Opinions on Downtube/Friction shifters

T4tomo

Guru
I have DT friction on my '87 Peugeot, and Suntour barcon ratchet/friction on my '80 Holdsworth and a microshift indexed barcon on my more modern Gravel bike, and mechanical Ultegra on the posh road bike. I find the barcons marginally easier to use than DT as less (none if on the drops) hand movement is required. The Suntours, for 40+ yr old technology are particularly impressive.

I'm not sure integrated brake/gear levers have moved things on from barcons that much, they are marginally more convenient to use, but a lot more expensive and more complex and hence more things to go wrong or get marginally out of adjustment, particularly once you get to 10/11/12 speed.
 
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Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
Friction shift for the win
 

Punkawallah

Well-Known Member
Down tube friction shifters on the touring and road bikes. Never got away with the bar end shifter.
I can see the appeal of grip shifters for the ‘occasional’ rider, and indexed shifters for their ‘fire & forget’ action. At a push, I can even see the usefulness of the combined brake/gear lever. If I must. Just hate having to work on them :-)
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
I have DT friction on my '87 Peugeot, and Suntour barcon ratchet/friction on my '80 Holdsworth and a microshift indexed barcon on my more modern Gravel bike, and mechanical Ultegra on the posh road bike. I find the barcons marginally easier to use than DT as less (none if on the drops) hand movement is required. The Suntours, for 40+ yr old technology are particularly impressive.

I'm not sure integrated brake/gear levers have moved things on from barcons that much, they are marginally more convenient to use, but a lot more expensive and more complex and hence more things to go wrong or get marginally out of adjustment, particularly once you get to 10/11/12 speed.
To be honest, 'brifters' are better if you are sprinting as you can access the gears mid sprint, but ideally I guess most pro's don't as they will already have the gears selected. I didn't 'upgrade' my Dura Ace to STI as I didn't like the early versions with an additional cable poking out the side, I'd got lovely neat 'aero' brake levers, and the down tube shifters never broke.
 

a.twiddler

Über Member
In my experience, when STIs work, they work well, and have had them on a couple of bikes. I particularly like flat bar trigger shifters. Back in the mists of time I had no problems with down tube friction shifters either, it was just what you had.

Since becoming a recumbentist I have developed a new appreciation of friction shifters. It does seem that for most riders it is easy to be in the thrall of manufacturers' hype when friction shifting can do the job quite well. Although indexing has been around since the early days of hub gears the application of it to multi gear derailleur systems with even the same manufacturer using different standards for road and mountain bikes, and different manufacturers using different standards between themselves has made life unnecessarily complicated.

I have gone from thumb shifters (non indexed) on my Linear to bar ends and it has been so simple to set up and use. I have a bit of a mixture actually with a non indexed Sun Tour Bar Con for the rear derailleur, Sturmey indexed bar end for the SRAM hub gear (originally had a non indexed thumbshifter which I did not feel comfortable with in this application -you need positive stops with a hub gear) and a friction thumb shifter for the front double. To say that I've learnt a lot about gear shifters in the time I've had it would be an understatement.

Much as I like the 9 speed Sora brifters on my Revolution Country Explorer (the ones with the mouse ear changers) if something unrepairable happened to them tomorrow I would go for non indexed bar end shifters without too many qualms.
 
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Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I have DT friction shifters on my bike that I never ride. They are fine. There's an 8 speed cassette on the back. They take me a while to get used to when I ride it, or at least they would if I did, but I don't. You just change gear, and if you haven't hit it right it chatters, so you adjust it a bit. After a while you get the knack and get it right most of the time.

I could imagine they might get a bit tricky with a more crowded cassette, 10S maybe. Or maybe they would be fine, I don't know.

For the front mech I'd say they are preferable to brifters.
 

Mburton1993

Well-Known Member
Location
Stalybridge
I have a single vintage Simplex Prestige friction shifter on mine that I got on eBay for a tenner. I like it, unindexed, easy to set up and can make micro-adjustments on the move.
 
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Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
I have DT friction shifters on my bike that I never ride. They are fine. There's an 8 speed cassette on the back. They take me a while to get used to when I ride it, or at least they would if I did, but I don't. You just change gear, and if you haven't hit it right it chatters, so you adjust it a bit. After a while you get the knack and get it right most of the time.

I could imagine they might get a bit tricky with a more crowded cassette, 10S maybe. Or maybe they would be fine, I don't know.

For the front mech I'd say they are preferable to brifters.
Friction shift still works great at 9 speed.
 

Archie_tect

De Skieven Architek... aka Penfold + Horace
Location
Northumberland
My Dawes has downtube friction shifters... love being able to do both levers at the same time with the 52/39 and [I think but not sure unless I check] 11-14-18-24-32 rear. Spend most of my time on 39/18. Life is so much simpler being able to feel the changes rather than the 105 STIs which I love but I'm constantly going up and down to suit the gradient and double shifting isn't as smooth!
 

Bromptonaut

Rohan Man
Location
Bugbrooke UK

GuyBoden

Veteran
Location
Warrington
I'm giving these newfangled "Dia Compe Silver Shifters" a try on my bike. The price has gone up this year like most cycling gear.

They have a friction ratchet mechanism similar to the old Suntour Power shifters, but this design is more compact. Early days yet, but they seem to be working well and are fine working with a 9 speed cassette.

http://www.diacompe.com.tw/product/silver-w-shift-lever/

SILVER-W-SHIFT-LEVER-575x380.jpg
 
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