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Irreverence: Shift Indicators

Irreverence: Shift Indicators

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This is possibly the most offensive piece of gear I have encountered on a bike. Do you really need a little orange wand to tell you what gear you’re in? There is only one gear to be in: the hardest one at which you can still make the pedals go around in something resembling a circle.

These goofy little things were found on the bike I rented last weekend for a benefit ride on the east coast in honor of my late Aunt. It was a wonderful ride and great family time… but really, shift indicators? Further proof that all has been in decline since the advent of indexed derailleurs. What added insult to injury in this case was the quality (or lack there of) in the shifting itself. Tiagra is a far cry from my beloved Dura Ace. I would try to shift and the little orange wand would wobble uselessly back and forth — like a Seattle driver trying to merge on the highway — until, finally, an enormous noise would ripple up the bike and a new gear *might* be achieved. I began to brace myself for the effort…. and…. SHHHHHIIIIIFFFFFFTTTTT. Like passing a gallbladder stone. (Or so I imagine.)

In the end, this Cannondale Synapse was just fine. It even had a sharp paint job. Almost sharp enough to make up for the kiddie shifters.

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// Irreverence

  1. Hmmmmm . . . sounds like someone needs to post a pic of Assos girl . . . .

  2. OK, OK. Everybody settle down FFS. I think we can all agree on a few things here.

    1) Shift indicators are fucked. And this needed to be pointed out.

    2) Shimano makes great equipment. If it works, it’s fine.

    3) The fact that Gruppo, Group-San, and Bro-Set have become common terms on the site is a beautiful thing.

    4) I may be a Campy boy but I’ve have various mtb bikes with shimano shifters and they work so damn well under great force, it’s good Campy doesn’t go there.

  3. @V-olcano

    I’ve always thought I somehow wound up with a set made on a Friday afternoon…

  4. @Gianni

    OK, OK. Everybody settle down FFS. I think we can all agree on a few things here.

    1) Shift indicators are fucked. And this needed to be pointed out.

    2) Shimano makes great equipment. If it works, it’s fine.

    3) The fact that Gruppo, Group-san, and Bro-Set have become common terms on the site is a beautiful thing.

    4) I may be a Campy boy but I’ve have various mtb bikes with shimano shifters and they work so damn well under great force, it’s good Campy doesn’t go there.

    Hey Gianni, sounds like some folks could do with a little Desiderata, if you know what I mean.

  5. I think that the shift indicators should henceforth be referred to as ‘Tiagra Tiaras’. Is an update to The Lexicon in order?

  6. @RedRanger

    Nothing wrong with riding Shimano or SRAM. It’s a personal choice. Just make it look good….

    I think you’ve hit on part of the problem there..

  7. Come on now. Campagnolo make racing groupsets – you can put any of their road grouspets on a bike and race it. Shimano doesn’t – Tiagra parts often end up on hybrids and bikes that are meant to be ridden, not raced. I bought a 10 year old centaur set and the performance of that group, after using 105 and sora, was so much better it transformed the bike. You can defend Sora and Tiagra but lets not overstate its abilities.

  8. @minion

    Come on now. Campagnolo make racing groupsets – you can put any of their road grouspets on a bike and race it. Shimano doesn’t – Tiagra parts often end up on hybrids and bikes that are meant to be ridden, not raced. I bought a 10 year old centaur set and the performance of that group, after using 105 and sora, was so much better it transformed the bike. You can defend Sora and Tiagra but lets not overstate its abilities.

    Having recently raced in collegiate races where most racers are poor have fairly cobbled together bikes, I can tell you that Tiagra and Sora are not only race-able, they have served on bikes of guys hunting for national championships.

    Are they as crisp, light, and attractive as SR11, Red, or DA9K?  No of course not, but they do perform very well (no caveats needed).

    Are they as crisp, light, and attractive as SR11, Red, or DA9K?  No of course not, but they perform very well (no caveats needed).

  9. @EricW Whoa, don’t know what happened to the message there.  Sorry for the repeat.

  10. Funny how many beginners I meet who always ask “what gear the bike is in”, since the Tiagra is entry level groupset it may be satisfy this.  True that after a few rides you realise it doesn’t actually matter…

  11. My 9 speed 105 shifter died and the LBS could only find Tiagra in a 9 speed configuration. I covered the indicator with a bit of electrician’s tape. Problem solved.

  12. @Jeffrey S.

    My 9 speed 105 shifter died and the LBS could only find Tiagra in a 9 speed configuration. I covered the indicator with a bit of electrician’s tape. Problem solved.

    I suggest such an innovative approach to all true believers. Gaffer tape, genius. Simple ideas always the best.

