin building until the concept is finalized, so once and done.

I have downtube shifters, bar end shifters, flat bar combined shifters, and drop bar STIs. When I go from riding a non-STI bike back to the drop bar STIs, I'm reminded of the convenience of shifting while standing, or actually simultaneous front and back shifting, or the finer control that more rear cogs with smaller steps give.

This morning I rode a 2 x 6 friction bar end shifter bike in to work. The gear jumps are more coarse on that bike, and I was thinking how finer tuned one of my STI bikes would have been. Not a big problem, but the either the power needed or the cadence suffers...
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Old 03-05-20, 07:08 AM
  #9  
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Anyone else hate integrated shift/brake levers?


Not me.
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Old 03-05-20, 07:11 AM
  #10  
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have never thought about it. gears work, brakes work, ride on
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Old 03-05-20, 07:12 AM
  #11  
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Hate? No.

I admit I prefer my friction bar end shifters on my touring bike to the Shimano Ultrega shift/brake levers on our tandem, as the shifting is very mushy and I get a lot of mis- and non-shifts when using the Ultrega levers. It is relatively quick and easy to do multiple attempts at getting into the right gear, though, so it isn't a huge deal. I don't know if this is a function of the long cable run on the tandem, or whether it is a characteristic of Shimano integrated shifters. I've fooled around with optimizing the shifting, and right now it is as good as I can get it. I may try different cables (longer to eliminate the use of cable splitters?) and housing, and/or different cable splitters when it is time to replace them to see if that helps. The only other experience I have with Shimano integrated shifters was > 15 years ago when I was demo-ing a bike, I remember a lot of accidental braking when trying to shift.

I really like the Campy integrated shifters on my single, though, nice and crisp and accurate, and I really, really like the separate thumb lever for releasing cable. That is just personal preference, though.

For me, then, Campy Chorus integrated shifters > friction bar end shifters > Shimano Ultrega integrated shifters. If I were getting a new bike, I'd definitely get Campy integrated shifters.
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Old 03-05-20, 07:28 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
.. to the Shimano Ultrega shift/brake levers on our tandem, as the shifting is very mushy and I get a lot of mis- and non-shifts when using the Ultrega levers.
Likely a maintenance issue. You said, long cable runs and didn't specify which generation Ultegra, you could have older 6400 stuff.

Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
For me, then, Campy Chorus integrated shifters > friction bar end shifters > Shimano Ultrega integrated shifters. If I were getting a new bike, I'd definitely get Campy integrated shifters.
I've not tried any Campagnolo integrated shifters yet. I'd like to. You should try the new R8000 stuff. It is very short throw and extremely crisp shifting. Wowsers.
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Old 03-05-20, 08:18 AM
  #13  
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I have brifters on my main commuter, bar-end shifters on my winter bike, and downtube shifters on my old 12-speed. I used to have trigger/crossfire shifters on my winterbike when it had straight bars for its first 22 years.

WIth the brifters and the trigger shifters, in traffic, with cars around, it is nice to have your hands by the brakes even when shifting. Plus my fingers are also near my Airzound Airhorn trigger on one side, and my bell on the other. With both setups I could shift, brake, ring the bell and honk simultaneously, although I don't remember that happening ever. (that doesn;t mean it never happened)

Since converting my winterbike to drop bars with bar-ends I do have to move my hands to shift, but not as far as I do with my "downtube" 12-speed.

However, since my 40s I have had to vary my hand position every so often to avoid cramping, so moving my hands to shift is actually a plus in some ways. And reaching down to shift adds some other kinds of stretching to my ride.

I think I would be happy with any kind of shifting except an old, rusty Sturmy-Archer 3-speed.
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Old 03-05-20, 08:22 AM
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That darn power steering on these modern cars -- Anyone else hate that?
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Old 03-05-20, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Likely a maintenance issue. You said, long cable runs and didn't specify which generation Ultegra, you could have older 6400 stuff.

I've not tried any Campagnolo integrated shifters yet. I'd like to. You should try the new R8000 stuff. It is very short throw and extremely crisp shifting. Wowsers.
This. I've never used Campagnolo, or friction shifters, but I'm hard pressed to imagine something that shifts smoother than r8000. I'm on my third bike with it (r8000, r8020 and now r8070), and all are fantastic. I will admit to having scrubbed the brakes on occasion when shifting, but nothing crazy, and that's no longer an issue with di2.

