Friction vs. Indexing Shifters

Discussion in 'General Bike Discussion' started by Nigal, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Nigal

    Nigal YAY BAIKS! Tavern Member

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    Which do you guys prefer and why? What are the down sides to each?
     
  2. lotek

    lotek New Member

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    I like vintage bikes so most of my bikes are friction, and the best of those are
    Simplex Retrofriction shifters (super LJ). My Serotta has ergo and I have to admit I like
    it quite a bit, the one big plus is I can shift while out of the saddle, something that for
    me was difficult at best with friction.
    Downside to indexed (brake shifter combo)? expensive to replace and a bitch to work on.

    Marty
     

  3. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    I had friction back in the day, and really preferred it to the new SIS crap.
     
  4. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

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    Detest index brake lever shifters. Bar end on aero trial bike and down tube friction on classic division trial bike. I've already swapped out the brake levers on my new Specialized Allez. Had a bracket made up at the shop for the oversize down tube and put some old Campy friction levers there where they belong. Hate, hate, hate, brake shifters!!! Worst idea of all time.
     
  5. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    The MTB versions are even worse.
     
  6. Mootsguy

    Mootsguy A Red Headed Stepchild

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    So why isn't the older and better stuff still around? Must be a reason eh?

    I far prefer the newer stuff and double tap absolutely rocks. Mind you I am not saying that the friction stuff was bad or didn't work well, I am simply saying the new stuff is better.

    I can't remember the last time I had to trim a derailleur...;)
     
  7. CTD50

    CTD50 DX's Biggest Member

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    Wow, lotta retrogrouch hate here.

    Friction shifters are simple, yes; less tuning is required, as you 'tune' it while you use it.

    That said, I'll give up my X.9 triggers when you pry my cold dead fingers from my bar.

    Never used the roadie 'brifters', as I'm a mountain bike guy; but the shift/brake pods I've used have been mostly reliable. What I don't like about them is the limitation of using what's there, I prefer to mix & match. For example, while I kept my X.9 shifters, I changed from Avid FR-5's to Tektro carbon levers without missing a beat.

    I AM glad SRAM doesn't do the combo, although they have an attachment that basically does the same thing; it's just an option, not a requirement. Sh!tmano did too many combos.
     
  8. HandsomeRyan

    HandsomeRyan ♥'s Bicycles

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    On lower end bikes, friction is my preference since cheap indexed shifting is more trouble than its worth. If money is no object fancier indexed shifting it is.

    Also-
    fixed gear or single speed is always acceptable.
     
  9. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    In all fairness, SRAM X.9 is really nice. It's the Shimano that sucks. Give me 8 speed XT and I'm happy. Why is it that MTB indexing seems so much nicer than road?
     
  10. Nigal

    Nigal YAY BAIKS! Tavern Member

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    No kidding. I have a Gary Fisher MTB with indexing and I don't think it's ever had a missed shift. I also have a fairly nice $1,200 Giant road bike that shifts like fried s*@t.

    I recently got a hold of an old Schwinn with friction shifting and thought, "Well that is some cheap ass shifters.". But when I used them and then researched them I wondered why they would even use indexing? That's why I asked.
     
  11. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

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    I might be the youngest person here and still think index sucks. I'm Neo-retro-grouch. Friction shifters are pure joy and simplicity to fine tune on the go. An experienced hand quickly knows right where to put the lever and then you have the option of tiny, fine adjustment to get rid of any chain chatter. I hate any noise from the drive train. Something is wearing. Friction adjust does away with this. Especially the front changer when going through your full range of 8-10 rear gears.

    I'm convinced indexing came in because it does seem like a good idea and it would (and is) appealling to casual or new riders intimidated by the "gear stuff" they see on modern bikes. So manufactures strove to make the bike more like their car's stickshift or auto transmission lever. They try to make it stupid proof. And while it does work fairly well (and sells well) the old friction system is vastly superior and much more easy to work on. Ironic, the new rider finds his index system easier until it needs tuning. Now he has to go to the bike store for a fix. Before just about any dimbulb could work on their own equipment if it ever needing work in the first place.

    I have friction shifters on everything I ride and once the changer is setup, never touch a thing for months at a time of constant riding. (several thousand miles)

    The other thing I dislike about brake lever shifters is the tendency for even alert riders to make a quick poke at the brake for some reason and end up pushing the lever inwards causing a gear change and non-response of the brakes. Not good. Not good at all. This system is junk.
     
  12. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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  13. Nigal

    Nigal YAY BAIKS! Tavern Member

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    The Giant road bike I have has a Shimano Sora front derailleur and it has never hit the right spot so I shift, back it off a little to tune it where I want it to go. And the whole time I'm having to look down. Not good.

