Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
reohn2
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby reohn2 » 9 Jan 2019, 9:47am

Bar end lever or downtube levers mounted in Kelly Take Offs are much more convenient than downtube levers IME.
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Mick F
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2019, 10:30am

reohn2 wrote:Bar end lever or downtube levers mounted in Kelly Take Offs are much more convenient than downtube levers IME.
May be convenient, but not aesthetically beautiful. Also they suffer from "washing line syndrome".

It's a no thank you, from me.
Mick F. Cornwall

Brucey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Brucey » 9 Jan 2019, 10:32am

Mick F wrote:….The bit that's worn - the main ratchet thingy - has been described to me by the Campag experts that they only wear after astronomical mileages ................. what they don't understand, is that living in a hilly area, the gears are being changed hundreds of times per ride. Some folk sit in one gear for mile after mile after mile, but you can't do that round here!


Whether you change gear a lot is not just dependent on the terrain, of course. It is also dependant on the gearset and how you choose to ride. I was literally stunned to discover one of my chums changes gear hundreds of times per ride too, only he commutes on a road that I'd describe as 'nearly flat' and I'd only choose to change gear a few dozen times on this road, tops. Sometimes I'll ride this route and the quantity of shifts is in single figures.

Anecdote alert: in a former life I used to get driven to airports quite often. I'd most often get driven by one of just a few drivers in a local firm that specialised in airport runs. I used to dread getting one particular driver; he had a habit, a quirk if you like, of driving in a quite astonishing way. The one thing he wouldn't do (even on the motorway) would be to drive at a constant speed or throttle setting. I have no idea why he did this or even if he knew he was doing it, but it was like listening to a cracked record; he'd cycle between a slightly trailing throttle and enough throttle to accelerate slightly in a cycle that lasted about five or ten seconds. An hour and a half of that was quite enough for me. Anyway I mention this because (as with gear shifting) you can give two people identical tools and they may well find completely different ways (that might not occur to anyone else as at all likely) of using them even for the same job.

"Nowt so queer as folk" and all that.... :wink:

FWIW when building up a bike I will often use the simplest most versatile shifters in the first place, rather than invest in (yet another) special type of shifter that turns out to be limiting in some way should I want to make changes to the bike. Quite often the simple shifters stay; depending on bike and inclination, you don't really 'need' STIs/ergos at all. In many circumstances, after riding for a while without them they are not greatly missed.

cheers
Last edited by Brucey on 9 Jan 2019, 10:37am, edited 1 time in total.
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pwa
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby pwa » 9 Jan 2019, 10:37am

Bar end levers with the cable leaving the bar just a couple of cms from the lever body has the cables close to the cable guides on the frame and a short simple curve to do. Very clean, low friction, out of the way of bar bags and lights.

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Graham
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Graham » 9 Jan 2019, 10:46am

My 1981 Dawes Super Galaxy started with Suntour, friction, ratchety, Down-tube, 5-speed gears.

These days it has 8-speed Shimano, indexed, Down-tube. . . . with 40t / 28t chainrings for the last 15 years . . . suits me fine.

De Sisti
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby De Sisti » 9 Jan 2019, 10:49am

I'm thinking about putting downtube levers on my Spa Audax.

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Mick F
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2019, 10:49am

Brucey wrote:Whether you change gear a lot is not just dependent on the terrain, of course. It is also dependant on the gearset and how you choose to ride.
I have the widest 10sp setup that Campag do, in fact wider as I've swapped out the 30t inner for a Spa 28t. 53/42/28 triple and 12-30 10sp cassette.

In the 80s and 90s when I was commuting 17miles each way to Devonport from here, I had a Stronglight double variously 53/42, 52/38 and even 53/36 with a various 6sp and 7sp freewheel - biggest 28t and smallest 13t.

Going into work, it was undulating mainly downhill, and home undulating mainly uphill of course. I once tried to count the gear changes ........ can't remember how many but it was a hundred or more - with lower gears on the way home.

I can't see any reason to have gear ratios on a bike that aren't used. Use 'em all, or remove/re-stack them. I use all my gears - every single one.

Also, back on topic - DT levers are great. If I had my time again, I wouldn't have bought Ergos, but stayed with the friction DT levers as they aren't fussy in the slightest about make and model of cassette or chainwheels. No doubt by now, I would have an 11sp or a 10sp wide ratio Shimano cassette combined with my Campag friction DT shifters.
Mick F. Cornwall

De Sisti
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby De Sisti » 9 Jan 2019, 11:15am

Mick F wrote:
Brucey wrote:Campag friction DT shifters.

