Irreverence: Shift Indicators

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Rubbish Tiagra

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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154 Replies to “Irreverence: Shift Indicators”

  1. 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

  2. I am for gear indicators and for those who are criticised or bantered by the fashion police and by arrogant roadies please give them the finger and tell them to FO.

    Especially those hypocrites that try to tell you they are for amateurs and not necessary and you should be able to ‘feel’ the cadence and resistance and shift accordingly or pedal harder, and then they are the ones that will look through their legs or armpits to check which cog the chain is sitting on because they are unsure themselves.

    Unless you are in the GC rider, I very very much doubt us mere mortals knows exactly which cog we are on just by the ‘feel’ of the pedal stroke and the resistance.  Of course we all know if we are on the biggest or smallest cog because the lever won’t go anymore, but by then you would have shifted into the bloody gear which you may have found it was either just right or too easy or too hard.  By knowing which cog you are exactly on will give you the advantage of knowing the ‘resistance’ before you shift and to predetermine the level of effort to maintain the cadence.

    On the flats and downhill may not be too much of a problem as you could just shift back if it was too hard or easy but if you are on a difficult climb especially if you are unfamiliar with the route and terrain then by knowing which gear you are in, you are able to better anticipate the change in cadence and resistance, especially if the tooth differences are large, say from 25 to 28 or 28 to 32.

    Unless you have a customised close ratio and 11 speed setup where the cogs at the lower end have 1 tooth difference but higher gears generally have 2-5 tooth differences between cogs  (19, 21, 23, 25, 28 or 22, 25, 28, 32)  The differences are so great that if you are already struggling and you decide to shift to an easier gear, you could find yourself for the first few strokes spinning too fast and the speed has been washed off and you have wasted more energy as oppose to deciding to stay on the cog and getting out of the saddle and grinding it.

    The same hold true if you decide to take it easy on an easier gear at the start especially on an unfamiliar climb, it is also advantageous to know the ‘tooth gap’ in your next gear before your shift down you could better anticipate the change in cadence and resistance.

    Why do you think sports cars with electronic manual shifting have a gear display? Among other things the obvious one is to tell you the gear range relative to the speed you are doing and how much you could rev the engine before the rev limiter kicks in.

  3. @rastuscat

    Hear your point about looking at the rear cassette is just as onerous as turning your head to see what’s behind, either way, if I could spend more time focusing on the job at hand either for safety or performance sakes then I would prefer to have this info as oppose to ‘not sure and looking to check’.

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