The Bro-Set Experience

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I suspect that whoever first put a set of downtube shifters on a bike immediately knew that while it was superior to having the shifter on the seat stay, it was a design that was going to be improved upon. Not only did it require being seated to shift, it also required taking your hands off the bars. Shimano got close with the introduction of the STI shifter in the early bit of the 90’s, although the decision to allow the brake lever to pivot laterally was a fundamental flaw.

I remember the first time I saw a set of STI levers in person; I was at County Cycles and they had a complete set of Dura Ace 7400 in the box. It was a truly beautiful groupset, and the metal details on the shifters were as stunning in my hands as they were glinting sunlight off the Pros as they crossed countless finish lines with their arms aloft. The price point was well out of reach, and so I dove headlong into various experiments to find a way to get my shifters on the bars.

Bar-end shifters didn’t look cool so they were out, full stop. I first tried Grip Shift, which was a complete disaster, partly because they didn’t shift well, and partly because they required twisting the bars and invariably introduced a terrifying wobble toward either traffic or the ditch. The low point of my experimentation involved mountain bike thumb shifters mounted near the brake levers, but I couldn’t get them positioned in a way that I could reach them. Cue more wobbling into traffic. Finally I got a set of Suntour Command Shifters, which were basically double-ended thumb shifters that were mounted at the brake lever. These might have worked well, except I couldn’t afford a Suntour rear mech, and the Command Shifters couldn’t get along with my Shimano 105 drivetrain. I had no alternative but to set those shifters to friction, which meant even more wobbling about as I tried to coax it from one gear to the next. But being unsuccessful didn’t mean it wasn’t fun, and when Shimano finally released a 105 STI version – which I could afford – I was that much happier to finally realize my dream of having functional handle-bar mounted shifters.

I’ve never liked the lateral pivot off the STI system, though, and once I could afford to, I moved to Campa and their superior design of incorporating a Go Button along with a paddle shifter. Campagnolo, for all its beauty and functional flawlessness, does require some coddling. It doesn’t particularly like being dirty, and I find myself tweaking the cable tension a few times a week – just a fraction of a turn – to keep it perfect. Because a perfectly tuned Campa drive train runs more perfectly and more silently than anything else – and the Principle of Silence holds sway over all else.

When it came time to building up my Graveur, I never seriously considered Campa because doing that on a bike intended for taking regular mud baths demands something less finicky. And I really don’t want my brake lever wobbling about as I’m trying to control a bouncing, bobbing machine on a twisting gravel or single track descent. Shimano was out, which left me with the choice between Command Shifters and SRAM. SRAM it is, then.

It took me an age to get used to how to adjust it, and how to shift. It requires a lot less cable tension than Shimano or Campa, a trick that took me a while to discover. Upshifts are totally awesome – tap, tap, tap and the chain just drops down along the cassette irrespective of mud or sticks or whatever is in there. I found half a tree trunk in my cassette after my ride this morning, and it didn’t adversely affect the shifting. The front shifting is absolutely blazingly fast, once you get the thing adjusted correctly. And the hoods themselves are very comfortable, possibly even more so than my 10spd Ergos.

But to this day, I still have to think about downshifting (push, *click*, push a bit more, *click*). And Merckx forbid I try shifting more than one gear at a time – I’ll invariably lose track of my clicks and wind up air-shifting between cogs. That’s going to inspire some new curses in a race situation, so there’s that to look forward to.

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163 Replies to “The Bro-Set Experience”

  1. I once had a Look KX with Campy Record, a Synapse with Dura Ace and a CX4 with Force. Three different neurological mappings required for successful riding. Eventually, the stress of the potential for blown shifts while riding in traffic caused me to get rid of one so I sold the Look. But, surely, nothing shifts like well kept Campy. Nothing mechanical is even close.

  2. Ahhhhh, the grip-shifter memories I have.  Never accurate and always adjusting. Love the SRAM setups though.  Have it on my #1 and will be on every bike forward.

