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Thread: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

  1. #1
    the bottle ride's Avatar
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    Default Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I have been dreaming of a new bike- more up to the task of doing mondo winter miles and built to be put back wet after. Fenders etc in order to make it a great training tool- save pretty bike for when I feel pretty.

    Down tube shifters keep popping up on my wish list- I had em in the 80's right up until 1993.
    I do not know why I long for them still- STI made me lazy by not having to reach down to shift.

    Am I just imagining how great they are?

    Anyone using them today who is not totally retro?

    Sincerely,

    Longing for yester-years shifters.

  2. #2
    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    You knew I'd answer ;) Curt Goodrich built me a bike to race and show at the Oregon Manifest a few yrs. back and it made hella good sense given the requirements to have DT shifters. With DT shifters and a jet tube for the rear brake it makes the job of shouldering the bike cake AND when and if the elements or bad luck muck with your rear cogs or derailleur you can change to friction mode and keep riding.

    But the neatest thing? The neatest thing is riding in a group and doing a simultaneous thumb + forefinger small to big ring + double up shift rear and hearing e-richie lean in and say "Sweet".

    Whatever man, do it because you want to eff the haters.

  3. #3
    djg714 is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I still use the Shimano 7700 9spd shifter and they work great. I have another set saved for future use.

  4. #4
    coolberto hipsterdor is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I've used them up until recently for my commuters and work bikes and they're not bad, but bar end shifters provide most of the benefits (indestructibility, friction option) while still allowing you to brake and shift at the same time.

  5. #5
    GrayJay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I started riding and racing long ago with DT shifter but have been almost excusivly on brifters for nearly 20 year now. I recently hopped onto a old bike with friction DT shifters for a week of riding while away from home on vacation. Going back to DT shifters was very refreshing, I had forgoten how well they work and feel. I tend to ride a lot in the drops instead of on the hoods, the DT shifter postion was very accessable and is nice that it doesnt require reaching quite so far forward. If you are contesting sprints in actual competition, brifters are a definite advantage but for a bike that does not see competition, I would be glad to use DT's.

  6. #6
    false_aesthetic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I have DA-10 speed on my Team Fuji.

    I've learned a lot about climbing with em---significantly harder to be out of the saddle and to shift if you need to "pop"

  7. #7
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Depends on where you ride, topography, dirt, city etc.

    In the city I couldn't live with them.

    Long, flat country rambles sure.

    Those ugly ass satellite thumb shifters mounted by the hoods look intriguing...

    -- bar end hater.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  8. #8
    maunahaole's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    You knew I'd answer ;) Curt Goodrich built me a bike to race and show at the Oregon Manifest a few yrs. back and it made hella good sense given the requirements to have DT shifters. With DT shifters and a jet tube for the rear brake it makes the job of shouldering the bike cake AND when and if the elements or bad luck muck with your rear cogs or derailleur you can change to friction mode and keep riding.

    But the neatest thing? The neatest thing is riding in a group and doing a simultaneous thumb + forefinger small to big ring + double up shift rear and hearing e-richie lean in and say "Sweet".

    Whatever man, do it because you want to eff the haters.
    I call BS on this. If eR was leaning in on you, he would be speaking into your crotch.

  9. #9
    SteveP is offline vSalon Legend
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    i will add.
    i have a bike w/ all mavic retrofriction dt shifters and the friction derailleurs.
    shifts great really. smooth, simple.
    i would use them again.

  10. #10
    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Quote Originally Posted by maunahaole View Post
    I call BS on this. If eR was leaning in on you, he would be speaking into your crotch.
    sacre bleu. Never happened. Skull and bones.

  11. #11
    Saab2000's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I've ridden with both of them. On the same ride. Secret is safe with me.

    Come to Nellysford, VA next year if you want to see it happen.

