Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Bar End Shifters a.k.a. Sneaky Petes

I’ve talked about my preference for down tube shifters, now I thought I would give equal time to probably the most popular method of shifting gears on a modern touring bike. That would be bar end shifters. Being inserted into the ends of the handlebars and held secure by means of an expanding wedge these shifters make it possible to shift gears without taking the hands off the handlebars.

Shimano Bar End shift levers

Ergo (Campagnolo) or STI (Shimano) accomplish the same thing by incorporating the shifters with the brake levers, but these only work on drop style handlebars and they are significantly more complex and prone to failure and/or wearing out. Some really old guys remember the days before STI type shifters when bike racers with bar end shifters could shift into a higher gear in preparation for opening a can of whoop-ass on the group without being too obvious…hence the moniker “sneaky petes”.

Bar end shifters will fit in most drop or road style handlebars and the Nitto Moustache bar as well as some in upright bars such as the Nitto North Road aka the Albatross. The limiting factor being the inside diameter of the bar tube where the expanding wedge fits. The simple design and absence of numerous moving parts makes for reliable shifting even on the most demanding and lengthy tours. The Shimano version is made to work with either 9 or 8 rear cogs in index mode. The index mode can be disabled allowing the shifter to be used with any number of rear cogs and even when the derailleur or derailleur hanger gets bent. A nice feature for the bicycle traveler. There is a friction only (no index mode) bar end shifter designed by Rivendell too.

The shifters go on like this:

Oh yeah, and the Rivendell shifters, even though they come with their own pods (the part that goes inside the handlebar), will mount on the Shimano pods. To be safe, if using either one of these use a Shimano rear derailleur too.

2 comments… add one
  • Sky King May 10, 2011, 2:06 pm

    I am extremely attached to my bar end shifters. For me, it is similar to driving an automobile with a manual transmission over an automatic. I like the control and power of decision my bar end shifters give me. Plus I can’t imagine not having the perpetual thigh bruise from my lack of grace when mounting and dismounting Sky. :)~


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