DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

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Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby Brucey » 18 Apr 2020, 1:57pm

Back in the far mists of time, a lot of touring bike were fitted with gear levers mounted on the stem. BITD these were (IIRC) widely derided by racey types, of which I was one. These days they are a bit more up my street; not so far to reach as DT levers, work with nearly all frames (many of which don't have DT bosses but instead have cable stops), and with easy reach when you really need them (unplanned downshifts when climbing on the tops). You can still buy them; e.g.

Image

and in essence they are a 7/8" band on gear lever mounts with built-in cable stops. They fit to any quill stem, and can of course be removed easily for maintenance etc. They allow a free choice of brake levers. They are well out of the way and are unlikely to suffer road rash in case of a prang. However they are not perfectly ergonomic; you need to move one hand off the bars to shift. They also have a worrying look to them which makes me think that in a prang they might well eviscerate me, seeing as the levers protrude both upwards and backwards from the stem. Of course they won't easily fit to a bike with a 1-1/8" steerer.

Paul's thumbies (and similar) are an alternative

Image

and allow better access to the gears; about half the shifts can be done using thumbs whilst maintaining a knuckle grip on the bars. However they are rather pricey, and mean that you have to untape the bars if you want to remove them. There is a long-running thread about Pauls thumbies and Kelly's take-offs elsewhere on this forum, much of which concentrates on shifters mounted near the brake hoods.

Is there an alternative for shifters mounted near the tops? Yes of course; you can -with a little fiddling about- mount gear levers of several different kinds in a similar location. Here are a couple of my earlier efforts

Image01654.jpg
shimano levers mounted to a cinelli stem

Image01655.jpg

Image01656.jpg
suntour levers, on my Rudge (Montague) biframe


In both the examples above the gear levers are set well forwards, so in a prang, you are going to hit the stem first (as normal) before you disembowel yourself on the gear levers. It also means that they can be worked from the handlebar in many cases too. Needless to say the shifters can be changed for different ones without disturbing much past the shifters and the cables. However seeing as friction shifters will work with any gear system this isn't such a big deal.

In both the above examples I've used old band-on DT levers which have built-in cable stops (most don't, unfortunately). The levers are fitted to a custom mount, made using a little DIY- level engineering. All that is needed is some way of connecting a DT-sized piece of tube to the stem or the bars. The mount for the suntour levers is welded (but possibly needn't have been), and connects to the stem nosebolt. The mount for the shimano levers is a band which goes around the stem, and is all bolted together; something similar could be made with little more than a hacksaw, file and drill.

If you want to use shifters that would normally mount to flat bars, your bracket merely needs to incorporate a short length of 7/8" (22.2mm) dia tubing. There is an example of one such bracket I made in this thread

https://forum.cyclinguk.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=115182&p=1136721&hilit=alfine+shifter+mount#p1136721

which allows an Alfine 8s shifter to be used on dropped handlebars.

I also have a gear lever bracket mounted to my stem nosebolt on my hack bike; it uses repurposed thumbshifter parts to control a sturmey archer 5s hub with twin toggles. The gear levers pivot just below the stem nosebolt, which means they are very accessible.

Between the various different brackets I have made in this way, I guess I have done at least 40000 miles using them. They have never given me a moment's worry. Has anyone else done anything similar?

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

colin54
Posts: 1328
Joined: 24 Sep 2013, 4:34pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby colin54 » 18 Apr 2020, 2:40pm

On 1 1/8'' steerer, I wonder if this 'Problem Solver' D/T mount would work, it clamps up OK with the supplied shims,but whether you could adjust the head set accurately enough afterwards, I don't know,
assuming there's enough room in the spacer stack for it of course. There is an easily imagined potential for injury with levers in that position as you say. I've been using Kelly shifter mounts recently, I like the right hand shift, but am less convinced about the left due to the large arc of travel which can feel a bit awkward, (as do things like rapidfire on flat bars come to that).
P1130096.JPG

Brucey
Posts: 40455
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby Brucey » 18 Apr 2020, 2:42pm

with the problem solvers mount, what would you do for cable stops?

