Bar end shifters

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Bar end shifters

Postby cludence » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:23 am


This is not a buying question but I figured it was best suited to this section.....

I picked up a small framed road bike last night and noticed it has bar end shifters on it. When did these come out and did people find them useful being in that spot? My guess is the bike is an early 90's one.

My road bike knowledge is not that great, thus the question. I am assuming they are/were not super popular as I have not seen them on a bike before.

Just curious as the bike is almost a kids size so didnt know if I am better of changing the shifters on it before passing it on to a kid.


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Postby McPete » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:02 pm

Bar ends were, I think I'm right in saying, about the best thing before the Shimano/Campag brifter came about (although I really like my shifters on the downtube). They're still standard kit on the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

There will be some adjustment for the rider going to any sort of Friction shift, but I'd leave them on there, unless you happen to have a spare Sora groupset hanging about...

How old is the kind you're planning to hand it over to? I'd imagine that said child would be used to indexed shifting on Mountain bikes if they've done any riding at all, but I reckon a few quick lessons on them in a quiet street and all will be well!

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Postby europa » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:56 pm

The only bar end shifters available from Shimano are Dura Ace but they are still popular among American tourers because they allow you to fit a handle bar bag (and possibly some predjudice against brifters). They're easy enough to use but do require you to move your hands on the bars. My exposure to them is brief but they'd have to be at least as good as having the shifters anywhere else except under your fingers like the combination brake/shifters.

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Postby heavymetal » Sun Jul 15, 2007 6:01 pm

You can still buy bar end shifters as I looked at some last year. They will run in indexed mode (I hate) or friction mode. I ended up rigging friction shifters elsewhere on the handlebars.

A few people (mainly tourers) have commented that they can get knocked easily and if the bike falls over, they have been known to break.

The other thing which probably won't matter on a road bike is that you have to be down on the drops to reach the levers.

Some of the earlier models only ran in friction mode (my preferred option) :D

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Postby geoffs » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:53 pm

Bar end levers have been around for a long time both for touring and for TT bikes.
Best way to tell their age is (if they are Shimano) is whether they have index/friction and if they have index, how many speed. The reason why people tend to bump bar end shifters is that you should cut about 20mm or so off the ends of your handlebars. This will make it so they are about the same length as a normal set of handlebars.
They are very reliable but I find them not so good in traffic so I prefer brifters. I take a bar end lever as a backup when we go on long tours.



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Postby cludence » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:57 pm

Thanks for that info. They were friction ones. It has a new home now. A kid in a cycling club starting out will get it.


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