  3. I think that we need to look to the past a bit when it comes to building up a ‘Graveur’. We’ll use John Tomac, Yeti, and Campagnolo as our ‘gold standard’ of how to build and ride a Campy equiped MTB. Furtado didn’t know how to finesse the Italian bits, claiming that they were inferior, but we all know that this is not the case. I’m thinking with a bit of eBay, scouring obscure shops, a fucking ill disk wheel, and a bit of mettle we could have a proper Campy equipped off road slaying machine:

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/TBONE/2013.08.21.17.37.31/1/”/]

  4. When will the term “Bro-Set” ever stop amusing me? That has to eventually become the industry standard. I could do a bro-set someday. Those shifters seem pretty damn clever.

  5. I went from Chorus on a Ridley to SRAM force on my new Merida. I’ve always been in love with my gruppo, but after a 1000k on my new ride I really love the looks and the function of my doubletap shifters!

    Go Bro-set!

  6. Needless to say, I echo the sentiments of having too many group-sans, gruppos, and bro-sets in the stable. I can work on ’em, but I can get a little thumb-finger confusion switching between rides….

  7. Sans gloves in the photo.  Do you always ride without gloves?  Even on gravel/dirt?

  8. FUCK!! I thought it was just me & my smallish hands that didn’t love sending the chain in on SRAM.

    I love the upshift, I love that I’ve never dropped a chain during cx riding and racing, I love that I can have half a tree trunk stuck in my cassette, but I do not love the downshift. Not precise and I have to pre-shift by preparing my hand and wrist by moving them so I have enough reach to push the lever far enough.

    I kinda love SRAM, I kinda hate it.

    Frank, I am very, very happy I started with 105 STI and didn’t go through the torment you experience. Then again, the forging makes the Velominatus…

  9. TBONE’s 4th pic…I picked up a pair of those Shimano mtn. shoes a few years back, NOS for $0.99. They’re fantastic.

  10. I recall somewhere around ’87 when I first saw (and heard) the Shimano STI or whatever it was called back then. At a local weekly circuit race and here’s this bike that goes “click.. ker-chunk” upon shifting. Almost like a pistol cocking and firing with an empty chamber. Kind of shocked the lot of us as we were all used to the fine whirring and grinding of Campa SR. Of course we generally sneered at such an invention only later to be secretly envious of being able to shift out of the saddle. It didn’t take long till everyone but me was riding some type of index shifting… Not because I was making a heroic stand – only because I was too F’n poor to do so. barely had enough $$ for my CG tubbies. Aaaaah… The good old days.  VLVV

  11. Good article mate and nice shot but I’m totally tortured by your description of shifting.If you are trying to shift in the same way you described it no wonder you can’t.

    “Upshifts are totally awesome – tap, tap, tap and the chain just drops down along the cassette irrespective of mud or sticks or whatever is in there”.

    “But to this day, I still have to think about downshifting (push, *click*, push a bit more, *click*).”

    You touch the lever and before you know it the chain moves down to a next sprocket.What’s hard about it with Sram? It’s the upshifts you need to think about more cause you have to move the lever in one quick motion otherwise you will downshift.  

    As far as the cable tension goes the rear derailleur needs less tension but not the front one.

    I’m surprised you were readjusting Record 10. It’s the most solid set up ever.Install it and forget it.

  12. I’ve got a Bro-Set on Bike #1, a Group-San on #2 and Ergos on the Gravel/Cross bike.  I love the light weight and precise shifting of the Bro-Set, even at the lowly Rival level; I love how completely silent and smooth my Group-San is, even if the levers are ugly as sin; and I love the shape and size of the Ergo levers, as well as the look of them.  If I could just merge those aspects of all three I’d have the perfect Brupp-San.

  13. I have nothing but contempt for SRAM. Broke a lever off in my hand on a trip where I was 100miles from a shop. Front shifting I could never get quite right (believe me I tried). But then it wasn’t Red, and some of my ‘cross bro’s love it. That’s just my HO.

  14. @TommyTubolare

    Wow, I’ve never had the pleasure of correcting you before. Downshifting is to an easier gear, upshifting is to a harder gear – no the direction the chain moves, mate. You downshift to a lower gear.