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

reohn2
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby reohn2 » 9 Jan 2019, 11:23am

Mick F wrote:
reohn2 wrote:Bar end lever or downtube levers mounted in Kelly Take Offs are much more convenient than downtube levers IME.
May be convenient, but not aesthetically beautiful. Also they suffer from "washing line syndrome".

It's a no thank you, from me.

Your dismissal of Kelly's on fashion grounds is trumped by convenience of use IMO and for the type of riding I do d/t levers on the downtube would be very inconvenient,not impossible though.I don't mind "washing lines" one bit and function beats form everytime in my book.
Last edited by reohn2 on 9 Jan 2019, 11:28am, edited 1 time in total.
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keyboardmonkey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby keyboardmonkey » 9 Jan 2019, 11:26am

I have STIs on the two bikes I ride most often. But on my tandem and touring bike I have down tube shifters.

My tandem has 8 speed indexed rear and friction front mech. It has flat bars and I find it a little tricky to reach down and change gear at times.

The touring bike has the original Simplex Retrofriction levers. The bike originally came with seven sprockets - Shimano Uniglide? - but I now have an eight from nine Shimano Hyperglide cassette, and the friction levers perfectly complement a cassette with nine speed spacing.

The only issue I have occasionally is reaching for non-existent down tube levers on my modern bikes - or trying to change gear by pushing inwards on an unyielding brake lever :D

reohn2
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby reohn2 » 9 Jan 2019, 11:27am

pwa wrote:Bar end levers with the cable leaving the bar just a couple of cms from the lever body has the cables close to the cable guides on the frame and a short simple curve to do. Very clean, low friction, out of the way of bar bags and lights.

But knee knockers in certain(for me) tight manoeuvres,I know we've had this discussion before but my objection is a reality for me.
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Brucey
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Brucey » 9 Jan 2019, 11:51am

De Sisti wrote:
Mick F wrote:
Brucey wrote:Campag friction DT shifters.

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


Dunno, 8s?

TBH I have not even thought about buying new ones in a very long time; they would be expensive for sure and they would be unlikely to work any better than older ones, which I either have already or would source used.

FWIW I have tried a lot of shifter types and locations but one that works well on a touring bike is to have the shifters mounted somewhere near the stem nosebolt; they are out of the way so they are not easily damaged, they are accessible enough for most purposes; the only time I am in anything of a hurry to shift is when climbing, (and my hands are already on the tops so this shifter position is better if anything), the cables don't get in the way of a bar bag, the bars are easy to tape/change/move too.

in fact there are only two main snags with this arrangement; choosing shifters and sourcing mounts for them. Only a few shifters are intended for mounting here and these are often of poor quality. More often to mount shifters here involves buying or making a bracket.

If buying there are Paul's thumbies and (IIRC) there are some jtek brackets too. These clamp to the bars rather than the stem.

If making a bracket you can usually make something that attaches to the stem nosebolt(s). You can make something with braze-on bosses on it but the simplest is to weld a short length of tube to a bracket that bolts through the stem bolts. The tube then accepts a set of band-on levers, of a sort that includes cable housing stops (else you have to add cable housing stops to your bracket).

levers like these

Image

have built in cable stops and work as well as the current dia-compe levers (they have a nigh-on identical mechanism inside). However unlike the dia-compe ones, they are available (for buttons) on e-bay or at bike jumbles.

cheers
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mercalia
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby mercalia » 9 Jan 2019, 11:58am

what a horrible idea. Unless you like to bend your back and get a back ache.

pwa
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby pwa » 9 Jan 2019, 12:02pm

reohn2 wrote:
pwa wrote:Bar end levers with the cable leaving the bar just a couple of cms from the lever body has the cables close to the cable guides on the frame and a short simple curve to do. Very clean, low friction, out of the way of bar bags and lights.

But knee knockers in certain(for me) tight manoeuvres,I know we've had this discussion before but my objection is a reality for me.

That knee knocking problem disappears if you are wilingl to saw off enough of the end of the bar to compensate for the extra length of the lever, which I do. I have never wanted to hold that last piece of bar anyway. But if you do make use of that last 3cm of bar, fair enough.

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Mick F
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Re: Does anyone still use down tube shifters?

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2019, 12:13pm

De Sisti wrote:
Mick F wrote:
Brucey wrote:Campag friction DT shifters.

Campag don't make them any more? What speed were they last made for (10s/9s)?
Mine were brand new when I built up the Mercian frame in Oct 1986. Originally 6sp Suntour freewheel and a double Stronglight 99.

They work very well indeed with a modern Campag 10sp triple system and also with a 10sp Shimano triple system ........... as I've already experimented with them both.
Mick F. Cornwall