I freely admit it. I’ve spent a lot of money on fad bike parts “that will last me a lifetime.” I’ve bought many items that are the ‘ideal’ this or the ‘perfect’ that. But I think that it can take a long time, no matter whether you’re talking about clothes, bikes, white goods or whatever, to tune out peer pressure, hype and the snare drum of progress, and buy stuff that’s genuinely useful.
Bikes are no different to every other consumer item. There’s a relentess march towards more, easier, faster, smarter. Gears make cycling easier, I’ve got no problem with that. However, I’ve taught my sons to ride bikes in the Indexed Gear Period, and they’ve got no idea what friction shifting is, and thus how a derailleur actually works.
My first derailleur bike had a downtube shifer and a Simplex derailleur on a five speed block. When I pushed the lever one way, the chain went left. When I pushed the lever the other way the chain went right. When I didn’t get it right the chain made a funny noise. So I tweaked the lever and Lo!, the noise ceased.
I’ve just bought a set of Sun Race Thumbshifters, the only friction only thumbshifters IN THE WORLD. Big deal you might think. But here’s the thing – shifting friction is a lesson that all derailleur users should take. Even if they just flirt with friction, it’ll make them treat their indexed gears with reverence and mechanical sympathy.
Aside from all this, these shifters are superb value. $10 including cables for a fantastic racheted shifting action, the lightest shifter available anywhere, and an object lesson in how to change gear. You can keep your STIs, Ergopower, SIS, SRAM triggers and Gripshifts. Simple mechanisms empower the user and last forever, impervious to the march of time and the death knell of obselescence.