    As for Campa – I’ve always found myself tweaking just the slightest bit…I’m talking fractions of a turn, just to get the chain absolutely silent.

  15. @scaler911

    I have nothing but contempt for SRAM. Broke a lever off in my hand on a trip where I was 100miles from a shop. Front shifting I could never get quite right (believe me I tried). But then it wasn’t Red, and some of my ‘cross bro’s love it. That’s just my HO.

    A mate of mine snapped off his shifter a few weeks ago – he chalked it up to too many phantom down-shifts when already in the granny gear. That’s about the only quibble I have with the bro-set – when I’m on the limit and my oxygen-deprived brain thinks I have one more down-shift left in the cassette than I actually do. Not only does it feel awful (and potentially damaging) in the shifter to hit the limit, the bloody thing upshifts for my troubles!

  16. @frank Maybe you did but it doesn’t matter now. I’m talking about shifting process itself not gear you gonna end up with thus the chain direction/movement. If the chain drops down the cassette I doubt it’s the easier gear.Don’t start me on which sprocket you call number 1 and which one you call number 10. You are shifting like young Andy-perfect for a bro set.

  17. @frank

    @frank

    @TommyTubolare

    Wow, I’ve never had the pleasure of correcting you before. Downshifting is to an easier gear, upshifting is to a harder gear – no the direction the chain moves, mate. You downshift to a lower gear.

    As for Campa – I’ve always found myself tweaking just the slightest bit…I’m talking fractions of a turn, just to get the chain absolutely silent.

    This is really strange since the cables run outside on the R3. I don’t tweak at all and cables run internally which is always worse for cable friction.

  18. I use Rival on both my road and cross bike. (and X9 on my mountain bike, but that’s another world).

    I agree that tuning it can be a bit of a nightmare at first, but i haven’t adjusted either bike in months. The downshifts are also lackluster, but at the same time, once i figured it out, you can go from 11 to 23 in about 2.2 shifts (I can drop 4 gears in one swing)

    Also, as much as I hate when you try and shift into a lower gear when you’re at the bottom and it upshifts you instead, I feel it is my bike telling me to HTFU.

  19. Come to think of it, unless you have mutant thumbs, aren’t ergos “shift and pray” when it comes to a sprint?

  20. The bro-set thing really confused the hell out of me. It seems really counter intuitive to up and down shift using the same lever in the same direction. That’s bad enough, but on the rare occasions I’ve tried it, I find it really natural. What confuses my conscious brain is accepted without comment by my subconscious.

    I thought I was cool with that much confusion, only to be thrown into a spin by a riding buddy with Force, which is an apt description of his shifting style. Every shift grinds, I’m surprised not to see sparks and shards of metal depart his cassette. I thought this was all due to shoddy set-up but on taking his bike for a brief test ride to identify the source of a killer speed wobble (loose locking nut on the lhs of the front hub) I found every shift as “smooth” and natural as the other bro-sets I tried. Must try to convince him to do a swap…

  21. I am quite pleased with my Rival set-up. Only on Rival could I find the 180mm cranks I like. Interestingly, they seem to be unavailable in Red, Force or Rival on the new SRAM22 system.

    As I have opined before, The (fucking) Bike is a system. One matches the compoents based on many factors, including personal preference, application, rider contraints (e..g in my case, my Jan sized fat ass), fit, compatibility, storage, value, price, to name a few.In Scaler’s case, the manufacturing quality and reputation including warranty. It is a difficult calculus. @Frank’s article is well considered.

    I am intrigued by the electric systems, but again, one has to weight the value. That’s a lotta quid to blow on a toy, the necessity of which can be debated. “Need” is a dangerous word in the shadow of Mt. Velomis.

  22. @VeloVita

    If I could just merge those aspects of all three I’d have the perfect Brupp-San.

    You can with Shiftmate!  I have one on the rear derailleur of the Gruppo equipped Lemond so it can work with Group-san spec cassettes.  Works like a charm.