    I like the simplicity aspect of friction shifting too. As with most things biking has gotten so over the top technical as well as expensive. When I see the latest, greatest mountain bikes now they don't even look like bikes. Even among the bikes I own I have likes and dislikes. My 15 year old Trek 700 Multitrack commuter bike is my favorite. It has character and purpose. The Giant road bike seems more a soulless tool to me. I like it but not as much.
     
  14. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

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    Indy, are those electric shifters? If they are I'll bet they're the worst of all. With an electric switch it's either off or on. No diddling in between like even the index shifters allow somewhat. Then there's the battery issue. Extra weight, cold weather kills small batteries and they will run dry in a pinch. It's always the way with micro-electronics.

    Nice picture, however.
     
  15. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    That's Shimano Di2. And you sir, are very incorrect. Not only do they shift very well, (from what I've read) but since the front and rear derailleurs communicate with each other, they trim themselves automatically.

    Professional racers swear by them, I think that's just taking it too far.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  16. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

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    Hack I did look it up. I'm not incorrect. They are electric shifters. Why do you always say I'm wrong when I'm correct in the first place? Remember the 5.56 Nato?

    Not to be too unkind but if you've only read about them how can you say how wonderful they are? You've read the add copy and read pro racer comments. Racers who are paid to use them. What would you expect from a paid endorser?

    Nothing can trim itself unless the rear derrailleur can actually "hear" the chain scrubbing the front derrailleur changing arm or "listen" to the rear hanger wheels chatter in their hanger. This I doubt is the case as they do not mention acoustic capability.

    I have no doubt some pro racers like these thing very much. But you are not a pro racer and simply disperse here-say info like it were your own. I am a pro racer and hang with nothing but professional racers and none of them would go near electric gear changers. Maybe you are too close to the industry to really be able to call a spade a spade for fear of burning the wrong bridge. I have no such fear and only care about what works under stress of competition. For now I remain unconvinced. That could change in the future but I doubt it. The old (25-37 year old) ******* racer teammates of mine have not steered me wrong on equipment yet and they hate these things. Our older coaches are more apt to try anything but dismiss electric switching also. Even index shifters suck if you ask me. I much prefer friction. Some things do not lend themselves well to automation. Like fine sculpture or tuning an old auto engine that does not have fuel injection and on board computers. You listen to that motor and tweak by ear and instinct. So it is with good shifting on a bike under stress. The less there is to go wrong the better.

    I have no doubt electric crap will rule the roost in the future when manufacturers give riders no choice. Kind of like now where it's so hard to find friction shifters. At least give them another decade to work out the bugs. Then hump them.
     
  17. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    Oh, you're still incorrect, but doubly so now. Yes, they do trim themselves automatically, no "hearing" required. Their magic little brain knows where the rear one is, and can trim the front one based on that.

    As far as what I've read, that would include a single magazine article (it was free, the magazine) a few user reviews/blogger comments, and some posts on websites that are often referred to as "forums". Not ad copy. Apparently, the electronic shifting isn't even new for Shimano, but due to some licensing issues or something like that, it's new to America. As far as comments from professionals, haven't seen any of those, but I did read that it was even used by racers in the TdF. As you can see from this article, it's really only been favored by time trial racers, so it's nothing you would know about or be interested in.

    Now go put a little ice on that burn. ;)
     
  18. CTD50

    CTD50 DX's Biggest Member

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    Congrats on your experience, Ian; I have to say that it doesn't make you right and everyone else wrong. My experiences, different from yours, are equally valid. Hack can say the same thing -- until you walk a mile in another's shoes, don't hate.

    As far as "vastly superior" friction shifting, that's an opinion; you're entitled, just as I am entitled to disagree -- which I do. Had friction on my 70's 10-speed, and friction on my '97 Huffy 'green monster'. X.9 still rules the roost, IMO.

    I have no opinion on electric, other than to say it sounds like an answer to a question nobody asked.
     
  19. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    Hey, Ian's young, but he still manages to not be a know-it-all dick. I'm just teasing him. If we could assure him that Di2 shifted perfectly every time without fail, and someone else picked up the tab for the gruppo, (about US$2k these days) I'm sure he'd be willing to give it a try. But it takes a lot of convincing to get someone to take that leap of faith.

    Friction relies pretty much 100% on the user. There is no other variable. Indexing and electronic shifting relies on detents, clicks, ratchets, batteries, servos, and who knows what else. For some people, that's not an acceptable risk when compared to their tried and true gear.

    I understand both sides of the argument. At my (non-competitive) level of fitness, there is zero justification for using any sort of technology to give me an edge. Of course, that may explain why my current collection of bikes contains exactly one derailleur. Oddly, I also have two IGH bikes, a single speed, and two ss/fixed bikes.
     
  20. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

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    One man's crap is another man's candy. Or something like that.