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

colin54
Posts: 1328
Joined: 24 Sep 2013, 4:34pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby colin54 » 18 Apr 2020, 3:03pm

Brucey wrote:with the problem solvers mount, what would you do for cable stops?

cheers

Good point, well made !

reohn2
Posts: 39825
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby reohn2 » 18 Apr 2020, 3:03pm

One of these:- https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MTB-Bike-Fla ... NukcZ6RRbQ
Brackets mounted either side of the stem with either bar end shifters in the ends of the cut to length bar,there may be internal dimension problems in which case,MTB shifters can be used.
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I cycle therefore I am.

nsew
Posts: 481
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby nsew » 18 Apr 2020, 5:50pm

Brucey wrote:Paul's thumbies (and similar) are an alternative ............about half the shifts can be done using thumbs whilst maintaining a knuckle grip on the bars. However they are rather pricey, and mean that you have to untape the bars if you want to remove them.


Paul’s are actually a detachable bracket that come in 22.2 and 31.8. I have in 26.0 however that size is no longer available. In the position shown all shifts are easily completed while maintaining a 3 or 4 fingered knuckle grip. I have recently built up a 9 sp but this time as bar-end. I can ride faster with them as bar-ends.
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De Sisti
Posts: 973
Joined: 17 Jun 2007, 6:03pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby De Sisti » 18 Apr 2020, 6:12pm

I quite like the Kelly's Take Offs, and intend to fit them to one of my bikes. I'll sell the Centaur*
ergo levers, rear mech, and buy some Shimano 9s dt levers, Kelly's Take Off, brake levers, and a
Shimano rear mech. I reckon I may come out even, or with just a small net outlay.

*Ultrashift 2010.

nsew
Posts: 481
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby nsew » 18 Apr 2020, 6:17pm

These are the original WTB (Potts/Cunningham) brackets. I recall seeing a set go for $300+ on eBay a few years ago.
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reohn2
Posts: 39825
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby reohn2 » 18 Apr 2020, 7:31pm

De Sisti wrote:I quite like the Kelly's Take Offs, and intend to fit them to one of my bikes. I'll sell the Centaur*
ergo levers, rear mech, and buy some Shimano 9s dt levers, Kelly's Take Off, brake levers, and a
Shimano rear mech. I reckon I may come out even, or with just a small net outlay.

*Ultrashift 2010.

Kelly's are great,I have them on my Vaya :D
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

Brucey
Posts: 40455
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby Brucey » 18 Apr 2020, 8:12pm

current Paul Engineering thumbies have a hinged clamp,
Image

but it wasn't always thus;

Image

something to look out for if buying NOS or used.

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

PH
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Location: Derby
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Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby PH » 18 Apr 2020, 8:57pm

Brucey wrote:current Paul Engineering thumbies have a hinged clamp,

As do the IRD versions if you can find them, I had a set and very nice they were.

nsew
Posts: 481
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby nsew » 18 Apr 2020, 10:31pm

Brucey wrote:current Paul Engineering thumbies have a hinged clamp,
Image

but it wasn't always thus;

Image

something to look out for if buying NOS or used.

cheers


Haven’t seen those before. Rivendell have recently introduced some nice bar end shifters and clamps, a few years in the making. They clamp 22.2 and 26.0.

https://www.rivbike.com/collections/shi ... ihjga44451
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Brucey
Posts: 40455
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby Brucey » 18 Apr 2020, 11:38pm

that Rivendell stuff looks nice, but then it ought to; by the time you have bought shifters and mounts, a front and rear setup costs $130 (US). Doubtless by the time it is retailed in the UK it'll be more than that. Blimey.... :shock:

In my parts stash I've got a set of original SunTour thumbshifter levers (which are what the Rivendell shifters are a copy of) and cable stops; just a bit of fiddling about required to make/adapt brackets and I shall have a pair of shifters exactly where I want them.