    I get a lot of comments from people when they see the Bro-Nago and the Gruppo equipped Lemond.  I guess I’m all about the Anglo-Italian mixes (which also, coincidentally, explains my VMH).

    Like a lot of the others have mentioned, the immediacy of the Bro-set upshifts is amazing and it’s great to not have to think about upshifting as you’re sprinting for the town limit sign.  However, like I mentioned in another post, I hate that when you’re climbing and out of gears, and you click the shifter looking for something even lower that doesn’t exist, it sometimes gives you one gear higher.  A real shot to the balls, that.

  23. I truly miss the downtube shifters days, as much as I miss surfing before the surf leash. There was a significant tactical advantage to being a good silent shifter. You had to pick your gears correctly for the jump at 400m to go and sit down once and shift and stand on the pedals one last time. Those shifts had to be perfect. You would practice this over and over again. I would love catching guys in the wrong gear, when I would make that jump. I got STI as soon as it came out, because I saw it as an advantage. I knew everyone would have it in a few more years and the sooner I had it the better. My favorite downtube shifters were Gipiemme frictionless. That was the only nonCampa SR part on my steed of the time.

  24. @scaler911

    I have nothing but contempt for SRAM. Broke a lever off in my hand on a trip where I was 100miles from a shop. Front shifting I could never get quite right (believe me I tried). But then it wasn’t Red, and some of my ‘cross bro’s love it. That’s just my HO.

    Easy fix, from bits found on the road….

  25. There’s Force shifting on the VMH’s bike. It seems to work pretty well. I.e., I never have to fuck with it when I clean and lube her bike. It stays in adjustment. I think I twisted the barrel once in the last six or eight months, and she does ride it a fair bit.

  26. I’ll invariably lose track of my clicks and wind up air-shifting between cogs. That’s going to inspire some new curses in a race situation, so there’s that to look forward to.

    Why are you downshifting in a race? Why would you want to slow down?

  27. @TBONE

    I think that we need to look to the past a bit when it comes to building up a ‘Graveur’. We’ll use John Tomac, Yeti, and Campagnolo as our ‘gold standard’ of how to build and ride a Campy equiped MTB. Furtado didn’t know how to finesse the Italian bits, claiming that they were inferior, but we all know that this is not the case. I’m thinking with a bit of eBay, scouring obscure shops, a fucking ill disk wheel, and a bit of mettle we could have a proper Campy equipped off road slaying machine

    Those disk wheels slay me. They were so cool. And, I think they were just spoked wheels with covers. Which basically amounted to just more weight.

    My dad got that Campa Euclid group, it worked like shit on his prototype Cannondale suspension bike. (He was the first person to break a ‘wale through regular riding and execute the lifetime warranty – they gave him one of the “Boingers” which was several iterations away from figuring out how to get rid of the biopacing effect.)

    It worked like shit on that bike, but then he put it on his MB-0 and it works great to this day, although he used to tear the cassette hubs apart…he had a pile of bodies for it for when he destroyed them.

    Julie Furtado was my second major crush – and one that happened as I was discovering my adolescence. Rebecca Twigg was the other. Good times.

  28. @Ron

    TBONE’s 4th pic…I picked up a pair of those Shimano mtn. shoes a few years back, NOS for $0.99. They’re fantastic.

    I had two pairs of those. One with cleats for riding, and one without cleats for going to school. They looked great with my rolled-up jeans and white socks.

  29. It’s been 1000’s of kilometers since I changed from Sora with thumb shifters to Ultegra and yet I still all too often stop to think which lever I need to press to get the desired gear. Big = Big sprocket, Small = Small sprocket. I have to actually say this in my head at times. You’d think it would be second nature by now but nope. SRAM then, is going to be all too hard for me to get my head around. The same lever in the same direction? Are you kidding me!

    I also like to climb… and not often but occasionally confirm I am on the largest sprocket by applying a little pressure to the lever. If there, it won’t move a mm… Having just learned that action would result in an upshift on a SRAM lever is the final nail in the coffin. Then there is the recently aspoused Group-san = Honda, SRAM = Harley theory, which makes perfecrt sense to me and so I’ll be sticking with my Bro-set. ;-)

  30. The Sram red on #1 and a combination of red and force on # 2. I have had no problems either.

    Will go red on the next bike. not sold on hydraulics.

