photo

Irreverence: Shift Indicators

Irreverence: Shift Indicators

by / / 152 posts

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.

photo 1

// Irreverence

  1. Settle down people, I think the crux is the same as “riding on the V meter” sans computer. Why have any indicator of how you are going, other than maintaining the equilibrium of pain?

     

    What is being said, is that the indicators are superfluous, and that Dura is better than Tiagra. Nothing new here?

     

    I have also some experience with low end sora, who fucking cares? Does it change gears? Will the other levels of Groupsan work better? Is Dura-Ace indeed better than the low end stuff? YES. All statements are correct, not a criticism, they are fact. But if what you have is lower end, don’t get all defensive, just ride your bike into the ground…

     

    Just my anecdote on drivetrains, starting out I trained for over a year on a bike with two easier gears compared to a compact. It was Sora and retained the time-delay shifting feature ‘click…..clunck’.. I intentionally kept those two cogs clean for the whole time I trained, because I wanted to make sure I was as at least as fit as those on compacts. Knowing you have two easier gears on half hour at avg 7% with 11% pinches is a test of character I can tell you…

  2. @V-olcano

    I’ve just gone from Ultegra 6700 and its “lovely” hidden cables back to DA 7800.  I also have 6500 9 speed on my #2.  Whatever else Shimano did when they hid the gear cables they also made a royal balls of it at the same time.  Got sick and tired of my shifters eating cables, clogging up with shit, being vague, and generally not being as good as what went before. Won’t say anything about silly long lever throws or only shifting down two at a time.  Or the fun to be had in trying to fish an exploded cable out of a 6700 shifter vs the simplicity of the old stuff. I haven’t tried the new 9000 DA (out of my price league) but whatever – in my experience Shimano hiding the cables was anything but an improvement.  And I like that other people don’t like the cable thing, because it meant that I was able to get an almost pristine DA group-san with both 172.5 and 175 cranks for 600 NZD.  Ssshhh…

  3. When I got into cycling two years ago I bought the best I could. That was a CAAD8 with Sora, yes, Sora complete with it’s little red gear position indicators. I still happily ride (and race) the CAAD8 and I have only just recently upgraded the sora to Ultegra but only because it fell apart after 15’000kms. I have to tell you just about that every time it came from the mechanic after a service he would say “That shifts really well for a base level groupset”. I doubt this particular mechanic has worked on anything less than a 105 before, and even then rarely so I cannot say if my Sora (2011) was any better than typical.

    Yes, the Ultegra is better, but only marginally but there was nothing really wrong with the Sora. I would suggest Jim that maybe your hire bike was either in need of a tune or the components were worn out and overdue for replacement. I doubt Tiagra is as bad as you have found it to be on this bike.

  4. @FastbyFrank

    Jim, derailleurs aren’t indexed, levers are.

    And levers are called controls.

  5. I’ve never read so much crap on Velominati, Angling Saxon has nailed it, end of story. Seriously, any website that exists to honour the traditions and culture surely cannot condone the use of Japanese componentry. Suntour Superbe Pro was the only permissable groupset to come out of that country and that’s only used by Dodo bird hunters nowadays, God it was nice though.

  6. @Pistolfromwarragul that’s just dumb. Nothing wrong with riding Shimano or SRAM. It’s a personal choice. Just make it look good And ride hard.

  7. I’d like a tyre pressure dynamic display too. And a how-sore-arse-o-meter.

  8. I’ve really come to love Shimano stuff recently.  Very good bang for the money.  If anything deserves a reputation as bombproof, I would say most of Shimano’s stuff is compared to the competition.  Kind of set and forget I have found. Not inspiring, other then knowing it will just keep trucking.

  9. @unversio

    @FastbyFrank

    Jim, derailleurs aren’t indexed, levers are.

    And levers are called controls.

    you know you just called them levers?