FWIW I think (and have always thought) the best way of mounting a thumbshifter is beneath the handlebar, so that the pivot is also ahead of the handlebar; to get them mounted like this requires that the left shifter is mounted on the right side and the right shifter is mounted on the left side. In this position the lever can be worked using finger and thumb without appreciable loss of grip on the handlebars. BITD this is how I had my MTB thumbshifters mounted; on a rigid MTB loss of grip on the bars was often followed shortly after by a face plant.... I carried on with this scheme even with indexed levers, which meant that I had the rear shifter on the left hand side. Sounds weird but I soon got used to it.

In modern, affordable thumbshifters Sun Race make some pretty mediocre RH index shifters and a nicer LH ratchet shifter. It turns out that you can transplant the guts of the LH ratchet into a RH lever, so you can make a pair of ratchet thumbshifters. OK they are not SunTour quality and you need to buy three shifters to make the two you want (leaving you with an indexed shifter on a LH bracket left over, which you might never find a use for) but it is a lot less money than most alternatives. There is a leetle snagette though; the ratchet is a bit coarse; about 1.7mm cable pull per click. However this matches almost exactly with a Shimano Dynasys RD /10s cassette combination, such that two clicks will give one downshift. I think that this will give a kind of semi-indexed downshift; something I will be experimenting with. However with many other setups, I suspect the coarse ratchet will cause an overshift followed by a trim, every time, which could get tedious.

BITD SunTour powershift levers with one of their RDs on a 5s or 6s freewheel gave four clicks per downshift. Not sure how this compares with modern Dia Compe or Rivendell versions.

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

rjb
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Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby rjb » 19 Apr 2020, 8:38am

There's always these Shimano Palm Shifters as another alternative.
Could be a good alternative for anyone who suffers with arthritis.
https://images.app.goo.gl/fyEQ8gf32MXKDMBV6
At the last count:- Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D

Brucey
Posts: 40455
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: DIY touring shifters; stem/bar centre mounts

Postby Brucey » 19 Apr 2020, 10:26am

there's quite a few inexpensive shimano shifters which have some potential for alternative mountings or are meant to be fitted in a suitable location.

SL-A250 (3x6) as per rjb's post
Image
https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-SL-A250-0898.pdf

SL-A460 (3x6?)
https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-SL-S460-1027A.pdf

The current equivalent SL-A050 (nominally 2x7)
Image
Image
https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-SL-A050-2226.pdf

The above shifter use a steel clamp band sized for ~26.0mm diameter. The LH shifter in SL-A050 is a spring loaded (light action) friction shifter; I don't know the cable pull of the LH shifter so I can't say whether it will manage a 'road triple' FD or not; I don't remember seeing such a shifter used on a bike with a triple. The right shifters are index only.

In a similar vein, but meant for flat handlebars with a 22.2mm dia steel clamp band;

SL-TX30 and (currently) SL-TX50 (3x6, 3x7)
Image
https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/ev/EV-SL-TX50-2492.pdf

SL-TX50 is indexed on both LH and RH shifters. The RH shifter uses a pushbutton release for upshifts, which is -when it is working properly- quite slick in use.

On the plus side all these shifters are inexpensive and -because they use steel clamp bands- they are potentially bodgeable without too much difficulty. [By contrast more expensive shifters with an aluminium clamp are usually less easy to modify to fit elsewhere.]
On the minus side there is lots of potentially fragile plastic, both internally and externally, the shifters are not designed to be maintained or repaired, and they are index-only for RH shifting. They are also (to my eyes) absolutely gopping to look at.

SL-A050 has stickers over the main screws; probably you can dismantle them once these are removed. SL-TX50 has an external cover that can be removed. The internal parts are mostly plastic, with a few -crucial- springs, unplated. You can take these shifters apart but they are not that easy to reassemble, despite a lack of complexity. If water gets into these shifters the plastic parts often stop moving and the springs start to corrode. If the clamp band in the RH shifter gets bent in the wrong way, it can distort the plastic housing and cause the thumb button to bind.

These shifters are -for the money- a pretty good effort. SL-TX50 work reasonably well on basic hybrids. However on a touring machine I'd worry about breaking them and not then being able to make them work again (or replace them). They don't look great and from a practical perspective, they take up quite a lot of space for no good reason; there are plenty of more compact shifters and I'd always choose those because I can always find something better to do with the space in that area, even if it is only to put my hands there.

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