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those downtube shifters...

YukirinYukirin Posts: 231
edited July 2012 in Amateur race
anyone racing, or used to race, with downtube shifters instead of brifters? I Would be very interested in hearing your experiences and any tips. Thinking of taking my steel to some competition next season if my fitness keeps going in the right direction.

Posts

  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Yes, I'm pretty sure lots of people have raced with downtube shifters - predominantly before the invention of STIs/Ergos
  • YukirinYukirin Posts: 231
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Yes, I'm pretty sure lots of people have raced with downtube shifters - predominantly before the invention of STIs/Ergos

    good, i look forward to hearing about their technique and strategies and any tips that may be helpful when riding with a pack of brifters.
    I'm assuming you are not one on these people, but thankyou for your contribution.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    There's a guy that races a bit in Yorkshire that has downtube shifters and he's a menace. A real danger in the bunch, always weaving around, etc. Dunno if that's due to the shifters or he's just a censored cyclist. There's a good reason why almost no-one races with downtube shifters these days and that's because they're comparatively rubbish. Having to take your hands off the bars to shift not only takes longer, but means your less in control of your bike every time you shift.
    More problems but still living....
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,274
    Well I'm no racer, but the Rusty Raleigh not only has downtube shifters, the indexing has long since gone west too. I can confirm that it is hard not to weave when you're changing, though not impossible.
    I have noticed in, errr, other mass participation type events that are apparently not races, that I'm hearing a lot more nasty grinding noises from far newer and more expensive drivetrains than mine, so there are benefits - I never have to twiddle the indexing on my bike.
    I'd say that the biggest disadvantages for racing would be that you essentially have to be coasting, or at least cruising very steadily, to change gear - much harder when pushing it uphill, close to impossible when sprinting or braking.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,075
    My view is that downtube is still better for the front chainrings and far inferior at the back... in a crit race you don't go on the small ring, so downtube is only a limitation... you don't change gear that often either if it's flat, so the limitation is not that big
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    haha I wouldn't even bother unless you want to be spinning at 140 to keep up with the pace changes because you can't change gear.
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Yukirin wrote:
    anyone racing, or used to race, with downtube shifters instead of brifters? I Would be very interested in hearing your experiences and any tips. Thinking of taking my steel to some competition next season if my fitness keeps going in the right direction.

    Have raced with both, as no doubt have many others on here. Without a doubt, brifters are much better, you dont have to sit down to change gear. Dont remember any weaving about when changing gear though...
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    i think your biggest problem is that you ve had to ask, if you were competent with a DT shifter then why not? You just have to think ahead abit more and it needs to be second nature.
    A guy down here turned up on an italian 1980s campag 6sp at an airfield crit and came 3rd (in a 4th Cat race) - my old steel bike has a 52/42 and 13-18 on the back - so changing gear made xxxx all difference really :)
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    Depends on the type of competition you had in mind. Time trials should be a piece of cake as you're not relying on ultra-quick close-to-hand gear changes all the time. Crit racing or hilly road races might be a different kettle of fish though.

    How cyclo-cross riders managed in the pre-STI/Ergo era beats me, I couldn't race CX without 'em. :shock:

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • fnq59fnq59 Posts: 37
    I raced with them back in the day, before they were indexed. Definitely no weaving around and it became second nature to get the gear right first time without any crunching. The trick was to anticipate when you needed to change gear particularly when climbing, in a race situation it was too late to realise you needed a lower gear once you were on the climb and struggling and you would lose much distance when you had to sit back down to change gear.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,075
    To be honest I see more crashes in the PRO peloton now than at the time of down tube shifters. Carbon wheels that don't brake and tubs pressure at 10 Bars are responsible for a lot of mess when the tarmac is not super grippy.

    Speedwise, well, Milan-Sanremo is one of the fastest races in the world and some of the fastest ever Milan-Sanremo were run on down tube shifters.

    Pantani still holds the record up the Alpe d'Huez and in 1997 was using a downtube shifter for the front mech, as it's lighter than an ergo lever
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,274
    Pantani still holds the record up the Alpe d'Huez and in 1997 was using a downtube shifter for the front mech, as it's lighter than an ergo lever
    Ahh, at last the truth about why he was so fast...
  • ProssPross Posts: 23,757
    Raced for years on them. Not sure why it requires a strategy or technique, especially if you have indexing rather than just friction. You just need to plan your gear changes (as you should in any case) rather than crunching through the gears on a climb. That's the only difference really, changing gear under loading is difficult. I've been using downtube shifters on my training bike and don't weave (no indexing either). You don't need to look down or anything - maybe the art and touch are missing in most riders now as they have never had to use them?
  • ProssPross Posts: 23,757
    Depends on the type of competition you had in mind. Time trials should be a piece of cake as you're not relying on ultra-quick close-to-hand gear changes all the time. Crit racing or hilly road races might be a different kettle of fish though.