  12. #12
    Chooey is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Back when STI's were newly-introduced; you'd read about the pro's and con's of each system quite regularly.
    As someone who got more serious about cycling at around that time, down tube shifters will always remain an option.
    What down tube shifters had going for it was (and probably still is) its simplicity, and the learning that comes with anticipating shifts and being in the right gear.
    I distinctly remember the ride when my left hand reached for the down tube shifter and it was not there!
    Must be because images like this are still so fresh in my memory:

    photo.jpg

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    Noteddy is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP View Post
    i will add.
    i have a bike w/ all mavic retrofriction dt shifters and the friction derailleurs.
    shifts great really. smooth, simple.
    i would use them again.
    Rode my last bike with retrofriction a few weeks ago. They are still the best. Would probably take these over indexed if I went back to DT.

  14. #14
    jamaris is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Quote Originally Posted by the bottle ride View Post

    Am I just imagining how great they are?
    I'll be honest, I am a youngin (as in I only rode a few years with DT in the mid 90s and it was hardly serious and ever since have used ergo), but every year without fail, once the season winds down, I think of building up a winter bike and can't help but want them to be DT. Just for the heck of it. To say screw the effers as TT said. They require so little, elegant and just fun to mix it up. And return a little skill to shifiting.

    So to answer the question, you aren't alone. You aren't imagining it, they are great.

  15. #15
    fixednwinter is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Ignore the rubber bar-con hoods, they were removed after initial installation.

    Modified Campagnolo Record 10sp bar-control shifters, with downtube plates from thollandpe, on a Merckx MX Leader. Brake only levers are 90's era Campag, courtesy of toomanybikes.

    I don't race anymore, so downtube shifters are just fine for my club rides. I love my Campag Ergo brake/shift levers, 2006, 2008, 2011 Centaur and 2012 Record. Fantastic equipment. But at least once a month, I go out on my MX Leader with its downtube shifters. It has a feeling of direct connection to the derailleurs that's not there with Campag Ergo or Shimano STI (never used SRAM).

    The solid-feeling shift from one cog to the next with this set-up I have makes these foolproof for riding on rough roads or light trails. I know when you've completed a shift, there's no mistake when its on the cog.

    Campag users go on and on about how the top groups can leap 3 to 5 cogs (depending on which direction we're talking about) with a single shift. Well, whop-dee-do, a downtube shifter can slam through the entire 10 cogs in a single throw. And I like being able to do a quick trim of the FD while shifting the RD simultaneously, with the same hand.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Chooey is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Here's another one:

    photo (1).jpg

  17. #17
    thollandpe's Avatar
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    Default

    Love them, just re-installed on my '95 Merlin.

    Pros: low friggin maintenance, I think I've had the same cables on my '82 Bianchi for 20 years. They work well and make you better appreciate the gear you're in (really, 9 is too many). They look sleek and simple. Be the life of the party, amaze the young kids.

    Cons: mine still pull the front dérailleur down into a rub condition (or worse, a shift) when really honking out of the saddle in the big ring. Gotta remember to crank down the d-ring, but even then. I wish the left lever had a detent. Anybody have a cure for this?

    PS the Bianchi has Simplex retrofrictions (like butter, but not enough cable pull for newer setups) and the Merlin has Campy Syncro 2 9v via Mr. Fixedinwinter.

  18. #18
    fixednwinter is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    Quote Originally Posted by thollandpe View Post
    Cons: mine still pull the front dérailleur down into a rub condition (or worse, a shift) when really honking out of the saddle in the big ring. Gotta remember to crank down the d-ring, but even then. I wish the left lever had a detent. Anybody have a cure for this?
    I had the same issue during the first few weeks after I installed them as well. I eventually put a drop or two of Lok Tite on the threads of the d-ring's screw, and then cranked it down. That was over six months ago. No slipping of the FD since then.

  19. #19
    Saab2000's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I still ride this one every once in a while just for fun. Rode it last Saturday for 40 miles. It needs a new chain and freewheel but it still works the way it did 25 years ago - in other words, just fine. If you grew up with this stuff it's a no-brainer. Easy peasy.

    Shifters.jpg

  20. #20
    Craig Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Down tube shifters-why do I still long for them? (indexed)

    I could see doing it, but if I did I'd build an OS frame for it to match with a 120 rear and 6 speed freewheel. Some of that stuff can get pricey though since people like to collect it, but I'd want a rider like I had in '75 just for the contrast and fun. Good or bad, the feel of it all from that period was so simple. Not so much a reenactment for me, but a simple normal ride.

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