Many thanks to my friend Dee who has come to the rescue with some Shimano Tiagra STI shifters. He had spotted me saying (in my recent 5,000 mile review) that I wish I had some. This post is all about me installing the Shimano Tiagra shifters.
When I originally ordered the Thorn Audax it took me a while to make up my mind and go for the bar-end shifters. Besides being economical, they have worked well, always reliable and functional. I often thought from an ergonomic point of view STI type shifters were a better design and would be more comfortable in use. So my friend Dee kindly sent me some (thanks Dee!) and last night when the coast was clear and everyone had gone to bed, I decided to fit them.
Thankfully I had been into the LBS during the afternoon to get some new gear cables and handlebar tape. I mentioned what I was doing to Iain (who’d built my bike) and asked for any tips or hints. He said, from memory the expanding bolts holding the bar-ends were a left hand thread on maybe one or both. He couldn’t be completely sure, he doesn’t have the need to fit them very often. Turns out he was right! Without knowing that I would have been really stuck – who would have thought Shimano would use a left hand thread for holding bar-end levers into place?
Installing the Tiagra levers was fairly straightforward, although I’m sure I was on the slow side. I found the gear cables worked better by routing them onto the far side of the down tube and allowing them to cross each other towards the bottom bracket. Getting the cable tension right was pretty easy and of course the screw stops on the existing derailleur were already correct. Connecting the brakes was also straightforward, more or less.
I didn’t really have the opportunity to test ride my new shifters this morning but I tried them out on my turbo trainer, as I was certain it would need some further adjustment. Much to my amazement they were fine. Later in the afternoon and once the rain had restarted, I had the opportunity to go out for a cycle ride, just for 45 minutes. I took it through the gears and in general it worked well but here’s some observations:
- It was so easy to remember they were there and what to do
- Because changing gear is now even easier, does this mean I will be continuously changing gear? I reckon that changing gear with the bar-ends means a deliberate move, I think I only change gear when I have to. So this means I push a little harder going up some hills, or spin faster on the flat. Time will tell on that.
- There were a couple of occasions when I pushed the wrong lever but that was because I was wearing gloves. Once my glove got caught in between the two levers but this is probably a case of me getting used to it
- Currently the brake blocks are set close to the rim. I think it will better to slacken them off a little to allow a little more “feel” in the lever, as well as getting the right leverage
- As mentioned, ergonomically these are nice. First impressions are that I had a firmer hold with my hands and this might help with hill climbing (it can be surprising how many upper body muscles a cyclist will use, especially riding up hill)
The handlebar tape
Turned out this was subject of some discussion at home. Previously it was standard black. All too easy to use black tape a again – looks smart, practical, fits well with the rest of the bike. But we’re in the middle of a drab winter, I thought, so why not be a little more adventurous? Make a statement etc. As you can see, I went for bright red.
I like these Tiagra shifters. Worth mentioning that they are about mid way in the Shimano. Sora and 2400 etc are below. Durarace, Ultegra and 105 are above. The models above have the gear cables routed along with the brake cables under the handlebar tape and I think this looks neater – but they are considerably more expensive. The choice of shifters that will work on a triple chain set are limited so I feel all-the-more really pleased with these.
Thank you so much Dee!