Bike shifters

shifters Fixes, Reviews & Guides

Embedded thumbnail for Adjusting Lever Reach on Shimano 11 Speed Shifters

Adjusting Lever Reach on Shimano 11 Speed Shifters

Need just a Marker and Flat Head Screwdriver

To adjust the lever reach on new Shimano 11 speed shifters all you need is a white board marker and a flat head...

Tools screw driver
Company: Shimano
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Setting Up 2 Finger Brake and Shift Levers on a Mountain Bike

Setting Up 2 Finger Brake and Shift Levers on a Mountain Bike

A lot of time brake levers are fitted in a wrong position. To correctly determine the position, place your hands outright as if you were riding the bike. The correct amount of fingers should fall...

Tools hex wrench
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 10 Speed Shifters

Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 10 Speed Shifters

Shimano’s Dura-Ace line has become synonymous with quality and performance.

Dura-Ace 7900 Shifters with Carbon Design

Shimano’s Dura-Ace 7900 10...

Company: Shimano
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review: Shimano XT M770 9 Speed Trigger Shifter

Review: Shimano XT M770 9 Speed Trigger Shifter

Shimano XT M770 9 Speed Trigger Shifters:

Shimano XT M770 9 Speed Trigger Shifter

The 2-way release function on these levers allows you to shift the...

Company: Shimano
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Installing Campagnolo Ergopower Integrated Brake/Gear Levers

Installing Campagnolo Ergopower Integrated Brake/Gear Levers

Installing Integrated Brake/Gear Levers:

To begin, peel back the brake hood. Slide a lever on to the handlebar into position and tighten with a 5mm allen wrench. Positioning should look...

Company: Campagnolo
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Review: SRAM Force CX1 (1x11 group)

Review: SRAM Force CX1 (1x11 group)

A quick look at SRAM's new Force CX1 1x11 group:

1x11 groups, with 1 chain ring in the front and an 11-speed cassette in the back have gained wide popularity in all styles of mountain...

Company: SRAM
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Review of SRAM Force 22 Group Set Components

Review of SRAM Force 22 Group Set Components

Sram Force 22 Review:

Force is right below Sram’s top-end Red group set. Any Sram branded 22 is their 11-speed version. Currently they have Sram Red, Force, and Rival in 11-speed...

Company: SRAM
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Installing and Adjusting Sram Red DoubleTap Shifters

Installing and Adjusting Sram Red DoubleTap Shifters

This video will show you how to install and adjust Sram DoubleTap Shifters.

You will need the following tools and supplies: a 2.5 & 5 mm hex wrenches, a torque wrench, a pair of cable...

Company: Park
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for DIY How to Quickly Repair Rapid Fire Trigger Bike Shifters

DIY How to Quickly Repair Rapid Fire Trigger Bike Shifters

If you’re rapid fire trigger shifter is having trouble catching or shifting properly, there is an easy way to get the shifter working properly again.

There first thing to do is rotate the...

Part shifters
Company: Park
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Fix a Stuck Shifter (Shimano)

How to Fix a Stuck Shifter (Shimano)

Unless you ride a fixie bike or have no need to get out of 2nd gear the odds are you're probably going to need your shifters at some point. Since the shifters get used so often and have so many...

Part shifters
Company: Shimano
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Simple Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Adjustment

Simple Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Adjustment

Hey this is Johnny Bravo from Performance Bicycle. 

Derailleurs guide the chain from here to gear and when they work they're great but when they don't your stuck and your frustrated,...

Company: Truvativ
Type: Repair Tutorial
SRAM Groupo

Sram Road Bike Components: A Comprehensive Overview

Officially launched in 1988, Sram is a relatively young company with a lot of design ingenuity and the original maker of the Grip Shift. They’ve been making their way up through the bike component...

Blog Tags: SRAM Groupos
Type: Blog entry

Shimano Components Groups for Road Bikes: A Comprehensive Overview

Shimano is a major components company. That said, there are TONS (and I seriously mean TONS) of different options that you can choose from when you buy a component group from this maker.

...

Blog Tags: Shimano groupos
Company: Shimano
Type: Blog entry
Embedded thumbnail for How to Adjust Shimano STI Shifters

How to Adjust Shimano STI Shifters

“STI” stands for “Shimano Total Integration” and it refers to the fact that the gear shifter and the brakes can be accessed in the same lever.

How it works is that the lever is a vertical...

Company: Park
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Adjust a Shimano Rapidfire Shifter

How to Adjust a Shimano Rapidfire Shifter

Shimano Rapidfire Shifters are used on upright handlebars and use a mechanism that consists of a thumb and an index finger trigger. The thumb moves you to a larger sprocket and the index...

Company: Shimano
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Adjust a Grip Shift Bike Shifter

How to Adjust a Grip Shift Bike Shifter

Grip shifters are basically rings that twist on the handlebar itself. They differ from the trigger shifters in that they don’t have a lever extending from the handlebar, creating a bit of...

Tools hex wrench
Company: SRAM
Type: Repair Tutorial

Shimano Shifter  Correct gear look  Grip shift

Shifters are controls that allow a cyclist to change cogs of the rear cassette on-the-fly, distributing power throughout a range of gears. This mechanism is actuated by tightening or loosening the tension on the shifter cable, raising or lowering the derailleur to the correct setting, guiding the chain onto the new selected gear. Most shifters have settings adjusted to locate the cogs immediately. This allows the rider to focus on riding, but it wasn't always that easy.

