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Downtube Shifters

Old 07-13-19, 08:30 AM
  #1  
southpier
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Downtube Shifters

thinking out loud and welcoming constructive input:

surly lht w/ drop bars & bar end shifters - love it.

downside is that the shift cables foul on the Berthoud handlebar bag. they kink at the frame boss/ adjusters. I've worked with this for 4 seasons but am considering downtube shifters instead.

I've read this frees up cable length & weight, but find the bar ends just so darn convenient.

anyone care?
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Old 07-13-19, 08:47 AM
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I started to using DT shifters this year on a early 90's steel bike that I rebuilt. The shifters, derailleurs, the crank and the brakes are the original 105 indexed, 6 speed. I have thought about putting brifters on it and have nixed that idea. I also thought about mounting 8 or 9 speed indexed DT shifters on it. I have 8 speed levers already but am not going to do that at this point. I am using the rear derailleur shifter in friction mode and I now have a 10 speed, 12/27 cassette on the rear. I also went to 50/39 tooth rings. It shifts great and is simple to work on. It is also a lot less money involved than acquiring a newer drivetrain that would be required to switch to brifters. It took a very short time to get used to the down tube shifters again. I love riding that bike again, 27 years after purchasing it.
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Old 07-13-19, 09:59 AM
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Do it! You'll get used to them in no time. I think there's something so cool about having to reach down onto the bike frame to change gears. Though maybe I am biased since I had been riding ancient road bikes for years. My only complaint about them is that if you need to slow down quickly, you're stuck using the front brake while your right hand changes gears. This is obviously solvable, but I just worked around it.
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Old 07-13-19, 10:02 AM
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You can route the bar end shifter cables under the bar tape. It's a somewhat convoluted path so I use good cables and housing (Jagwire Road Pro). I do find that with that convoluted path the cables seem to get sticky after a couple of years - something is getting worn down and gunked up.

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Old 07-13-19, 10:54 AM
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Where you ride and what kind of surface makes a difference to me. I have an old Bridgestone with DT shifters which is fine on pavement but awkward in gravel and dirt where you want your hands near the bars. Brifters and bar ends are still my choice for multi surface riding. FYI, I'm older and down tube was what we used to ride.
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Old 07-13-19, 11:29 AM
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Saving cable weight on a LHT?

Another work around, if you like the bar ends, is to use full housings and bypass the cable bosses if they interfere with the HB bag. Then you can route/zip tie them where ever you want.
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Old 07-13-19, 02:48 PM
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I'm 64 yo. All I have ever used is DT friction shifting. After awile it becomes like playing the trombone--you just know where it is.
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Old 07-14-19, 12:22 AM
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Have you consider stem shifters? Stem shifters work great for me.
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Old 07-14-19, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Saving cable weight on a LHT?

Another work around, if you like the bar ends, is to use full housings and bypass the cable bosses if they interfere with the HB bag. Then you can route/zip tie them where ever you want.
yeah, huh. I've probably got 8# of "stuff" in my handlebar bag. did I mention I've just added a rain cape to my kit? s i g h . . . . .

but I never thought of not using the bosses. wonder if a clamp on cable stop a few mms lower would do the trick?

https://www.amazon.com/Origin8-Alloy-Cable-Stop-Double/dp/B004FT1LGO/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=downtube%2Bshifters&qid=1563106700&s=outdoor-recreation&sr=1-11&th=1

i'm not at the zip tie stage - yet! still waiting for my milk crate to come in.

of course having made the fatal mistake of looking for shifters, I want a pair of these so bad:

https://velo-orange.com/collections/...-shifter-cover
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Old 07-14-19, 07:32 AM
  #10  
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I started riding when DT was the standard. I still prefer the feeling. It just seems natural to me.
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Old 07-14-19, 11:01 AM
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Happy Feet
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post
yeah, huh. I've probably got 8# of "stuff" in my handlebar bag. did I mention I've just added a rain cape to my kit? s i g h . . . . .

but I never thought of not using the bosses. wonder if a clamp on cable stop a few mms lower would do the trick?

https://www.amazon.com/Origin8-Alloy-Cable-Stop-Double/dp/B004FT1LGO/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=downtube%2Bshifters&qid=1563106700&s=outdoor-recreation&sr=1-11&th=1

i'm not at the zip tie stage - yet! still waiting for my milk crate to come in.

of course having made the fatal mistake of looking for shifters, I want a pair of these so bad:

https://velo-orange.com/collections/...-shifter-cover
Careful.. don't go to that site. It's addictive.

