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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    5

    About to buy bike with bar end shift levers?

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    I think it's been about a month since I originally posted. I'm getting back into biking after many years away. Previously I commuted about 10 miles each way.

    Now I will be riding with family and using bike for fitness - we have lots of short steep hills where I live.

    After some advice on here I branched out from just looking at hybrids to trying road bikes and thinking about all options and my needs. To my surprise, I found the drop down handlebars on the road bikes much more comfortable than the hybrids. And I realized I wanted a bike for fitness and building strength climbing hills - I bike that will work with me.

    Liked some WSD road bikes I tried - especially the Specialized Dolce Elite. But I'm planning to ride on roads with lots of potholes, occasional gravel, railroad tracks and maybe occasionally a flat dirt trail. And I may want to carry groceries. I want a light bike but a tough bike too.

    So I think I've found my bike and about to order it it's a pretty light weight touring bike with women's frame (there are no bikes in my area that fit and have slightly wider tires than the road bikes and meet my needs - I've tried all the bike shops and I definitely only fit on the WSD bikes). My one hesitation is bar end shift levers. I wasn't able to try these out in any shop.

    Any of you have these shifters - how hard will this be for me as a newbie getting back to biking and given that I have a lot of short hills?

    By the way, this is my only hesitation about the bike - I think it's going to fit well and be a great bike otherwise.

    Thanks!
    Sadie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,045
    It took me about one ride to figure these out on my Surly. I just had to keep repeating- up is easier (on the right). It will become instinctive after just a little while. Take a short flat ride where you can practice shifting.
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    My first two bikes had bar end shifters. It's not hard to get use to. I currently have 3 different bikes and I ride each pretty frequently. They all have different shifting - oncluding one with bar ends. I never seem to confuse one with the other. You just get use to it.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    I don't have a bike with bar end shifters but I would think that balance and confidence in your balance might be involved, for someone who is relatively new to cycling or just getting back into it. I say this because for years I was not comfortable taking my right hand off the handlebar. I could ride all day with my left hand off the bar, to signal turns, reach for a water bottle, etc. But when I took my right hand off the bar I felt very unstable. I had to practice it in order to get comfortable with it. If I had bar-end shifters I would have had problems shifting on the right. Things like steep hills and rough roads would have added to my feeling of instability.

    Just something to think about.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,201
    agree on flat ride to practice...It should be easy for you to get use to them. They are very reliable, less maintenance than brifters and you can also use them as a friction shifter if needed. Those are some of the reasons they are on a new touring bike. Lots and lots of climbs and descents and many miles on all kinds of roads/paths have been ridden with bar end shifters over the years!!!!

    I had them on an older trek 520 touring bike that i used for brevets during my college years, no problems even on a 600k. I only needed a slight push with the heel of my hand or hook my pinkie under to change gears, all while being able to keep my hand on the bar. For me there wasn't really a stability difference over brifters and for me they were easier than the down tube shifting that came with the trek.
    Last edited by rebeccaC; 10-02-2014 at 07:25 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I took a quick test ride on a bike with bar end shifters a couple of years ago. I didn't buy it, so that was the extent of my experience with them. My hesitation was the same as yours - how in the world would it be possible to shift without upsetting the steering? But I found them much more stable and easy than I expected. Now, I didn't get to ride any steep hills. But, if you've been away from riding for a while, that probably means what you're used to is downtube shifters, and if you could shift those without upsetting the bike, you'll be fine with the bar-ends.

