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On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?(6 posts)

On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?zmarke
Dec 28, 2002 9:07 AM
I know this is the "fixed Gear" discussion but this is the group of riders that I wanted to poll about what type of shifter do you prefer when you ride a geared bike. I am building a new road bike for weekend club rides of 35-75 miles and not for any type of racing or commuting and just wanted to know what people use/like in terms of shifters.

My last road bike had Shimano 105 with downtube shifters which I liked very much. My wife's bike is newer than mine and she has Campy Ergo shifters. I have ridden her bike many times and like the advantage of "brifters" but feel that I spend more time changing gears than just concentrating on riding the bike and enjoying the scenery.

If you ignore the Campy vs. Shimano thing, ignore the obvious less mechanical worries with downtube shifters vs. STI shifters, ignore the cost difference...

Do you believe that with downtube shifters you are more likely to stay in a gear that might force you to work harder on a hill rather than switching to an easier gear since it is so easy to do with "brifters" rather than reach for your downtube shifters?

Do you believe that you must "plan ahead" more for gear changes with a downtube shifter vs. an STI shifter?

Do you feel that you do not shift that much anyway since you normally ride a fixed gear bike and that there really is not a difference between downtube shifters and STI shifters?
re: On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?desmo
Dec 28, 2002 11:15 AM
Both have their merits. I grew up on DT friction and spend all winter riding a bike set up that way. Can't speak for DT index shifting as I missed that period of cycling but feel DT friction is a simple and elegant way to shift a bike. And is very rewarding when you can pull off clean shifts while holding your line in a group. Also very trouble free, light, and quiet. It can be a dud when caught off guard for a mile-marker sprint, but it's good to see how much leg-speed you can muster in a 39-18 ratio! On the other hand STI/Ergo is really nice for racing, especially crits or hilly races where you need to shift out of the saddle. It also allows you to really use a multi geared bike to its' fullest extent, clicking off constant small ratio changes to keep cadence constant (of course this where hardcore fixie riders roll their eyes). My new "main" bike I'm building for next season will have DT friction for the front and Ergo for the rear. Best of both worlds, weight weenie move, and goes with my build theme of a fully modern bike with traditional styling.
re: On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?fixedgearhead
Dec 28, 2002 11:46 AM
After years of riding multi geared bikes with only friction downtube shifters I finally made the switch to an all fixed gear fleet. Just one less thing to concern myself about. That said, The friction type of downtube shifters are simpler and less apt to fail and need adjustment. They are what I grew up on and I never saw the need to go to Brifters. If it needs adjustment, then just move the lever. Simple, elegant, and very low maintainance. Racing is another matter. You would be at a disadvantage in racing conditions with everybody else using Brifters. Now the real question arises: Why would you need a multi geared bike?

fixedgearhead
re: On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?Continental
Dec 28, 2002 11:50 AM
I have one road bike with STI and one with downtube friction shifters. I like each bike to have it's own charactor. I wouldn't "upgrade" the frictions shifters even if someone gave me a complete STI sytem, but I wouldn't pull the STI off of my new bike either.
re: On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?Dad Man Walking
Dec 28, 2002 12:34 PM
I satisfy my retro jones on the fixed gear bike. My other ride is Campy Ergo. I know my way around a friction shifter, too...I was riding Campy SR until two years ago (that bike became my fixed gear bike).

You noted that you spent more time shifting than enjoying the ride. My experience is that you will shift more but think about it less, as soon as you get used to it. And mind you, this is a reformed retro-grouch talking (or typing). The magic of indexed shifting on the levers is that you can do it without thinking about it, or planning ahead, or compromising your control over the bike, etc. I probably shift 10 time more often on any given route than I did with downtube friction shifters. When I am "in the zone" (or in the middle of a good aerobic buzz while on a ride), shifting is virtually unconscious—my body, not my mind, is adjusting the gearing to keep my cadence and power output balanced, in much the same way that my body keeps my respiration and heart rate balanced with the demands on my body.

There is no question that indexed shifting at the brake levers (for a standard road bike) allows you to get more out of your body. It is universally used at every level of racing, despite its weight penalty. (Set aside the occasional downtube friction shifter on a time trial bike, or on a weight weenie's bike.)

Now that I have that out of my system, I will respond specifically to your questions:

i Do you believe that with downtube shifters you are more likely to stay in a gear that might force you to work harder on a hill rather than switching to an easier gear since it is so easy to do with "brifters" rather than reach for your downtube shifters?

Yes. But so what? If you want to go up the hill in a harder gear, it is easier to shift up, too. Low RPM, high power intervals on hills are a valid training technique (good enough for Lance), but those probably use higher gears than you were in when approaching the hill, so to get the most out of that type of training you would be shifting up instead of down.

i Do you believe that you must "plan ahead" more for gear changes with a downtube shifter vs. an STI shifter?

Somewhat. But when I was totally dialed in to the Super Record derailleur, I didn't really think much about it, I just shifted. Only, as noted above, I shifted far less than I do now. The new indexed derailleurs will execute shifts in circumstances that you would not have thought possible with a friction shifter (uphill, under load). In that sense, perhaps, they let you plan ahead less.

i Do you feel that you do not shift that much anyway since you normally ride a fixed gear bike and that there really is not a difference between downtube shifters and STI shifters?

Absolutely not.as already noted. The fixed gear is for cadence and technique and for one hell of a lot of fun that I can't really explain but everybody here knows exactly what I am talking about. The geared bike is to convert that cadence and technique into pure speed under as many different circumstances as possible. Different equipment for different purposes...but both a hell of a lot of fun.
re: On your GEARED bike(s): STI or Downtube shifters? and why?Welshboy
Dec 31, 2002 9:10 AM
The funny thing is that I only truly realise the benefits of ergolevers when riding behind someone with d/t levers in a bunch. This happens on a hill when they stay in too big a gear for too long and slow down and then slow down even more when changing gear. If I'm trapped behind them, or perhaps do not wish to overtake and start a race, then it can be quite frustrating having to slow down and lose my momentum.