  31. @frank

    @TBONE

    I think that we need to look to the past a bit when it comes to building up a ‘Graveur’. We’ll use John Tomac, Yeti, and Campagnolo as our ‘gold standard’ of how to build and ride a Campy equiped MTB. Furtado didn’t know how to finesse the Italian bits, claiming that they were inferior, but we all know that this is not the case. I’m thinking with a bit of eBay, scouring obscure shops, a fucking ill disk wheel, and a bit of mettle we could have a proper Campy equipped off road slaying machine

    Those disk wheels slay me. They were so cool. And, I think they were just spoked wheels with covers. Which basically amounted to just more weight.

    My dad got that Campa Euclid group, it worked like shit on his prototype Cannondale suspension bike. (He was the first person to break a ‘wale through regular riding and execute the lifetime warranty – they gave him one of the “Boingers” which was several iterations away from figuring out how to get rid of the biopacing effect.)

    It worked like shit on that bike, but then he put it on his MB-0 and it works great to this day, although he used to tear the cassette hubs apart…he had a pile of bodies for it for when he destroyed them.

    Julie Furtado was my second major crush – and one that happened as I was discovering my adolescence. Rebecca Twigg was the other. Good times.

    In the words of Momma Fronk: “Leave it alone Fronkie, you are a disgusting little boy!”.

  32. @packfiller

    Three words. Simplex Downtube Shifters.

    Those bad boys made it worth taking my hands off the bars.

    I’ve got these six-speed shifters set to friction and use them on my 10 speed block.

    I do truly love the DT shifter for the feel and how connected you are to the machine, but there is a reason we are all using brifters now, and that reason becomes instantly clear when you ride a bike with DT shifters – standing to climb *oh, need to shift* SIT DOWN, SHIFT, STAND UP *oh, two gears was too many* SIT DOWN, SHIFT, STAND UP. Or, cornering. Nothing like having to pick your gear going into the turn not knowing what the exit will be like.

    Another revelation: Benotto bar tape was all sex, but it also sucks. I’m putting leather wraps on this mocheen.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2013.08.21.17.22.17/1//”/]

  33. @Buck Rogers

    Sans gloves in the photo. Do you always ride without gloves? Even on gravel/dirt?

    Have been, ever since switching to the padded fizik tape. Don’t stretch it when you wrap it, and it is some soft, comfy love right there. Also, the bare hands give better feel on rough roads – cue taken from my boy Tom.

    Might switch back to gloves for urban riding, though, as all the partying around town has led to lots of glass on the streets. Flatted an FMB Paris Roubaix last week on a ride that didn’t need them; I just felt like treating myself to a nice ride. Ouch.

  34. @Dan_R

    Needless to say, I echo the sentiments of having too many group-sans, gruppos, and bro-sets in the stable. I can work on ’em, but I can get a little thumb-finger confusion switching between rides….

    Funny thing – after riding DT for even one day, I’ll spend the next few rides reaching down to a phantom shifter. Those movements are just burned into me somehow, from the days of yore.

    That said, the VMH put her foot down when we got our first set of proper top-end bikes since being a couple. I got my EV2, she got an EV4. I got Shimano, she said that was like hanging a Rembrandt in your workshop. She got Record.

    Even after just TUNING her bike, I would get on mine and ghost shift to the Go Button. That system is so incredibly intuitive – by far the best design out there, irrespective of function. I love SRAM for trying to make it simple, but one lever can’t do two things in the same direction. Same goes for Shimano. Having two lever go in opposite directions is brilliant. Technically, that’s what SunTour was doing with the Command Shifters, but the approach was wrong. They were close, though, and I think that inspired the STI lever – Shimano just took that design and turned it 90 degrees to the brake, integrated it, and let the levers both snap back to the central position.

    There. I just decided that SunTour had the initial innovation that inspired the modern Brifter. Only fitting that they went out of business, as that is the fate of every innovative company.