Even new bikes come with zip ties these days and can be finished nicely. Of course, you could look at these https://velo-orange.com/collections/...tle-cage-clamp
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Old 07-14-19, 09:00 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
I started riding when DT was the standard. I still prefer the feeling. It just seems natural to me.
Amen Brother!
Jon
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Old 07-14-19, 09:13 PM
  #13  
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What are downtube shifters?


Just kidding. My old Pinarello Montello has Campy downtube shifters. I love them. My old Raleigh Wyoming has stem shifters. Talk about old!!

The main thing to get used to is taking your hand off the handlebar to shift. After a week or two it will be second nature.
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Old 07-14-19, 09:47 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post
thinking out loud and welcoming constructive input:

surly lht w/ drop bars & bar end shifters - love it.

downside is that the shift cables foul on the Berthoud handlebar bag. they kink at the frame boss/ adjusters. I've worked with this for 4 seasons but am considering downtube shifters instead.

I've read this frees up cable length & weight, but find the bar ends just so darn convenient.

anyone care?
A picture of your current setup would be quite helpful.

Are your cables too short?

Something that might help is to run the right cable to the left of the stem and onto the left cable housing stop and the left cable to the right cable housing stop and cross the cables under the downtube. That'll give a greater curve to the housing if you haven't set them up that way already.

Cheers
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Old 07-15-19, 03:52 AM
  #15  
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I run a traditional randonneur bike setup and I have to say that I love downtube shifters. Sure, you have to think a little bit but that's pretty true with barends too. I initially made the switch from bar ends to downtube because I kept catching the levers with my thighs and had ridiculous bruises on the tops of both thighs all the time.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:53 AM
  #16  
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Using downtube shifters is no more difficult than grabbing your water bottle. I have to say, brifters are awful nice, but for simplicity, cost of setup and durability downtubes cannot be beat and will most likely someday switch back to downtube. Hate stem shifters, just awkward and having to sit up and cross your hand to the center to shift just doesn’t work in my book.
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Old 07-15-19, 08:37 AM
  #17  
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I've been riding and loving bar ends since my first race bike in 1964. Yes, I raced my Legnano Roma with OEM Campy bar ends. I have modern bikes with brifters and even one with Di2. This past year, I fell into the DT rat hole. I acquired a Peugeot PR10 with Simplex down tubes, and immediately grabbed a pair of Suntour bar ends off Ebay. I kind of got used to the DT challenge and never got around to installing the bar ends. Another build came along, and the Suntours went on it. Then, a 1961 Legnano Gran Premio came along with Campy down tube shifters. So in 55+ years I went from zero to two, down tube shifter bikes. Can't say they are my favorites, but at least with only 5 or 6 gears, you don't have to use them as often.

My Peugeot's Simplex. This picture is "as bought", missing front derailleur and cable. All good now. A small lock washer cured the front derailleur slipping.

My newest old school down tube shifters, still a little stiff to shift.

Two Legnanos, DT or Bar end? I'll take the bar end shifters.

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Old 07-15-19, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by FlMTNdude View Post
… Hate stem shifters, just awkward and having to sit up and cross your hand to the center to shift just doesn’t work in my book.
yeah. those ones are not even on my radar. I bought a circa late '60s/ early '70s Raleigh that had those. rather than muck it up, just sold it and broke even.
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Old 07-15-19, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
A picture of your current setup would be quite helpful.

Are your cables too short?