  • Friction shifting - In the beginning, shifters were essentially a lever that pulled the cable to and fro, without any guide from gear to gear. You just had to feel it. Cassettes were simple (3-5 sprockets), but the rider had to take his hands off the bars to change gears. Sometimes the chain would get mixed up mid-shift and fall between the cogs, causing a flurry of problems. "Just feeling it from gear to gear was difficult and led to poor performance. Friction shifting is still alive and well today as there actually are benefits, like going from the smallest cog to the largest one in a single flick of the wrist. There have been innovations such as ramped sprocket wheels and floating jockey wheels that help this style remain popular, especially with front derailleurs.

 

  • Index Shifting - To make things easier (and safer) for the rider, index shifting was invented. Simply put, the shifter has precise 'stops' that correspond to each gear either on the (rear) cassette, or the crank (front). The rider is now able to find the right gear flawlessly and immediately. Rapidly shifting lets the rider maintain a steady pedaling cadence and have more control over the bars at the same time. Index shifting incorporates more hardware (making it heavier), and requires the finesse of setting and periodically adjusting the shifter, cable, and the derailleur. However, these costs are largely undermined by the benefits of boosting performance and usability of the bicycle. Index shifters have been around since 1984, and now come in a variety of forms such as a trigger, bar end, twist shifters, and even mounted on the down tube of the bike!  Down tube gear levers make everybody else look like sissies. Look mom, one hand! 

Monkey vintage

Shifters and assorted parts can be purchased online on the cheap. For around $20 you can find many types of low-end shifters (all but the integrated variety). Decent shifters with brand names start around $50, and from there the value increases linearly into the several hundreds of dollars.  

Integrated SRAM shifter

Some specialized integrated shifters go for over $1,200 on Amazon.com.

 

Installing or repairing a shifter needs some focus. Making adjustments affects the entire system, and something very simple can lead to cable tension being different, or a misaligned derailleur.

First things first, remember that shifter cables are different than brake cables. There are new, more versatile housings being made, but as a rule they are not interchangeable. The stress of braking would snap a shifter cable. Shifting with a brake cable, much like walking a dog with a large wet noodle, would also lead to big problems.

brake vs shift cable

Weather can wreak havoc on shifting components, so sometimes it's necessary to take apart the hardware and clean the rust and gunk. Don't be shy with degreasers and lubricants.

cyclocross crash wd shifter 

Regardless of the mechanism that actuates the shift (twist shifters, trigger, thumb, or flappy paddles), installation means mounting the shifter in a comfortable location on the bars and properly adjusting the cable. Most shifters clamp to the handlebars via pinch bolt (likely a phillips, 3mm, or 5mm hex).

trigger shimano

For more information on cleaning, lubing, and installing shifters and cables, check out our tutorials below.

Bike handlebars come in many shapes and sizes and as such, so do the shifters mounted on them. 

Friction shifters: Rear derailleur is held in place by friction of the cable and shifter. It falls on the rider to find the correct setting for each gear.

 Down tube shifters

  • Down tube shifters - Unusually large paddles mounted on the down tube of the frame. Largely obsolete, some reckless cycling purists still enjoy the suicidal design of down tube shifters. One of the first designs, apparently the plan was to move the shifter closer to the rear derailleur than to the hands of the rider. Genius. Down tube shifters are lightweight and simple, but changing gears can become a juggling act you might not want to participate in during rush hour traffic.  
  • Stem shifty
  • Stem shifters - Mounted on the stem of the bicycle was certainly an upgrade. They were often paired with drop handlebars and because they sat on top, stem shifters encouraged lazy riding form. The cool and stylish rider could loosely rest their hands on the top of the bars and because the hands were so close together, it gave very little control of the bike. 

 Drop handlebars

Bar end shifty

  • Bar-end shifters - Shift levers are inserted in place of handlebar plugs. Commonly indexed on the right (rear derailleur) but friction on the left (front derailleur), bar-end shifters are very common.
  • sti shifter integrated shift mechanism ergo on drop bars
  • Combo/integrated shifters - A highly advanced style of indexed shifter used on many modern bikes with drop bars, integrated shifters are the new normal. The brake lever is still applied on a Y-axis to the handlebars, but doubles as the shifter when a separate lever is pressed to the side for an upshift. Downshifting has a separate lever near the riders thumb on the bars. As usual, Campagnolo and Shimano have separate patented integrated designs.  

  • Upright handlebars 

  • Thumbledora the explora
  • Thumb shifters - Indexed shifters that sit atop mountain bike handle bars. Old but gold, thumb shifters are simple and low profile. Pulled back and forth for shifting up and down.
  • Sram twist grip
  • Twist shifters - Rotating the shifter on the handlebar acts as a pulley tightening or loosening the shift cable.
  • Trigger shifter  downshift trigger
  • Below bar/Trigger shifters - Separate triggers for upshifting (thumb) and downshifting (index finger). Stationed below the handlebars, staying clear of the rider's teeth during a crash.