Author Topic: STI vs. Bar ends  (Read 12882 times)

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Offline ahorowit

STI vs. Bar ends
« on: November 17, 2008, 11:34:01 am »
About two years ago, I was considering two new touring bikes, Cannondale or Trek.  I inquired of this forum the relative advantages and disadvantages of bar ends shifters vs. STI.  I got a lot of good advice.  At first I was leaning toward the Trek (with bar ends) but I ended up getting the Cannondale when my local dealer was unwilling to down-size the Trek's stock gearing for a reasonable fee.  My old bike (10 years old at the time) had bar end shifters.

For the benifit of those who may now be shopping, I can answer my question definitively: given the choice, bar ends would have been the better choice.  STI shifters are convenient and somewhat more efficient as they require less position shifting to change gears.  But the STI shifters, combined with the nine-speed cassette, are waaaaaay more finicky than the bar-ends ever were.  

On my old bike, I adjusted the bar-end shifters maybe once or twice a year, I changed cables and the rear cassette only once in 10 years; and changed the chain only twice.  With the new bike, it seems I will be replacing the chain, cassette, and cables every year, and the shifters require constant adjustment to keep smooth shifting.

Unlike a racing or sport bike, as a touring rider I am concerned first with reliablilty, second with comfort, and third with durability--the STI fails two of these three tests in my experience.

Happy riding!


Offline staehpj1

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 12:17:57 pm »
Just another data point.  I have not found STI to be particularly finicky the only adjustment that seemed to ever change at all once set up was the cable length.  The upper and lower limits are set the same whether STI or bar end and neither require any attention once dialed in.

For the infrequent times I needed to adjust the cable length due to seating in of the cable in the housing, I could make the adjustment while riding if desired.  This really only seems to need occasional tweaking for the first few hundred miles and then settles in.  I found this true for any indexed shifting.

For me the convenience far outweighed the bother of any extra tweaking.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 11-17-08 @ 9:18 AM

Offline Westinghouse

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2008, 04:41:05 pm »
Bar end shifters are great. I have never used them, but I have read accounts of those who have, and in the opinions of all those I have read about, they are just about the only way to go.




Offline whittierider

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2008, 05:04:56 pm »
It looks like our last discussion on this subject was at http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=9&Topic=2185 .

I will probably never get brifters again, but that's just me.  I have them on one of my bikes and they work fine but I don't really like them.  I don't race or ride in groups, and my hands are usually not near the brake levers since I ride on the aerobars so much.  Both our boys also asked me to put their shifters on the ends of their aerobars after having ridden a combined 25,000+ miles with brifters.

This message was edited by whittierider on 11-18-08 @ 9:13 AM

Offline DaveB

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2008, 08:12:52 pm »
Just another data point.  I have not found STI to be particularly finicky the only adjustment that seemed to ever change at all once set up was the cable length.  The upper and lower limits are set the same whether STI or bar end and neither require any attention once dialed in.

Absolutely my experience exactly.  I've used 7,8,9 and 10-speed STI's and Campy Ergos for years and find them very reliable and they definitely hold their adjustments.  All indexing shifters of any type need minor tweaking after a cable change as the cables "bed in" but STI/Ergos are no worse than barends.  

I've also used barend shifters and do like them but STI/Ergo brifters are far more convenient.  

I would  recommend barend shifters to someone taking a bike "way back of beyond" as they have a friction option and are mechanically simpler but for anywhere near civilization, STI/Ergo brifters are my clear favorite.  


Offline biker_james

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2008, 07:46:28 am »
I've never found my Cannondale to be overly finicky-unless by finicky you mean that once or twice a year you have to turn the barrel adjuster a haldf turn or so. Not a massive undertaking-about as difficult as adjusting the barend shifter when the indexing on it goes out.
As to replacing the chain, etc..-I don't think that has much relevance to the STI/Bar end comparison. When the chain wears out, it wears out regardless of the shifters. Running it longer just wears out the cassette and chainrings. Maybe with older drivetrains with fewer gears you got more miles from a chain than you do with the 9 speed drivetrains. The cables might need changing a little more often, as just reefing on it to shift doesn't work for STI. But my Cannondale is over 8 years old, and is on its second set of cables.
Your concerns make me wonder if perhaps your bike was not very well setup by the shop when you bought it, and never has been corrected, or if you are really unfamiliar with how the shifting works and how easily adjustments are made. I'm no mechanic, but I bet when my wife and I are on holidays that I don't spend 10 minutes over a 3 week tour adjusting the shifting on the two bikes.  I think that we have had problems with dirt where the cable passes under the bottom bracket, but thats about a 30 second fix-and even barends won't work if that jams up.
Not sure how much lower maintenance you can get than that. Sorry, but after 8+ years touring, STI still meets your 3 criteria. Still haven't seen anyone stranded because their STI let them down either.
Just curious-do the MTB'ers out there debate going from the modern shifters back to the old style thumbshifters you can use non-indexed? My MTB takes more adjusting than my touring bike, in terms of keeping the shifting spot on. I just haven't seen any of those old style shifters since I gave away my old KMart bike.



Offline paddleboy17

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2008, 12:13:52 pm »
Shimano Index Shifting all adjusts and maintain the same way.  I find my rear derailleur behavior behaves identically for my mountain bike (rapid shift), my critereum bike (STI shifters), and my touring bike (bar end shifters).  

The front derailleur can be cranky, especially on a triple.  The cheaper indexed front shifters are three position (high, center, and low).  The more expensive indexed front shifters are four position (high, right of center, left of center, and low).  Bar end shifters are a little easier to set up for the front derailleur as they are not indexed.  Once you get past the initial cable stretch phase, all indexed shifters are equally easy to maintain, other than the special lubrication requirements of STI shifters.