  10. @Pistolfromwarragul the Shimano tradition even goes back 12 years longer than Campagnolo, and surely has a culture worthy of recognition? The price point Campagnolo commands is entirely unjustified, it’s quality and performance are just not that much better, possibly the same phenomenon as a budget Mercedes, no one would want one.

  11. I would compare Group-San to Honda and Gruupo to Ducati. I would buy the Honda because its more reliable and better value for money even though a Ducati is sexier. Bro-Set would of course be Harley Davidson and I wouldn’t even consider throwing a leg over one of those because Harley riders are fags.

  12. I have Tiagra on my older bike (my all weather road riding, cyclocross racing, cross country racing, kid’s trailer pulling, market going, and sometimes commuting machine) and after 7 years of heavy use in some pretty harsh Canadian weather they still shift like a dream with minimal maintenance and hassle. I just built a road bike with Centaur; there is a big difference for sure, but how substantial depends of how crap a cyclist one is, I guess.

    Upgrade if you can/want, in the end it doesn’t matter, does it?

  13. @Deakus

    @meursault

    @Brian

    @wiscot Very good point about the yellow lenses and heightened visi-awareness. I have seen this movie too many times to count and it still never gets old. Like watching the 1994 Paris-Roubaix.

    Spot on, if you like movies and haven’t seen it, rectify it asap. I have it in a Coen Bros box set, all movies are good, but this is the dogs pyjamas.

    I think it would be most entertaining if Liggett and Sherwen were replaced by Walter and the Dude. The latter can handle the flat stages, Walter the sprints. The Tour might have to move to HBO or something though . . .

  14. @eenies

    I would compare Group-san to Honda and Gruupo to Ducati. I would buy the Honda because its more reliable and better value for money even though a Ducati is sexier. Bro-Set would of course be Harley Davidson and I wouldn’t even consider throwing a leg over one of those because Harley riders are fags.

    This thread has taken a quick turn to the ridiculous. I thought the conversation should have ended at “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”

  15. @simon

    @V-olcano

    I’ve just gone from Ultegra 6700 and its “lovely” hidden cables back to DA 7800. I also have 6500 9 speed on my #2. Whatever else Shimano did when they hid the gear cables they also made a royal balls of it at the same time. Got sick and tired of my shifters eating cables, clogging up with shit, being vague, and generally not being as good as what went before. Won’t say anything about silly long lever throws or only shifting down two at a time. Or the fun to be had in trying to fish an exploded cable out of a 6700 shifter vs the simplicity of the old stuff. I haven’t tried the new 9000 DA (out of my price league) but whatever – in my experience Shimano hiding the cables was anything but an improvement. And I like that other people don’t like the cable thing, because it meant that I was able to get an almost pristine DA Group-san with both 172.5 and 175 cranks for 600 NZD. Ssshhh…

    I simply haven’t seen the problems you have with 6700. I ride it on my #2/long long long days bike, and have worked on lots of them. I haven’t seen major clogs in the housing, despite most of my customers bringing their bikes to me filthy; no shredded cables or anything of the sort. I will say that broken cables are more difficult to remove if they break near the head, yes, but some time with a pick is fine by me – it’s like a puzzle!

    As for only getting 2 shifts, I agree. And the lever throw is a little much, yes. Those are reasons I put a Bro Set on the #1 when I bought it. But I never praised the mechanicals in the hidden-cable shifters over their predecessors. I simply said that the hidden cables are more attractive. I still think they are, and should be retained. I don’t run around in public with my tool out, and neither should my shifters.

  16. shift indicators totally have their place: on novice bikes. that’s why you don’t see them on high-end shifters geared (heh) towards more experienced riders. for novice riders, they’re totally helpful. yes, seeing 1-9 might mean squat to them but if they see “hey i have a few gears left and i think i can get over this hill with ’em instead of front-shifting” then that’s helpful.

    re: tiagra. i actually have it on my everyday bike (specifically because it’s cheap) and the shifting’s been pretty much flawless even though i grossly mistreat it and barely service it. now, were i to use it in a more intense setting (hard group ride) more regularly, i might notice issues.  but for day to day, it’s perfect; reliable, cheap, and just works.

