Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Mick F
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2019, 4:45pm

iandusud wrote:Not sure what you mean by washing line syndrome

Kelly Takeoffs.
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Just a quick Google brings this image up.
Mick F. Cornwall

amediasatex
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby amediasatex » 9 Jan 2019, 5:01pm

Brucey wrote:
De Sisti wrote:
Mick F wrote:

Campag don't make them any more? What speed were they last made for (10s/9s)?


Dunno, 8s?


The indexed* Campag ones were made right up until 10 speed, I have a couple of sets fitted to bikes, one actually shifting a Campag derailleur over a C10speed cassette, the other set are shifting a Suntour VX over a modified 8 speed cassette. I've also got a couple of pairs of 8 speed Campag indexed downtube shifters, again one set shifting a Campag derailleur over a C8speed cassette, the other over a S7 speed cassette (same spacing).

I actually quite like the later indexed Campag shifters, pleasingly tactile and very positive in use. For pure friction shifting though I'm a Simplex retrofriction lover and don't really like any other friction shifters, especially Campag as I find they're forever slipping so normally get promptly replaced with the Simplex shifters.

*Obviously friction shifters will normally do any 'speed' cassette you like as long as they pull enough cable overall to move your desired rear derailleur over the whole cassette.

Steve
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Steve » 9 Jan 2019, 6:13pm

I love 'em, especially on the winter bike when wearing big gloves.
One disadvantage which I don't think anyone else has mentioned is that the front mech can creep inwards when climbing out of the saddle, due to repeated frame flexing and spring in the LH lever pulling the cable in. Just needs slight correction to avoid chain rub.

Brucey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Brucey » 9 Jan 2019, 6:37pm

not just the FD; the RD can self-adjust too, by the cable 'pulling back' against the lever as the frame flexes. In fact to prevent such lever slippage (if you are strong and riding a fairly flexy frame with susceptible cable routing) very many friction levers need to have a much higher friction setting than you might expect. I like the simplicity of friction shifting but I have had quite a lot of trouble with this exact problem on several racing frames. On touring frames this has been less of an issue; presumably they are stiffer and I am less wont to go 'full gas' when riding them.

To my annoyance one set of simplex retrofriction levers (which must have worn I think) allowed the one way clutch to go backwards under duress; I kept the friction screw very tight and was quite mystified as to why the gear levers kept moving despite this!

In the future if I encounter the same problem again I may deliberately choose slightly springier cable housing for the rear mech, slightly stretchier cables, or even add one of those brake modulator gizmos to the housing; these things ought to give the thing a bit more 'give' and maybe this will help to stop the lever pulling back.

BITD one of my chums mysteriously broke the pawl in a set of SunTour powershift levers (the only time I have seen a problem with these); I was baffled at the time but I now wonder if that wasn't the cable 'pulling back' in bottom gear against a very tight friction clutch.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Des49
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Des49 » 9 Jan 2019, 9:55pm

amediasatex wrote: For pure friction shifting though I'm a Simplex retrofriction lover and don't really like any other friction shifters, especially Campag as I find they're forever slipping so normally get promptly replaced with the Simplex shifters.


Are there any Simplex shifters available still? I would love some. Used to race with a set in the 80s, but the spring broke after a couple of seasons and I moved onto Dura-Ace indexed in any case, which 31 years later are still working.

My most used bike is equiped with the Dia Compe shifters, but I really have trouble with the rear lever, too tight for good feel but still can slip on hard uphill efforts. The 7sp Campag Chorus levers I had on that bike had to be replaced as the little springs in the levers have just crumbled and on friction mode those levers are just awful, I found the indexing worked very well for many years though and I do miss it.

drossall
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby drossall » 9 Jan 2019, 10:20pm

Des49 wrote:Are there any Simplex shifters available still? I would love some. Used to race with a set in the 80s, but the spring broke after a couple of seasons and I moved onto Dura-Ace indexed in any case, which 31 years later are still working.

The levers, as opposed to the derailleurs? I started with Simplex. Used to have a pair of levers. Don't know if it's still in a box somewhere. It would be rusty, if so.

amediasatex
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby amediasatex » 9 Jan 2019, 10:23pm

They pop up from time to time 2nd hand and very occasionally as ‘new old stock’. I’ve got a few old sets and all still working fine some 30 years on.

Brucey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Brucey » 9 Jan 2019, 10:31pm

simplex went bust years ago. AFAIK no-one makes levers to that design now. The closest you can get is the diacompe levers but ( I think) they have a clicky mechanism in them not a silent clutch based on a drag spring.

BITD campag made some NR/SR levers that had a kind of retrofriction device in them, before indexing was the new thing, whilst a lot of riders used campag everything except the gear levers. These campag ones are pretty rare levers (they were only briefly available) but do crop up from time to time. The same innards were later used in C-record 'doppler' levers I think.

Image

C-record levers were available in standard friction or 'doppler' (retrofriction) types;

Image

In theory you could get spare parts for the Simplex levers, back then;

Image

#3667 and #3668 for the left and right drag springs respectively.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pwa
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby pwa » 10 Jan 2019, 8:57am

amediasatex wrote:They pop up from time to time 2nd hand and very occasionally as ‘new old stock’. I’ve got a few old sets and all still working fine some 30 years on.

How do you treat them to keep them working well? Any lube? How do you stop the innards corroding?

Des49
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Des49 » 10 Jan 2019, 9:15am

drossall wrote:
Des49 wrote:Are there any Simplex shifters available still? I would love some. Used to race with a set in the 80s, but the spring broke after a couple of seasons and I moved onto Dura-Ace indexed in any case, which 31 years later are still working.

The levers, as opposed to the derailleurs? I started with Simplex. Used to have a pair of levers. Don't know if it's still in a box somewhere. It would be rusty, if so.


Just the levers please. I did look on eBay and there do seem to be some that come up, from very distressed looking to good, the latter for £75!

It does seem amediasatex's are working well for a long time, but mine certainly only lasted a couple of years before the right lever spring broke. It would always be a worry that an old second hand lever wouldn't last. There isn't much that can go wrong with the exception of the springs.

amediasatex
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby amediasatex » 10 Jan 2019, 9:25am

pwa wrote:
amediasatex wrote:They pop up from time to time 2nd hand and very occasionally as ‘new old stock’. I’ve got a few old sets and all still working fine some 30 years on.

How do you treat them to keep them working well? Any lube? How do you stop the innards corroding?


Almost nothing, I have never had any issues with downtube shifters (of any make) corroding beyond a bit of surface tarnishing or on the mounting plates and bolts. I might have sprayed a bit of aerosol grease or WD40 at them once or twice but that's it. The Campag indexed shifters I use have a bit of waterproof grease in the innards, applied when fitted and then ignored.

FWIW all my Simplex shifters were bought second hand, so their life before I got them is unknown, clearly used but I have no idea how much, they might have been barely used, or shifted half to death. One pair came to me a bit grotty with the mounting bad and plates a bit rusty, but only on the surface and all work fine and continue to do so.

On summer/good weather bikes they're not likely to have issues at all, and all my winter/bad weather bikes have full guards so the worst the shifters have to put up with is a bit of rain, and that doesn't really cause much of a problem as they don't exactly catch much water.

Brucey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Brucey » 10 Jan 2019, 11:58am

I've broken the drag springs in the simplex retrofriction levers too. The commonest breakage is that the 'tang' (which engages with the lever slot) just snaps off. BITD I couldn't seem to get spare parts so I usually 'repaired' the broken drag springs by simply bending the broken end up to form a new tang. It seemed to work well enough and cost me nothing apart from a little of my time.

However the problem now is that I have several sets of these levers and which ones have broken is something that is lost in the far mists of time.... In fact it is worse than that; I looked through my collection of levers last night and I found ones I didn't know I had, and didn't find ones I knew I did have..... :oops: I shall have to round them all up and do a survey; the 'repaired' springs are a bit shorter (fewer turns) than they should be. It ought to be possible to inspect springs for cracks near the bend, using a binocular microscope.

if there is enough interest I may have a go at manufacturing replacement drag springs; can't be beyond the wit of man....

FWIW they rust in a non-critical way but otherwise it appears to be sufficient to spray a bit of aerosol SFG into the spring slot from time to time. Eventually the aluminium lever itself starts to rattle around too much; I'd imagine that it should be possible to add something like a light pressure wave washer to stop any actual rattles that might occur.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

drossall
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby drossall » 10 Jan 2019, 1:41pm

Des49 wrote:Just the levers please. I did look on eBay and there do seem to be some that come up, from very distressed looking to good, the latter for £75!

It does seem amediasatex's are working well for a long time, but mine certainly only lasted a couple of years before the right lever spring broke. It would always be a worry that an old second hand lever wouldn't last. There isn't much that can go wrong with the exception of the springs.


I'm a bit confused about talk of lever springs. I only remember friction-only levers. I've just Googled and seen some Simplex designs I've not encountered before. I have these, which are from the Simplex = plastic era:

Image

The slight dimpling of the Simplex logo on the band is because they were fitted over, rather than above, a down-tube pip. I don't recall why now. I believe I stopped using these around 1980, and they've been in a spares box ever since.

slowster
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby slowster » 10 Jan 2019, 2:35pm

drossall wrote:I'm a bit confused about talk of lever springs. I only remember friction-only levers.

There are a couple of explanations of how the spring functions in a Simplex Retrofriction lever at the bottom of this article - http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/components/simplex-retrofriction-components.html.

Samuel D
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Samuel D » 10 Jan 2019, 3:35pm

slowster wrote:There are a couple of explanations of how the spring functions in a Simplex Retrofriction lever at the bottom of this article - http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/components/simplex-retrofriction-components.html.

That’s a neat principle of operation! There are probably other parts of the bicycle susceptible to improvements by that sort of creativity. Unfortunately the mechanical engineer’s star has fallen and with it my hope for major improvements in the bicycle any time soon.