As for the bar end versus STI shifter debate...

I personally have had the lubricant in an STI shifter dry out (several times), and the failure mode is that the shifter will not up shift.  In my book, that leaves you fairly screwed.  I will tolerate that on my critereum bike for club rides and day tours, but I will not tolerate that on my touring bike.  You can rebuild/repair an STI shifter on a bench, but its not practical on a ride.

A bar end shifter has lots of "limp home" capability.  It will survive drifting out of alignment (just switch to non indexed).  The only thing a bar end shifter cannot survive is a broken cable, so be sure to take one as a spare part on your tours.

Danno
Danno

Offline wanderingwheel

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2008, 04:06:06 pm »
Instead of bar ends, what about down tube shifters?  Given the choice, I'll take down tube shifters everytime.  I feel more confedent reaching down to the down tube and shifting there, than pulling or pushing on the end of the handlebar.  Bar ends did give me the opportunity to shift with my knees, except sometimes I shifted inadvertantly.

My touring bike now has an old set of Suntour Command shifters, an early attempt at integrating shifters and brake levers.  It is somewhat like a thumb shifter and is mounted next to the brake lever.  It allows me to run V-brake levers and to switch to friction if ever needed, but something tells me that standard STI is still much more reliable.

Sean


Offline whittierider

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2008, 04:59:31 pm »
Quote
Instead of bar ends, what about down tube shifters?  Given the choice, I'll take down tube shifters everytime.  I feel more confedent reaching down to the down tube and shifting there, than pulling or pushing on the end of the handlebar.

Down-tube indexed shifters are the most responsive, precise, and quickest-acting of the lot, partly due to shorter cables and lack of cable housing.  Besides also being the least expensive, they allow you to get away with cheaper derailleurs too.

For the same reasons you mention, I, too, disliked bar-end shifters on drop bars.  I still have a bar-end shifter in friction mode on the drop bar to control our tandem's drag brake, and operating it makes handling a little squirrelly for the short time I'm adjusting it.  Fortunately that's not very often.  The situation is different on the ends of aerobars though, and that has become my favorite shifter arrangement.

Suntour Command shifters can be seen at:
http://james.architectureburger.com/cycle/skm.html
http://www.equusbicycle.com/bike/suntour/catalog92/pdf/Suntour1992%20-%200005.pdf
http://www.kichline.com/chuck/bikes/bits/thumb.jpg
http://i21.ebayimg.com/08/i/000/e8/54/c902_1.JPG


Offline staehpj1

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2008, 07:23:39 pm »
I agree that for me downtube shifters are nicer than barends.  I tried bar ends years ago and again more recently.  I just don't like them.  If I didn't like STI so well I would still be using downtube shifters.


Offline paddleboy17

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2008, 10:03:45 pm »
Shimano's bar end shifters are an aluminum fitting that mounts a down tube shifter.  The cables are longer, and there is a little cable housing used, but it is almost the same as down tube shifting.

Danno
Danno

Offline whittierider

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2008, 10:31:06 pm »
Quote
Shimano's bar end shifters are an aluminum fitting that mounts a down tube shifter.  The cables are longer, and there is a little cable housing used, but it is almost the same as down tube shifting.

You could probably mount the down-tube shifters on the gizmos that go into the bars, but the levers that come with bar-end shifters are shorter, and angled instead of straight.  Here are the two, both indexed 10-speed Dura Ace; first the down-tube shifters, and then the bar-end:


The angle is much more obvious from the side:

Here's how I have mine:  
 

I have down-tube shifters on another bike, and brifters on yet another, but this is the one I ride most.

This message was edited by whittierider on 11-18-08 @ 7:34 PM

Offline DaveB

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2008, 02:05:04 pm »
For a while there was one alternative to all of these shifter options: "Kelly Take-Offs".  They consisted of brackets that mounted under regular drop-bar brake levers and allowed mounting downtube levers just inboard of the brake levers.  

You had most of the convenience and accessibility of brifter but with the simplicity, friction option, cost and durability of downtube shifters. The cable runs were a cross between barends and Shimano brifters.

Unfortunately they never really caught on or were not publicized enough and are now only available NOS on e-bay, etc.  Originally they cost $40 plus the cost of the dt shift levers.

I have a set of Kelly Take-offs using Shimano 7-speed downtube shifters mounted on my rain bike.  As I said, they provide most of the convenience of brifters at much less expense.  


Offline paddleboy17

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2008, 05:40:33 pm »
I think whiterider and I are both right.  I never noticed, but the levers are shaped differently.  Both levers look like they fit the same square post. I should try and see if they are interchangable somtime.  

Last spring the Ultegra STI shifters on my beloved Paramount race bike dried out and stopped working.  The bike's wheelbase is too short to do bar end shifters (I would get stabbed every time I used the bike).

I put a set of PAUL thumbies
http://www.paulcomp.com/
on the bike.  They were interesting, but not quite right for me.  I ended up getting my dealer to talk me through how to get the STI's back in service.

The Kelly take-offs look very interesting.

Danno
Danno

Offline whittierider

STI vs. Bar ends
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2008, 07:41:52 pm »
Quote
I think whiterider and I are both right.

Uh-oh, I never thought of my forum name getting confused that way.  It makes it sound like I'm racist.  I suppose there's no way to change it now.  The name is from Whittier Rider, Whittier being a town I'm near.
Quote
Last spring the Ultegra STI shifters on my beloved Paramount race bike dried out and stopped working.

This is pretty common.  Just shoot some thin lube into the mechanism and work it, lube that leaves a dry lubricating film.  No goop.  One of the bikes in our family needs it every couple of months, and another one less often.  Doing this immediately brings them back to brand-new performance.

This message was edited by whittierider on 11-21-08 @ 4:42 PM