    Still, if you really prefer brifters, most shops will swap them out for you and just charge you the difference in price. Which will be substantial, brifters are expensive and bar-ends are cheap, but if it was me I'd probably do that.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,101
    This is what stopped me from buying a true touring bike for my second bike. No way could I deal with taking my hands off the bars to shift.
    That said, I am a creature of habit. Thought I had no issues going from trigger shifters to brifters, the bar ends seemed slightly insane to me.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,201
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    This is what stopped me from buying a true touring bike for my second bike. No way could I deal with taking my hands off the bars to shift.
    That said, I am a creature of habit. Thought I had no issues going from trigger shifters to brifters, the bar ends seemed slightly insane to me.
    have a flan de limón con salsa de frambuesa with a glass of muscatel goya clasico for me ...safe flights/rides!!!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    I did six double centuries with bar end shifters, at least 9 200Ks and 3 Half Ironman tris. I would guess cover 35,000 miles with bar end shifters. I never had an issue with them and I am not Wonder Woman. If balance is a concern, then yeah not a good idea. However, they work well for lots and lots of people.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ann Arbor
    Posts
    42
    I have barends on my tourer which I also use as my commuter. I don't have a concern about letting go of the bar to shift.

    One technique you can try is to hold the sweep of the bar with the thumb, index finger and web of the hand while shifting with the pinkie against the heel of the hand. It doesn't take much force to shift (and the tension can be adjusted).
    2010 Trek Madone 4.5
    2013 Velo Orange Campeur

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ann Arbor
    Posts
    42
    One drawback - I have been able to stab myself just above the knee when stopping and starting at a light/sign depending on the angle of the shift lever.
    2010 Trek Madone 4.5
    2013 Velo Orange Campeur

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    To me it comes down to being able to cover the brake while shifting. Now that I'm used to brifters on the road bike and grip shifters on the hybrid - both of which let me do that - I'm reluctant to part with that extra reaction time on the brakes.

    As far as field repairability ... in my mind, shifters are in the same category as spare spokes and bottom bracket tools. Way more hard core touring than your average bear. There's a whole universe of mechanical problems that MIGHT happen, and a spectrum of preparedness vs likelihood vs everyday hassle that you have to make your own judgment about. I carry spare cables, both brake and derailleur; a chain tool and a couple of spare links; patch kit and mini-pump to back up my spare tube and CO2. Beyond that, in a worst case where I couldn't limp it home before dark, I'm never more than a mile or two out of cell phone range. Shifters just aren't something I even worry about. (And I *did* have a brifter get gummed up on a ride once, not knowing what it was, and not really having a place to get solvent any closer than home anyway. But it's still not something I worry about.)

    If you're doing randonneuring or unsupported back country touring, then yeah, you're going to want straight levers not detents, i.e. downtube or bar end shifters not brifters. But for any kind of commuting, day riding, or not strictly time limited touring east of the Mississippi in the US or comparable densities elsewhere, I just don't think it's necessary.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 10-02-2014 at 08:44 PM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    To me it comes down to being able to cover the brake while shifting. Now that I'm used to brifters on the road bike and grip shifters on the hybrid - both of which let me do that - I'm reluctant to part with that extra reaction time on the brakes.
    Having used friction shifters since 2003 when I got my first road bike, I can honestly say that has never been an issue.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    I was so used to bar end shifters that when I got my Gilles Berthoud last year it took awhile to get used to down tube shifter. I was still shifting with both hands instead of just my right hand.
    Anyhooo, I concur with most, bar ends have a slight learning curve but pretty soon you won't even notice and you can shift with a couple finger and even the palm of your hand when you are in the drops.
    no different than moving your hands to different positions on your bars.
    Sky King
    ____________________
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    Having used friction shifters since 2003 when I got my first road bike, I can honestly say that has never been an issue.

    Veronica
    Well, having used downtube shifters from 1973 through 2006, minus a hiatus in the 90s ... it's honestly never been an "issue" for me in terms of causing a crash, but one of the many, many things that's carried over from learning to ride motorcycles is the understanding of how little room for error we ever have, and my preference at this point is for that room to be larger not smaller.

    Just like clipless vs the mechanically simpler toe clips, I'm pretty sure I never crashed while trying to release a strap, but if I don't have to take my hand off the bars to get my foot out of the pedal ... you get the idea.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 10-03-2014 at 11:12 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

 

 

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