  35. @El Mateo

    Are you sure you’re not talking about index shifting? Unless you were a pro (which you might have been, just asking) ’87 would have been a very insider Shimano prototype STI shifter.

    I know for sure this sort of complaint was surrounding the index shifter, and that’s partly why they had the dial to turn to friction – all the Pros wanted the stealth shift so no one knew they were planning an attack.

    Either way, awesome story, and so cool to live through those evolutions. I hope you still have that bike/gruppo.

  36. @VeloVita

     If I could just merge those aspects of all three I’d have the perfect Brupp-San.

    That might be worthy of a Lexi entry; the perfect union of all designs. I love it. I’m also food and sleep deprived.

    @ten B

    @scaler911

    I have nothing but contempt for SRAM. Broke a lever off in my hand on a trip where I was 100miles from a shop. Front shifting I could never get quite right (believe me I tried). But then it wasn’t Red, and some of my ‘cross bro’s love it. That’s just my HO.

    A mate of mine snapped off his shifter a few weeks ago – he chalked it up to too many phantom down-shifts when already in the granny gear. That’s about the only quibble I have with the Bro-Set – when I’m on the limit and my oxygen-deprived brain thinks I have one more down-shift left in the cassette than I actually do. Not only does it feel awful (and potentially damaging) in the shifter to hit the limit, the bloody thing upshifts for my troubles!

    Funny, I was thinking about that this morning – “what if my shifter brakes out in the boonies? I’m putting a lot of force into this puppy to coax it onto a bigger cog while I’m laying down these devastating helpings of The V.”

    I’m not humble when I’m riding. Its part of my process towards adhering to Rule #5.

  37. @ten B

    @scaler911

    I have nothing but contempt for SRAM. Broke a lever off in my hand on a trip where I was 100miles from a shop. Front shifting I could never get quite right (believe me I tried). But then it wasn’t Red, and some of my ‘cross bro’s love it. That’s just my HO.

    A mate of mine snapped off his shifter a few weeks ago – he chalked it up to too many phantom down-shifts when already in the granny gear. That’s about the only quibble I have with the Bro-Set – when I’m on the limit and my oxygen-deprived brain thinks I have one more down-shift left in the cassette than I actually do. Not only does it feel awful (and potentially damaging) in the shifter to hit the limit, the bloody thing upshifts for my troubles!

    It’s the V-shift.  @frank being a computer geek, he would call it a feature, not a bug.

  38. @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    @TommyTubolare

    As for Campa – I’ve always found myself tweaking just the slightest bit…I’m talking fractions of a turn, just to get the chain absolutely silent.

    This is really strange since the cables run outside on the R3. I don’t tweak at all and cables run internally which is always worse for cable friction.

    Maybe if we ever meet you can show me some tricks, but I’ve always had to adjust it. Not on my steel bikes, or even on my Alu Soloist, but on the carbon bikes – always. Both on the VMH’s R3 SL and my R3 and my Veloforma (which is similar to an R5 with internal routing).

    I think the carbon frame with carbon wheels amplifies the chain noise so much that its not really that I’m fixing any shifting problem – it always shifts fantastically – its more that I’m perfecting the placement of the chain to eliminate noise.

    @TommyTubolare

    I think we’re not communicating on this one – I’m talking about shifting into an easier gear. The Double-Tap breaks down in this case; you have to push through the first click (which is the upshift) and push the lever through to the downshift. Even though its one lever, its a compound movement and its too much for my brain when I’m offroad CX’ing (which is how I train for gravel since I don’t have much of that around where I live.) On the gravel, I have to admit, I don’t notice the problem as much.

  39. @Weldertron

    Also, as much as I hate when you try and shift into a lower gear when you’re at the bottom and it upshifts you instead, I feel it is my bike telling me to HTFU.

    I’ve heard many people say this, but I’ve not actually had this problem. When I Jesus Shift into a lower gear than I have, the lever just stops and doesn’t do anything. I wonder if this is a symptom of a mal-adjusted system?