  17. Rule V and belgian style riding.

    Problem solved.

  18. @Chris

    This was only ever one bike that could get away with having a gear indicator*

    *for children only. Adults riding Choppers should be dealt with the same level of disdain as fixie and recumbent riders.

    @ralph

    @eenies

    I would compare Group-san to Honda and Gruupo to Ducati. I would buy the Honda because its more reliable and better value for money even though a Ducati is sexier. Bro-Set would of course be Harley Davidson and I wouldn’t even consider throwing a leg over one of those because Harley riders are fags.

    This thread has taken a quick turn to the ridiculous. I thought the conversation should have ended at “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”

    Really?

    i thought it hit the apogee around the chopper reference.

    all of the hurt bunnies extolling the virtues of their beloved plastic group-san had held me positively riveted…

  19. Lowly Tiagra or even Sora with or without silly indicators is a damn sight better than anything Merckx (praise be his guns) ever had at his disposal….

    The problem is not in the gear, the problem is in the legs.

    I’d be just as slow on a Super Record equppied Cervelo as I am on my steel Kona with Sora/FSA bits.

  20. @Marcus

    @unversio

    @FastbyFrank

    Jim, derailleurs aren’t indexed, levers are.

    And levers are called controls.

    you know you just called them levers?

    Stop talking!

  21. @Pistolfromwarragul

    I’ve never read so much crap on Velominati, Angling Saxon has nailed it, end of story. Seriously, any website that exists to honour the traditions and culture surely cannot condone the use of Japanese componentry. Suntour Superbe Pro was the only permissable groupset to come out of that country and that’s only used by Dodo bird hunters nowadays, God it was nice though.

    Sorry but that is bullshit. What counts is good engineering. People who love bikes and making high quality, functional and beautiful products can start up a company tomorrow and if they make good stuff, I will look at it. Tradition isn’t just about the start up day of the company. And, “end of”, rarely means end of.

  22. This is a riveting debate, but maybe we can segue into something less polemic like a helmet discussion.  Somebody post something new and get this thread off the front page!

  23. @Skip

    This is a riveting debate, but maybe we can segue into something less polemic like a helmet discussion. Somebody post something new and get this thread off the front page!

    The helmet debate is currently taking place on the Gear page.  What we need is another installment of Look Pro.

  24. @VeloVita

    @Skip

    This is a riveting debate, but maybe we can segue into something less polemic like a helmet discussion. Somebody post something new and get this thread off the front page!

    The helmet debate is currently taking place on the Gear page. What we need is another installment of Look Pro.

    It looks like everybody’s got a lot of free time now that the Tour is over…

  25. @Pistolfromwarragul

    I’ve never read so much crap on Velominati, Angling Saxon has nailed it, end of story. Seriously, any website that exists to honour the traditions and culture surely cannot condone the use of Japanese componentry. Suntour Superbe Pro was the only permissable groupset to come out of that country and that’s only used by Dodo bird hunters nowadays, God it was nice though.

    Cycling is a mighty sport with a rich and complex history. Every company, racer, piece of kit, and component has a legend, a story behind it; in many cases it also has a personal and nostalgic connection to our lives.  While this particular sport is steeped in tradition, it is also fiercely modern, a fact that serves only to deepen its complexity.”-From the Keepers Page

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

  27. 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.

  28. @V-olcano

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

  29. @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.

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

  31. @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..

  32. 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.

  33. @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).

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

  35. 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…

  36. 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.

  37. @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.

  38. @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).

  39. 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.

  40. @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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. @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.

  44. @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”

  45. @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

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

  47. 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

  48. There exists something other than Campagnolo?

    I’m confused.

  49. 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

  50. 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

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar