Are handlebar gear changers back to front

mike killay

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Feb 17, 2011
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At present I am suffering from an aching thumb joint thanks to my Shimano 'thumb' gear changer.
It seems to me that from an ergonomic point of view, the system where you have to push the lever away from you against the spring is all wrong. The reason is that except for your hand gripping the bar, there is little to support the thumb.
As far as I know, all dérailleur changers have always been like this, even the 1950's style mounted on the down tube.
Contrast that with the old Sturmey Archer changer where the trigger was pulled towards your hand against the spring.
Ergonomically, it is far easier to hook your thumb around the bar and pull, rather than push.
 
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vfr400

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Nealh

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Have to agree they are quite good, I have a Shimano set on my Boardman tourer.
 

sjpt

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Jun 8, 2018
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I've never liked those thumb changers as my thumb does not oppose due to an injury when I was 4, but I've learned to live with them (on our tandem) and I think they've improved over the years too. I prefer rotoshifts ... irritating that there are two different standards for which way they rotate: turn top towards you for low (our derailleur non ebike), or for high (our hub e-bike).

Maybe an innovative company will find a third standard? Reminiscent of the old DAF automatic 'forwards to go forward, backwards to go back'; Volvo replaced it with with the standard automatic shifting: backwards to go forward, forwards to go back.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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At present I am suffering from an aching thumb joint thanks to my Shimano 'thumb' gear changer.
It seems to me that from an ergonomic point of view, the system where you have to push the lever away from you against the spring is all wrong. The reason is that except for your hand gripping the bar, there is little to support the thumb.
As far as I know, all dérailleur changers have always been like this, even the 1950's style mounted on the down tube.
Contrast that with the old Sturmey Archer changer where the trigger was pulled towards your hand against the spring.
Ergonomically, it is far easier to hook your thumb around the bar and pull, rather than push.
I can't stand these shifters and with single chainwheels have long used SRAM's Shimano compatible twistgrip shifters. Single action, much more convenient and ability to shift instantly to any gear at any time.
.
 
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L6mbt

Finding my (electric) wheels
Feb 1, 2019
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3
I agree, also. I use the ball of my thumb to push the lever forward.
 

soundwave

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May 23, 2015
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this just has buttons ;)
32528

32529
 

mike killay

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 17, 2011
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I can't stand these shifters and with single chainwheels have long used SRAM's Shimano compatible twistgrip shifters. Single action, much more convenient and ability to shift instantly to any gear at any time.
.
It never occurred to me to change the changer. I have a Shimano derailleur, does it have to a sram twist grip?
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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It never occurred to me to change the changer. I have a Shimano derailleur, does it have to a sram twist grip?
It's a long time since I bought mine for my Shimano derailleurs but it seems SRAM still do the Shimano compatible ones. They make many twistgrip shifters but it seems only some are Shimano compatible, there's an 8 speed one on this link.

They were made for 5 speed upwards.
.
 

soundwave

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May 23, 2015
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It's a long time since I bought mine for my Shimano derailleurs but it seems SRAM still do the Shimano compatible ones. They make many twistgrip shifters but it seems only some are Shimano compatible, there's an 8 speed one on this link.

They were made for 5 speed upwards.
.
they put those on toys r us bikes :rolleyes:
 
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soundwave

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May 23, 2015
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So what, they are much more sensible than fiddley thumbshifters.

And they are popular with some MTB types.
.
if you got 900 quid you can have a simple button and wireless gear change and swap the buttons around in software.

what do you expect for 10 quid!
:D
 
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anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
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I like thumb shifters, and I change gear with a thumb that was broken a while back (the one that tells me when it is going to snow...).

I mean you change up with your index it is only down shifts with the thumb and most times I shift down 2 gears per click. Red light or obstacle ahead 2 pushes and I am 4 gears down.

I have only ever known low end twist shifters and I can't stand them. Maybe they get better if you spend more money?
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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I mean you change up with your index it is only down shifts with the thumb and most times I shift down 2 gears per click. Red light or obstacle ahead 2 pushes and I am 4 gears down.
But with a twistgrip shifter I choose any gear I like in one move with no faffing about with different shift actions for up and down.
.
 
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BazP

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 8, 2017
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But with a twistgrip shifter I choose any gear I like in one move with no faffing about with different shift actions for up and down.
.
Surely you have to twist in opposite directions (two actions) to go up or down. also, do you have to look down at revolving numbers or count clicks to see which gear you are in?
 

sjpt

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Jun 8, 2018
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Surely you have to twist in opposite directions (two actions) to go up or down. also, do you have to look down at revolving numbers or count clicks to see which gear you are in?
I'm not sure what you mean about 'twist in opposite directions'; you have two actions (as with thumb shifters); one action for up and another for down.

You can look at the numbers to see which gear it is in; or count clicks; or 'feel' the gear; or look back at the rear wheel to see. Many thumb shifters don't have the numbers so you only have the last three options.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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Surely you have to twist in opposite directions (two actions) to go up or down. also, do you have to look down at revolving numbers or count clicks to see which gear you are in?
Yes, but it's still a single twist action forward or backwards to go straight to any gear. That's as said above by feel of number of clicks or by looking at the gear window.

I find that much better than the different and sometimes multiple up and down actions of trigger shifters.

32572
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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Just thought that backwards and forwards may count as two actions. My maths
:)
But not two or more actions to go to a particular gear as one has to with trigger shifters.

With the gripshift it's one action only to go to any gear wanted.

The logic is the same as on a motorcycle twistgrip throttle.

Twist back to go up the gears, i.e. go faster.

Twist forward to change down i.e. go slower.
.
 

BazP

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 8, 2017
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But not two or more actions to go to a particular gear as one has to with trigger shifters.

With the gripshift it's one action only to go to any gear wanted.

The logic is the same as on a motorcycle twistgrip throttle.

Twist back to go up the gears, i.e. go faster.

Twist forward to change down i.e. go slower.
.
Fair enough, I understand the workings but personally I've only ever wanted to move one or two gears with my thumb shifters to keep a suitable cadence. If I was to move 10 or 11 gears, which I have, I would be totally confused as to where I was on the cassette. Added to that, on some of the off road up-hills that I do, I would be twisting the grip by mistake while I'm trying to bend the handlebars back.