  40. @AndroidG

    Very amusing story, and I have to say, there is no substitute for touch. This also explains why all of our drivetrains’s performance diminishes after a visit from the man with the hammer.

    I agree completely that using one lever to do two things is counter-intuitive and too complicated. I also agree that given that, its much more intuitive than is logically acceptable.

    @eightzero

    I am intrigued by the electric systems, but again, one has to weight the value. That’s a lotta quid to blow on a toy, the necessity of which can be debated. “Need” is a dangerous word in the shadow of Mt. Velomis.

    As I’ve said before, I spoiled my desire to run electric on Mektronic. Put a wire between me and my shifter, and I’m at the mercy of one’s and zeros. Put a cable there, and I’ll get that fucker on the cog I want it on one way or another.

    That said, it is looking like Di2 is actually pretty great in bad weather, and it is the only Shimano system with a fixed brake lever. Campa’s group has some work to do, but it also has promise.

    I can see riding that stuff on CX at some point, just to focus on the other element of harmony associated with those disciplines.

    On the road bike, I’m just not feeling it. I like the connection I have through a cable.

    @EricW

    I get a lot of comments from people when they see the Bro-Nago and the Gruppo equipped Lemond. I guess I’m all about the Anglo-Italian mixes (which also, coincidentally, explains my VMH).

    I’m sure she’s less amused by this than I am, but its a glorious statement worthy of an article in itself: How My Fucked Up, Rule Violating Abomination of a Bike Led To a Happy Marriage.

  41. @mauibike

    I truly miss the downtube shifters days, as much as I miss surfing before the surf leash. There was a significant tactical advantage to being a good silent shifter. You had to pick your gears correctly for the jump at 400m to go and sit down once and shift and stand on the pedals one last time. Those shifts had to be perfect. You would practice this over and over again. I would love catching guys in the wrong gear, when I would make that jump. I got STI as soon as it came out, because I saw it as an advantage. I knew everyone would have it in a few more years and the sooner I had it the better. My favorite downtube shifters were Gipiemme frictionless. That was the only nonCampa SR part on my steed of the time.

    Art. Right there. That is why the electronic group and disc brakes (which you have on your FUCKING ROAD BIKE) are the death of the art of cycling.

    I hear tell that De Vlaeminck liked to knock the shifter with his knee to shift mid-sprint. That must have won him some serious titles, but also lost him just as many – there was no precision in it. I used to do that with my indexed DT shifters, but that was easy because they had such a strong click it only needed a little nudge to pop into the gear.

    I’ve never tried that on friction.

    Your words are taken seriously, though, being the first rider to go sub-3 on Haleakala on a completely fucked bike.

  42. @eightzero

    I’ll invariably lose track of my clicks and wind up air-shifting between cogs. That’s going to inspire some new curses in a race situation, so there’s that to look forward to.

    Why are you downshifting in a race? Why would you want to slow down?

    +1 badge to you, matey. Excellent question, to which there is only one answer. Well, two, I guess. One is Rule #5, the other is “hand out a +1 Badge in order to deflect what a giant pussy you are.”

  43. @ten B

    So I have to pile on with another broken shifter (2011 Rival, rear) while I was 55 miles into a one-way (not a loop) century.  Well, fuck-ity-fuck. Without any tension on the cable, the rear mech puts you in the 11T. Not good when i have 45 miles of rollers to go.

    I ended up pulling the cable with a set of mini-pliers I carry (but had never used) and putting it in the 19T which made for a decent 2-speed with a flandrian compact (53-39) up front

    I, too, think the infrequent, but crunchy-sounding, over-shifts when already on the inside cog were part of the problem. In the end, I got the shifter RMAed (out of warranty) from SRAM through my LBS, so it didn’t require any spend. But nothing can repay the mongo bad mood it put me in when that bugger broke off.

    Curiously, after I got rolling again as a 2 speed, the remainder of the ride felt easier than the century before on that same route, and I did no worse on time. The adrenaline boost from the panic caused by the equipment failure freshened up the legs and put a spring in my stroke, generally speaking.

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