R7000 shifting is very smooth as well, but I do prefer the shorter pull on the Ultegra hydraulic levers. And the r8070 shifters are perfect, imo, much smaller than any other series I've used, very comfortable and look great.
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Old 03-05-20, 08:33 AM
  #16  
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Well, I admit that when I first rode a bike with brifters, I was in awe. I thought they were among the greatest technological innovations of the twentieth century. But now, twenty five years and forty thousand miles later, I like 'em a lot more.
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Old 03-05-20, 08:43 AM
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Anyone else hate integrated shift/brake levers?
Originally Posted by Rajflyboy View Post
Iím getting tired of integrated brake/shift levers. Separate Is much better in my opinion. Makes it easier to change out one or the other if you want to. (Less expensive too)
So far, we haven't found anyone else...

Maybe there's a support group?
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Old 03-05-20, 08:45 AM
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I would much rather have brifters. The last bike of mine to have DT's is an early 90's Ochsner road. I rebuilt it last year with the original DT levers. I will be replacing them with brifters soon, as I am going to be upgrading a different bike, and will transfer the brifters and rear derailleur to the Ochsner.
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Old 03-05-20, 09:06 AM
  #19  
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- I have STIs on a few road bikes - love em. I geek on updating old steel frames with modern components and a modern(or mixed) drivetrain is fun to use.
- My touring/commuting bike has bar end shifters. They work fine, but I dont love them. I dont shift as often with that bike and its 100% for sure because the shifters arent right where my hands are for most of the ride. It has a triple though and I like the friction shifting for a triple front.
- My gravel bike has Gevenalle 2x11 shifters. I love those so much that I actually down-spec'd the brakes to cable/hydraulic hybrid calipers in order to keep using the Gevenalle shifters. I consider them to be integrated since the shifting and braking are at the same place. External shift cables isnt as elegant as under tape cables, but whatever- I like the shifters too much.


So nope- I dont hate integrated shifting. I also dont hate dual pivot caliper brakes, high quality clincher tires,or wide range 2x drivetrains.
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Old 03-05-20, 09:15 AM
  #20  
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had such a hard time replacing a rear derailer cable (wound up using 2 cables cuz I mangled the first one inside the mechanism) that when it came time to do the front derailer, I hired a shop to do it!
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Old 03-05-20, 10:38 AM
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So, on the topic of replacing cables - and prophylactically replacing rear shifter cables on STIs, there I'm in agreement with the OP. It has to be done, and why keep the old housings if you're replacing the cable? So, it's also bar tape (either discard or re-wrap), and the job gets bigger.

You have to keep more spare cables, more lined quality housing in more colors, more sets of bar wrap in various colors, etc. So the sustainment costs go up.

Of course, I love working on bikes, so this is like a day in the candy store for me...

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Old 03-05-20, 11:16 AM
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On flat bars bike (mountiain bikes, hybrids), the integrated ones don't make much sense to me, and have precious little difference, ergonomically speaking, from separate controls. And, as OP said, complicate things if you want to change a component. There is also benefit to being able to adjust the position on the bars of one set of controls relative to the other.

On drop bar bikes - road, touring, CX, ect - the riding position and bar shape makes brake and shift levers in separate places a challenge. Older solutions include shift levers mounted on the downtube of the frame and on the ends of the bars, and the integration of shift levers into the brake levers (c. 1992 or '93) was a major step forward for bike ergonomics. I still use bar end shifters, but that is because that is what I have, and I am too cheap to upgrade.
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Old 03-05-20, 11:30 AM
  #23  
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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

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Old 03-05-20, 11:35 AM
  #24  
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I have bikes with Shimano and Campagnolo shifters, and am comfortable with either system. I love them. But Iím also equally at home with downtube shifting. The one thing I do miss about downtube shifters is being able to trim your front derailleur as you go.

I do get a bit annoyed/jealous seeing 11spd mtb trigger shifters selling for $25 new, though, when a pair of road bike shifters costs about 5-10 times that.
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Old 03-05-20, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
For drops, they are great. For flats, separate is better but I-spec/Matchmaker is the best of both worlds - great adjustability and small footprint
this 👍

I should have mentioned flat bars as well (integrated into drops makes total sense)

lots of great thoughts and comments (as usual)
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