  13. @EricW Yeah, I’m not saying you can’t race Sora and Tiagra, I’m saying Campagnolo is designed for racing, all the way through their line. Athena to 11sp, for instance, Veloce chains being as hard wearing and tough as record chains. There are a few details like this that show that Campagnolo really treat every group as a racing group, while Shimano’s lower groups are really trickle down (i.e last year’s technology) and price point product. Nothing wrong with that, and you can race it, but (arrogant wanker caveat) I’ve used Centaur, Veloce, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace, and of the lower groups Centaur was the definite winner (current Athena level).

  14. My first road bike was a CAAD9-6 that came with Tiagra.  I upgraded that bike with Ultegra 6600 when I got a deal on the group, but kept the Tiagra bits “just in case.”  I later acquired an ’87 Centurion Ironman with six speed indexed 105 and replaced the older stuff with the Tiagra.  The Ironman is my “sunny day/I ain’t training” bike, and the Tiagra shifts slicker than snot on a door knob.  Just about as well as the 6600 on my CAAD9, and the 7800 on my Allez, and maybe better than the 7900 on my Look 585.

  15. @Paul 8v

    Funny how many beginners I meet who always ask “what gear the bike is in”, since the Tiagra is entry level groupset it may be satisfy this. True that after a few rides you realise it doesn’t actually matter…

    Surely there is only one question…

    est-il sur la plaque??

    for which no indicator is required.

  16. As far as I’m concerned, everyone’s circumstance is going to be different. So with that in mind, ride what you can afford until you can afford and justify better. Experience has shown me that 105 upwards seems to be more economical to refurb and maintain over the longer duration. My n+1 would be a CX running a group in that order. Regardless of what you ride with. Keep it clean, keep it adjusted, and most importantly keep it silent.

    Forget the bollocks about the orange indicators, let your legs tell you what gear you’re in. If your legs can’t do that, then apply Rule #5, and ride more until they can.

  17. This isn’t about the gear you ride. We each ride what suits us. I’ve had DA7700, 7800 and 7900. Loved it. Have had the orange indicating Tiagra on a commuter/tourer I once had. didn’t look at the orange thing, didn’t need to. Nice gear, cheap to fix, and good in places with no specialist bike mechanic. My first tourer had Sora on it. Didn’t like that, but it was probably the snob in me.

    I now have Chorus and Super Record. Love those too. I don’t believe that loving one product means you can’t love another.

    And certainly, we each have the gear that suits our circumstances, as we subjectively perceive them. Surely there isn’t an objective right and wrong in that.

    What this is about is the need to have a little orange bit of plastic telling you what gear you are in. Our riding this morning I consciously glanced down at my rear gear, and realised that it is no more onerous than turning too see what is behind you. Is the orange thing really necessary? No.

    Ho hum.

  18. @minion

    @EricW Yeah, I’m not saying you can’t race Sora and Tiagra, I’m saying Campagnolo is designed for racing, all the way through their line. Athena to 11sp, for instance, Veloce chains being as hard wearing and tough as record chains. There are a few details like this that show that Campagnolo really treat every group as a racing group, while Shimano’s lower groups are really trickle down (i.e last year’s technology) and price point product. Nothing wrong with that, and you can race it, but (arrogant wanker caveat) I’ve used Centaur, Veloce, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace, and of the lower groups Centaur was the definite winner (current Athena level).

    hallelujah! Campagnolo has always shared good development thru their line. I always referred to my 2nd Campagnolo groupset in the 1990s as Athena/Chorus as their Athena (Chorus) was upgraded when Chorus needed to advance. And holding on to 10s (2012) with Campagnolo their Centaur groupset also became upgraded to the rank of Chorus. Always a good investment too.

  19. @revchuck

    My first road bike was a CAAD9-6 that came with Tiagra. I upgraded that bike with Ultegra 6600 when I got a deal on the group, but kept the Tiagra bits “just in case.” I later acquired an ’87 Centurion Ironman with six speed indexed 105 and replaced the older stuff with the Tiagra. The Ironman is my “sunny day/I ain’t training” bike, and the Tiagra shifts slicker than snot on a door knob. Just about as well as the 6600 on my CAAD9, and the 7800 on my Allez, and maybe better than the 7900 on my Look 585.

    You’ve got the “Eye of the Tiagra”

  20. @unversio

    Had some Daytona pedals back in the day. I understand a trademark dispute made Campag rename that line, and Athena was born.

    maybe should have kept the Daytona pedals, collectors items blah blah blah

  21. My bad. Daytona became Centaur. Forgive me, Velominites.

  22. Will agree that these are an abomination but surely these are just extremely crude (is there another way?) V-meters? Failing that, a quick rub-down with some fine wet-and-dry and a quick coat of some black paint

  23. There exists something other than Campagnolo?

    I’m confused.

  24. Easy to get rid of crap tiagra indicator take out cover screws take of cover spray inside cover black by spraying inside it won’t chip off

  25. To hide crap tiagra indicator remove the two screws holding cover spray inside with black plasti-cote paint and replace it.it won’t chip and no red thing stick in out

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