    How cyclo-cross riders managed in the pre-STI/Ergo era beats me, I couldn't race CX without 'em. :shock:

    David

    They used bar end shifters which weren't really that much more difficult to use. I could do it and my handling skills are poor (in fact I used an old road bike for a season that did have downtube shifters).
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    Pross wrote:
    Depends on the type of competition you had in mind. Time trials should be a piece of cake as you're not relying on ultra-quick close-to-hand gear changes all the time. Crit racing or hilly road races might be a different kettle of fish though.

    How cyclo-cross riders managed in the pre-STI/Ergo era beats me, I couldn't race CX without 'em. :shock:

    David

    They used bar end shifters which weren't really that much more difficult to use. I could do it and my handling skills are poor (in fact I used an old road bike for a season that did have downtube shifters).

    Well, quite....but given the choice I'd rather have Ergo levers than bar-ends. I used to run an Ergo right-hand/bar-end left-hand combo for the middling weight reduction it offered....but kept putting the front mech out of sync as the left-hand shifter got knocked whenever I shouldered the bike. :oops:

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Weren't they invented so you could also be more sneaky when changing gear/attacking as noone could see you reach for the lever?
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    There's no reason why DT shifters should put you at a disadvantage in a race - but as others say, you just need to think about your shifts in advance. I would say that integrated shifters make riders lazy these days - you still hear folks crunching gears in races at the bottom of hills. BITD with non-indexed shifters you could simply 'feel' your way through the gears without needing to look dow.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • southdownswolfsouthdownswolf Posts: 1,514
    I used my 25 year old steel bike with downtube shifters on a duathlon a few weeks ago and made up quite a few places on the cycle. I think for TT and Tris they are fine, but riding in a bunch may be a bit different with the changes of pace.
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    coriordan wrote:
    Weren't they invented so you could also be more sneaky when changing gear/attacking as noone could see you reach for the lever?
    Yes, if you believe the twaddle in the Sharp adverts.

    Common sense however would suggest that they were invented to make gear shifts as easy as possible.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,302
    coriordan wrote:
    Weren't they invented so you could also be more sneaky when changing gear/attacking as noone could see you reach for the lever?
    It was a benefit, but I doubt it was a design criteria.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,420
    I am never, repeat never, going to use downtbe shifters again. STI's and Ergo's are a vast, repeat vast improvement. Did I mention that I think they're great? :wink:
  • esafosfinaesafosfina Posts: 131
    I remember getting Dura-Ace STi levers on my team-bike just prior to Four Days of Duinkerke in 1991... first stage, I'm away in the break and the poxy things just wouldn't work! Kept skipping, dropping, wouldn't shift... absolutely spat the dummy after the stage and demanded down-tube shifters back on... my parting comment to the team mechanic: "Effing things will never catch on... absolutely useless". :shock:

    Month later I was back on them! :D
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    I raced with both and never wobbled using DT shifters. I ride the same now as when I used them. In fact I think people who never used them would benefit as they would then learn how to ride with gears properly.
    Choice of gear, not shifting under load etc. I very often hear gears crunching as riders change under load on climbs or sprinting even. No wonder some use so many chains and cassettes :D
  • Ron StuartRon Stuart Posts: 1,242
    Sean Kelly when asked by Harmon " Sean, what in your opinion is the greatest improvement made with modern bikes?"
    Answer "STI/ERGO levers" :)
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    Ron Stuart wrote:
    Sean Kelly when asked by Harmon " Sean, what in your opinion is the greatest improvement made with modern bikes?"
    Answer "STI/ERGO levers" :)

    Let's face it, considering how long he stuck with toeclips & straps, Sean was never going to say "clipless pedals". ;)

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • dw300dw300 Posts: 1,642
    To be honest I see more crashes in the PRO peloton now than at the time of down tube shifters. Carbon wheels that don't brake and tubs pressure at 10 Bars are responsible for a lot of mess when the tarmac is not super grippy.

    Speedwise, well, Milan-Sanremo is one of the fastest races in the world and some of the fastest ever Milan-Sanremo were run on down tube shifters.

    Pantani still holds the record up the Alpe d'Huez and in 1997 was using a downtube shifter for the front mech, as it's lighter than an ergo lever

    This post should be held up as a shining beacon of how to completely undermine your own point! :)
    All the above is just advice .. you can do whatever the f*ck you wana do!
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  • Ron StuartRon Stuart Posts: 1,242
    dw300 wrote:
    To be honest I see more crashes in the PRO peloton now than at the time of down tube shifters. Carbon wheels that don't brake and tubs pressure at 10 Bars are responsible for a lot of mess when the tarmac is not super grippy.

    Speedwise, well, Milan-Sanremo is one of the fastest races in the world and some of the fastest ever Milan-Sanremo were run on down tube shifters.

    Pantani still holds the record up the Alpe d'Huez and in 1997 was using a downtube shifter for the front mech, as it's lighter than an ergo lever

    This post should be held up as a shining beacon of how to completely undermine your own point! :)

    Yep and they were using something else internally in those days as well especially Pantani, which had little to do with shifters.
    Check out this article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18921784 maybe the peloton is going slower but cleaner :shock:
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