I'm a bit surprised that no one has talked about the advantages of
Campagnolo Ergo levers as an alternative to the STIs. After a three-
week end-to-end tour in England, I replaced my Ultegra STI levers with
Campy Centaur levers (and a J-Tek ShiftMate to fix the velecity ratio).
The Campy levers are cheaper, rebuildable, and don't have the cable
sticking out the side to interfere with a handlebar bag. The front
shifter is infinitely adjustable, which is important for those of us who
push our gearing to the limits of the advertised capacity and beyond.
The rear shifter allows multiple upshifts as well as multiple downshifts.
I will never buy Shimano levers again.
I have also used bar-end shifters. They are certainly OK, but not as
convenient as "brifters". For example, braking to a stop at the bottom
of a hill, the brifter lets you change down to a lower gear while
braking; the bar-con leaves you stuck in top. I've actually had more
maintenance problems with the bar-cons than with the brifters.
This message was edited by professorsquire on 11-13-06 @ 1:28 PM