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Why Barcons?(4 posts)

Why Barcons?laffeaux
May 26, 2002 10:02 AM
I'm looking at getting a CX bike, and have noticed that many/most come with bar end shifters. Why is that? What do they offer than SIS shifters do not?
Simplicity...The Walrus
May 26, 2002 4:18 PM
Because it's only a shifter, a barcon has about 1/10 (or less!) the number of parts an STI lever has, which means a whole lot less can go wrong. They're much less susceptible to clogging with mud and spooge, and in a crash, they won't be destroyed. In the unlikely event that they are ever damaged and the indexing doesn't work, there's still the friction mode. ...and that's just the right-hand shifter--the left gives you infinitely variable control so the front derailleur can be perfectly trimmed, and you can use 'em with a double or triple, road or MTB mech.
re: Why Barcons?triangleforge
May 29, 2002 1:57 PM
I'd wager that most new 'cross bikes these days do come with STI shifting; "back in the day" bar-cons were the only way to go for cyclocross, as an alternative to downtube shifting. Consequently, you may see a whole lot of used 'cross bikes with bar ends.

That said, I'd imagine there's not a huge performance or competitive advantage to either approach; on my main 'cross bike, I've got an STI lever on the right side for the rear derailleur and an old SunTour BarCon to the left for handling the front. On an old road bike I use as a backup, I've got Shimano 8-speed bar ends. Either system has its pros & cons:

STI is (slightly) heavier, more complicated, more fragile, and easily accessible from more hand positions on the bar. For me, I sometimes get into a lactic-acid haze in races (both 'cross & road) and forget just which little lever I'm supposed to push on the STI to make the gears go the way I want. Also, I have lousy circulation in my fingers, so when they go numb on cold rides, STI shifting can become almost impossible -- I have to look at the lever to make sure my fingers are in the right spot, then shove with my whole hand. Usually in races, my heart's pumping hard enough that I generally seem to have feeling in my fingers, but I guess I've never raced in REALLY cold conditions.

Bar end shifters are rugged, more intuitive than STI, but less convenient to reach. You can shift them with mittens or with completely numb hands. It's also nice to be able to keep your eyes on the course while feeling the lever with your hand to check what gear you're in.

If you are choosing between the two, I'd say go with whatever you're used to; if you have STI, stick with that. That's especially true if you tend to ride or race on the brake hoods, where you can reach an STI lever but not a bar-end. If you ride in the drops mostly, it's a toss-up.

Have fun!
re: Why Barcons?atpjunkie
May 30, 2002 4:14 PM
BarCons will save you time, money and hassle. especially with Shimano where you must buy a whole set to replace a 20 cent part. If it's dry STI's may work, if you are going slogging barcons