Something that might help is to run the right cable to the left of the stem and onto the left cable housing stop and the left cable to the right cable housing stop and cross the cables under the downtube. That'll give a greater curve to the housing if you haven't set them up that way already.

Cheers
I don't think the cables are too short, but rather the bag too wide. I even took the side pockets off of it.

although I agree there would be a more gradual sweep, i'm not smart enough to figure out the advantage of crossing cables since they would be "X-ing" under the downtube. is that even a mechanically sound practice?
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Old 07-15-19, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post
I don't think the cables are too short, but rather the bag too wide. I even took the side pockets off of it.

although I agree there would be a more gradual sweep, i'm not smart enough to figure out the advantage of crossing cables since they would be "X-ing" under the downtube. is that even a mechanically sound practice?
Yes that's sound practice to cross shifter cables under the downtube.

Cheers
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Old 07-15-19, 02:04 PM
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Nah, I'd stick with the bar end shifters. Better control, hands on the bars at all times (other than drinking).

I've used downtube shifters for years on road racing bikes, but they demand a lot of attention. We tend to take this for granted unless we also have other bikes with more convenient shifters. But one of my road bikes has brifters, and my favorite hybrid has bar-end shifters on albatross bars. I much prefer that hybrid for casual paced rides on rough roads -- poorly maintained pavement and gravel.

On fast group rides I vary between my road bike with downtube shifters and the other with brifters. The downtube shifter bike demands more attention. If we're in a paceline I have to trust the people ahead to call out hazards, and preferably not lead us into bad spots in the first place. Recently I hit a rough patch that knocked my front wheel askew for a split second, just as I was reaching down to shift. One of those heart-in-throat moments. Partly operator error, but it wouldn't have even been a bobble if I'd been riding the bike with brifters.

Personally I wouldn't have bar-ends on drop bars either. I'd prefer brifters for maximum control, convenience and reasonably neat cable routing. I like bar-ends on swept bars -- the levers fall naturally under my hands, so I can press down with the base of my palm or lift up with a pinky, no need to shift my grip. But I don't ride the drops on drop bars often, so reaching down to shift would be only marginally more convenient than downtube.
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Old 07-15-19, 02:12 PM
  #22  
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If the issue is getting cables out of the way of the handlebar bag, a few options:

Cable housing under bar tape (use quality frictionless housing, as has been mentioned)
DT shifters
Any STI with cable routing under the bar tape
Convert existing bar ends to thumbies (but the mounts from Paul and other companies are nearly as expensive as new shifters)
Wireless electronic shifting

I'm probably missing a few. They all have pros and cons.

For a Surly LHT I'd probably just do DT shifters.
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Old 07-15-19, 02:16 PM
  #23  
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Worst thing that can happen is you'll hate them and decide to switch back.
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Old 07-15-19, 03:24 PM
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For me, friction downtube shifting is the only way that ever worked properly on a derailleur drivetrain.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:23 PM
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wow; lotsa input and I appreciate everyone's opinion & advice.

just got back from a ride (usual 22 - 24 miles on bike path & local streets). I tried to mimic the downtube shift motion and found myself kneeing my arm. I have had downtube shifters in the '70s & '80s, but never rode "seriously" and don't remember much of those years anyway . . . .

I think the least dork-some solution for me is going to be lengthening the shift cables between the bar end levers and frame bosses. I don't mind the grasshopper antennae look. aero cables vex me to no end and I tend to lean toward the retro-grouch school of cycling whenever possible.

and not to flog a dead mule . . . but obviously I will . . . if I could "cross cables" wouldn't that do two 'negative' things?

to wit:

#1 . if my downtube frame bosses are located at 9:00 & 3:00 o'clock, how would I get them under the tube without scraping the paint off?

yes; I really am this dense.

#B . wouldn't this allocate the "right" lever to my front derailleur? and "left", rear?

since this would be contradictory to how things are now, it might likely put me 'round the bend trying to remember which switch to shift!

thanks all, again.
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